The red queen and her king

Cooperation at all levels of life

Kenneth M. Weiss, Anne Buchanan Weiss, Brian W. Lambert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Red Queen in "Through the Looking Glass" is often used as a metaphor for the relentless, unremitting competitive struggle by which Darwin described life. That imagery fits comfortably in our culture, with its emphasis on competition and inequity, but less so for nature herself. Life is manifestly much more about cooperation, at all levels and through a variety of ubiquitous mechanisms, than it is about competition. Most organisms of most species are nowhere near the proverbial Malthusian edge of survival, such that selection will detect the tiniest difference in their performance and enhance its genetic basis. Cooperation through interaction of multiple entities is inherent in many fundamental aspects of life, and its importance is not widely enough appreciated. Here we discuss a set of principles by which this works. We illustrate the points with a computer simulation of a topic of interest to anthropology, the development of the head. In a sense, our culture has its metaphors reversed. The red royal family is a more accurate symbol for the true nature of life, human or otherwise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-18
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume146
Issue numberSUPPL. 53
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 28 2011

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metaphor
Metaphor
computer simulation
anthropology
symbol
Anthropology
Imagery (Psychotherapy)
interaction
Computer Simulation
Glass
performance
Head
Survival

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology

Cite this

Weiss, Kenneth M. ; Weiss, Anne Buchanan ; Lambert, Brian W. / The red queen and her king : Cooperation at all levels of life. In: American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 2011 ; Vol. 146, No. SUPPL. 53. pp. 3-18.
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The red queen and her king : Cooperation at all levels of life. / Weiss, Kenneth M.; Weiss, Anne Buchanan; Lambert, Brian W.

In: American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Vol. 146, No. SUPPL. 53, 28.11.2011, p. 3-18.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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