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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Dugatkin does a great job integrating the work of others and his own research into an easily read and approachable book for the educated layperson. He draws on the behvioral literature to show how insights from this growing body of work can be useful to human societies as they evolve culturally and seek to organize themselves in a way which strikes a balance between the needs of the indivdual and those of the group. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this book is the straight-forward way in which Dugatkin approaches the dynamics between the precepts of behavioral biology and human spirituality. It is rare to find a behavioral biologist (or any biologist for that matter) who even tries to approach the subject of the interplay of spirituality and an acceptance of evolutionary mechanisms. More such openess to acknowledge the spiritual side to understanding human dymanics (whether the spirit is "real" or just a construct invented by our genes to help our brains make sense of parts of our world) is needed in science.
All in all, a very engaging book which made me want to purchase more by the author. A 4 out of 5 stars from me.
JJ
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a study in the potential for cooperation between author and reader...In addition to finding "Monkeys & Bees" an informative, and at times, entertaining read, I enjoyed Lee Alan Dugatkin's writing style, he avoids standard textbook rhythms that can make learning tedious, and injects enough of his personality that I felt engaged, not lectured. The questions are posed, the research presented, but I feel that ultimately the conclusions are up to me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book in an embarrassment of a "science" book. The author makes some critical errors in understanding, such as what a selfish gene is. The author seems to have only a vague idea of what selfishness and cooperation are, scientifically speaking.

The author's incredulity that animals can behave in complex ways that are similar to the behavior of humans is offputting to me. I would think that someone who is writing a book on cooperation in animals and humans would have been exposed to enough examples of animal cooperation that he would not find it incredible, in a condescending way. Also offputting is the author's dragging of religion into the picture, when this is not mentioned in the title or book description. I think that this brief excerpt from page 95 is a good picture of the overall tone of the book: "In some ways it should not surprise us that primates, our closest biological relative, engage in such cooperative coalitions when the benefits seem to swamp the costs. We humans certainly do -- a vivid example at the international level being the Gulf War coalition formed in the early 1990s when Iraq invaded Kuwait. The Persian Gulf seems to be a popular place for coalitions; only a few chapters into Genesis, Abraham describes a war between two coalitions in this area. Yet despite the fact that coalitions at all levels are integral to human behavior, there is something vaguely eerie about the fact that animals also behave this way. The notion that baboons are complex enough to use other baboons as tools to further their own ends is just not what most of us think about when we picture primates." So, that's a good peak at what you can expect from this book. And did you notice that he calls primates our closest biological relative? Hmm, humans are primates. Shouldn't the author know that?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed the book, although it took me a while to really get into it. In general it covers the growth of cooperation from a genetic probabilities perspective. It is a sort of "cost accounting" of cooperation to the participants, whether related individuals in a "family" or only very distantly related individuals in a societal group. Since I had not read anything similar and the book was simply and clearly written, I found it interesting and provocative. Someone with a more thorough grounding in the field might find it overly simplistic.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In this easily accessible and poignantly written work, evolutionary biologist Dr. Lee Alan Dugatkin explores the mysteries behind one of nature's most perplexing occurrences: cooperation. With the rapture of a storyteller and the exacting eye of a scientist, Dugatkin weaves together strands of existing evidence (much of which, he notes, has been collected from his own laboratory) into a _highly_ original and insightful book. He moves adeptly from the empirical to the ethical as he discusses the implications and lessons of animal cooperation for human societies. As entertaining as it is educational, Cheating Monkeys and Citizen Bees, will no doubt appeal to readers on all levels. In short, it is required reading for anyone wishing to become familiar with the myriad of issues surrounding cooperation in nature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2001
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Well-written review of what is known about cooperation among animals. The author limits himself to the straightforward thesis that the study of cooperation among animals is a base that can help us understand and potentially improve human cooperation. He carefully recognizes that cooperation among humans is more complex and also includes effects from human culture and morality.
This is a good book for a first read by a layman in the subject; the selection of material is not biased to support a controversial thesis. Somebody already acquainted with the literature will already know most of the research results covered here. And for those interested in human culture and morality, this book provides only the background to begin thinking about their effect on cooperation.
The second half of the book is better than the first half.
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on December 4, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book attempts to use lessons from animal ethology to help to understand why humans cooperate. It then offers advice about how to increase human cooperation, based on the relevant science. This advice is not too bad.

The book was published in 1999. It is quite good and well written - but it's inferior to other, later books by the same author on this topic.

The book classifies cooperation into kin selection, reciprocity, byproduct mutualism, and group selection. Since reciprocity is a type of byproduct mutualism, this seems to be a rather curious categorization. Also, group selection and kin selection have turned out to make the same set of predictions - and so a classification scheme that divides them no longer makes very much sense. Of course, this issue is a lot clearer now than it was back when this book was written.

One thing the book is missing is much about cultural transmission. culture is important to why humans cooperate. However, this book only mentions culture in a couple of paragraphs. Dugatkin's next popular book was all about the significance of cultural transmission. I think he must have had quite a revelation on the topic between 1999 and 2001.

The book ends with three pages about reconciling science and religion - which, frankly, I could have done without. The book is readable, but not revolutionary. Not Dugatkin's finest work.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a non-scientist, I find this book totally engaging and just the type of work which enables one to appreciate the thrill of scientific experimentation and discovery. The fact that an outstanding scholar such as Dr. Dugatkin can make complex data so accessible is a tribute to his writing style and ability as a teacher.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book tries to do two things: summarize the findings of evoltionary thinking on the development of co-operation, and relate these to making humans more co-operative.
On the first goal this book isn't too bad. it has a lot less meat than Ridley's book on co-operation, or anything by Dawkins. But as an intor for those new to this stuff it isn't too bad.
When he tries to tie it to humans, and drags in his religion too, he makes a muddle of it. Some of what he suggests is just embarrassing.
He is evidently confused on what is and is not group selection too.
Read Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation or Ridley, The Origins of Virtue instead.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a pastiche of Richard Dawkins, with the author's own moralizing thrown in. Something like 80% of the examples were lifted directly from Dawkins, along with all of the evolutionary theory (except the mistakes--for example, Dugatkin misunderstands what "selfish genes" means). He then adds on his own suggestions for shaping public policy in accordance with evolutionary ideas; this part is the most annoying, since he is both moralistic and naive; his suggestions are simplistic and preachy.
Do not read this book. Read Dawkins instead: The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype, and The Blind Watchmaker.
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