I want to start this post with this collaboration photo from an Italian teacher colleague and a message from Dalai Lama
“Love and kindness are always right. If you believe or do not believe in rebirth it doesn’t matter, you will always need love in this life. If we have love, there is hope to have authentic families, authentic brotherhood, authentic peace.” ( Dalai Lama )
Love is for me the greatest kind of collaboration. This post is the result of my research about collaboration. I hope you enjoy it.
- Definition of cooperation
- Forces that shaped life on earth.
- The primary architect of evolution
- The most helpful animal
- Good examples of cooperation in Society
- The evolution of competition
- Mechanisms governing the emergence of cooperation
- Cooperation in images
- Examples of Cooperation in nature
- ‘Chickens have a lot to teach us about collaboration
- Improving collaboration
Definition of cooperation
Cooperation is defined by www.dictionary.com/browse/cooperation ) with these examples:
- an act or instance of working or
acting together for a common purpose or benefit;
- a joint action.
- more or less active assistance from a person, organization, etc.
- cooperation of various civic leaders.
- as defined in economics:
the combination of persons for purposes of production, purchase or distribution for their joint benefit:
- producers’ cooperation
- consumers’ cooperation.
- as defined on sociology:
activity shared for mutual benefit.
- as defined in ecology:
mutually beneficial interaction among organisms living in a limited area.
forces that shaped life on earth.
“Competition is not the only force that shaped life on earth.”
I found an article in Scientific American from July 1012 called “The Evolution of Cooperation. This article is the reason why I write this post. One could say that the evolution of cooperation went on together with the biological evolution of competence within specific arts. The evolution of cooperation in the article is mainly focused on the evolution of cooperation among Homo sapiens. The article does not document in detail known cooperation between different arts like e.g. in between the Merlin falcon ( Falco columbarius )and one of their prey shows ( Monticola saxatilis ) a kind of cooperation I will talk more about below.
The primary architect of evolution
As the article I wrote about above says:
“Far from being a nagging exception to the rule of evolution, cooperation has been one of its primary architects”
( See the beginning of the article in https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-we-help-evolution-cooperation/ )
The most cooperative animal
Competition, struggle, war, and evilness are what I mainly think about when we talk or read about human beings and our Society.
It was surprising for me that the article tells that the most helpful art is Homo sapiens. Why? This article explains this
“Only humans have a full-blown language that allows us to share information about everyone and everything.”
Seventy-thousand years ago, our ancestors were insignificant animals. The most important thing to know about prehistoric humans is that they were unimportant. Their impact on the world was not much greater than that of jellyfish or fireflies or woodpeckers. Today, in contrast, we control this planet. And the question is: How did we come from there to here? How did we turn ourselves from insignificant apes, minding their own business in a corner of Africa, into the rulers of planet Earth?
Usually, we look for the difference between us and all the other animals on the individual level. We want to believe — I want to believe — that there is something special about me, about my body, about my brain, that makes me so superior to a dog or a pig, or a chimpanzee. But the truth is that, on the individual level, I’m embarrassingly similar to a chimpanzee. And if you take me and a chimpanzee and put us together on some lonely island, and we had to struggle for survival to see who survives better, I would definitely place my bet on the chimpanzee, not on myself. And this is not something wrong with me personally. I guess if they took almost any one of you, and placed you alone with a chimpanzee on some island, the chimpanzee would do much better.
The real difference between humans and all other animals is not on the individual level; it’s on the collective level. Humans control the planet because they are the only animals that can cooperate both flexibly and in very large numbers. Now, there are other animals — like the social insects, the bees, the ants — that can cooperate in large numbers, but they don’t do so flexibly. Their cooperation is very rigid. There is basically just one way in which a beehive can function. And if there’s a new opportunity or a new danger, the bees cannot reinvent the social system overnight. They cannot, for example, execute the queen and establish a republic of bees, or a communist dictatorship of worker bees.
Other animals, like the social mammals — the wolves, the elephants, the dolphins, the chimpanzees — they can cooperate much more flexibly, but they do so only in small numbers, because cooperation among chimpanzees is based on intimate knowledge, one of the other. I’m a chimpanzee and you’re a chimpanzee, and I want to cooperate with you. I need to know you personally. What kind of chimpanzee are you? Are you a nice chimpanzee? Are you an evil chimpanzee? Are you trustworthy? If I don’t know you, how can I cooperate with you?
The only animal that can combine the two abilities together and cooperate both flexibly and still do so in very large numbers is us, Homo sapiens. One versus one, or even 10 versus 10, chimpanzees might be better than us. But, if you pit 1,000 humans against 1,000 chimpanzees, the humans will win easily, for the simple reason that a thousand chimpanzees cannot cooperate at all. And if you now try to cram 100,000 chimpanzees into Oxford Street, or into Wembley Stadium, or Tienanmen Square or the Vatican, you will get chaos, complete chaos. Just imagine Wembley Stadium with 100,000 chimpanzees. Complete madness.
In contrast, humans normally gather there in tens of thousands, and what we get is not chaos, usually. What we get is extremely sophisticated and effective networks of cooperation. All the huge achievements of humankind throughout history, whether it’s building the pyramids or flying to the moon, have been based not on individual abilities, but on this ability to cooperate flexibly in large numbers.
Think even about this very talk that I’m giving now: I’m standing here in front of an audience of about 300 or 400 people, most of you are complete strangers to me. Similarly, I don’t really know all the people who have organized and worked on this event. I don’t know the pilot and the crew members of the plane that brought me over here, yesterday, to London. I don’t know the people who invented and manufactured this microphone and these cameras, which are recording what I’m saying. I don’t know the people who wrote all the books and articles that I read in preparation for this talk. And I certainly don’t know all the people who might be watching this talk over the Internet, somewhere in Buenos Aires or in New Delhi.
Nevertheless, even though we don’t know each other, we can work together to create this global exchange of ideas. This is something chimpanzees cannot do. They communicate, of course, but you will never catch a chimpanzee traveling to some distant chimpanzee band to give them a talk about bananas or about elephants, or anything else that might interest chimpanzees. Now cooperation is, of course, not always nice; all the horrible things humans have been doing throughout history — and we have been doing some very horrible things — all those things are also based on large-scale cooperation. Prisons are a system of cooperation; slaughterhouses are a system of cooperation; concentration camps are a system of cooperation. Chimpanzees don’t have slaughterhouses and prisons and concentration camps.
Now suppose I’ve managed to convince you perhaps that yes, we control the world because we can cooperate flexibly in large numbers. The next question that immediately arises in the mind of an inquisitive listener is: How, exactly, do we do it? What enables us alone, of all the animals, to cooperate in such a way? The answer is our imagination. We can cooperate flexibly with countless numbers of strangers, because we alone, of all the animals on the planet, can create and believe fiction, fictional stories. And as long as everybody believes in the same fiction, everybody obeys and follows the same rules, the same norms, the same values.
All other animals use their communication system only to describe reality. A chimpanzee may say, “Look! There’s a lion, let’s run away!” Or, “Look! There’s a banana tree over there! Let’s go and get bananas!” Humans, in contrast, use their language not merely to describe reality, but also to create new realities, fictional realities. A human can say, “Look, there is a god above the clouds! And if you don’t do what I tell you to do, when you die, God will punish you and send you to hell.” And if you all believe this story that I’ve invented, then you will follow the same norms and laws and values, and you can cooperate. This is something only humans can do. You can never convince a chimpanzee to give you a banana by promising him, “… after you die, you’ll go to chimpanzee heaven …” (Laughter) “… and you’ll receive lots and lots of bananas for your good deeds. So now give me this banana.” No chimpanzee will ever believe such a story. Only humans believe such stories, which is why we control the world, whereas the chimpanzees are locked up in zoos and research laboratories.
Now you may find it acceptable that yes, in the religious field, humans cooperate by believing in the same fictions. Millions of people come together to build a cathedral or a mosque or fight in a crusade or a jihad because they all believe in the same stories about God and heaven and hell. But what I want to emphasize is that exactly the same mechanism underlies all other forms of mass-scale human cooperation, not only in the religious field.
Take, for example, the legal field. Most legal systems today in the world are based on a belief in human rights. But what are human rights? Human rights, just like God and heaven, are just a story that we’ve invented. They are not an objective reality; they are not some biological effect about homo sapiens. Take a human being, cut him open, look inside, you will find the heart, the kidneys, neurons, hormones, DNA, but you won’t find any rights. The only place you find rights are in the stories that we have invented and spread around over the last few centuries. They may be very positive stories, very good stories, but they’re still just fictional stories that we’ve invented.
The same is true of the political field. The most important factors in modern politics are states and nations. But what are states and nations? They are not an objective reality. A mountain is an objective reality. You can see it, you can touch it, you can even smell it. But a nation or a state, like Israel or Iran or France or Germany, this is just a story that we’ve invented and became extremely attached to.
The same is true of the economic field. The most important actors today in the global economy are companies and corporations. Many of you today, perhaps, work for a corporation, like Google or Toyota or McDonald’s. What exactly are these things? They are what lawyers call legal fiction. They are stories invented and maintained by the powerful wizards we call lawyers. (Laughter) And what do corporations do all day? Mostly, they try to make money. Yet, what is money? Again, money is not an objective reality; it has no objective value. Take this green piece of paper, the dollar bill. Look at it — it has no value. You cannot eat it, you cannot drink it, you cannot wear it. But then came along these master storytellers — the big bankers, the finance ministers, the prime ministers — and they tell us a very convincing story: “Look, you see this green piece of paper? It is actually worth 10 bananas.” And if I believe it, and you believe it, and everybody believes it, it actually works. I can take this worthless piece of paper, go to the supermarket, give it to a complete stranger whom I’ve never met before, and get, in exchange, real bananas which I can actually eat. This is amazing. You could never do it with chimpanzees. Chimpanzees trade, of course: “Yes, you give me a coconut, I’ll give you a banana.” That can work. But, you give me a worthless piece of paper and you except me to give you a banana? No way! What do you think I am, a human? (Laughter)
Money, in fact, is the most successful story ever invented and told by humans, because it is the only story everybody believes. Not everybody believes in God, not everybody believes in human rights, not everybody believes in nationalism, but everybody believes in money, and in the dollar bill. Take, even, Osama Bin Laden. He hated American politics and American religion and American culture, but he had no objection to American dollars. He was quite fond of them, actually. (Laughter)
To conclude, then: We humans control the world because we live in a dual reality. All other animals live in an objective reality. Their reality consists of objective entities, like rivers and trees and lions and elephants. We humans, we also live in an objective reality. In our world, too, there are rivers and trees and lions and elephants. But over the centuries, we have constructed on top of this objective reality a second layer of fictional reality, a reality made of fictional entities, like nations, like gods, like money, like corporations. And what is amazing is that as history unfolded, this fictional reality became more and more powerful so that today, the most powerful forces in the world are these fictional entities. Today, the very survival of rivers and trees and lions and elephants depends on the decisions and wishes of fictional entities, like the United States, like Google, like the World Bank — entities that exist only in our own imagination.
BG: In the book, if I understand it correctly, you argue that the amazing breakthroughs that we are experiencing right now not only will potentially make our lives better, but they will create — and I quote you — “… new classes and new class struggles, just as the industrial revolution did.” Can you elaborate for us?
YNH: Yes. In the industrial revolution, we saw the creation of a new class of urban proletariat. And much of the political and social history of the last 200 years involved what to do with this class, and the new problems and opportunities. Now, we see the creation of a new massive class of useless people. (Laughter) As computers become better and better in more and more fields, there is a distinct possibility that computers will out-perform us in most tasks and will make humans redundant. And then the big political and economic question of the 21st century will be, “What do we need humans for?”, or at least, “What do we need so many humans for?”
YNH: Again, it’s not a prophecy; it’s seeing all kinds of possibilities before us. One possibility is this creation of a new massive class of useless people. Another possibility is the division of humankind into different biological castes, with the rich being upgraded into virtual gods, and the poor being degraded to this level of useless people.
Good examples of cooperation in Society
The article starts telling about a 20-year-old young maintenance worker who almost offered his life. He entered the radiation poisoned nuclear plant of Fukushima in march 2011 stopping it from melting, avoiding a total disaster. He knew he could never marry and have a family after this heroic act.
Image source (wiki )
This reminds me of all those Christian martyrs who offered their life for the sake of the Christian Community. Without these martyrs, we would today maybe still venerate Roman gods.
There are many other examples of brave humans who offered their life to fight evilness, like eg during the second world war. Without the second war heroes we would maybe still have Nazism and dictatorship in Europe.
There are also examples of good producer cooperation in successful companies. Google is known as a company where the owners and leadership take care of the employees. The extraordinary success and creativity of this company are the result of great cooperation and a good climate between the employees.
Larry Page and Sergey brin cooperated and today Larry and Sergey are billionaires.
I see an example of such cooperation here on Lipari where a team of engineers and architects have created gorgeous hotels and still are working hard with other projects.
We had good cooperation in my school (lövgärdeskolan) several years ago. Teachers and headmaster cooperated to help all young kids coming from the war in Bosnia to get a better future. In the nineties, our school had a very good reputation and we had a visit to our school from teachers all over Sweden. Cooperation was the spirit of my schools (in Swedish “Lövgärdessandan”). But the political leadership had other plans and the school loosed thereafter its good reputation.
The Kidlink project is another good example of cooperation where volunteers all over the world cooperate to run global school projects. I had the honor to participate in this project since 1997.
The evolution of cooperation is not the only one There have been several kinds of evolutions.
From the evolution of particles (nucleosynthesis) to the chemical and organic evolution (recently called abiogenesis) to the biological evolution and finally the cultural evolution. As shown in this Swedish image from http://gardeborn.se/
The evolution of competition
The article just mentions competition but we all know how the competition has evolved with new methods and tools in the latest century especially in media and the Internet with eg terror and with tools like nuclear weapons and radioactive poisons.
The mechanism governing
the emergence of cooperation
The article presents five mechanisms governing the emergence of cooperation. These are:
- direct reciprocity (.g., if a bat misses a chance to feed directly on prey, it will beg from peers)
- spatial selection (e.g. neighbors tend to help one another)
- cooperation among genetically related individuals. (sacrifices for their relatives) (
- indirect reciprocity (help another based on another’s reputation)
- group selection (selfless acts for the greater goods)
“Without any mechanism (direct reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, group selection etc) for the evolution of cooperation, natural selection favors defectors. In mixed population defectors, D, has a higher payoff (=fitness) than cooperators,”
Read more at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3279745/
cooperation in images
This painting is made by two artists: “Although Brueghel was responsible for the composition, Rubens started the painting…” (Read more about the paininting in https://www.mauritshuis.nl/en/explore/the-collection/artworks/the-garden-of-eden-with-the-fall-of-man-253/ )
How many times haven’t we struggled with each other to discover later was better cooperate? When will e.g. Russia discover that? Cooperation means sacrifice but in the long term, it is a winning solution. You waste less energy and time.
I have let my teenage students do this. Good cooperation = faster solution. Typical no cooperating behavior. One sits down and does nothing. Motivation: “I can not help out” or “I don’t want to work with him/her”.
I love to see when small kids communicate with each other and cooperate ) This image from renegade is great.
Examples of Cooperation in nature
Common raven (Corvus corax, see image below) is an egg predator on Merlin falcon and Rock trush. The falcon and the trush cooperate to protect themselves from the raven. Trushes have big nest communities and allow a Merlin falcon to have its nest in the middle of the trush community even if the Falcon now and then ear Trush. This cooperation is observable in northern Sweden. The trush warns the falcon if a raven is nearby. The falcon with its fast attacks from behind the raven is an expert in having the raven to choose other hunting areas.
Why complex animal societies …
like those of elephants, starlings, ants, etc?
“How were paper birch and Douglas fir communicating? Well, it turns out they were conversing not only in the language of carbon but also nitrogen and phosphorus and water and defense signals and allele chemicals and hormones — information. ” ( Source: www.ted.com )
Competition or cooperation
I like very much this resumé of renegadeinc: “All of the great evolutionary leaps forward, in biology, culture, and society, have come when antagonistic, competing groups have come to realize that they’d be better off cooperating with their erstwhile enemies in pursuit of common aims. Only in respect of the economy have we yet to learn this lesson…”
( Source: https://renegadeinc.com )
Collaboration – Chickens have a lot to teach us about collaboration
A Tedx Santa Cruz video with Jim Tamm, a former law professor and senior administrative law judge for the state of California. He mediated nearly 2,000 employment disputes and handed down legal decisions that impacted national labor policy. He’s worked for 40 years in the field of alliance building and conflict resolution and is an expert in building collaborative workplace environments. He’s the author of “Radical Collaboration,” published in 2005. Source: ( https://www.youtube.com )
Collaborated with Bill Muir Professor of Genetics
Breed collaborative instincts into the chicken to see the impact on egg production
There are two types of chickens
- Red zone chickens
These are star egg producers not by themselves but by suppressing the egg production of the other chickens by pecking on them. They often tend to be aggressive.
2. Green zone chickens
are not star egg producers but are nice to each other.
Breeding up green zone chicken and separating the green zone chicken from the red zone chicken
The green zone chicken became healthy and productive. 50% of the red zone chicken died because they killed each other.
Separating green zone chickens from red zone chicken gave an egg production rise of 260% in 1 year
Red Zone environment produce more3 red zone behavior
Read more about this experiment in https://www.2civility.org/super-chickens-lesson-competition/
By managing your defensiveness
- Defensiveness does not protect us from other people.
- It defends us from fears we don’t want to feel.
- Defensiveness helps us hide our fears from ourselves and we do so e.g. by blaming others for being wrong.
Effects of defensiveness
- your thinking becomes rigid
- your IQ drops about 20 points (these effects are maybe caused by stress hormones flooding your blood circulation and brain?)
The defensiveness reaction has to do with our Amygdala in our Limbic system I write about on my page about neuroscience. Managing our defensiveness is about “reprogramming our Amygdala”. as the neurologist Jill Bolte Taylor calls it.
Create your own early warning system
try understanding your own signals of defensiveness.
- withdrawal into silence
- Playing poor me
- All or nothing thinking
- Wanting to be right
- Blaming or shaming others
- A sudden drop in IQ/confusion
- High charge of energy in the body
- catastrophing everything
- Wanting the last word
- obsessive thinking
- Flooding with information to prove a point.
- complete denial of your own defensiveness
(source; https://youtu.be/vjSTNv4gyMM?t=11m43s )
Action step to move forward and to practice
- Acknowledge you own defensiveness
- Getting an early warning system
- Slow down by taking a few deep breath or take a walk somewhere else (to the bathroom maybe?)
- check negative self-talk
- Create an Action step
- Start over
We don’t want to appear incompetent so we blame the other to be incompetent.
School classroom dilemma
Inspired by Jim Tam in the video above, I use below the term “”red kid” in a similar way, to normally indicate a kid that easily becomes aggressive and destructive in the classroom by interrupting the calm, by e.g. annoying other classmates. Some “red kids” may however be fast learners but react aggressively, with defense reactions becoming very offensive if their will is not met positively.
I had a discussion with a neighbor working in a public school in the village. They have the same problem we had and still are having in my sold school.
In Sweden and Italy, it is prohibited to isolate or segregate kids in different groups according to their behavior. All talks about the benefits of heterogeneous classrooms. This may work well if you in a class of 30 kids have one or maybe two red kids. Although two red dominant kids can cause a lot of damage, a school can maybe handle this supporting the green kids to not be infected.
My last experience with a eighth grade was a total catastrophe as there were
- 4 red kids,
- 2-5 slow learner green kids that required simplified teaching at the elementary level.
- a few kids with attention deficit who needed tranquility to be able to listen
- 3 red skilled kids who required to be taught their way.
- I alone could not manage to make all these kids happy.
I personally believe that there is no meaning to oblige unmotivated red kids to study if they aren’t receptive to teaching. It is better to take them apart temporarily to have a dialog with them building a constructive relationship.
Being a teacher I am not a psychologist nor a therapist. We have had cases in which parents did not allow the school to let a psychologist or therapist talk with a red kid, helping me as a teacher with the right advice.
My schools expect the teacher to solve everything modificating the teaching methods or the way the teacher relates to the students. But this is if course unsuccessful in many cases.
I don’t know a teacher who has been able to have lessons that make both red, green, slow, and fast learner kids happy. During all my years as a teacher, I have never found a teaching method that accomplishes this. The only “solution” I saw and tested was been to find time for separate dialogs with “red” kids, one at a time. But I did not get time for the many red kids I had.
The result of our heterogeneous classroom experiments ni my school has been that many green kids have left our school to continue in private schools where they do not have so many red kids. The last years, red kids have become more and more dominant in my school and several green kids have become red. I heard that red kids rule over the school now.
This is what the old Bible deuteronomy 21:18-21 says we shall do with a rebellious son:
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”
Jesus has learned us a different method.
A teacher in my Swedish school was recently killed.
Similar things happens in Italian schools. A teacher in my village was attacked by a very young pupil. A teacher in Italy was yesterday (?) attacked with a knife by a student. The president receives the teacher.
How are Swedish and Italian teachers dealing with “red” (aggressive) students?
Using Jim Tamms vocabulary one could say we have green zone humans (who are nice to each other) and red zone humans (aggressive ones) .
Learning from the egg production experiment, to improve our whole planets net production (getting less starving, suffering and conflicts), we could maybe
- start thinking vegan (as I wrote about some time ago in http://www.kinberg.net/2017/11/01/vegan-dilemma/ ).
- We must among others also isolate the red zone humans from conditioning and “infecting” green zone humans
- the green zone humans, must learn to become more cooperative e.g. with the methods presented by Jim Tamm.
- Put aggressive people in prison or under treatment?
- Do not vote on aggressive people or let them get a leading position like Trump and similar people