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Give people more freedom to create less selfish societies says research

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February 8, 2009

Image courtesy of the Character Education page of the Lebanon R-3 School District - what w...

Image courtesy of the Character Education page of the Lebanon R-3 School District - what we should be teaching our children and living ourselves.

February 8, 2009 Cooperation, despite being now considered the third force of evolution, just behind mutation and natural selection, is difficult to explain in the context of an evolutionary process based on competition between individuals and selfish behavior. But this puzzle, that has haunted scientists for decades, is now a little closer to be solved by research about to be published on the journal Physical Review Letters.

Richard Dawkins never tires of reminding us that evolution is based on the survival of the fittest and on selfishness. Every living thing, right down to individual cells, is designed to survive, if necessary at the expense of everything else. On the other hand, cooperation is now considered the third force of evolution, just behind mutation and natural selection. This puzzle has haunted scientists for decades and is difficult to explain in the context of an evolutionary process based on competition between individuals and selfish behavior.

The new research reveals that an increasing range of behaviors among the individuals of a population leads to cooperation, supporting the idea that democracy - where individuals are free to act as they wish - is in fact the path for better societies.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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3 Comments

Cool

Manaen Ma
9th February, 2009 @ 06:20 pm PST

Cooperation eludes the human race. The extent of human cooperation pales in comparison to that of insects such as ants and bees. If we could humble ourselves by admitting that we can learn from them we will go a long way in our civilisation. Nature has many lessons for us, just lying waiting for us to pause and imbibe such simple elegance, efficiency, beauty, peace...

Moiseraela
9th February, 2009 @ 10:53 pm PST

I read "The Complete Strategyst" (JD Williams, 1954) in highschool -- this is not a new idea. Look into biological altruism. The "game theory" article on Wikipedia is a good starting place. Dawkins is too narrowly focused (and perhaps too invested) in his theory.

Richard Milward
10th February, 2009 @ 01:02 pm PST
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