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Kingsolvers Diverge Over Natural Selection


One of my favorite over-the-top quotes about the power of natural selection comes from novelist Barbara Kingsolver. According to her, natural selection is “the greatest, simplest, most elegant logical construct ever to dawn across our curiosity about the workings of natural life. It is inarguable, and it explains everything.” (Small Wonder, 2002). Another Kingsolver, however, is not so sanguine about the power of natural selection. According to J. G. Kingsolver et al. in a meta-analytic statistical study titled “The Strength of Phenotypic Selection in Natural Populations,” published in the March 2001 issue of The American Naturalist, “important issues about selection remain unresolved,” which ends up being a euphemistic way of saying that natural selection was found to have virtually no statistically significant effect (see here for David Berlinski’s fuller commentary).

Kingsolver I, meet Kinsolver II. Perhaps you are related and can take up your differences at the next family reunion.


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