Evolutionary psychology News

No! Wait! Evolution favours the COLLAPSE of co-operation!

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Not like we were told by the most recent “evolution” news story.

Remember how “Warfare, not hunting, drove human collaboration, researcher claims”? Darwin swivels aain; it now turns out that “Game theory analysis shows how evolution favors cooperation’s collapse”:

Last year, University of Pennsylvania researchers Alexander J. Stewart and Joshua B. Plotkin published a mathematical explanation for why cooperation and generosity have evolved in nature. Using the classical game theory match-up known as the Prisoner’s Dilemma, they found that generous strategies were the only ones that could persist and succeed in a multi-player, iterated version of the game over the long term.

But now they’ve come out with a somewhat less rosy view of evolution. With a new analysis of the Prisoner’s Dilemma played in a large, evolving population, they found that adding more flexibility to the game can allow selfish strategies to be more successful. The work paints a dimmer but likely more realistic view of how cooperation and selfishness balance one another in nature.

“It’s a somewhat depressing evolutionary outcome, but it makes intuitive sense,” said Plotkin, a professor in Penn’s Department of Biology in the School of Arts & Sciences, who coauthored the study with Stewart, a postdoctoral researcher in his lab. “We had a nice picture of how evolution can promote cooperation even amongst self-interested agents and indeed it sometimes can, but, when we allow mutations that change the nature of the game, there is a runaway evolutionary process, and suddenly defection becomes the more robust outcome.”

Their study, which will appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examines the outcomes of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, a scenario used in the field of game theory to understand how individuals decide whether to cooperate or not. In the dilemma, if both players cooperate, they both receive a payoff. If one cooperates and the other does not, the cooperating player receives the smallest possible payoff, and the defecting player the largest. If both players do not cooperate, they both receive a payoff, but it is less than what they would gain if both had cooperated. In other words, it pays to cooperate, but it can pay even more to be selfish.

But selfishness only really works in the long run if you are a genuine sociopath.

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3 Replies to “No! Wait! Evolution favours the COLLAPSE of co-operation!

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    of related interest:

    Princeton Philosophy Prof Dr. Hans Halvorson speaks on “Quantum Mechanics and Mind” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_UK7Y4NWc0
    http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~q.....hans#talks
    Of note from preceding video: Introducing quantum information into multiplayer games allows a new type of equilibrium strategy which is not found in traditional (classical) games. The entanglement of player’s choices can have the effect of a contract by preventing players from profiting from betrayal.

    also of note:

    The Soul Hypothesis: Investigations into the Existence of the Soul
    Chapter 6 is Hans Halvorson’s ‘The Measure of All Things: Quantum Mechanics and the Soul’
    Hans Halvorsen is a philosopher of quantum physics at Princeton University
    Description: Quantum theory’s strange conclusions are founded on data obtained by measuring effects in certain experimental situations. But if quantum theory is correct there are no determinate data of the required sort, for the states of the measuring instruments will be superposed and entangled and thus indeterminate. The dualist has a way out of this problem. Superposition is when a physical system is in two apparently inconsistent states at once — for example, an electron is passing through both the left-hand slit and the right-hand one at the same time. Because of the nature of linear dynamics, this superposition is retained in a device further down the line of this process. If this continued with an observer, he would be aware of inconsistently believing that the electron was in two places at once. But this is not what happens. Observation ‘collapses the wave packet’ (not a phrase Halvorson generally deploys) and only one determinate state is observed. Now it is often pointed out that measurement collapses the wave packet, but that the measuring device need not be a conscious observer. Halvorson replies to this that a non-conscious measuring device will itself be in an entangled state, but that if a conscious subject observes it, only one of its possible states will be seen, so consciousness is crucial to making reality determinate. (151)
    http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/24611-.....-the-soul/

    (Meta)Physics: Hans Halvorson and Sean Carroll at Caltech – Veritas video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H864JH1tPYU

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    Some bureaucrat was trying to defend the value of Romneycare in the face of Gruber’s accidental confessions. The bureaucrat kept talking about numbers of “effectuated enrollments”. What is an “effectuated enrollment”? It’s an enrollment. An enrollment that isn’t “effectuated” isn’t an enrollment at all. It may be an attempted or intended enrollment, but it’s not an enrollment.

    So by semantic algebra, “effectuated” = null. It’s a completely empty word.

    Same with “evolution favors” or “evolution causes”. These phrases look like active subject-verb combinations, but in fact they are just prefixes for anything that happens to exist. “Evolution causes people to cooperate” is the same sentence as “People cooperate.”

    So by semantic algebra, “Evolution causes” = null. It adds zero meaning to the sentence.

  3. 3
    Silver Asiatic says:

    polistra 2

    Same with “evolution favors” or “evolution causes”. These phrases look like active subject-verb combinations, but in fact they are just prefixes for anything that happens to exist. “Evolution causes people to cooperate” is the same sentence as “People cooperate.”

    So by semantic algebra, “Evolution causes” = null. It adds zero meaning to the sentence.

    Great point. The concept is “whatever happens and whatever we observe, evolution caused it somehow”. That’s the rule.

    So, we observe people cooperating. Evolution caused it.
    We observe people not-cooperating. Evolution caused it.

    It could get twisted to this point:

    “A scientist claimed that evolution did not cause something. Obviously, evolution caused him to say that.”

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