In what may become a unifying theory of human behavior, biologist E.O. Wilson is positing a theory, way simplified here, that “individual selection,” or competition to thrive and pass along one’s genes, inevitably loses out to “group selection.”
As a rough example, this is why countries where leaders collaborate toward the success of the nation as a whole become richer than countries where leaders grab all the power and money for themselves.
“Within groups, the selfish are more likely to succeed,” Wilson explains. “But in competition between groups, groups of altruists are more likely to succeed. In addition, it is clear that groups of humans proselytize other groups and accept them as allies, and that tendency is much favored by group selection.”
In other words, forming alliances has become a fundamental human trait, he says, because “it is a good way to win.”
— Adapted from “E.O. Wilson’s Theory of Everything,” Howard W. French, The Atlantic.