Emergence

The Primate Diaries

Category archives for Emergence

     New research finds chimpanzees follow  prestigious models when learning new tasks.        Monika Thorpe / Creative Commons If one were to play psychiatrist to the natural world, most human beings would be committed for our certifiable obsession with other peoples’ behavior. We compulsively examine, study, appraise, size up, and scope out what those around us are doing…

Author’s Note: This post was selected as the topic for the ResearchBlogCast as part of ResearchBlogging.org. Listen to the discussion here.    Could punishing bad behavior be the origin                  of human cooperation? Humans are one of the most cooperative species on the planet. Our ability to coordinate behavior and work collaboratively with others has allowed us…

Helpful Cichlids in the Gladiator’s Show

Image: The Daffodil Cichlid of Lake Tanganyika / Koen Eeckhoudt In 1888 “Darwin’s Bulldog”, Thomas Henry Huxley, declared that nature was little more than a “gladiator’s show” whereby only “the strongest, the swiftest, and the cunningest live to fight another day.” Brutal competition was the only important factor in the natural world, in which a…

Survival of the Kindest

Seed magazine has just posted my review of Frans de Waal’s The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society. I wanted to use this opportunity to thank Nikki, Evan, Bora and everyone else that helped in developing this piece. For posts on related topics please see Misunderstanding Dawkins, The Sacrifice of Admetus, Bonobos…

Heracles battles Death for generosity’s sake / Frederic Lord Leighton (1869-71) Whereas great scientific theories stand the test of time when they accurately predict the natural world through repeated empirical trials, great literature transcends the ages when it speaks to universal qualities of human experience. Such inspirational works can also, without the authors realizing at…

My previous post on a potential problem for the selfish gene theory in explaining cooperative behavior resulted in a fair amount of heated discussion. However, there are quite a few misconceptions regarding the controversy surrounding the selfish gene, group selection, multilevel selection, generalized reciprocity, etc. that need to be clarified. When Richard Dawkins published The…

Unicolonial ants, such as these Argentine ants (Linepithema humile), are genetically unrelated but will cooperate to defeat a much larger adversary. Source: Alex Wild / Live Science It has been a mainstay of evolutionary theory since the 1970s. Natural selection acts purely on the level of the individual and any cooperation observed between organisms merely…