Natural cooperation revisited

New study rebuts increase in willingness to cooperate from intuitive thinking

Excerpts: 1) “People have two decision-making systems in the brain: an intuitive one, and a more reflective analytical one. Both systems, however, can be rational, and they integrate with each other in various decision-making situations…” 2) “…it is not true that quick, intuitively grounded decisions promote cooperation.” 3) “…the results from the earlier study can be explained through errors in the statistical analysis.”

Context: Intuition and cooperation reconsidered Arising from D. G. Rand, J. D. Greene & Martin A. Nowak Nature 489, 427–430 (2012)

Excerpt: “…their result was an artefact of excluding the about 50% of subjects who failed to respond on time.”

Feierman: quoting Nowak’s book chapter from Nowak and Coakley (Eds.) Evolution, Games and God: The Principles of Cooperation: “Thus, we might add ‘natural cooperation’ as a third fundamental principle of evolution besides mutation and natural selection.”

Feierman: antagonizing me: Do you really believe that all human cooperation is pheromone controlled?

JK: What I believe is detailed in my model: cooperation in all species is nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled via common molecular mechanisms. For example, because I’ve extended an invertebrate model to mammals, including non-human primates and modern humans, please watch this 14 second-long video of natural cooperation in ants:

I believe their ability to recognize the difference between a conspecific and a source of nutrition is the first requirement for the natural cooperation they exhibit by working together to bring home food. I also believe that if their observed cooperation were described statistically, that description would not include their nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled ‘conditions of life.’ The statistical analyses would be even more misleading if 50% of the results were first excluded (as noted above).

Do you really believe that their ability to recognize a source of nutrition does not precede the natural cooperation they exhibit by working together to naturally select and acquire a nutrient source? I think they  might just as well be working together to kill or to bring home any other organism that was not recognized to be a conspecific via its pheromone signature.

Feierman: If you think so, you should contact Martin Nowak at Harvard and tell him why he is in error for not saying the same thing.

JK: Martin Nowak at Harvard is not in error for not saying the same thing. He does not have a model of adaptive evolution that is based on Darwin’s works. I do! He probably doesn’t know that he must first incorporate Darwin’s ‘conditions of life’ into his statistical analyses. I do! Therefore, he is not necessarily wrong for saying something that doesn’t fit with the obvious facts I have detailed in my model (i.e., sans mutations theory). If he understood the details of my model, he might still not be wrong. Indeed, the statistical analyses used to bastardize Darwin’s theory clearly seem to be useful in the context of evolutionary theory and story-telling. They probably have even helped some biologists to discover the facts! There’s nothing wrong with that. Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with Nowak’s Christian beliefs. However, in the context of adaptive evolution, I thought it best to exclude statistical analyses from my model of biological facts, because the statistical analyses have consistently been shown to be wrong. For example see: Intuition and cooperation reconsidered Arising from D. G. Rand, J. D. Greene & Martin A. Nowak Nature 489, 427–430 (2012)

“Rand et al.1 reported increased cooperation in social dilemmas after forcing individuals to decide quickly1. Time pressure was used to induce intuitive decisions, and they concluded that intuition promotes cooperation. We test the robustness of this finding in a series of five experiments involving about 2,500 subjects in three countries. None of the experiments confirms the Rand et al.1 finding, indicating that their result was an artefact of excluding the about 50% of subjects who failed to respond on time.”

Feierman: “…you should contact Martin Nowak at Harvard and tell him why he is in error…”

JK: I’m sure that others will contact Martin Nowak at Harvard and continue to tell him why he is in error. (Excluding 50% of the subjects who failed to report on time is wrong, and it leads to a garbage in / garbage out statistical misrepresentation.) I’m also sure that many evolutionary theorists will ignore Nowak’s Christian beliefs and the fact that the statistical approach to adaptive evolution is wrong. But the biggest problem I have is Jay Feierman, who is the moderator of ISHE’s human ethology group. He ignores the biological basis of behavior, touts statistical analyses, ignores the biological basis of Christian beliefs, and typically ignores my model of adaptive evolution.

He has ignored my model for years. Now, he responds to me by touting statistical analyses and theory instead of attempting to discuss the biological facts I have detailed in a model. The model integrates cause and effect across species via their common molecular biology. Touting statistical analyses and theory-based evolutionary psychology is not appropriate in the context of biological facts!

That’s like comparing apples to oranges after one bad apple (e.g., Feierman) has spoiled all the rest (e.g., statistically speaking). We might just as well throw out 50% (or more) of other opinions. Human ethology is about the biology of behavior, not the statistical misrepresentations used by some evolutionary theorists to support their opinions about random mutations theory, or whatever else they are still touting outside the context of biological facts.

Feierman: “Random mutations are the substrates upon which directional natural selection acts.”

JK: Is there a model for that?

Feierman: “When an individual eats nutrients, be they plant or animal in origin, natural selection crafted these nutrients for the benefit of the species in which they reside. The fruit of a tree, which is a nutrient, is what it is because it benefits the tree species. Of course fruit is palatable and tasty so that animal species who eat the fruit will disperse the seeds.

JK: In the 14 second long video representation of adaptively evolved natural cooperation in ants, did anyone get the idea that the worm was crafted to contain nutrients, which also made it a palatable and tasty treat for the ants so that they would select it to promote their nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled reproduction? I did not realize it at the time I video-taped them. Perhaps that’s because I don’t consider worms to be tasty. But I’ve always intuitively known that natural selection is for nutrients (e.g., in species from microbes to man). Each time I get hungry, I naturally select something to eat that contains nutrients.

Who crafted that? If I had to hunt and kill something for its nutrient value, I might naturally cooperate with a conspecific who would help me bring it home to eat. I would not ask for help with nutrient acquisition from an ant, especially an ant that was cooperating with its conspecific to naturally select nutrients and enable its species’ survival.

Feierman: “…natural selection is never for nutrients.”

JK: What is it for? Is there a model for that?

Author: James Kohl

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