Evolution Will Kill Off Selfish People

NeedsaBetterName22

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MinionJoe said:
I read that article, and while I'm not a sociologist or a geneticist, I have difficulty believing their claims.

Evolution stops working once a community starts to care for the weak and infirm. Selfish people in modern society are unlikely to be denied food and shelter so they will survive until breeding age. And given the shit relationships I've seen a lot of my friends in, selfish people will still be able to pass on their genetic code.

So, yeah, maybe there will be changes in society that will marginalize the selfish, but I find it highly unlikely that there will be a base, genetic change (ie evolution) in humanity unless some natural or man-made catastrophe puts the species on the brink of extinction.

I do wonder how many grants the researchers received during the course of their investigations.


'Evolution stops working once a community starts to care for the weak and infirm'. Um, no, no it doesn't. What many people, including the you and author of this article, try to do is assume some kind of philosophical correlation with evolution and social darwinism. Evolution is literally just genetic alterations to adapt to change over successive generations, it does not 'stop working', it's just genetic change over time (actually it's a little more then that but genetic change is the 'evolution' most people refer to). If you want to talk about evolution in the context of game theory it's possible, but to say it's 'not working' has literally no meaning.

wombat_of_war said:
thats the point. modern society is unsustainable and it doesnt take much for chaos to occur, whether war or disaster. the selfish work well in todays society because its built by them, intially in a disaster they do well claiming supplies, etc but eventually when groups band together they are marginalised
No, that's not the point at all. Once again, you're assuming a philosophical viewpoint to evolution, i.e. 'I think modern society is unsustainable, therefore evolution correlates this way and agree with me'. Not what evolution is. The only thing these scientists are suggesting is that 'zero sum' deductive reasoning may be a poor evolutionary adaptation. This is not suggesting that some or all selfish behaviour is inherently regressive, just that zero sum perspective may be in specific situations. You're also constructing a narrative based purely on human moralism. The things you present are moral problems, not evolutionary ones. Not to mention the fact that they're divided based on politics rather then actual self-interest. If a 'group who banded together and was marginalized' went and looted a store, then that would also be zero sum selfish action in specific conditions. If 'creating chaos through war or disaster' was an adaptive social change that would benefit the species in certain environments then it would have evolutionary potential. You both need to look up game theory and the actual definition of selfishness in terms of genetics.

TL:DR version: Evolution doesn't care about your morality or anyone else's. And don't try to use it to back up your philosophical/political viewpoints because it's an entirely amoral process.
 

Yopaz

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Actually this is wrong. Altruism isn't an evolutionary stable strategy thus it can't be absolute. Let's say we have a population of altruists then we get one selfish renegade. He will reap enormous short term advantage over the altruistic individuals. In the example above with the prisoner's dilemma he would never go to prison while the altruist would always serve 6 months when grouped together.

The selfish individuals themselves won't be evolutionary stable either. The evolutionary stable strategy will usually favour a polymorphism in the case of selfish/non selfish. This has been proven both by observation and simulation on several occasions.

Altruism will be the best strategy on average, but it allows selfish individuals to gain too much advantage and will break down with time. The idea is beautiful, but it suggests that evolution favours long term over short term. Evolution doesn't work that way. Evolution doesn't "think ahead".

Now ignoring the fact that they tried to use evolution as a part of this it's entirely possible that human society might move towards a state like this because we are able to think ahead unlike evolution. We can actually plan ahead and increase our long term success at the cost of short term. The cynic in me doesn't consider this plausible though.
 

NeedsaBetterName22

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Yopaz said:
Actually this is wrong. Altruism isn't an evolutionary stable strategy thus it can't be absolute. Let's say we have a population of altruists then we get one selfish renegade. He will reap enormous short term advantage over the altruistic individuals. In the example above with the prisoner's dilemma he would never go to prison while the altruist would always serve 6 months when grouped together.

The selfish individuals themselves won't be evolutionary stable either. The evolutionary stable strategy will usually favour a polymorphism in the case of selfish/non selfish. This has been proven both by observation and simulation on several occasions.

Altruism will be the best strategy on average, but it allows selfish individuals to gain too much advantage and will break down with time. The idea is beautiful, but it suggests that evolution favours long term over short term. Evolution doesn't work that way. Evolution doesn't "think ahead".

Now ignoring the fact that they tried to use evolution as a part of this it's entirely possible that human society might move towards a state like this because we are able to think ahead unlike evolution. We can actually plan ahead and increase our long term success at the cost of short term. The cynic in me doesn't consider this plausible though.
This dude's got the right idea. Situational conditions determine situational responses. Evolution is not some magical path that is all-knowing.
 

mad825

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So...This was an experiment to confirm which Richard Dawkins discovered and confirmed? Am I missing something here? The selfish gene theory pretty much covers this topic from top to bottom.
 

Flatfrog

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Formica Archonis said:
Isn't the iterated prisoner's dilemma [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner's_dilemma] kind of old news? Society hasn't killed off its defectors in ten thousand years, despite some fairly thorough attempts to. It's not going to do it now.

Some people think that even if ideally no one would steal or break the rules, in our society some people who break the rules [http://www.amazon.com/Liars-Outliers-Enabling-Society-Thrive/dp/1118143302] can be a good thing, because sometimes the rules are themselves wrong. Selfishness is bad, but not everyone who performs action X is necessarily doing it out of completely selfish motives.
Just came to post the same thing. Since when is this news? I remember Douglas Hofstadter writing about the Robert Axelrod tournaments back in the mid-80's. It's been known for decades that Tit-For-Tat is the most robust strategy (give-or-take some complex variations which pretty much amount to the same thing) and that constant defection is hopeless.

And as you say, in a society consisting mostly of nice, forgiving strategies like Tit-For-Tat, there will always be space for a few non-nice strategies to forge a parasitic living, as long as they don't damage their hosts too much.
 

Flatfrog

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mad825 said:
So...This was an experiment to confirm which Richard Dawkins discovered and confirmed? Am I missing something here? The selfish gene theory pretty much covers this topic from top to bottom.
No, it absolutely doesn't in any way.

The selfish gene theory is a theory about genes. It's not a theory about behaviour of organisms - in fact, the whole point of it is that it mostly ignores organisms altogether. Genes 'for' altruism can still themselves be selfish.
 

Olrod

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If this were true then they would have already died out, or never evolved the trait to begin with.

Lauren Admire said:
So, long story short. Selfish people win in the short term. But in the long term, you'll have the last laugh. After a few millenia have passed, that is.
A few millennia have ALREADY passed. Humanity is more than 100 years old, you know.
 

mad825

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Flatfrog said:
mad825 said:
So...This was an experiment to confirm which Richard Dawkins discovered and confirmed? Am I missing something here? The selfish gene theory pretty much covers this topic from top to bottom.
No, it absolutely doesn't in any way.

The selfish gene theory is a theory about genes. It's not a theory about behaviour of organisms - in fact, the whole point of it is that it mostly ignores organisms altogether. Genes 'for' altruism can still themselves be selfish.
Whatever, this argument is old and was masturbation material during the cold war era.
 

Flatfrog

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mad825 said:
Flatfrog said:
mad825 said:
So...This was an experiment to confirm which Richard Dawkins discovered and confirmed? Am I missing something here? The selfish gene theory pretty much covers this topic from top to bottom.
No, it absolutely doesn't in any way.

The selfish gene theory is a theory about genes. It's not a theory about behaviour of organisms - in fact, the whole point of it is that it mostly ignores organisms altogether. Genes 'for' altruism can still themselves be selfish.
Whatever, this argument is old and was masturbation material during the cold war era.
Not sure what you mean by that, but in any case, you brought it up.
 
Mar 9, 2010
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What I'm reading is "evolution will kill off selfish people after selfless people." I still don't see the reason selfless people have nothing to worry about, the selfish will just change into selfless people after learning it's the most profitable thing to do.

I maintain that a man should be selfish but the people should be selfless.
 

Frankster

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I interpreted the article as selfish people will only change their ways once they have screwed over the non selfish people so hard that they ain't none left and some of the selfish people have to convert out of sheer neccesity.
So not much of a "revenge" unless you consider the conquerors wearing the clothing of those they defeated to be some kinda moral victory.
 

Icehearted

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So, long story short. Selfish people win in the short term. But in the long term, you'll have the last laugh.
I look at the economy, how selfish short-term profit was prioritized over long-term sustainability, at how those that knew best and were best enabled to exploit the system took hundreds of billions in free, no-strings bailout money from the government they say spoils the poor with a trickle of food stamps, and I wonder where the last laugh is in all that mess.

I think other factors are being ignored as well, such as apathy, social acceptability, meritocracy (in all it's presently warped and grossly manipulated glory), and the countless socio-political factors that determine on a daily basis literally who lives well and who gets to be used up until they drop dead, or worse, grow old and further "burden" the system. Then there's the whole introvert/extrovert argument.

I'd like to be optimistic and say that we will outgrow greed and evolve more to a people as were represented by Captain Picard to the unfrozen 90s assholes about how people didn't need money anymore, but really, I think we're headed more toward a Soylent Green kind of future.

Edit:
Frankster said:
I interpreted the article as selfish people will only change their ways once they have screwed over the non selfish people so hard that they ain't none left and some of the selfish people have to convert out of sheer neccesity.
So not much of a "revenge" unless you consider the conquerors wearing the clothing of those they defeated to be some kinda moral victory.
This reminds me of stories about griefers on MMOs and online games. Essentially, in some communities things would get really ugly, people would exploit something, or harass others until only the griefers remained and the community eventually died out entirely. An example would be Mario Kart DS, wherein an exploit was used by some people to allow them a tremendous advantage granted you could or would be able to use this exploit (called snaking). Eventually other players just stopped playing until only mostly the "snakers" remained, and since there weren't enough of them to keep things really going the community died out. The "meek" (those willing to/only capable of playing fairly) inherited nothing, they were just run off.

It's impossible, using the MMO environment as a model, to see how the selfish are capable of being anything other than selfish even until it destroys them, and how anyone that is not can do anything more than imply continue to be victimized ( I use the term loosely) or just giving up.
 

someonehairy-ish

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How does game theory and models of weirdly specific sets of circumstances show that selfish are people are less likely to survive and procreate?

It doesn't.

This is complete bunk.
 

Dagda Mor

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That title was misleading. To me, anyway. I consider selfishness a virtue in the Ayn Rand sort of way, though I'm no objectivist--I thought that the article would claim that altruism will become more prevalent, which was disturbing to me, not that it would claim that taking from others would decrease.
 

Thaluikhain

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MinionJoe said:
Evolution stops working once a community starts to care for the weak and infirm.
No it doesn't, it just stops selecting against the weak and infirm so much.

There's still lots of ways to die before breeding. Evolution may have slowed down compared to previous times, but that's not to say it's stopped.
 

KOMega

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So a few things:

I didn't know selfishness was genetic.

I would think evolution only works here if we outbreed the selfish people.
Do we know that the unselfish people are breeding faster than the selfish people?
Or that people that are selfish are dying off somehow?
 

Hagi

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I honestly can't see how anyone could possibly make the claim that selfishness has been evolutionary selected for in humans.

We're one of the most, if not the most, social species on this planet. Most living creatures ( counting one-celled organisms etc. ) probably aren't even aware that other individuals exist, let alone that they have feelings, motivations etc.

And, if you go back far enough, that's where we came from. And at one point we developed this sense of empathy and it's still here, stronger than it probably is in any other species. A sense whose sole point is allowing us to share the feelings of others, to make their happiness our own and their worries our own.

If selfishness was evolutionary selected for in humans we'd never have developed empathy. We'd never have developed the breadth of communication, especially in regards to feelings and cooperation, that we have.

I realize that it's cool, edgy and dark to go all cynical on everything and claim everyone's just out for themselves. But that's simply not true. Through evolution we've developed, one way or the other, empathy. And that sense is stronger in us than in any of our primate ancestors.

It's quite obvious that emphatic people are the ones that are evolutionary selected for, people who share in the happiness and worries of others.