Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Chimpanzees, our closest relatives, cannot triangulate punishment

Posted 20 Sep 2012 / 0

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences “No third-party punishment in chimpanzees” This is pretty astonishing, but perhaps not entirely surprising. As numerous other studies have shown, there are many qualitative differences in the cognition and resulting behaviors of humans and chimpanzees. Whether the fact that chimps do not maintain a sense of ‘social justice’ Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Cooperation, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Primates, Psychology, Punishment

What’s ironic is that the creationists do not realize that we evolutionists might be trying to understand their success

Posted 20 Sep 2012 / 0

CreationRevolution “If Morality Evolved, Is It Righteous?” It is striking how this reaction lacks any self-consciousness. Research like that referred to in this post is a potential means of understanding how religions and their particular constructed righteousness (in other words their morals, what they believe ought to be) can succeed.

A Minor Post, Altruism, Cooperation, Creationism, Cultural Evolution, Game Theory, Punishment, Web

Punishment, properly rewarded, can promote cooperation without corruption

Posted 20 Sep 2012 / 0

Public Library of Science ONE “Evolving Righteousness in a Corrupt World” In the race to build the next over-simplified model of cooperative dynamics, it will be interesting to see how the media runs with this one. Is this a “scientists discover the evolutionary rationale for honorable police” moment? I think it is important to take Read More

A Minor Post, Altruism, Articles, Cooperation, Ethics, Evolution, Evolutionary Modeling, Game Theory, Punishment, Social Networks, System Stability

ESA 2012 Overall Impressions

Posted 12 Aug 2012 / 0

What was the ‘big news’ at this year’s Ecological Society of America meeting? Given that this meeting is composed of so many different meetings running concurrently, this just might be an impossible question to answer fairly. But for me, this year’s meeting could be summarized as the ‘year of computational ecology’. At a great variety Read More

A Major Post, Altruism, Biodiversity Loss, Conservation Biology, Cooperation, Ecological Modeling, Ecological Society of America, Ecology Education, Ecosystem Services, Environmental Justice, Group Selection, Marine Ecosystems, Multilevel Selection, Public Policy, Punishment, Resource Consumption, Social Capital, Sustainability, System Stability, Talks & Seminars, Teaching, Teaching Tools, The Sustainable Use of Fisheries

If your loners are truly loners they won’t punish, and cooperation thrives even in the presence of antisocial punishment

Posted 28 Jun 2012 / 1

Last summer I discussed a paper by Rand and Nowak that explored the dynamics of antisocial punishment in groups composed of cooperators, defectors, and loners playing a public goods game. In a conventional public goods game, at least some players must make a contribution in order to reap group reward. Cooperators make that contribution and Read More

A Major Post, Altruism, Articles, Cooperation, Evolutionary Modeling, Game Theory, Punishment

Larry Arnhart on Singer, Bowles, and Gintis and Darwinian libertarianism

Posted 28 Jun 2012 / 0

Darwinian Conservatism “Does Strong Reciprocity Support a Darwinian Left?” This is a really interesting comparison of the “utopian” and “realist” versions of leftist politics, and of the struggle of thinkers like Singer. What I think needs to be kept in mind is that all these folks are doing more than just trying to produce science Read More

A Minor Post, Cooperation, Evolutionary Modeling, Punishment, Reciprocity, Social Norms

A new salvo in the punishment wars: if everyone can punish, defectors triumph

Posted 27 Jun 2012 / 0

arXiv “Punishment can promote defection in group-structured populations” This paper points out a major problem with theoretical modeling, especially modeling that is simulation-based: tiny changes in assumptions matter. Testing just one set of assumptions takes a lot of effort, and so only through the work of multiple groups do the entire “state space” of possible Read More

A Minor Post, Punishment

Steven Pinker makes it clear that he is not a “group selectionist”

Posted 26 Jun 2012 / 5

Frequently I feel like I am listening to an early 2000’s George W. Bush speech when the ‘opponents of group selection’ step up to the podium. Seemingly, you are either “with us or against us” when it comes to considering selection acting at a level above the individual. As someone who is open to thinking Read More

A Major Post, Adaptation, Coevolution, Cultural Evolution, Group Selection, Kin Selection, Memetic Fitness, Multilevel Selection, Natural Selection, Punishment, Web

Scientific American “Why We Help”

Posted 21 Jun 2012 / 1

The July issue of Scientific American features a cover story written by Martin A. Nowak called “Why We Help“. This very short article contains a brief review of Nowak’s “five rules” for cooperation, a little bit of connection to experimental work in real organisms, and some hazy conjecture concerning what makes humans cooperate. It seems as Read More

A Major Post, Anthropogenic Change, Articles, Behavior, Climate Change, Cooperation, Evolution, Evolutionary Modeling, Game Theory, Group Selection, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Kin Selection, Punishment, Reciprocity, Social Networks

Social Evolution Forum takes on role of social networking in human cooperation

Posted 18 May 2012 / 0

Social Evolution Forum Robin I.M. Dunbar “Networking Past and Present” Social Evolution Forum Nicholas Baumard “The Evolution of Cooperation: from Networks to Institutions” Social Evolution Forum Herbert Gintis “Commentary on Dunbar and Baumard” Some interesting stuff here: We may no longer live in fission-fusion tribes, but we still move around a lot socially (changing family partnerships, looking Read More

A Minor Post, Cooperation, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Punishment, Social Networks