Upending Neodarwinism

  1. The Selfish Gene got it backwards. Dawkins accepted Tennyson’s metaphor of “tooth and claw,” expressed W. D. Hamilton’s ideas in plain language, worked in synchrony with Hawk and Dove fans, and reinforced the image of selfishness “learning” cooperation. (Irony: all of this happened despite tenuous degrees of kinship between the investigators!)
  2. Strogatz (Sync) and Barabsi (Linked) changed the order of things: that is “cooperation” is spontaneous, found not only in elementary particle physics but also between clock pendulums. Yoshiki Kuramoto talked about fields of oscillators and the rules – similarity and mutual influence – by which they move into synchrony with each other without reference to genes: he, thus, up-ended evolutionary theory! (Bryan Daniels has a demonstration of synchrony between pendulums: it will unnerve you. Please take 10 minutes to look at it: The Kuramoto Model.) Also read Chapters 2 and 3 in Brody, 2008.
  3. Sober & Wilson (1998) didn’t go far enough in their ideas about group selection. Neither do Wilson and Holldobler, 2005, when they recognize the selective advantages of “superorganisms.”
  4. Kuramoto’s model leads to mass action, it also leads to individuation when slight differences exist between oscillators and they break into local fields of synchrony. Specialization, clustering, and focus line up with local opportunities. (You damned progressives take notice!)
  5. Natural selection becomes important when resources are limited: variation diminishes in ways that are relevant to resource access. (It happens now in our use of oil.) Winner-take-all (WTA) emerges in network organization (Barabasi, 2002; Csermely, 2006).. So do swarms, so do socialists!
  6. Kuramoto’s ideas should predict oscillation between WTA and Scale free as a function of resources. For example: the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had computer mainframes, designed by a single company, that annoyed anyone who sat at a terminal. Personal computers appeared at outrageous prices in the late ’70s but, despite their costs, became immediately popular. They had to talk to the mainframe but they also could do a hell of a lot more, not in terms of volume but personal choice. The contest between computer mainframe and PCs replay the contests that Hayek (1994) describes between traditional and contemporary liberalism, between progressivism and conservatism. (Pinker, 2002, traced this contest back 2000 years! Something fundamental must lie beneath it and possibly at levels that are below genes.) Swarms are a response to scarce resources, invaders, disease, and climatic changes.



  1. Hamilton proved how something evolved when there was no need to do so.
  2. Genes are a way to achieve certain outcomes in particle physics.
  3. Bianconi and Barabasi(2000) applied Bose statistics to emergent networks and found three stages. Bose-Einstein statistics allow of molecular fusing so that large numbers of bosons act as if they were one. (There may be limits to how many socialists – if they were fermions – can be put into a room. On the other hand, there is no limit to the number of socialists who can hold identical opinions. Collapse resources and the ideas of socialists, students, and females start to act like bosons! These possibilities may allow use of a different math for study of social changes…especially in regard to resources, invasions, droughts, famines, heat, radiation, poisons – conditions that also make us more vulnerable to the claims of madmen.)
  4. Orphan data challenge traditional neodarwinism: monozygotic twins should compete ferociously with each other for limited parental resources. They do the opposite (Segal, 1999). Also: similarity rules mating: characteristics with greater heritability – including psychopathology – are more likely to show up in good friends and in married couples. Clusters of peculiar people emerge. Also: cooperation springs freely between all sorts of unlikely organizations. For example, my house and I push and pull each other with the seasons.
  5. Individuals (weak links) are the stabilizers and guides for the swarms around them. Individualism is essential for collectivism to survive.


Universes fail to emerge if they do not operate according to Kuramoto’s ideas about synchrony. Or I’m mad…

Barabsi, A-L. (2002). Linked: The New Science of Networks. NY: Perseus.
Bianconi, G. & Barabsi, A-L. (2000). Bose-Einstein condensation in complex networks. arXiv:cond-mat/0011224v1, 13 Nov 2000.
Bianconi, G. (2002). Quantum statistics in complex networks. arXiv:cond-mat/0206433v2, 13 Sep 2002.
Brody, J. (2008). Rebellion: Physics to Personal Will. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.
Csermely, P. (2006). Weak Links: Stabilizers of Complex Systems from Proteins to Social Networks. NY: Springer.
Daniels, Bryan C. (2005). Synchronization of globally connected nonlinear oscillators: the rich behavior of the Kuramoto model. Physics Department: Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio. Demo at The Kurmato Model
Dawkins, R. (1976/1989). The Selfish Gene. New York: Oxford.
Hayek, FA. (1944/1994). The Road to Serfdom. Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press. (See also Goldberg J, 2007, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. NY: Doubleday.)
Kuramoto, Y. (1984/2003). Chemical Oscillations, Waves, and Turbulence. Orig: Springer. Reprint – NY: Dover.
Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. NY: Viking.
Segal, N. (1999). Entwined Lives: Twins and What They Tell Us About Human Behavior. NY: Dutton.
Segal, N. & Hershberger, S. (1999). Cooperation and competition in adolescent twins: Findings from a Prisoner’s Dilemma game. Evolution and Human Behavior. 20(1), 29-51.
Sober, E. & Wilson, DS. (1998). Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.
Strogatz, S. (2003). Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order. NY: Hyperion.
Wilson, EO & Hlldobler, B. (2005). Eusociality: Origin and consequences. Proceedings National Academy of Science, September 20, 102(38), 13367-13371. Published online before print September 12, 2005, PNAS 102: 13367.

James Brody, Ph.D.
Rebellion: Physics to Personal Will
Behavior OnLine Forums

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