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The source of all hatred

Recently I’ve read an interesting article in a well-known magazine about the evolution of cooperation. The bottom line of it was that cooperation evolves together with competition. It makes a lot of sense and can be seen in many species, including humans.

Competition is good, because it promotes individual good features. This way the good features spread among a species. This way the whole species can adapt to a changing environment.

On the other hand cooperation is also good. Those who help each other make it easier for their group to survive, while those who are selfish have it harder, so obviously the ones with more altruism have more chance to survive, thus the altruistic features spread better. Obviously individuals in any given group share more physical traits with each other than with individuals from other groups, so helping individuals from the same group or family helps the same or similar genes to survive. In some species it does not matter too much, e.g. tigers live solitary lives. Other species are on the other side of the spectrum and seemingly rely on almost total devotion, such as ants.

All species evolve together with a balance between competition and cooperation. It’s hard to say arbitrarily what the balance is for each species exactly, but it is certainly different between various species and depends on their traits and environments – apparently competition is more important for tigers and cooperation is more important for ants. One could determine clues on why this is, but it’s not important here.

So what struck me in humans is that cooperation leads to promoting and supporting their own groups. For example people of the same race, religion or hobbies, etc. tend to stick together in order to cooperate. But at the same time they may be competing with other groups. This is rooted deep in human nature and goes back way before tribal groups, back to apes. Chimpanzees share similar behavior, while they cooperate within their groups, they sometimes fight between groups. So while cooperation makes us like people similar to us, competition makes us hate others who are different from us.

When you look at it from this angle, it explains the existence of many of the bad human features, such as racism, hatred, etc. They are rooted in humans and were one of the primary tools of human evolution. On one hand the good features such as altruism helped humans survive as a species in their environment, on the other hand the bad features which were helping promote individual genes, were the result of competition.

Humans are getting less aggressive these days and due to globalization and cheap travel they and their cultures mix. Eventually there will only be one group.

Next time you see hatred, don’t ask where it’s coming from, think of this post.

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Categories: Universe
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