From Jerry “Why Evolution is True” Coyne’s blog:
I’ve been an admirer of Ed Wilson for a long time (after all, he helped me get into Harvard). He founded the discipline of evolutionary psychology, which is a branch of sociobiology, has been an ardent conservationist, and his work on ants is unparalleled, though he’s not really incorporated the latest statistical methodologies into his phylogenetic work. …
But as he gets older, Wilson seems to me to be getting more concerned with securing his place in scientific history—a place that is already secured—by attacking one of the most fruitful and innovative theories in modern evolutionary biology: inclusive fitness (sometimes called “kin selection”). I’ve written about Wilson and his colleagues’ scientific errors on this site (some of the links are here), and about Nowak, Tarnita and Wilson’s paper in Nature that argues against kin selection’s importance in the evolution of “eusociality” (the division of labor among castes and the presence of queens and sterile workers seen in ants, bees, and other hymenopterans). Wilson et. al broach instead the importance of “group selection” in the evolution of these phenomena. I saw, and still see, that paper as misguided, its theoretical basis flawed, and I find little evidence for their preferred mechanism of group selection as a promoter of adaptations in nature.
Well, it isn’t pure enough Darwinism, right?
From the Guardian:
The war of words between the biologists EO Wilson and Richard Dawkins has reignited after the Harvard professor described his Oxford counterpart as a “journalist”.
In an interview with Evan Davis on BBC2’s Newsnight to promote his latest book, Wilson was asked about his differing view of natural selection compared with that of Dawkins.
Wilson answered: “There is no dispute between me and Richard Dawkins and there never has been, because he’s a journalist, and journalists are people that report what the scientists have found and the arguments I’ve had have actually been with scientists doing research.”
The Guardian story here.
You can tell new atheism is imploding when, never mind group selection, top guns don’t much care whether group detraction causes reasonable people to assume that they are all a bunch of academic charlatans.
See also: “The evolutionary psychologist knows why you vote — and shop, and tip at restaurants.” Just what has Wilson’s contribution, evolutionary psychology, amounted to except ever new pop science stories for increasingly gullible media?
Oh, and the “conservation” thing? He advocates, give half the planet to wild animals. The bicoastal elite will keep their mansions (they always do), but developing nations will be toast.
Why the uproar around E. O. Wilson’s new “group selection” book?
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