Chapter 4: Except When They Don't - the Haystack Model

[How cheaters lose: they hang out with the wrong crowd, ie other cheaters.]


from the Executive Summary

Two - Except when they don’t: the Haystack Model.

Here the key insight are:
1)     effective groups can beat less effective groups hence enhancing the reproductive success of all group members;
2)     cheaters erode the overall effectiveness of the group (and cooperators enhance it); 
3)      ergo, groups with a higher percentage of cheaters will lose the population arms race to more effective groups;
4)      under certain qualifying conditions

The classic verbal picture is the Haystack Model.

Imagine a field of haystacks each with its own separate population of mice. In each haystack there are cheater mice and altruistic mice. Throughout the winter the mice breed in the haystacks. In each haystack the percent of cheaters increases as they outbreed the altruists by gaining some benefits without paying the costs. But the total population of each haystack increases in proportion to the percentage of altruists. Once a year the haystacks are removed and the mice lumped together. The net result, paradoxically, is an overall increase in altruists since the more successful haystacks have outbred the others despite some increase of cheaters that they’ve carried forward with them. If the populations were then left lumped together, the cheaters would slowly drive the altruists to extinction in that single combined group. However, each year the mice are randomly re-sorted out to a new set of haystacks and the cycle continues.

Again this can be modeled mathematically with a very clean model of simple abstract entities that doesn’t require long term relationships, recognition of fellow altruists, punishment of cheaters, or anything more than the very basic assumptions above.



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