Honey bees, vampire bats and meerkats are on display in this sideshow in this month’s Scientific American on the role of co-operation in evolution.
Drawing on his recent book and academic research, Martin Nowak (Professor of Biology and Mathematics) outlines five drivers for co-operation which explain its central role in human behaviour over time. In my words (with the proper, technical terms in brackets), these are:
1. I scratch your back because you scratch mine (direct reciprocity)
2. People around me can get into scratching (spatial selection)
3. We scratch in our family (kin selection)
4. I scratch your back because someone else will scratch mine (indirect reciprocity)
5. I scratch because it is good that I do (group selection)
A range of beautiful images on co-operation and co-operative enterprise around the world is also now touring Britain in the form of a fabulous street gallery developed by the Co-operative Group. Launched in Brighton around Co-operatives Fortnight, this will form part of the global co-operative festival, Co-operatives United, running from October 29th to November 2nd 2012 out of Manchester.
In a nice phrase, this is all what Nowak terms ‘the snuggle for survival’.