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Fri Nov 30, 2012, 12:48 AM

The Cooperation Instinct

The Cooperation Instinct
In a dog-eat-dog world, people still 
cooperate, collaborate, and help each other out. Our species’ urge to work together has remained 
an evolutionary paradox, seemingly at odds with Darwinian theory—until now.

By Kristin Ohlson|Thursday, October 25, 2012
Martin Nowak watched pages of new calculations spill from the printer. He was working in his little corner of paradise, a room in his Lincoln, Massachusetts, home with big windows where he can watch deer nibble at the trees and birds flit around a feeder. Into this sanctuary walked his 16-year-old son, Philip, who picked up one of the pages. It contained a graph that resembled a collection of brightly colored ribbons draped across a table and then falling off its edge.

“What’s this?” Philip asked.

“That’s the origins of life,” replied Nowak, a biologist and mathematician who directs Harvard University’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics.

The boy squinted at the paper. “The real origins of life or just a theory?”

“My whole life is just a theory?” Nowak moaned in mock despair. Nowak recounts the story in his Cambridge office—another sanctuary, this one overlooking Harvard Square, where pedestrians and cars create complex, ever-changing patterns on the street six stories down. His meaning is clear: He takes his ideas very seriously. He takes his serenity seriously too. The room is sunny and his desk is uncluttered. A Romanian icon of the Madonna gazes calmly from the far side of the room.

But lately Nowak’s seriousness has been interfering mightily with his serenity. In 2010 he threw a firebomb into the sacred heart of evolutionary biology by .... 


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Shankapotomus Nov 2012 OP
tama Nov 2012 #1
Shankapotomus Nov 2012 #2
tama Nov 2012 #3

Response to Shankapotomus (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 01:40 AM

1. The "dog-eat-dog world" meme


or "selfish gene" has never been anything but projection of capitalist and imperialist ideology on natural world. Kropotkin has been one of the most important evolutionary scientists stressing the importance of cooperation.

To begin with, forests are symbiotic cooperation relations of plants and fungi.

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Response to tama (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 01:53 AM

2. I think the "dog-eat-dog" meme

arose from the survival dynamics of solitary species, which are more fitted as an analogy to capitalist ideology, because of their inability to cooperate with their own species to a much less degree than a social species is able. Perhaps, that is what capitalists subconsciously want? To turn us into a solitary species?

I'll have to read Kropotkin's book now. lol.

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Response to Shankapotomus (Reply #2)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 02:01 AM

3. Dunno


AFAIK since Darwin evolutionary biology is about population dynamics, nothing to do with individual "survival of fittest". Classical Greek for "individual" is btw. "idiot".

And how is a human organism individual? Not only a collection of billions of cells with same DNA, but also huge amount of various symbiotic bacteria is organic part of the same organism.

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