The most important survival skill is cooperation, argues Stony Brook University anthropologist John Shea in a recent Huffington Post article.
Survivalist culture and reality television shows focus on individual struggle in the face of exotic disaster scenarios but give short shrift to basic survival skills, Shea writes. These include managing fire, making water safe to drink, applying basic first aid, and knowing how to signal for help.
The most important survival skill of all, however, is the ability to work well with other people.
“Cooperation is part of our evolutionary heritage,” Shea writes. “Humans are primates, and primates are social beings. Humans are more “prosocial” than other primates. We seek out opportunities to cooperate with strangers. Our ancestors were strong, smart people who observed nature closely, who experimented with technology, and who worked together to solve problems.”
Shea puts his own survival skills to work in his Stony Brook undergraduate class on Primitive Technology, where students learn to build fires, throw spears and fashion bows and arrows. Learn more .