SuperCooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed

Overview

Martin Nowak, one of the world’s experts on evolution and game theory, working here with bestselling science writer Roger Highfield, turns an important aspect of evolutionary theory on its head to explain why cooperation, not competition, has always been the key to the evolution of complexity. In his first book written for a wide audience, this hugely influential scientist explains his cutting-edge research into the mysteries of cooperation, from the rise of multicellular life to Good Samaritans, and from cancer ...

See more details below
Paperback (Simon & Schuster)
$14.25
BN.com price
(Save 10%)$16.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (14) from $2.36   
  • New (8) from $6.49   
  • Used (6) from $2.36   
SuperCooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.66
BN.com price

Overview

Martin Nowak, one of the world’s experts on evolution and game theory, working here with bestselling science writer Roger Highfield, turns an important aspect of evolutionary theory on its head to explain why cooperation, not competition, has always been the key to the evolution of complexity. In his first book written for a wide audience, this hugely influential scientist explains his cutting-edge research into the mysteries of cooperation, from the rise of multicellular life to Good Samaritans, and from cancer treatment to the success of large companies. With wit and clarity, and an eye to its huge implications, Nowak and Highfield make the case that cooperation, not competition, is the defining human trait. SuperCooperators will expand our understanding of evolution and provoke debate for years to come.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

This is the first trade book by Harvard biologist and mathematician Martin Nowak, but he is far from unknown. As the most prominent proponent of evolutionary dynamics (which he, indeed, named), Dr. Nowak has attracted both numerous academic awards and widespread media attention. In SuperCooperators, he describes the essential role that cooperation fills on every level of evolution; from the cellular to global human networks. His examples range from the spread of diseases to the evolution of languages to the effects of reciprocity in competition. A major book; certain to be review.

From the Publisher
“[Nowak’s] willingness to argue for group selection, a theory suggesting that evolution operates beyond the genetic level, reawakens old controversies – but he does so using innovative mathematical models, able to incorporate dynamism and uncertainty… Like other great controversialists, Mr. Nowak moves from decision matrices to emotive moral language…all politicians can draw inspiration and ideas from the intellectual resources of this exciting approach.”
Financial Times
Oren Harman
SuperCooperators…is an absorbing, accessible book about the power of mathematics. Unlike Darwin with his brine bottles and pigeon coops, Nowak aims to tackle the mysteries of nature with paper, pencil and computer. By looking at phenomena as diverse as H.I.V. infection and English irregular verbs, he has formally defined five distinct mechanisms that have helped give rise to cooperative behavior, from the first molecules that joined to self-replicate, to the first cells that formed multicellular organisms, all the way to human societies, which exhibit a degree of cooperation unmatched in all creation.
—The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews

With New Scientist editor Highfield (The Science of Harry Potter, 2003, etc.), Nowak (Biology and Mathematics/Harvard Univ.; Evolutionary Dynamics, 2006, etc.) presents a panoramic view of the role of cooperation in the evolution.

Given the evolutionary mechanism of natural selection, what are we to make of cooperation and altruism? Natural selection, in a well-mixed population, favors the selfish, the cheater, the deceiver. As the author writes in this sweeping survey, cooperation has been with us since the dawn of man—indeed, perhaps before the dawn, in the prelife, when two complementary molecular sequences possibly catalyzed reactions. Nowak is a mathematical biologist, and his enthusiasm for numbers is extremely useful in his discussions of evolutionary theory. However, thankfully for the mathematically disinclined, there is little hard math here. What natural selection needs, writes the author, are mechanisms to encourage cooperation, to give it a competitive edge. The author delineates five such mechanisms: direct reciprocity (tit for tat), indirect reciprocity (influence of reputation), spatial selection, group selection (often manifested in tribal wars) and kin selection (often manifested in nepotism). All the mechanisms find their rationale when tried against cost-benefit analysis, wherein the combined cost must be less than the shared benefit. Nowak also brings many other theoretical models to bear—game theory, spatial games, phylogenetics, the haplodiploidy hypothesis and others—and he investigates them in a slightly formal voice that is unencumbered by equations, graphs or charts.

A fleshed-out, persuasive chronicle of the bright side—collective enterprise—of the evolutionary road.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451626636
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 3/27/2012
  • Edition description: Simon & Schuster
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 587,704
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin A. Nowak is a professor of biology and mathematics at Harvard University and director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. He established the first center in Theoretical Biology at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.
Roger Highfield is the editor of New Scientist magazine. He has written or coauthored six popular science books, two of which have been bestsellers.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 31, 2011

    It is hard going

    I'm a strong proponent for emphasizing cooperation as a strong ecological and evolutionary force. As such I had strong hopes in beginning this book. Unfortunately, there was too much Nowak in the book to keep my attention and his constant name-dropping was too irritating since it struck me as an over-reliance on argument by authority. If there is a meta-message in the logical construction of his argument is that advertising for friends and teachers is a Super way to Cooperate! I won't hold this book against him with respect to his recent paper damning inclusive fitness but it surely doesn't help make his case. There is a great need for a book outlining cooperation in biology, unfortunately, this book isn't it for either general readers or professional biologists.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)