Ethics Science

Evolution Punishes Selfishness

Using the Prisoner’s Dilemma game, a study produced by evolutionary biologists at Michigan State University indicates selfishness cannot survive evolution.

Christoph Adami, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics commented on the findings to the Daily Mail:

‘We found evolution will punish you if you’re selfish and mean.

‘For a short time, and against a specific set of opponents some selfish organisms may come out ahead. But selfishness isn’t evolutionarily sustainable.’

Zero determinant – selfish – ways of beating opponents only worked if the ‘player’ knew who their cooperative opponent was and beat them by exploiting their weaknesses.

But, once all the selfish players had eliminated all of the cooperative players they would have to change their selfish ways in order to beat their own kind.

So being able to cooperate by communicating is central to the winning strategy that will bring long-term success, according to Professor Adami.

Professor Adami said: ‘Communication is critical for cooperation – we think communication is the reason cooperation occurs.’

It is believed that the same set of principles apply to all organisms, from single cell organisms to humans, which is visible in the way people group together in families, tribes and nations.

So, greed and selfishness are an unnatural force in nature, which can only lead to the extinction of the human species.

As this study shows, communication is the key to cooperation and survival, which can only mean that the GOP is trying to kill us all. But the trick for them is to make people feel less guilty about being terrible people. Whether it’s taxes, the social safety net, the environment, or foreign affairs, the Republican party promotes greed and selfishness as their whole platform, but eventually the two selfish people left standing, after eliminating everyone else, will have to work together to survive.

I’d love to be there when the Koch brothers have to beat each other over the head with rocks to be the last one standing.

  • muselet


    … Press and Dyson [researchers in evolutionary game theory] conclude that a ZD strategy [a zero-determinant strategy unilaterally sets outcomes—mean and greedy, in other words] will always dominate any opponent that adapts its own strategy to maximize their payoff, for example, by Darwinian evolution.

    Here we show that ZD strategies (those who fix the opponent’s payoff as well as those who extort) are actually evolutionarily unstable, are easily outcompeted by fairly common strategies, and quickly evolve to become non-ZD strategies. However, if ZD strategies can determine who they are playing against (either by recognizing a tag or by analysing the opponent’s response), ZD strategists are probably very powerful agents against unwitting opponents.

    Emphasis added.

    The Rs don’t have to make people feel less guilty about being terrible people, they just have to keep people in the dark about the Rs being terrible people.

    And I’m with you: I’d pay good money to watch the Kochs bash each other with rocks.


  • Victor_the_Crab

    Of course it doesn’t help that too many Republicans don’t believe in evolution. They think God created the earth in order that they may plunder and squander it for their benefit, while all us “moochers” have to do as they say because God is on their side. This won’t work out.

  • blackdaug

    “But the trick for them is to make people feel less guilty about being terrible people”

    That trick works among themselves. “They” being largely composed of a group of second or third generation wealth inheritors, who have used their money to rig the game so much, they couldn’t manage to squander away their fortunes if they paid people to do it for them. (Have you noticed that by the way? Trump, Pope, The Kochs….not a self made billionaire in the lot…daddy’s little capitalists. They would have smothered FDR at birth)
    The problem is getting the very people you are screwing over… to support your aims to wipe them out.
    It takes some down home “other” hate for that to work.
    I saw a comment recently, taken from the records of the war crimes investigation units after WWII, that basically explained that the Nazis (backed by the wealthy industrialists of course) strategy before assuming total control, was to just make life so miserable for the average German, that they would hate the parliamentary process so much….. they would gladly tolerate a dictator to fix it.
    Looks like the GOP read their damn play book.