Evolution Frowns on Selfish Behavior

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Geo Beats
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Contrary to previous thought and popular theory, evolution does not in fact favor selfish behavior – in the long run, anyway.

Contrary to previous thought and popular theory, evolution does not in fact favor selfish behavior – in the long run, anyway.

Intrigued and a bit befuddled by past findings generated by using a game theory known as Prisoner’s Dilemma, two scientists from Michigan State University gave it another go.

In the game, two prisoners are given incentives to rat the other out.

If one tells on the other, the other gets 6 months in prison. Mutual finger pointing results in 3 months each. Shared silence earns both a month in the joint.

Years ago mathematician John Nash calculated that the most beneficial and thus most popular response is to sell out the other person.

Since then, the mean and selfish model of survival has stuck, but has often been questioned.

The MSU scientists reran the simulations but introduced the idea of communication and the possibility that the other person involved may be onto you.

Following that trial one scientist announced, "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."

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