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Evolutionary Strategies

Evolutionary strategies – Evolutionarily Stable Strategies (Doves Hawks)

An evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) is a strategy that no other feasible alternative strategy can better, provided sufficient members of the population adopt it. The best strategy for an individual depends upon the strategies adopted by other members of the population. Since the same applies to all individuals in the population, a mutant gene cannot invade a true ESS successfully.

Evolutionary biologists imagine a time before a particular trait existed. Then, they postulate that a rare gene arises in an individual and ask what circumstances would favor the spread of the gene throughout the population. If natural selection favors the gene, then the individuals with the genotypes incorporating that gene will have increased fitness. A gene must compete with the existing members of the gene pool and resist invasion from other mutant genes, to become established in a population’s gene pool.

In considering evolutionary strategies that influence behavior, we visualize a situation in which changes in genotype lead to changes in behavior. By ‘the gene for sibling care’, we mean that genetic differences exist in the population such that some individuals aid their siblings while others do not. Similarly, by ‘dove strategy,’ we mean that animals exist in the population that do not engage in fights and that they pass this trait from one generation to the next.

At first sight, it might seem that the most successful evolutionary strategy will always spread through the population and eventually supplant all others. While this may sometimes be the case, it is far from always being so. Sometimes, it may even not be possible to determine the best strategy. Competing strategies may be interdependent. The success of one depends upon the existence of the other and the frequency with which the population adopts the other. For example, the strategy of mimicry has no value if the warning strategy of the model is not efficient.

Game theory belongs to mathematics and economics, and it studies situations where players choose different actions in an attempt to maximize their returns. It is a good model for evolutionary biologists to approach situations in which various decision makers interact. The payoffs in biological simulations correspond to fitness, comparable to money in economics. Simulations focus on achieving a balance that would be maintained by evolutionary strategies. The Evolutionarily Stable Strategy (ESS), introduced by John Maynard Smith in 1973 (and published in 1982), is the most well known of these strategies. Maynard Smith used the hawk-dove simulation to analyze fighting and territorial behavior. Together with Harper in 2003, he employed an ESS to explain the emergence of animal communication.

An evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) is a strategy that no other feasible alternative strategy can better, provided sufficient members of the population adopt it.

The traditional way to illustrate this problem is the simulation of the encounter between two strategies, the hawks and the doves. When a hawk meets a hawk it wins on half of the occasions, and it loses and suffers an injury on the other half. Hawks always beat doves. Doves always retreat against hawks. Whenever a dove meets another dove, there is always a display, and it wins on half of the occasions. Under these rules, populations of only hawks or doves are no ESS. A hawk can invade a population made up entirely of doves and a dove can invade a population of hawks only. Both would have an advantage and would spread in the population. A hawk in a population of doves would win all contests. A dove in a population of hawks would never get injured because it wouldn’t fight.

However, it is possible for a mixture of hawks and doves to provide a stable situation when their numbers reach a certain proportion of the total population. For example, with payoffs as winner +50, injury -100, loser 0, display -10, a population consisting of hawks and doves (or individuals adopting hawk and dove strategies) is an ESS whenever 58,3% of the population are hawks and 41,7% doves. Or alternatively, when all individuals behave at random as hawks in 58,3 % of the encounters and doves in 41,7%.

Evolutionarily stable strategies are not artificial constructs. They exist in nature. The OryxOryx gazella, have sharp pointed horns, which they never use in contests with rivals and only in defense against predators. They play the dove strategy. Up to 10% per year of MuskoxOvibos moschatus, adult males die as a result of injuries sustained while fighting over females. They play the hawk strategy.

Peer-to-peer file sharing is a good example of an ESS in our modern society. BitTorrent peers use Tit for Tat strategy to optimize their download speed. Cooperation is achieved when upload bandwidth is exchanged for download bandwidth.

Life is a box of wonder and amazement, isn’t it?

Featured image: The traditional way to illustrate Evolutionarily Stable Strategies is the simulation of the encounter between two strategies, the hawk and the dove.

Learn more in our course Ethology. Ethology studies the behavior of animals in their natural environment. It is fundamental knowledge for the dedicated student of animal behavior as well as for any competent animal trainer. Roger Abrantes wrote the textbook included in the online course as a beautiful flip page book. Learn ethology from a leading ethologist.

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Life Is a Rainbow

In our times, I’d call it the Facebook fallacy. It’s a false dilemma. We tend to classify everything promptly as ‘like,’ ‘don’t like.’ Peculiar habit this one for it limits us tremendously. We consort with the ‘like,’ inebriating us with its shallow compliment; and repudiate the ‘don’t,’ rejecting its challenge, missing the boat that for once might have taken us to undiscovered shores.

Facebook makes us believe that everything must either be liked or not liked (or rather ignored). This is an informal fallacy, an error in reasoning that does not originate in improper logical form. Arguments committing informal fallacies may be formally valid, yet fallacious.

The real name for my Facebook fallacy is the false dichotomy, but it is also known as the false dilemma, black-and/or-white thinking, the either-or fallacy, the fallacy of false choice, the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses, the fallacy of the false alternative or the fallacy of the excluded middle. It is an informal fallacy in which we only consider limited alternatives when there is at least one additional option.

The options we consider or give as a choice to our opponent may be two extremes or completely different alternatives. We can also have a false trilemma (if we reduce the options to three, instead of two).

A false dilemma can be constructed intentionally when we attempt to force a choice. The fallacy can also happen by accidental omission of alternatives or by ignorance. In situations where we are emotionally involved, it is not rare that we only see two (or a few) options to solve a problem when there are several.

As it is, life is not black and white, neither are your options in the vast majority of the situations when you feel cornered.

Life is a rainbow!

We Talk Too Much and Say Too Little

when you cannot improve on silence, be quiet (DogOwnerTalkingToDog).

Our dogs, I’m sure, think that we talk too much and say too little. My advice to dog owners: when you cannot improve on silence, be quiet.

The function of communication is to achieve or maintain any desired outcome. Communication—information, instruction, persuasion, control, motivation, emotional release, and information—is all about change. If we don’t want anything in particular, the best we can do is to keep silent.

Communication happens through signals with different forms, e.g., sound (verbal and non-verbal), body language, facial expression, eye contact, smell, touch. All organisms communicate, animals, plants, fungi, and even bacteria.

Talking is our primary communication means because we have developed complex language systems. That is a peculiarity of the brain of our species. Other animals also communicate with one another, though their communication is supposedly not as sophisticated as ours. Besides talking to change or maintain the behavior of others, we also engage in cozy talk, social talk, gossiping, etc.. However, cozy talk is not always that cozy, and social conversation leans more often than we care to admit to being anti-social.

If language is a useful tool to create understanding, it is also the ideal tool to create misunderstanding. In conclusion, we would be better off shutting up more often. Therefore, when you cannot improve on silence, be quiet.

Dogs don’t care for idle talk or social talk. They don’t have a keen interest in gossip or emotional bursts either. Dogs are pragmatic—if you don’t bother me and I don’t bother you, all is good. Dogs are connoisseurs of silence. Instead of so much talking, I believe your dog would value immensely more a loving glance or a little pacifying gesture. In other words: if you don’t have anything important to say to your dog, keep silent.

Have a quiet, peaceful and beautiful day!

Learn more in our course Ethology and Behaviorism. Based on Roger Abrantes’ book “Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism,” this online course explains and teaches you how to create a stable and balanced relationship with any animal. It analyses the way we interact with our animals, combines the best of ethology and behaviorism and comes up with an innovative, yet simple and efficient approach to animal training. A state-of-the-art online course in four lessons including videos, a beautiful flip-pages book, and quizzes.

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Why Do We Keep Pets?

Why Do We Keep Pets? Every-New-Day

We all keep pets (dogs, cats, horses, guinea pigs, parrots, etc…) because it pleases us. We feel good about having pets. One way or another, pet ownership satisfies some need of ours. There’s nothing wrong with that, in principle. All harmonious relationships are “give and take.” If we give in the same measure as we take, everyone should be happy. Species do not matter, in this context. Nature gives us many examples of animals of different species forming harmonious relationships with benefits for all parties.

That being the case, it seems to me, each of us (pet owners) should ask, “what do I give back to my pet?”

I’m not thinking about a place to sleep, food and medical care. Those are the self-evident duties most (if not all) pet owners do observe. I’m thinking about allowing our pets to be the animals they were (and are) before they became our pets.

Featured Course of the Week

Canine Scent Detection Canine Scent Detection is the same course that Roger Abrantes gives to law enforcement officers, from the acquisition of indication behavior (alert) and target scent to the indication of a hidden scent target. One-on-one tutor support.

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As I said, there’s nothing wrong with our selfish motives for pet ownership, but we may have a problem if we don’t realize it, or deny it. Then, we may fall into a series of pseudo-explanations, inadequate interpretations, and knee-jerk solutions—and that’s abuse in my book.

I have a deep respect for all life independently of species and race. It appears to me that the pet/owner relationship, in this one aspect, should not be much different from any other relationship, be it with a spouse, a lover, a friend, a parent, a child. We should be content with what they can give us and not ask for what they can’t give. We should grant them plenty of room to be themselves. And, we should never take any relationship for granted. Every new day should be one more day we should feel privileged to share with that particular living being—independently of species.

Think about it. Am I wrong?

Have a fabulous day!

Featured image: Every new day is one more day we are privileged to share with any particular living being—independently of species.

Learn more in our course Ethology and Behaviorism. Based on Roger Abrantes’ book “Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism,” this online course explains and teaches you how to create a stable and balanced relationship with any animal. It analyses the way we interact with our animals, combines the best of ethology and behaviorism and comes up with an innovative, yet simple and efficient approach to animal training. A state-of-the-art online course in four lessons including videos, a beautiful flip-pages book, and quizzes.

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The Single Most Damaging Belief of Ours

Damaging belief (WolfMuzzleGrab)

The single most damaging belief of ours is that everything is one-sidedly good or bad, right or wrong.

Good or bad, right or wrong depend on the conditions. A strategy is only good at a certain time, under particular circumstances. Behavior is dynamic and changeable. An individual displays one behavior at one given moment and another a while later. It is the ability to adopt the most beneficial strategy in the prevailing conditions that ultimately sorts the fittest from the less fit—moral strategies included—and decides whose genes will prevail in the next generation; and which memes will play the following round.

Opposing strategies, e.g. honest/dishonest, dominant/submissive, aggressive/fearful, hold one another at bay (in all groups, including humans). Whether it pays off to play one role or the other is ultimately a function of cost and benefits and the number of individuals adopting each particular strategy.

Life is fascinating, isn’t it?

Featured image: The single most damaging belief of ours is that everything is one-sidedly good or bad, right or wrong. (Photo by Monty Sloan).

Learn more in our course Ethology. Ethology studies the behavior of animals in their natural environment. It is fundamental knowledge for the dedicated student of animal behavior as well as for any competent animal trainer. Roger Abrantes wrote the textbook included in the online course as a beautiful flip page book. Learn ethology from a leading ethologist.

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The Spectrum of Behavior

Behavior is like the spectrum of light (behaviorspectrum)

The conundrum of the behavioral sciences is that they are not exact sciences in the same sense as physics or mathematics. Behavior is like the spectrum of light: it is as difficult to say when yellow turns into orange as when one behavior turns into another. It is a continuum of quantity, perceptible throughout its duration, describable only when quantity turns into quality.

Friendly, insecure, pacifying, submissive and fearful behaviors are a continuum of quantity, as are content, self-confident, assertive, dominant and aggressive behaviors. The distinction between any two behaviors is a matter of function; the borderline separating one category from the other is a matter of observational skill, contextual parameters, and convention; the way we understand it all is a matter of definition.

Our brain likes to tidy up its stored information in small boxes, but once in a while, I like to turn them upside down. It’s good mental exercise.

Featured image: Behavior is like the spectrum of light: it is as difficult to say when yellow turns into orange as when one behavior turns into another. © Illustration by Roger Abrantes with drawings from Alice Rasmussen.

Learn more in our course Agonistic BehaviorAgonistic Behavior is all forms of aggression, threat, fear, pacifying behavior, fight or flight, arising from confrontations between individuals of the same species. This course gives you the scientific definitions and facts.

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Open-minded skepticism

open-minded skepticism knowledge (Baby1)

“Keep an open-minded skepticism,” I recommend my students in their pursuit of knowledge. “Open-mindedness and critical reasoning are your map and compass on your journey to knowledge, but without desire, as without a canteen, you won’t get anywhere,” I say to them.

Featured image: Be open-minded and healthily skeptical.

Learn more in our course Ethology and Behaviorism. Based on Roger Abrantes’ book “Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism,” this online course explains and teaches you how to create a stable and balanced relationship with any animal. It analyses the way we interact with our animals, combines the best of ethology and behaviorism and comes up with an innovative, yet simple and efficient approach to animal training. A state-of-the-art online course in four lessons including videos, a beautiful flip-pages book, and quizzes.

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I Do Enjoy Being Kind to Other Animals

I-Do-Enjoy-Being-Kind

(First published April 13, 2014, edited February 26, 2018)

 

I do enjoy being kind to animals, other than humans—and I don’t need a rational justification as to why that’s right for me. I respect them for what they are and interact with them on equal terms. I don’t believe to be right to subjugate them to my will, to control them, to change them.

Yes, I do enjoy being kind to animals. It serves me well and fulfills my life with a sense of harmony. I can’t make anyone choose harmony or define it in a particular way, even though I can illustrate how bullying does not lead to stability. Therefore, I cannot argue with people who believe it right to bully others (including non-human animals). Neither can I argue with people who think it acceptable to hurt others to achieve their goals because such means are objectionable to me. Nor, can I discuss with people who deny or affirm a particular matter of fact as a means of justifying their moral conduct, because my mind rejects invalid, unsound arguments.

Morality and science are two separate disciplines. I may not like the conclusions and implications of some scientific studies, and I may even find their application immoral; yet, my job as a scientist is to report my findings objectively. Stating a fact does not oblige me to adopt any particular moral stance. Science does influence my perceptions but does not constrain the way I feel about a fact. Ultimately, my moral decision is independent of scientific fact.

G. E. Moore coined the term naturalistic fallacy in 1903 in “Principia Ethica.” In 1739, David Hume described, in “A Treatise of Human Nature,” the ‘is-ought problem,’ also called ‘Hume’s Law’ or ‘Hume’s Guillotine.’ The ‘is-ought fallacy’ consists of deriving an ‘ought’ conclusion from an ‘is’ premise. We cannot deduct ‘ought’ from ‘is.’

As an ethologist, I’m not concerned with what ought to be, only with what is. Echoing Satoshi Kanazawa, if I conclude something that is not supported by evidence, I commit a logical fallacy, which I must correct, and that’s my problem, but if my conclusion offends your beliefs, then that’s your problem.

With time, the rational principles that govern my mind and the ethical ones that regulate my conduct may or may not prove to be the fittest. Meanwhile, as a result of genetic pre-programming, social conditioning, and evolutionary biology, I do enjoy being kind to animals. I respect them for what they are and interact with them on equal terms—and I don’t need a rational justification as to why that’s right for me.

Featured image: I do enjoy being kind to other animals, respecting them for what they are and interacting with them on equal terms.

Featured Course of the Week

Canine Scent Detection Canine Scent Detection is the same course that Roger Abrantes gives to law enforcement officers, from the acquisition of indication behavior (alert) and target scent to the indication of a hidden scent target. One-on-one tutor support.

Featured Price: € 396.00 € 198.00

 

Learn more in our course Ethology and Behaviorism. Based on Roger Abrantes’ book “Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism,” this online course explains and teaches you how to create a stable and balanced relationship with any animal. It analyses the way we interact with our animals, combines the best of ethology and behaviorism and comes up with an innovative, yet simple and efficient approach to animal training. A state-of-the-art online course in four lessons including videos, a beautiful flip-pages book, and quizzes.

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Your Most Powerful Animal Training Tool

Your Most Powerful Training Tool (RogerAndSilas)

Your most powerful animal training tool is yourself. The featured picture shows this author in 1985 with Silas, the wolf cub. Notice the whistle hanging around my neck. I used it as a conditioned positive reinforcer (yes, the precursor of the clicker). Silas preferred, though, my own verbal reinforcer (“dygtig”)* because I always associated it with friendly body language and facial expressions. It meant acceptance. For wolves, more sensitive to social situations than dogs, being accepted is the ultimate social reinforcer; for the cubs, it is vital.

These were the first observations that led me to suspect that the verbal and the mechanic conditioned positive reinforcers were not the same. I later coined the term, semi-conditioned reinforcer since parts of the verbal reinforcer (the body language and facial expression) are untaught.

And so, I’ll say without hesitation that your most powerful animal training tool is yourself. If you control yourself, your body language, your facial expressions and the little that you say, you’ll achieve what you pretend and more.

After all, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Interacting with someone is not merely a question of conditioning a series of behaviors—it is creating a relationship.

You can see me illustrating this in the DVD “The 20 Principles All Animal Trainers Must Know” shot by the Tawzers in Montana at a seminar I gave. Watch the trailer here. Also, explore the many resources on this site. Feel free to browse as you please, watch the free videos and read the free articles.

* “Dygtig” [ˈdøgdi] is a Danish word and means “clever.” It is, apparently, a good sound as a reinforcer, I discovered many years ago.

Featured image: Roger Abrantes in 1985 interacting with Silas, the wolf cub—creating a relationship.

Learn more in our course Ethology and Behaviorism. Based on Roger Abrantes’ book “Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism,” this online course explains and teaches you how to create a stable and balanced relationship with any animal. It analyses the way we interact with our animals, combines the best of ethology and behaviorism and comes up with an innovative, yet simple and efficient approach to animal training. A state-of-the-art online course in four lessons including videos, a beautiful flip-pages book, and quizzes.

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