Researchers are exploring how cooperation arises in human societies, where people tend to cluster into various group types — political, religious, familial, professional, etc. Within such groups, people can cooperate or ‘defect’ and receive payoffs based on those exchanges. Cooperation, they observed, is most favored when allowing for the existence of ‘loners’ — people who are temporarily not members of any group.
Chu and Tarnita found that cooperation still emerges, but that it is most favored when they allow for the existence of “loners” in the population – people who, due to barriers, are temporarily not members of any group. Loners are essential, Chu explained, “because they keep group sizes lower than they would have been without barriers to group entry.”
Smaller groups allow cooperation to thrive, while making the system as a whole more resilient, by limiting the destructive influence of a defector exploiting a group of cooperators. Chu cautions against drawing too much from one model amid a sea of evolutionary game theory models. Nevertheless, their recent work shows, reassuringly, that there may be hope for maintaining cooperation in our world. (1)
But only because there are people outside of them.
It is those people who drive societies along the dark paths of history.
By holding the light on while others are too preoccupied gazing at it.
For the dark forest is far away.
We may fear it, but we want to go back in.
We left it a long time ago.
We gathered together because we felt lonely outside of it.
And we never stopped thinking about it.
So many people gathered together.
Secretly longing to be lost in the woods again.
That’s why society will always need those people.
Staying where we once were.
A constant reminder that societies exist for no other reason,
Than to remind us that there is no reason for them to exist…