Is Selfishness A Brain Defect?

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

120409-rhesus-monkey-130p.grid-4x2Duke neuroscientist, Michael Platt, has an intriguing theory. What if altruism isn’t just learned at your mother’s knee but is really a result of evolved brain chemistry? In a study he co-authored and published in the journal, Nature Neuroscience, Platt wondered why certain primates act unselfishly. Animal behaviorists have long known that monkeys will go without food rather than see a member of their species shocked, and mice will starve to avoid hurting other mice. Major news stories around the world  have told the tales of animals risking their own safety to protect humans and other animals. In one recent episode,  Binti Jua, a female gorilla saved a three-year-old boy from other gorillas when he fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Brookline Zoo.  In another, a dog in Chile dodged traffic on a busy freeway to drag his canine companion to safety after it  had been struck and rendered unconscious.

What isn’t known is the basis for this animal “morality.” Some scientists have theorized that this altruism is the result of emotions or simply instinct.  But Platt thinks the answer may lie deep in the recesses of the brain.  Using rhesus monkeys because of their  similarity to humans both anatomically and physiologically, Platt and his colleagues set up a simple experiment.  Monkeys were shown computer images which when correctly identified  resulted in a squirt of tasty juice coming their way. The monkeys quickly caught on that correct answers rendered a direct benefit. Then, the researchers changed the rules of the game. Instead of a correct answer getting the test subject a tasty squirt of juice, it resulted in one for their neighbor. Of course, the monkey had the choice to give no juice to their neighbor at all by simply refusing to play or answer incorrectly. The deciding monkeys consistently showed a pattern of doling out juice to their friends  And lest you think the other monkeys merely liked seeing the juice squirt anywhere, the experiment didn’t work when the scientists replaced the fellow primate with a bottle of juice as the beneficiary.

During the experiment, the scientists connected brain monitors to the monkeys to record any neuronal activity. What they found suggests that brain chemistry plays an important role in just how empathetic the primates behaved.  Platt concentrated his attention on a region of the brain known as the orbitofrontal cortex, which is known to play a role in reward processing. He found that when monkey benefited themselves,  neurons in a region called the anterior cingulate gyrus fired, but when the monkeys helped their friends different cells in the same area fired. Platt suggests that this rendering of pleasure from helping others may serve as the chemical basis for altruism. He even speculates that the finding has carry-over effects to human behavior.  Believing that the orbitofrontal cortex encodes vicarious experiences which account for happiness and sadness, he theorizes that “vicarious experience and reward is perhaps what actually drives giving behavior and perhaps drives charity in people.”

Could the lack of this neuronal activity account for selfishness?  If so, could its utter absence make a human a sociopath? The answer lies down the road but it could have a dramatic impact on the way we view human behavior and hence the consequences for that behavior.

Sources: msnbc and throughout

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

63 thoughts on “Is Selfishness A Brain Defect?

  1. I love this topic. There is so much joy in just helping people. I often wonder if the people who are selfish understand this very basic concept or if they simply don’t get that joy reward from being kind. We are hard wired, some say 80-90%. You see that when you have kids.

  2. Mark,

    Love this piece because it gives lie to the idea that humans succeed best when we “go it alone” because that is our natural state. We are by every scientific definition “social animals”, who succeed as members of a society.
    As an analogy regarding our genetic inheritance, think of the characterization of someone as a “lone wolf”. Give that the long existence of the wolf species itself is due to the closeness of pack behavior, “lone wolf” is a pejorative applied to a creature with minimal chances of survival.

  3. So.. the monkeys “helped others” because they themselves received a benefit. That’s not “selfishness”? :)

    I’m not surprised that animals, us included, are inherently motivated to propagate the species, or even “life”. In so many survival instances for so many species , the desire to help others would be beneficial to both themselves, their “pack”, and their species in general.

    Interesting experiment. I wonder if squirting the juice at others also implies they do so with an expectation that others will at some future point squirt juice to them. When it’s their turn, perhaps?

    I also wonder if they measured which reward pulses in the brain were more powerful, the “I gave myself juice” button or the “I gave someone else juice” button? What if there were two buttons… one for squirting into their own mouth, and one for squirting into the other monkeys? Which would they choose?

  4. For humans the reward is the knowledge that you have helped another, not just the expectation of a concrete reward. I often think it has been taught out of us, news for instance telling the story, as news, and therefore the uncommon, when someone returns a wallet full of money etc. I am always astounded, though I no longer should be, at the people who rep;y to these stories, even the newscasters, with a ” how dare the person not get a gigantic reward”. Whatever happened to ‘kindness is its own reward’?

  5. MikeS, You are Elmer Gantry today. Who the f@ck wants a world where everyone is “good” and the same. There can be no light w/o dark, no good w/o evil, and no life w/o death. Now please condescend, you’re so cool when you condescend, Mr. Ivy League master!

  6. I am a prisoner being forced to do stupid experiments and I give my buddies juice and I am an altruist? No, I am sticking it to my tormentors and taking care of my friends.

    If altrusim was the natural state of mankind, communism would be heaven and it isnt.

    I have read about chimps getting really po’ed because one got a cake and one didnt.

    People work for friends and family, not for strangers. People will help strangers in distress but that dosent mean they would support them above their friends and families all of the time.

  7. a lone wolf can survive if it learns to hunt on its own as do mountain lions and bears.

    men can also survive without society. But society [a collection of individuals] makes life easier for the individual.

  8. “MikeS, You are Elmer Gantry today. Who the f@ck wants a world where everyone is “good” and the same. There can be no light w/o dark, no good w/o evil, and no life w/o death. Now please condescend, you’re so cool when you condescend, Mr. Ivy League master!”

    Nick,

    I “love” it when you add implications to what I write that don’t exist in what I actually write. A world where “everyone is good”? Where does that even come from? I really don’t mind people disagreeing with me, but I hate when they disagree with something I neither said, nor implied, yet ascribe their response as “refuting” my positions..

  9. MikeS, It comes from your authoritarian, Group=Good, Individual=Bad. I want both, I want a world where someone can not be part of your “herd” and be left alone if they desire. And where judgemental people like yourself don’t consider them defective or bad. To each their own. Walden Pond was embraced by the left in my youth..now it’s shunned.

  10. @Dredd and others who want to go further back in our evolution.

    For impatient monkeys, here is the link and then the presentation lecture. ;-)

    That we are here at all, we multicelled, with specialized organs which cooperate in sustaining a higher form(?) are proof that we are altruistic.
    Or at least symbiotic at the cell level.

    Single cells do communicate their presence, thus encouraging controlled growth and mutual protection by emitting protective toxins together when one emits an alarm chemical signal. Oak trees do the same, and we do too.

    The HOW LIFE BEGAN (abiogenesis) as studied by a Nobel prize winner can be interesting. It is a very good but fast-paced presentation here. Full of very basic thoughts. So stop it temporarily to allow thinking time.

    Note I said incorrectly evolution, as the first creation, abiogenesis, is not a common term. Cleverly explained in the video.

  11. Bron,
    “People work for friends and family, not for strangers. People will help strangers in distress but that dosent mean they would support them above their friends and families all of the time.”

    Hope my comment above helps. And yes, we are more complex and can make more complex decisions than cells.

  12. NickS; Be left alone. Yes, so did Einstein, but he sought daily companionship too. That is an idea I support, and that alone does not equate to anti-social. It is hallowed in our Declaration and our Constitution.
    To each to act in response to his own conscience.

    MikeS, Yes, it is indeed a glorious thing when we succeed. But tolerance when we don’t is also necessary. A point which I think you made.

    Messpo. Thanks.

    Condescending, an interesting word. Con=with. Descend=to go down literally or figuratively. Have we forgotten that we do it at our own danger?

  13. Fisdicon99 Here. I read years back regarding monkeys with what they call schizophrenia. I believe the article was in Science or Nature. There was also an article on imitation rubies and microwave irradiation. < Key Note to the Monkeys. s/Fisdicon99.

  14. The claim is a load of crap. As Richard Dawkins showed in his film, “Nice Guys Finish First”, selfishness is the optimal survival strategy when animals interact on a one-time basis, but cooperation is the optimal survival strategy for animals that interact constantly. Nearly all socialized animals cooperate and take note of who is cooperative (e.g. bats that only share blood meals with bats they share a social bond, animals protecting the young of competing adults).

    When I’ve said that before, inevitably some idiot says, “Why don’t we all steal if we meet other people only once?” They’re ignoring the fact that we are socialized animals with reputations that go beyond one-time meetings.

    Your action upon meeting with someone – shaking his hand or punching his face – is seen by others and there may be consequences. It’s never a “one time only” meeting unless no one ever sees or knows about it.

  15. If altrusim was the natural state of mankind, communism would be heaven and it isnt.

    This is a misunderstanding. For any community, (dog pack, group of apes in the zoo, suburban neighborhood, apartment building with 11 floors and 400+ residents, nation of 300 million people, etc.) it should be easy for the members of the community to realize that threats to one are threats to all, to a lesser or greater degree depending on circumstances. Thus, doing one’s part for the good of the community is not “altruism,” it is “good sense” and “successful behavior.” NONE of this implies any heavenly result or any ultimate health or economic success of the whole community, but without it, there will definitely be trouble, and strife, and all sorts of not great stuff.

  16. “MikeS, It comes from your authoritarian, Group=Good, Individual=Bad. I want both, I want a world where someone can not be part of your “herd” and be left alone if they desire.”

    Nick,

    What I find most funny about you is that even though I put my thinking completely out in the open, your projection onto my thought is always wrong. Give me the quote where I ever stated anything like what you put into my mouth and my thoughts above.

  17. “You are much better looking than Burt Lancaster! :)”

    Raff,

    On my best day I never was close to Burt in looks, or in “cool”, but I did love “Elmer Gantry” :)

  18. For those tired of my praising the Swedish way, here is an alternative which shows how rotten it is here. Unfortunately it is in Swedish, and given place in our second largest evening newspaper.

    A short summary.
    Sweden have politicians that use the revolving door, selling themselves to venture capitalists and industries that provide bad care for old people.
    CAREMA is largest private company in Sweden giving such bad care.
    As deregulation and costs have chased the public care facilities out of the market, CARREME dominates care for the elder.

    And they attempt via their lobbyists and media compannies to deny what doctors and other thousands have reported to the agency responsible for all social care and medical practice in Sweden. To what avail. Money speaks loudest. The patients/clients have no lobbyist.

    See if you can transate:

    http://www.aftonbladet.se/ledare/ledarkronika/anderslindberg/article15982972.ab

  19. P Smith 1, December 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    The claim is a load of crap. As Richard Dawkins showed in his film, “Nice Guys Finish First”, selfishness is the optimal survival strategy when animals interact on a one-time basis, but cooperation is the optimal survival strategy for animals that interact constantly.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    idealist707 1, December 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    @Dredd and others who want to go further back in our evolution.
    =======================================
    Remember what the researcher / psychiatrist said in my comment up-thread:

    Are you aware that the bulk of current scientific knowledge has been discovered in the past ten years? And that many of the most original results have appeared in the last year?

    Time for us to stop showing baby pictures of the scientists of the old school, throw out the old textbooks, and stop buying them at second hand stores.

    That way we can open up our minds to see that human evolution is the most recent, and possibly VERY LAST thing in evolution:

    And what he [Ernst Mayr] basically argued is that intelligence is a kind of lethal mutation … you’re just not going to find intelligent life elsewhere, and you probably won’t find it here for very long either because it’s just a lethal mutation.

    (comment @ Mike S’s thread “Rugged Individualism“). I am beginning to think some of the folks here are lawyers who keep old books around so they can quote English Common Law cases from 1346 A.D. ;)

    I have never once heard a good discussion here about the epoch when there was no selfishness or altruism, in other words the greatest span of time when evolution took place:

    The Earth is said to have formed “around 4.54 billion … years ago” (History of Earth).

    Therefore The Big Bang happened about 9.21 billion years before the Earth formed (13.75 – 4.54 = 9.21).

    Biological organisms formed on the Earth about a billion years later, which would be ~10.21 billion years after The Big Bang.

    Humans, homo sapiens, are said to have evolved about 200,000 years ago, which would be ~13.7498 billion years after The Big Bang (13.7498 + 00.0002 = 13.75 billion years). Homo sapien evolution is 0.0002 billion years of the 13.75 billion year story.

    (Putting A Face on Machine Mutation). Discussing how altruism or selfishness first evolved (e.g. in the abiotic phase or the biotic phase?) would lend insight.

    For those who want to challenge biologist / evolutionist Mayr, it might be fruitful to explore the greatest evolutionary timescale to see if there was intelligence before abiotic evolution produced carbon, making biotic life possible (Did Abiotic Intelligence Precede Biotic Intelligence?).

  20. Mark asks:

    What if altruism isn’t just learned at your mother’s knee but is really a result of evolved brain chemistry?

    Brain. Chemistry.

    One nice thing about chemistry, it works the same in brains as it does elsewhere.

    The fundamentals of abiotic evolution say yes, chemistry can and did evolve for some 9.21 billion years prior to the beginning of biotic evolution.

    Machines evolved into biological life is the big story, but evolutionists and others shy away because it is inexplicable to our dangerous intelligence (Mayr).

    Example of scary evo words:

    Dr Clarke said: “There are a lot of fundamental questions about the origins of life and many people think they are questions about biology. But for life to have evolved, you have to have a moment when non-living things become living – everything up to that point is chemistry.”

    “Our cells, and the cells of all organisms, are composed of molecular machines. These machines are built of component parts, each of which contributes a partial function or structural element to the machine. How such sophisticated, multi-component machines could evolve has been somewhat mysterious, and highly controversial.” Professor Lithgow said.

    Many cellular processes are carried out by molecular ‘machines’ — assemblies of multiple differentiated proteins that physically interact to execute biological functions … Our experiments show that increased complexity in an essential molecular machine evolved because of simple, high-probability evolutionary processes, without the apparent evolution of novel functions. They point to a plausible mechanism for the evolution of complexity in other multi-paralogue protein complexes.

    The most complex molecular machines are found within cells.

    Writing in the journal PLoS Pathogens, the team from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences show how they studied the molecular machine known as the ‘type II bacterial secretion system’, which is responsible for delivering potent toxins from bacteria such as enterotoxigenic E. coli and Vibrio cholerae into an infected individual.

    Professor Richard Pickersgill, who led the research, said: “Bacterial secretion systems deliver disease causing toxins into host tissue. If we can understand how these machines work, then we can work out how it they might be stopped.”

    (Do Molecular Machines Deliver Toxins of Power?). Why the aversion to chemical evolution, whether in the brain or in the universe at large?

    Brave question Mark.

  21. MikeS, I’ll “give you a quote”. You stated “lone wolf is a perjorative.” In the American Indian culture “Lone Wolf” is a name given to great warriors and chiefs. In our culture there is a mystique to the lone wolf..self sufficient and mysterious. I guess it’s just different in Spindellworld?

  22. most serial killers are generally referred to as a “lone wolf”

    not to be confused with loan sharks, although i seem to recall most great whites are solitary creatures.

    whether selflessness or selfishness is a survival feature would depend entirely on the situation.

    the idea does seem to bring out the best/worst in people though.

    accolades Mark :)

  23. idealist707 1, December 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm
    @Dredd and others who want to go further back in our evolution.
    For impatient monkeys, here is the link and then the presentation lecture.
    =================================================
    Thanks for the two videos.

    Dr. Jack is arguing semantics, evidently miffed off by creationists.

    His amygdala was acting up on several occasions in those videos.

    Like his apparent rejection of abiotic evolution as “real evolution.”

    That is not accurate.

    In addition to comments up-thread, here is a rebuttal by a scientist who is not itching about creationists, but instead is focusing on research:

    Many cellular processes are carried out by molecular ‘machines’… Despite much speculation, strong evidence of the mechanisms by which these assemblies evolved is lacking. Here we … determine how the complexity of an essential molecular machine — the hexameric transmembrane ring of the eukaryotic V-ATPase proton pump — increased hundreds of millions of years ago … Our experiments show that increased complexity in an essential molecular machine evolved because of simple, high-probability evolutionary processes, without the apparent evolution of novel functions.

    (Evolution of Increased Complexity in a Molecular Machine, Journal Nature, Jan. 2012). For a scientist to say evolution has nothing to do with the origin of life is laughable.

    Evolutionists have a rap for exactly when it occurred, and where, in terms of sequence of events.

    Clearly, the theories and hypotheses indicate that machines evolved into carbon based organic life on Earth about 3.54 billion years ago, which is about 10.51 billion years after evolution entered the picture at the Big Bang.

    Molecular machines are chemical, made up of atoms, but not biological.

    Therefore they are the subject of brain chemistry, as Mark mentioned, and would be the focus to answer the question Mark poses:

    What if altruism isn’t just learned at your mother’s knee but is really a result of evolved brain chemistry?

    Just sayin’ …

  24. I wonder … could it really be that simple?

    Good God! … was John Calvin’s theory of predestination more on target than not??!!
    :twisted:

  25. Although I know you two weren’t acting in tandem, this piece and Mike’s on rugged individualism played quite well off of one another. Good show, Mark.

  26. “Although I know you two weren’t acting in tandem, this piece and Mike’s on rugged individualism played quite well off of one another. Good show, Mark.”

    Gene,

    Thank you for remarking on this. It was either great minds think alike (ahem :))
    or fortuitous coincidence. There were times in answering comments that I wanted to quote Mark, but given some people’s suspicions, I felt we might be charged with collusion.

  27. Dredd,

    I did not look at Dr Jack. Have seen a vid with clips where his crushing intellect and arguments came out better. Here he was ranting.

    I thought the first comment from a study was enlightening. There was one word missing from the sentence on evolution. Should have added chemical high probability etc.

    However, claiming hard data as to evolution of ion pumps a hundred millon years back seems stretching it.
    We have no DNA older than 36,000 years. Of course if the ion pump is a precondition to lasting proof readable today in organic molecules which can be dated is another possibility.

    To get anyone to admit something new is very difficult. Like the woman physicist who suggested that hydrogen drove the sun. Whaaaaa, ridiculous.

    Back with more when have read more of your comment.
    Got anything else on abiotic evolution before the creation of life here.? Will read more now. That would mean that evolution of carbon was not just chance and had a reproduction value, in conventional evolution of life.

  28. I don’t know why it is assumed that in prehistory, all humans and even all humanoids were utterly selfish and there was no “altruism” going on. That is extremely unlikely. According to anthropologist Evelyn Reed, savage (that is pre-Barbarian, not “savage” as in “mean and violent”) societies were probably altruistic and in fact, there is evidence that some of those societies had elaborate and mandatory “gift rituals” that ranked as just as important to the group life as food gathering. In fact, the model for altruism is maternal care given a dependent infant, and that is the very foundation of all society, civilized and pre-civilized, and yes, even our technology-dominated society today. And that HAS to be hardwired and instinctive — I mean, it’s almost axiomatic.

  29. Dredd,

    You mean Jack as in Dr Jack Szotak (sp?). Well he made the statement concisely wishing people to differentiate. What he said later I don’t know.
    However there is in the study you cited the differentiation from chemically driven processes and evolutional selectivity. Most I liked the showing of how the basic functions developed in an inanimated life form.
    Growth, reproduction, process development with or with out natural selectivity come to mind.

    The functions of the cell are still unsolved. The speeds of movement is enormous. The speed of processes also incredibly fast. And how coordination, if there is any, is effected is as yet undetermined. I suspect that higher more complex molecules, intra-cell organs and processes are primarily chemically controlled. But evolution was definitely there selecting the winner. Even the development of lipid borne and water borne functions in the ports and the internal working is fascinating.

    An early Happy New Year, Abóut one hour left here.

  30. Dredd,

    Your citation of molecular machines broght a new thought to mind for me.

    Cells are nothing more than test tubes but who and why determines.
    OH yes this is only a variant of the factory analogue. But there they are fixed in the idea that somebody is directing the processes.

  31. Blouise,

    No despite all claims to the contrary, neither predeterminism or equivalent is fixed in advance. By whom? God? Mixing it up the old fellow.

    We still have a quantum world where each quantum step is not predetermined but can in total be predicted statistically, ie empirically.

    I suspect we will need an equivalent discovery in biotic and cell functions.
    This may be the result of converging processes: reductionism from cell forms. and synthesis from abiotic forms which have equivalent functions.

  32. Cavemen were more altruistic because they were more interdependent.
    But that does not eliminate hard wiring as a deciding and evolutionarily positive for selection to survive even today.

  33. idealist707 1, December 30, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Dredd,

    You mean Jack as in Dr Jack Szotak (sp?). Well he made the statement concisely wishing people to differentiate. What he said later I don’t know.
    However there is in the study you cited the differentiation from chemically driven processes and evolutional selectivity. Most I liked the showing of how the basic functions developed in an inanimated life form.
    Growth, reproduction, process development with or with out natural selectivity come to mind.

    The functions of the cell are still unsolved. The speeds of movement is enormous. The speed of processes also incredibly fast. And how coordination, if there is any, is effected is as yet undetermined. I suspect that higher more complex molecules, intra-cell organs and processes are primarily chemically controlled. But evolution was definitely there selecting the winner. Even the development of lipid borne and water borne functions in the ports and the internal working is fascinating.

    An early Happy New Year, Abóut one hour left here.
    =================================================
    Happy New Year to you too.

    I know it is difficult to understand that evolutionary theory is mostly composed of machine evolution.

    But 9.21 years of machine evolution took place prior to machines evolving into biological organisms some 3.54 billion years ago, that is, about 1 billion years after the machine Earth evolved.

    Yes, planets, like stars are big machines composed of little machines we call molecules and atoms.

    That is just the way it is.

    Pop scientists like to focus on biological evolution that began a few hundred thousand years ago (“monkeys became men”) probably because they were all teenagers or republicans once. ;)

  34. Or because they are actual scientists and not extremists, they understand the difference between biology and chemistry, they know that not all interactive systems are machinery and they understand the use of metaphor.

  35. Apologies to all. My bad! Thought yesterday was New Years Eve, ie December had 30 days. So I run around with bated breath (tired cliché) shouting one day too early. I wondered, sitting those 7 hours in the ER, where were the usual drunks, assault victims, knifings (no guns), and misc nuts typical of NYE,

    Anyway, glad no one got mislead. Thanks MikeS for the kind wishes.

    Just so you know, it is always tomorrow in Australia (other side of dateline).

  36. Blouise,

    My apologies for the lecture. If (hah!) I had been in form, I would have recognized the irony in your post. Then again I may not have done so.

    Have always been gullible, and can’t read people when they use irony, although am aware of its use here. But Swedes are so stereotyped, a generalization.

    Excuses, excuses. You probably didn’t read it anyway.

  37. After 7 hours seeing the various sufferings in the ER, I get reminded of a recent observation.

    Don’t expect to wake up healthy and rising vigorously to greet your grandkids with pancakes.

    Some don’t, can’t and never will. Be glad that you can.

  38. idealist707 1, December 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Dredd,


    Got anything else on abiotic evolution before the creation of life here.?
    ===============================================
    That is the trip which is missing in the literature.

    My urgings are that we elaborate on our scientific hypotheses, theories, and laws, in accord with the majority of time evolution took place.

    We produce literature that deals with the major league.

    Which is, by a long shot (~10.21 billion years), the abiotic evolution that preceded carbon based biological evolution.

    Our default is to talk about the last 200,000 years within which our nemesis evolved (Meyr), which we currently call human intelligence.

    Why are we so proud of our nemesis?

    Love ya bro.

  39. Love back at you. Kindred seekers of reality based on observation.
    =====================================================

    “That is the trip which is missing in the literature.

    Really? Curious. Surely some physicists have remarked on the development order of things at opportune times. And that so many constants are just “so” is a subject of essays and books. I will mention a few paratmeters if you wish.

    My urgings are that we elaborate on our scientific hypotheses, theories, and laws, in accord with the majority of time evolution took place.

    Well, we feel that all was so simple for the majority, 10.2 x 10 *9 years, Worthy of consideration, which I have not until you mentioned it.

    We produce literature that deals with the major league.

    Which is, by a long shot (~10.21 billion years), the abiotic evolution that preceded carbon based biological evolution.

    Our default is to talk about the last 200,000 years within which our nemesis evolved (Meyr), which we currently call human intelligence.
    Some are venturing, both of us have mentioned a couple. Schostak and the earlier dating of inorganic processed leading to organic ones by some millions of years.

    Why are we so proud of our nemesis?
    For what reasons do you class it as a nemesis? Pride of the tool, and pride of place are both sins leading to bad things. But the tool is itself not a nemesis—-but then don’t really know what the term nemesis encompasses.

  40. See E.O. Wilson “The Social Conquest of Earth” – he says that in competition, selfish individuals beat altruistic individuals, but altruistic groups beat selfish groups. He thinks there is a mathematical proof and has asked scientists to find it.

    Richard Dawkins thinks Wilson is wrong, but in his review of Wilson’s book, never addressed the mathematical proof, only said Wilson is wrong.

    for more info: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/aug/18/edward-wilson-harvard-biologist-interview

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