Chapter 3: Cheaters Always Win

Cheaters Always Win


[Wynne-Edwards bites the dust.]

 from the Executive Summary:

One - Cheaters always win.

 We begin a historical review beginning in the 70’s. The background hypothesis was that individuals will regulate their reproduction for the good of the group. This hypothesis fails because a genotype that would express itself to ignore the good of the group and produce more offspring would have a breeding advantage over more restrained individuals and would eventually drive them to extinction.  The math is quiet clear.

 This realization was a watershed. It lead to some basic, foundational theory, a lot of overheated rhetoric, and a paradigm complete with the standard envelope that pointed to problems worth working on and to those that were simply beyond the pale. Group selection became beyond the pale. Terms were appropriated from every day usage and the talk was of selfish genes, altruism, and cheaters whether talking of single cell organisms, simple parasites, or complex human societies.

 An important component of this work was the redefinition of acceptable ‘good for the group’ theory as kin selection, reciprocal ‘altruism’, or inclusive fitness. These are essentially equivalent terms for the realization in strict mathematical terms that an individual can advance its genotype by aiding close kin at a cost to its own ability to produce or support offspring. It is not an individual’s offspring per se but replication of the individual’s genes that need to carry forward.

 [This is a placeholder for the full chapter which is in progress.]