[ExI] The Selfish Gene? Maybe not----
pharos at gmail.com
Mon Mar 16 18:53:27 UTC 2015
Articles are appearing claiming that The Selfish Gene got it wrong.
Co-operation is better.
Three years late, Scientific American is reacting to a paper on
evolution of cooperation  with a hint that something is rotten
in the state of Denmark. The paper was by interlopers from physics,
mathematically adept senior luminaries. The message of their
mathematics was that if you put together a group of selfish
individuals what evolves is (I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear this)
a selfish community. A non-communal community. The authors use the
colorful word "extortion" to describe the dysfunctional social
The reason this is important is that the standard evolutionary theory
of cooperation says that global cooperation can emerge from behaviors
that are individually selfish. It can't.
(We may be tempted to dismiss the whole topic as esoteric or
peripheral, but in fact it pokes a hole in a framework of evolutionary
thinking that has become sclerotic, and is overdue for rethinking from
the ground up. At stake is the way that we think about evolution, and
by extension, the way we understand purposes and mechanisms in all of
biology. Aging is one particular case in point.)
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