Yesterday, I posted Game Theory's El Farol Bar problem, with a couple questions. (If you haven't read it yet, go back—the answer's no good without the puzzle.) And the truth is there's no answer, or more precisely, there's no pure strategy that works—if everyone decides to go, the bar's too crowded and it's no fun; if everyone decides to stay home, the bar will be empty and it would've been more fun to go.

And so the best strategy is a mixed strategy in which each person has a set probability of going. The probability depends on how many people are deciding, the capacity of the bar, and how close the experience of staying home is to the experience of going to the bar (for you and for each person deciding).

If you can communicate and lie, you should say that you're going to the bar, every time. If you end up going, your truth may have scared others away; if you stay home, your lie hasn't hurt you at all.

Here's a little experiment. First close your right eye and look at the picture of my new book (at left). And now close your left eye and look at the picture of beer on  the right. Now as quickly as you can, blink to alternate your eyes 
between the two pictures. Do you feel inexplicably drawn to buying Brain Candy?