No subject apart from religion has vexed Darwin’s followers more than why people sacrifice themselves for others. They have embraced the ambiguous term “altruism” because it does not clearly mean “compassion” or “heroism.” Rather, it is to be seen as the same natural force that causes worker ants to pass on their genes by serving their queen, who lays lots of eggs, instead of reproducing themselves (kin selection). Maybe this force creates the change we are looking for.
A champion of this proposed mechanism was evolutionary biologist E. O. Wilson.
But then Wilson dramatically abandoned kin selection in 2010 in a Nature paper, “The evolution of eusociality,” co-authored with mathematicians. He argued that strict Darwinism (natural selection) “provides an exact framework for interpreting empirical observations,” dispensing with the other theories he had promoted for decades. Over 140 leading biologists signed a letter to Nature, attacking the 2010 paper. Some called his new, strictly Darwin model “unscholarly,” “transparently wrong,” and “misguided.”
What? All this is said of a Darwin-only model? More.
See also: Talk to the fossils: Let’s see what they say back
Note: No more news blogging till late this evening due to News’ alternate day job.