Reality Blind - Vol. 1

it. This may not be sane, but historically it has been very useful.

Our Dual Natures: Cooperation vs. Competition

Summary : It ’ s tempting to look at evolution via natural selection and conclude we are all just Machiavellian actors pursuing personal se lf-interest. This is simplistic and wrong. Our current genetic makeup passed through many historical bottlenecks. Being the most “ fit ” individual in a group meant that an individual had, in retrospect, relatively greater survival and mating success. But sometimes entire groups would perish while other groups would survive. Those tribal units which were cohesive, cooperative and worked together (usually versus a common enemy tribe or predators, but sometimes during disasters or other challenges) had a competitive advantage. So, natural selection pulled in two directions: on one hand towards selfishness and on the other towards group solidarity/cooperation. 74 We can visualize this dynamic in sports teams. A football team needs to work in concert as a single unit to beat other teams. But within the team only one athlete might be eligible to win "MVP" or get drafted by the professional NFL. So there is a constant interplay between what's good for “ me ” and what's good for "us" (my team). We bond strongly in opposition to “ outgroups, ” even temporary and meaningless ones, while still competing for social status and individual advantage within our own group. The inherent conflict between those two evolved drives explains a lot of human behavior and history.


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