Controversy is good for selling books, and Joan Roughgarden’s “The Genial Gene” is already on my list – but good to see this dampener from New Scientist. Good because it’s the story I’ve been peddling for quite some time.
After all, most behavioural ecologists admit that it is sometimes in an individual’s best interest to cooperate with its neighbours and mates. And certainly all, probably even Roughgarden, would agree that there are times when competition is the order of the day. If the debate comes down to a question of how often and under what conditions, Roughgarden’s new theory is likely to end up an important extension to existing thought, and not a revolutionary departure from it. Appropriately, Roughgarden and her critics are likely to have more to gain from cooperation than from conflict.