Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

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Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

Post by klr » Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:06 am

Evolution does not favour selfish people, according to new research.

This challenges a previous theory which suggested it was preferable to put yourself first.

Instead, it pays to be co-operative, shown in a model of "the prisoner's dilemma", a scenario of game theory - the study of strategic decision-making.

Published in Nature Communications, the team says their work shows that exhibiting only selfish traits would have made us go extinct.

Game theory involves devising "games" to simulate situations of conflict or co-operation. It allows researchers to unravel complex decision-making strategies and to establish why certain types of behaviour among individuals emerge.

Freedom or prison

A team from Michigan State University used a model of the prisoner's dilemma game, where two suspects who are interrogated in separate prison cells must decide whether or not to inform on each other.

In the model, each person is offered a deal for freedom if they inform on the other, putting their opponent in jail for six months. However, this scenario will only be played out if the opponent chooses not inform.

If both "prisoners" choose to inform (defection) they will both get three months in prison, but if they both stay silent (co-operation) they will both only get a jail term of one month.

The eminent mathematician John Nash showed that the optimum strategy was not to co-operate in the prisoner's dilemma game.

"For many years, people have asked that if he [Nash] is right, then why do we see co-operation in the animal kingdom, in the microbial world and in humans," said lead author Christoph Adami of Michigan State University.

Mean extinction

The answer, he explained, was that communication was not previously taken into account.

...
continued: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23529849
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Re: Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

Post by Audley Strange » Fri Aug 02, 2013 12:50 pm

The entire phrasing of the op bugs me, but then so does the word evolution. It seems to be used by laypeople as shorthand for some cruel but efficient divine plan of Gaia or any other nature deity. Successful environmental adaptation makes the concept a lot clearer and makes the OP obvious.
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Re: Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Fri Aug 02, 2013 12:51 pm

Why isn't this about me?
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Re: Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

Post by Robert_S » Fri Aug 02, 2013 6:57 pm

Audley Strange wrote:The entire phrasing of the op bugs me, but then so does the word evolution. It seems to be used by laypeople as shorthand for some cruel but efficient divine plan of Gaia or any other nature deity. Successful environmental adaptation makes the concept a lot clearer and makes the OP obvious.
Yes, I know what you mean. I keep hearing the subtext of "Yer doing evolution wrong!" from both the left and the right.

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What I've found with a few discussions I've had lately is this self-satisfaction that people express with their proffessed open mindedness. In realty it ammounts to wilful ignorance and intellectual cowardice as they are choosing to not form any sort of opinion on a particular topic. Basically "I don't know and I'm not going to look at any evidence because I'm quite happy on this fence."
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Re: Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

Post by cronus » Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:29 pm

It's what the 1% want you to believe. Scientific ain't it? :funny:
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Re: Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

Post by Robert_S » Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:41 pm

Scrumple wrote:It's what the 1% want you to believe. Scientific ain't it? :funny:
The 1% wish us to believe what exactly? If I wanted to maintain control over people, I'd try to spread distrust and paranoia.

It motivates people to inform on others before someone informs on them for their failure to inform. That keeps any opposition groups from forming in the first place.
What I've found with a few discussions I've had lately is this self-satisfaction that people express with their proffessed open mindedness. In realty it ammounts to wilful ignorance and intellectual cowardice as they are choosing to not form any sort of opinion on a particular topic. Basically "I don't know and I'm not going to look at any evidence because I'm quite happy on this fence."
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Re: Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

Post by rachelbean » Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:35 pm

This is news? The chapter, "Nice guys finish first", in the Selfish Gene (written what...40 years ago?), says all of that in a much clearer way :dunno:

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Re: Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

Post by Animavore » Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:38 pm

rachelbean wrote:This is news? The chapter, "Nice guys finish first", in the Selfish Gene (written what...40 years ago?), says all of that in a much clearer way :dunno:
:this:

I think scientific journalism goes in circles because it keep the story mill going.
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Re: Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

Post by Brian Peacock » Sat Aug 03, 2013 12:16 am

It does seem that way sometimes. :tup: However, some things bear repeating.

How one reads the dilemma depends on one's view of others. If you expect others to act in their own self-interest regardless of circumstances then it seems reasonable to presume the other prisoner will inform on you and you'll spend three months in prison. You therefore have nothing to gain from not informing on them and a three month sentence seems guaranteed. However, if you can communicate with the other prisoner and acknowledge that seeming to act in your apparent self-interest is going to guarantee a three month sentence then co-operating gives you the mutual benefit of limiting the sentence to one month only. It is through communication that we come to trust others to co-operate for mutual benefits. Seeing ourselves and others as discrete, isolated individuals who only act with self-interest means we can't trust others not to act in their own self-interest, and the mutual benefits that may come from co-operation are lost for want of a little reciprocity. Things like trade, the granting and maintenance of human rights, and highway safety rely on reciprocity. Without it mutual benefits are forfeited.
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Re: Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

Post by cronus » Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:37 am

It is easy to say evolution favours the nice guys over the mean but look at the world? some good, some bad and a awful lot of fudge and shades of grey. Yes, on the average the nice guys win and cum first but that's the average not in your life or anyone you know. The amount of variation and diversity required to maintain a evolutionary process far outweighs any advantage one particular good or bad guy lives through. What this kind of article is ain't nothing short of 'religion disguised as philisophy disguised as science' and it's nothing short of a fraud pushing someone's crude b/w, good vs evil social agenda. There is scope for great social evils by way of socialism and we're all in it together, as there is for the oppoisite. And a committee never designed a beautiful(or safe) aeroplane.
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Re: Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

Post by Svartalf » Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:51 am

I notice that the experience was rigged from get go, trying to deduce evolutionary issues from setting a prisoners dilemma experience smacks of intellectual dishonesty.
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Re: Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

Post by Jason » Sat Aug 03, 2013 8:05 am

Deducing hypotheses from thought expiraments is all well and good. Using thought expiraments as evidence for such hypotheses.. not so good.

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Re: Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

Post by mistermack » Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:40 pm

You can see what evolution favours without playing games.
Just look at the result of evolution. If it exists, it's because evolution favoured it.

Selfishness AND unselfishness both exist. Therefor, they are both favoured.
Evolution ACTUALLY favours variety. That's why you get both traits, in varying amounts. And that's how you often get splits in populations, and eventually new species.

Even inside a single person, you get both selfishness and unselfishness. You can never predict how some people will react. It depends on how they feel on the day.
Animal keepers will tell you that the same applies to animals. And that their charges of the same species often have hugely different personalities.

There is obviously real evolutionary benefit in all this unpredictability. Otherwise, you wouldn't see it.
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Re: Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows

Post by Blind groper » Fri Nov 07, 2014 7:27 pm

In human evolution of altruism, a very powerful influence is the tendency to retribution. In other words, if one person is selfish and exploits others, there is a very good chance those others will take action against the selfish one. This tendency has even been shown to happen in chimpanzees.

This action over millions of years acts to weed out selfishness from the genome in gregarious species.

Mind you, it is not 100% effective, and in human populations, it is estimated that about 3% of any population will be psychopaths - people with no conscience or empathy, who are manipulative and exploitive. Evolution is not perfect.

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