He would kill to win

That's the subtitle, the title is Cruel Games: A Brilliant Professor, a Loving Mother, a Brutal Killing, and yes it is the "true crime" account of the well-known game theorist who murdered his wife.  Here is a review of the book.  Here is an excerpt:

During one of their brainstorming sessions, Gallen wrote down "Game Theory" on his to-do list.  With Robb as their primary suspect, they needed to understand better who he was and what made him tick.  It became Marino's job to do the digging which began with the Penn website, where he easily came across Robb's take-home final for his graduate course in game theory.  Marino read the exam and shook his head.  Perhaps it made sense to economics students, but not to him.  Given Robb's intellect and specialty, the detectives couldn't help but wonder if Robb was playing games with them.

Here is one Amazon review:

She, like many in the media, is quick to draw a connection between
Robb's expertise in game theory and him concocting a brilliant and evil
plan to kill his wife and avoid jail time. Nothing could be farther
from the truth. A game theory professor is very similar to a math
professor. They spend a lot of their time deriving proofs. They don't
know how to get away with a crime any better than anyone else.

Comments

A game theory professor is very similar to a math professor...they don't know how to get away with a crime any better than anyone else.

You wouldn't think that being really good at composing riddles would help either, but costumed crime takes all comers. The man's name is "Dr. Robb" for goodness' sake. Either getting arrested was just one phase of his master plan (to help him study prisoner's dilemmas, of course) or the Philadelphia PD is trying to keep Batman's name out of the papers.

Schelling would agree with the detective. Was not strangelove creeated under his advice

Game Theory is not the same thing as Roissy-style Game.

"like a math professor"??? Many have been math professors or professional mathematicians in other positions,
and most of the best who are econ profs have math Ph.D.'s. I think Schelling is the only person to have received
a Nobel in economics for game theory work who did not receive a math Ph.D.

Am I being too sensitive, or is the title of the book either purposefully unclear or sexist? Either "A Brilliant Professor" is supposed to connote a man and the title is well defined, or I am not supposed to be able to determine whether it's the "Loving Mother" who is a brutal killer (my assumption on first reading) or someone else (who may or may not have killed the Loving Mother).

The book appears to be disingenuous with its game theory hook; news reports show the story was relatively mundane. Despite his professorship there is no evidence that he did anything clever to cover up his murder; no thrilling game of cat and mouse with the police; no criminal applications of game theory. It wasn't a planned murder, and it was the kind of rushed crime scene cover up you would expect from the average person not unusually knowledgeable in police forensics. The police put the pieces together immediately.

This leads to the question, what profession has the best chance of getting away with murder? If not economists, who? Police officers? Criminal lawyers? Politicians? FBI? Maybe the value of being in a particular profession can change depending on the type of crime you are planning.

Comments for this post are closed