Chapter Five introduces Game Theory as the basis for analysis of evolutionary stable strategies. ESS is the tendency of populations to evolve towards an equilibrium such that alternative behaviour strategies (eg hawk/dove) are in line with the long term economics of cost and benefit for their genes. Looking at five strategies – hawk, dove, retaliator, bully and prober-retaliator, Dawkins says “in a computer simulation, only one of them, retaliator, emerges as evolutionarily stable. Dove is not stable, because a population of doves would be invaded by hawks and bullies. Hawk is not stable, because a population of hawks would be invaded by doves and bullies. … In a population of retaliators, no other strategy would invade.” (p80)
What this makes me wonder is how this use of Game Theory for genetics could also be used for memetics. The example I am thinking of is the influences governing the change in population of atheists and believers. If we can start to tot up the costs and benefits of the alternative strategies of atheism and Christian belief, they might look like the following
Benefits: better health, income and relationships through reliance on evidence and logic;
Costs: Disapproval of Christians
Benefits: Social inclusion and cohesion;
Costs: Falsity of main ideas leading to disapproval of atheists and decisions that conflict with evidence
I’m wondering, could we add to this list and assign values to the benefits and costs to start examining what factors govern the rise and fall of such cultural memeplexes?
I found the following Chapter Five Summary from the Selfish Gene Wikipedia
Chapter 5 - Aggression: stability and the selfish machine
To a survival machine, another survival machine (which is not its own child or another close relative) is part of its environment, like a rock or a river or a lump of food. It is something that gets in the way, or something that can be exploited. It differs from a rock or a river in one important respect: it is inclined to hit back. This is because it too is a machine that holds its immortal genes in trust for the future, and it too will stop at nothing to preserve them. Natural selection favours genes that control their survival machines in such a way that they make the best use of their environment. This includes making the best use of other survival machines, both of the same and of different species.
This interpretation of animal aggression as being restrained and formal can be disputed. In particular, it is certainly wrong to condemn poor old Homo Sapiens as the only species to kill his own kind, the only inheritor of the mark of Cain, and similar melodramatic charges.
If only everybody would agree to be a dove, every single individual would benefit. By simple group selection, any group in which all individuals mutually agree to be doves would be far more successful than a rival group sitting at the ESS (Evolutionary Stable Strategy) ratio.... Group selection theory would therefore predict a tendency to evolve towards an all-dove conspiracy... But the trouble with conspiracies, even those that are to everybody's advantage in the long run, is that they are open to abuse. It is true that everybody does better in an all-dove group than he would in an ESS group. But unfortunately, in conspiracies of doves, a single hawk does so extremely well that nothing could stop the evolution of hawks. The conspiracy is therefore bound to be broken by treachery from within. An ESS is stable, not because it is particularly good for the individuals participating in it, but simply because it is immune to treachery from within.
But there are other ways in which the interests of individuals from different species conflict very sharply. For instance a lion wants to eat an antelope's body, but the antelope has very different plans for its body. This is not normally regarded as competition for a resource, but logically it is hard to see why not. The resource in question is meat. The lion genes 'want' the meat as food for their survival machine. The antelope genes want the meat as working muscle and organs for their survival machine. These two uses for the meat are mutually incompatible, therefore there is conflict of interest.