Unit of selection

Michael Martin, esq. mpmartin at u.washington.edu
Fri Jan 14 02:34:28 EST 1994


I'd just like to note one minor flaw in the last message (I have this 
aversion to including previous messages, I'm sorry if it offends anyone 
that I haven't).  While it is true that the gene and the individual are 
now seen as the most likely units of selection (the "selfish gene" idea 
of the gene as the unit of selection is essentially the same as the idea 
of the individual as selection with a few minor but important 
differences), it has been close to a decade since any serious evolutionary
biologist has seriously considered the possibility of "group selection."
I'm not sure who is involved in the referenced argument, but they are probably
not well connected to the world of evolutionary biology.  This is probably why
none of the arguments make much sense...  Please forgive me if this sounds 
condescending, but I've spent way too many hours trying to explain the 
simple problems of group selection to undergraduates, and the rather common 
misconception that it is still considered seriously (in anything other 
than rather fringe talks about "cultural evolution") is about as annoying 
as the misconception that natural selection is still an mostly unproven 
theory (the source of which is mostly the religious right).  I hope 
everyone sees my point...

(A quick note from an ex-evolutionary biologist)
--
Michael Martin                | Internet: mpmartin at goren.washington.edu
270 Marine Sciences Build.    | Phone: (206) 685-2806
University of Washington      |
Dep. of Oceanography, WB-10   |
Seattle, WA 98195             |
"I guess you could say that I'm permanently stuck somewhere between
the before and after picture..."



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