Thursday, August 01, 2013

'Evolution Will Punish You If You're Selfish and Mean' - updated comment 8/6/2013

I long ago concluded that at least part of the reason large societies tend to disintegrate after a few hundred years is that they enable psychopaths and other takers to proliferate, because once people around them catch on to them, they can move elsewhere. But they depend for their survival on the givers, so when the takers become to large a proportion of society, it cannot survive.

8/6/2013 I realized later that my comment would probably be misunderstood by many. By the takers, I am talking most about people like the executives of drug companies who hide the results of tests that show some of their products are not effective, or are even harmful. Like the people who get ahead by sabotaging their more capable co-workers, and taking credit for others work. By the owners of companies who cheat their workers of their wages.

Aug. 1, 2013 — Two Michigan State University evolutionary biologists offer new evidence that evolution doesn't favor the selfish, disproving a theory popularized in 2012.

We found evolution will punish you if you're selfish and mean," said lead author Christoph Adami, MSU professor of microbiology and molecular genetics. "For a short time and against a specific set of opponents, some selfish organisms may come out ahead. But selfishness isn't evolutionarily sustainable."

The paper appears in the current issue of Nature Communications and focuses on game theory, which is used in biology, economics, political science and other disciplines. Much of the last 30 years of research has focused on how cooperation came to be, since it's found in many forms of life, from single-cell organisms to people.


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