Survivor communities: leadership, friendship, cooperation, altruism

We can learn about survival and social order from a long history of shipwrecks, 1500-1900 CE.

We have already discussed some shipwrecks that went badly, devolving into murder and cannibalism. But what factors were shared by shipwreck societies that were most successful? In our sample, the groups that typically fared best were those that had good leadership in the form of mild hierarchy (without any brutality), friendships among the survivors, and evidence of co-operation and altruism.

Survivor communities manifested cooperation in diverse ways: sharing food equitably; taking care of injured or sick colleagues; working together to dig wells, bury the dead, co-ordinate a defense, or maintain signal fires; or jointly planning to build a boat or secure rescue.

Nicholas Christakis | " So This Is the (Real) Tale of Our Castaways: Lessons from Shipwrecked Micro-Societies" | Quillette | July 9, 2019 at

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