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Understanding Hierarchies In Nature And Society

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Social structures, in almost all cases, are defined by some form of hierarchy. Whether in academics, sports, religion, business, or politics, there's usually someone at the top and others whose goal it is to get there. But while it's easy to think that we've designed our world to be this way, the truth may be that we had no choice.

Among our primate ancestors and other social animals  we can see similar hierarchies in place: Alpha males dominating the troop while subordinates fall in line, pecking orders among various birds and dominance hierarchies among wolf packs. Even insects such as bees and termites form their own systems of social ranking. 

Are hierarchies mandated by evolution? Is there something in nature -- in our genes, even -- which gives rise to the stratified society we live in? Though it sounds like a notion proposed by those with power in defense of their rank, the reality is that it may be a hard truth of human nature.

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Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show. 

Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. She served as the Senior Producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show' for several years before stepping down in 2021 and returning to her previous career as a registered nurse. She still produces shows with Colin and the team when her schedule allows.
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