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SciTech Selfish Traits Not Favored by Evolution

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by spnadmin, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. spnadmin

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

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23529849

    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 become 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.

    A team from Michigan State University, US, 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 to 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.

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

    In 1974, Richard Dawkins published a gene-centred view of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection.

    He argued that it was not groups or organisms that adapt and evolve, but individual genes and each living organism's body was a survival machine for its genes.

    Prof Andrew Coleman from Leicester University explains that this new work suggests that co-operation helps a group evolve, but does not argue against the selfish gene theory of evolution.

    Rather, he adds, it helps selfish genes survive as they reap the awards of inhabiting co-operative groups.

    Is DNA the smartest molecule in existence?

    "The two prisoners that are interrogated are not allowed to talk to each other. If they did they would make a pact and be free within a month. But if they were not talking to each other, the temptation would be to rat the other out.

    "Being mean can give you an advantage on a short timescale but certainly not in the long run - you would go extinct."

    These latest findings contradict a 2012 study where it was found that selfish people could get ahead of more co-operative partners, which would create a world full of selfish beings.

    This was dubbed a "mean and selfish" strategy and depended on a participant knowing their opponent's previous decision and adapting their strategy accordingly.

    Crucially, in an evolutionary environment, knowing your opponent's decision would not be advantageous for long because your opponent would evolve the same recognition mechanism to also know you, Dr Adami explained.

    This is exactly what his team found, that any advantage from defecting was short-lived. They used a powerful computer model to run hundreds of thousands of games, simulating a simple exchange of actions that took previous communication into account.

    "What we modelled in the computer were very general things, namely decisions between two different behaviours. We call them co-operation and defection. But in the animal world there are all kinds of behaviours that are binary, for example to flee or to fight," Dr Adami told BBC News.

    "It's almost like what we had in the cold war, an arms race - but these arms races occur all the time in evolutionary biology."

    Social insects

    Prof Andrew Coleman of Leicester University, UK, said this new work "put a break on over-zealous interpretations" of the previous strategy, which proposed that manipulative, selfish strategies would evolve.

    "Darwin himself was puzzled about the co-operation you observe in nature. He was particularly struck by social insects," he explained.

    "You might think that natural selection should favour individuals that are exploitative and selfish, but in fact we now know after decades of research that this is an oversimplified view of things, particularly if you take into account the selfish gene feature of evolution.

    "It's not individuals that have to survive, its genes, and genes just use individual organisms - animals or humans - as vehicles to propagate themselves."

    "Selfish genes" therefore benefit from having co-operative organisms.
     

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  3. findingmyway

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    Almost makes you feel like talk of anything to do with us as people is useless when we are just vessels!!! :winkingkaur:
     
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  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    findingmyway ji

    I have noticed that BBC online publishes maybe 1 long article each week similar to this one which explores various topics in the arena of social adaptation, social organization, relationships, etc. They are always from the evolutionary biology approach which has a clear bias, and on a second reading you may notice some things that can be quickly contradicted. Sometimes rules of thumb are not rules of thumb. Sometimes their choice of variable works well from an evolutionary point of view for lower life forms, and not as well for humans.

    That feeling you are a "vessel" is how you are supposed to feel... the product of genetic programming. Except that for every example given for cooperative behavior, there are also other explanations, and in this case, they would not have to be necessarily based on competition. Evolutionary biology often overlooks alternate patterns of behavior. It also neglects to mention that humans not only interact with their environments, they create, design, and modify those environments; and so do other social organisms. Humans do this with forethought and intentionality; whereas termites seem to re-design environments in fairly standardized ways, absent much evidence of imagination.

    I take these articles with a grain of salt. Cooperation among bacteria is a bit much, unless all cooperation is basically adapted synchronization of systems because that is what succeeds in nature. Which it could be. Then again, maybe it is more than that.
     
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    #3 spnadmin, Aug 4, 2013
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  5. findingmyway

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    My comment was slightly tongue in cheek with exasperation at home some recent discussions have gone round in circles!! Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

    A lot of science in the media is misreported so I also read with a pince of salt. Vert few journalists have a good understanding of science and there also seems to be a strong need to sensationalise so often incorrect conclusions are drawn. I especially find stories from work I have been involved in bemusing!!

    When discussing co-operation, it is the co-operation between species that truly fascinates me. Here are some examples
    http://www1.plymouth.ac.uk/research/mberc/Research/marine-vertebrates/Pages/bottlenose-dolphins.aspx
    http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112831305/pika-caterpillar-partners-food-supply-042513/
    Cleaner fish http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleaner_fish
     
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  6. spnadmin

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    I will take a look at those articles. Nothing more frustrating to me than wrap ups of science that read as if written at a tent show.

    They seem to be very interesting articles.
     
    #5 spnadmin, Aug 4, 2013
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  7. spnadmin

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    This one is actually fascinating because of the heritage tale of dolphins doing at sea rescues of ship wreck victims. So that may be where minds are roving. If so it is really a misfortune because dolphin mystique misses the real mystery here. This is emerging, how to reinforce interspecies behavior with an intelligent marine animal. Many examples in natural biology do demonstrate how dolphins can be trained to work in tandem with humans. Dolphins are used as part of a therapy project with autistic children in Florida. How is the connection forged? That is more fascinating to me than the :woohoo: of mystique.
     

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  8. spnadmin

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    Just a personal note. In their natural state, dolphins can be nasty beasts. I have seen lifeguards go absolutely bonkers when seaside bathers rush to swim toward a pod coming close to the shore. Yes... there is something akin to a religious moment when 40 dolphins are only yards away. They have cute faces and we have read and heard stories. The lifeguards however have safety in mind, and it is no safe to swim with the dolphins.
     
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  9. spnadmin

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    Unusual Co-operation Between Species In Competition For Scarce Vegetation In Northern Mountain Areas
    April 25, 2013

    Who would have thought that two very different species, a small insect and a furry alpine mammal, would develop a shared food arrangement in the far North?

    University of Alberta researchers were certainly surprised when they discovered the unusual response of pikas to patches of vegetation that had previously been grazed on by caterpillars from a species normally found in the high Arctic.

    U of A biology researcher Isabel C. Barrio analyzed how two herbivores, caterpillars and pikas, competed for scarce vegetation in alpine areas of the southwest Yukon. The caterpillars come out of their winter cocoons and start consuming vegetation soon after the snow melts in June. Weeks later, the pika starts gathering and storing food in its winter den. For the experiment, Barrio altered the numbers of caterpillars grazing on small plots of land surrounding pika dens.

    “What we found was that the pikas preferred the patches first grazed on by caterpillars,” said Barrio. “We think the caterpillar´s waste acted as a natural fertilizer, making the vegetation richer and more attractive to the pika.”

    U of A biology professor David Hik, who supervised the research, says the results are the opposite of what the team expected to find.

    “Normally you´d expect that increased grazing by the caterpillars would have a negative effect on the pika,” said Hik. “But the very territorial little pika actually preferred the vegetation first consumed by the caterpillars.”

    The researchers say it´s highly unusual that two distant herbivore species–an insect in its larval stage and a mammal–react positively to one another when it comes to the all-consuming survival issue of finding food.

    These caterpillars stay in their crawling larval stage for up to 14 years, sheltering in a cocoon during the long winters before finally becoming Arctic woolly bear moths for the final 24 hours of their lives.

    The pika does not hibernate and gathers a food supply in its den. Its food-gathering territory surrounds the den and covers an area of around 700 square meters.

    The researchers say they´ll continue their work on the caterpillar—pika relationship to explore the long-term implications for increased insect populations and competition for scarce food resources in northern mountain environments.

    Barrio was the lead author on the collaborative research project, which was published April 24 in the journal Biology Letters.
     

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  10. findingmyway

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    This is an interesting alternative viewpoint
    http://cooperation-community.apjpublications.co.uk/coop2.htm

    Co-operation did not evolve, co-operationis
    Kevin Loughran
    Co-operation is a problem, when seen within a process of Darwinian evolution. Robert Axelrod put the problem simply when he asked (1984): under what conditions would co-operation emerge in a world of egoists? Surely those who co-operate would lose out in the individual struggle for existence. Yet Robert Axelrod acknowledged that co-operation was common in nature, between members of the same species and between different species.

    How can the reality of co-operation be reconciled with the individual struggle for existence? The standard explanation is that co-operation has emerged over time: it has evolved, in nature and among human beings. And co-operation has evolved (so the explanation goes) because various life forms from the most elementary to the most complex – to human beings – discover in time that helping others can be in their individual interests.

    This explanation implies that co-operation has evolved where previously behaviour and forms of association were not co-operative. It has evolved from a state of individual existence and the material of individual self-interest. Matt Ridley (1996)[ii] recognised this implication when he declared that the first life on earth had been atomistic and individual, but that increasingly forms of life came together and life became “a team game.”

    The problem with the standard explanation is that it doesn’t work, when examined closely. It is not justified by the evidence which is available, or at least the evidence which is presented. Certainly evidence can be presented to demonstrate that particular modes of co-operation have evolved. But evidence to support the belief that co-operation in general has evolved where previously behaviour and forms of association were not co-operative is much less certain.

    Take for example co-operation among human beings. Carel Van Schaik argued (2004)[iii] that the solitary life was the ‘ancestral state’ for all mammals. But when did human beings lead solitary lives? John Maynard Smith and Eörs Szathmary (1999)[iv] observed that social intelligence is a common characteristic of primates. They concluded that the process of natural selection, working in favour of social intelligence, was a major cause of the increase in brain size of monkeys, apes and humans. Perhaps the first human beings were distinguished from other primates by even greater social intelligence and an even greater capacity for co-operation.

    And can we say with certainly who the first human beings were? Various hominid species have been identified since the emergence of ‘Australopithecus’ over four million years ago. They might be considered to be our ancestors – or simply as species of great ape with some human-like characteristics, from which in time human beings evolved. Perhaps the emergence of ‘homo sapiens’ between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago could be taken as the beginning of humanity as we know it. Or perhaps the explosion of innovation in tool-making, in art, in trading, in culture in general that has been identified around 40,000 years ago should be considered as the true beginning. Do we know enough to be able to say with any certainty? Perhaps the ‘symbolic revolution’ – the use of symbols to share information and represent ideas – marks the emergence of modern humans. Genevieve von Petzinger speculated that the symbolic revolution may have occurred before the arrival of the first modern humans in Europe (see: Kate Ravillous. ‘Messages from the Stone Age’, New Scientist, 20 Feb. 2010).

    But perhaps co-operation emerged at a much earlier stage of life and human beings – whenever recognisable human beings emerged – simply inherited a capacity for co-operation from earlier forms of life. So what statements can be made about the beginnings of life?

    One view is that all forms of life can be traced back to a single form – the last universal common ancestor or LUCA. Another view has emerged that life began in a pool of genes shared among many primitive beings working through the process known as horizontal gene transfer. Eventually cells became more complex and specialised and so less interchangeable. (‘Born in a Watery Commune’, Nature, Vol. 427, 19th February 2004).

    Carl Woese has suggested that Darwinian evolution (the process of evolution as conceived and described by Charles Darwin) may not have been the original form of evolution. There may have been an earlier phase of evolution dominated by horizontal gene transfer; and it would have been in this phase that the universal genetic code arose (see: Mark Buchanan. ‘Another Kind of Evolution’, New Scientist, 23 January 2010). Indeed, Carl Woese has proposed that the three fundamental types of cells – eubacteria, archaea and eukaryotes – evolved independently of each other and not in a line from a common ancestor (see: ‘On the Evolution of Cells’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 99, No. 13, June 2002).

    But Peter Antonelli and Solange Rutz (2004) used mathematical equations to describe the world which may have existed with a last universal community in which horizontal gene transfer was common or universal, and they concluded that it would have been mathematically unstable. It would have fallen apart. It was not, in their judgement, a realistic idea. (‘Born in a Watery Commune’, see above).

    Furthermore, Douglas L. Theobald has developed a formal test which, it is claimed, provides statistical evidence for the unity of all known life. The claim is that all known life has at least one common ancestor (LUCA), although this may not have been the first organism on Earth (see: Nature, Vol. 465, May 2010).

    So there is a wide range of opinion and argument as to when life emerged, in what form and by what process. There is even speculation that life on this planet may have had origins beyond this planet. So is it reasonable to maintain that the first life on earth was atomistic and individual, as Matt Ridley did, if there is no agreement as to how life began?

    And is it reasonable to maintain, as Robert Axelrod did, that co-operation emerged in a world of egoists if it cannot be agreed when co-operation evolved? Perhaps co-operation emerged first among primitive life forms. Evidence has been found both for co-operative behaviour and competitive behaviour among bacteria. (See Dale Kaiser and Richard Losick in ‘How Bacteria Communicate’, Scientific American , February 1997; and Lee Kroos, Richard Lenski and Gregory Velicer in ‘Developmental Cheating in the Social Bacterium MX’, Nature, 6th April 2000). Perhaps co-operation emerged first among our primate ancestors. Perhaps co-operation between human beings emerged first during the Pleistocene Period, as Robert Trivers suggested in Social Evolution (1985). Perhaps co-operation evolved recurrently as John Maynard Smith proposed. (Quoted in ‘A Tale of Two Selves’, Science, 3 November 2000).

    The closer we try to get to the origins of co-operation, the more we try to explore the problem of co-operation and the standard explanation for it, then the more problematic the standard explanation becomes. Why then do we continue to assume that co-operation is the outcome of a process of evolution?

    Seeing a world full of egoists, or deciding that the first life on earth was atomistic and individual, or that the solitary life was the ancestral state of all mammals – these are as much assertions of belief as conclusions drawn directly from systematic observations and analysis. They represent a way of imagining the world. It is a way which is shaped by and dependent on Charles Darwin’s idea of the individual struggle for existence. Life evolves through the workings of natural selection and natural selection acts by competition between individual organisms.

    The significance in this context of the individual struggle for existence is that it is not presented simply as a common or pervasive principle of life but as a universal principle. It offers a complete explanation of the way things are. If the individual struggle for existence is accepted as a universal principle in the development of life then of course co-operation – which is undoubtedly a reality – has evolved.

    But to regard the individual struggle for existence as a universal principle means that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution ceases to be a powerful tool which explained much then and explains much now. It becomes articles of faith. In this sense it resembles Karl Marx’s assertion at the beginning of the Communist Manifesto that the history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle. Both ideas – of the individual struggle for existence and of the history of class struggle – seem to reflect a belief that it is possible to have a complete explanation of the way things are.

    The standard explanation, that co-operation is the outcome of a process of evolution, simply doesn’t work as a complete explanation of the way things are. It doesn’t explain the reality of co-operation properly, although it can help to explain the emergence of particular modes of co-operation.

    I would propose an alternative to the standard explanation. Co-operation as a general or common state of existence did not evolve. If from the beginning there were forms of life which were distinct from each other, which had some degree of existence apart from each other but could also interact with each other: then from the beginning there was a capacity for co-operation as well as a capacity for competition. Co-operative behaviour and competitive behaviour are recurrent and parallel themes of existence from the earliest and most primitive life forms to human beings and human societies. There is some evidence to support this argument. Is there any evidence to contradict it?

    Co-operation did not evolve. Co-operation is.

     
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  11. findingmyway

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    This is a fascinating document about the co-operation in the ocean
    http://www.howfishbehave.ca/pdf/cooperation.pdf

    Too long to post but here's an excerpt
    The initiative seems to lie with the grouper. A grouper will start by visiting the sleeping berth of a moray eel during the day and shake its head directly in front of the moray. The grouper does this only when it is hungry. It appears to be a signal, an invitation to the eel to come out and participate in a joint hunt. In 70 out of 120 instances when the display was given, the moray responded by leaving its crevice and swimming away with the grouper. Sometimes the grouper appeared to lead the moray to a hole into which a small fish had just taken refuge from the grouper. In the probing that ensued, the prey was sometimes captured, either by the moray or by the grouper.

    An interesting aspect of these observations is that the grouper actually convinced the

    moray to “get out of bed”. This is an example of how flexible many fish can be in their capacity to be active at different times of day (see the page “Sleep in fishes”).
     
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  12. findingmyway

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    Spnadmin ji,
    This is related to your comment earlier about animals used in rehabilitation. Such a fascinating concept!

    [SIZE=+2]Why Didn't the Wild Polar Bear eat the Husky?[/SIZE]
    On a late October day on the Canadian tundra next to a gray, cold, but unfrozen Hudson Bay near tiny Churchill, Manitoba, a pack of large Husky dogs, the pride of hunter-trapper Brian LaDoon were comfortably lounging on a fresh bed of snow, each tethered by a long chain. Norbert Rosing, a naturalist and photographer was setting up his equipment to capture the scene.


    A wild polar bear is approaching the Husky who is signaling an invitation to play.

    The Dog and the Polar Bear - An Amazing Tale
    <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"> <tbody><tr> <td colspan="2" bgcolor="#a1a5a9">[​IMG]</td> </tr> <tr> <td>[​IMG]</td> <td width="0%">
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td>

    </td> <td width="0%">
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td>[​IMG]Follow the link for the amazing images
    </td> <td width="0%">
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" bgcolor="#a1a5a9">[​IMG]</td> </tr> </tbody></table>
    How does this Relate to Humans?
    Anyone who has ever tossed a Frisbee to a beloved dog knows that playfulness crosses species lines. What does this mean? For humans and other animals, play is a universal training course and language of trust. The belief that one is safe with another being or in any situation is formed over time during regular play. Trust is the basis of intimacy, cooperation, creativity, successful work, and more.


    Play practitioner Fred Donaldson has developed many of his successful healing techniques by first deciphering the play signals of animals through close observation, then using them to join in and play-bond with animals such as wolves and bears in the wild. He has adapted these techniques to his remarkable work with hostile gangs, warring political parties and other groups locked in lose-lose battles. He also works with disabled children to help them reach the freedom and utter joy found in a state of deep play. Play signals run deep in our heritage.


    Kids have society's permission to play, and most adults don't. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, most of us exchange play for work, and forget to play with the abandon and joy of childhood. Giving adults the “go ahead” and techniques to resume adult forms of play offers multiple benefits. Being capable of generating, recognizing and acting on the play signals of others establishes, or re-establishes trust, safety and adaptation to the unexpected or complex. Perhaps this truth has been buried in the usual win-lose contests that characterize most adult negotiations.

    http://nifplay.org/polar-husky.html
     

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