You’re certainly correct that in-group cooperation is present in hunter-gatherer societies; my point was that it’s rarely seen in group-group interactions where zero sum thinking is nearly always dominant. Evolutionary theory predicts both scenarios. Within small tribes/groups/clans there’s almost always close genetic kinship so reciprocal altruism is highly adaptive. Conversely as there is rarely close genetic kinship between different groups we’d expect to see zero-sum type interactions and that is, for the most part, exactly what we do see.

One of the tremendously powerful things about evolutionary theory is the fact it can explain so much about human behavior (as well as, of course, the behavior of all other living things) in ways that can be empirically determined, rather than leaving us to rely on unsupported abstract theorizing or personal beliefs. It’s why I wish evolutionary theory was taught properly in schools and universities.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store