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What Causes Conflict?

By studying pig-tailed macaques, physicist Simon DeDeo untangles the hidden structures underlying conflict in social animals — including humans.

From tangling with the boss to fighting with the kids, conflict is a daily ingredient of most of our lives. And it isn't just humans. It is a big part of the lives among many species that live in social groups, from lions to chimpanzees.

In this week's Curiouser & Curiouser podcast, Dr. Simon DeDeo talks about his research into the hidden order behind conflict, an order that connects humans with animals. DeDeo is a physicist at the Santa Fe Institute who brings new mathematical approaches to study complicated problems in biology, like conflict.Here, he  discusses a recent paper in the Journal of the Royal Society, where he finds a hidden order in the pattern of fights in a colony of monkeys known as pig-tailed macaques. This hidden order of conflict is based upon the structure of the social order among the monkeys, a finding with tremendous consequences to the understanding of conflict in other species that maintain social hierarchies — not least of which are humans.


The Santa Fe Institute paid for Jai Ranganathan's travel to the institute.


Music for this edition of Curiouser & Curiouser includes Bring It On No Vox by Jamie Miller and David Matheson and Colombian Grandmother Meets Metal by Peter Alargic


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