Tag Archives: E.O. Wilson

Altruists Will Always Outperform

6 May

Apart from needing a degree in biology in various sections, The Hive Mind by Benjamin Phelan was fascinating. I knew the insect world was complex, but this is ridiculous – it forms visions of a world in another galaxy. On another level, it was entertaining to read through the academic banter between the traditionalists and the “out there” thinking of E. O. Wilson – what a battle!

The part that jumped out at me most was the statement Wilson made that “groups of altruists will always outperform groups of individualists”. That notion of practicing individual sacrifice for the benefit of the collective – similar to what is believed to be a human condition and something that building networks online require in order to thrive.

This led to other words forming in my head: socialism, communism. Is the reigning queen of the hive running a communist empire? I know they are just insects, but somehow the fact that this model exists in nature, it becomes easy to understand why aspects of this mindset are alive and well in parts of the human world.

Sloan Wilson’s perspective is that “altruism is advantageous at a larger scale, and that is the scale at which natural selection selects it”. In theory, I agree, but it is the rolling out of that theory where there are things that can derail the ideal – things like greed and corruption, for example. I wonder if there is and underworld in the hive?