The Selfish Gene

The Selfish Gene was a book that was recommended to me by interesting books based on psychology / philosophy and it did not disappoint.

I really enjoyed reading this book because it explained so much about the evolution of biology as well as the evolution of culture. My mind was quite blown by how much this book made me aware of.

Some of the key concepts of this book is on how evolution generally favors the selfish gene. It’s kind of the evolution of the survival of the fittest but in order to be the fittest you were generally the most selfish. Some examples on the top of my head are how various birds evolved to exploit each other. Oh. There is quite a bit of game theory / extended prisioner’s game type of analysis done. After all… all life on earth is and civilization as we know it is basically an extended game of trust and cooperation.

Okay birds. There’s some nest of birds and then some specicies of the cuckoo will lay eggs into other bird’s nest. And then it’s egg will get raised as it’s own. Over time mutations will always happen. So say… the cuckoo that gets born into an egg… some of them learn to hatch first and throw the other eggs out. By throwing the other eggs out… it increases it’s survival chances since it has to share less food with it’s siblings or fake siblings. So… over time - cuckoo that throw out the eggs once hatched dominate. Because those that don’t generally die out and then the gene of throwing out other eggs spreads.

This concept applies to ideas as well. Let’s say…. everyone has the idea of going to college, getting married and then having kids. Well. You as parents would pass on what you learned to your kids. So your kids would presumably go to college, get married and have kids and report the cycle etc etc. But what about the people who don’t get married and don’t have kids? Well… they die and then no one succeeds them. So there’s no such idea of not having kids because people that don’t have kids stop existing.

This book is basically an extended and crazy explanation of how things evolve to the way it has been. I don’t remember much of it since it’s been awhile that I’ve read it… but I do know that it was highly interesting and blew my mind. So go get it and read it here.