Talk:Gene-centered view of evolution
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- 1 "partially as a consequence of the influence of ideas from the study of complex systems, this view has become less dominant"
- 2 Subtitles
- 3 Cleanup
- 4 Gene-centric view
- 5 Gene by environment interaction
- 6 Unit of selection
- 7 POV remains
- 8 Oddly ahistorical
- 9 Stripping out sections!
- 10 POV
- 11 Balance
- 12 Unconfusing and modernising this article
- 13 More Restructuring
- 14 Question
- 15 Assessment
- 16 Tit-for-tat
- 17 origin of the replicators
- 18 Non-free image fair use rationale
- 19 Image copyright problem with Image:The Selfish Gene3.jpg
- 20 Four causes article: is modern science teleological or does it at least attempt the opposite?
- 21 Relevance of the Price Equation?
"partially as a consequence of the influence of ideas from the study of complex systems, this view has become less dominant"
'A Defence'? 'Conclusion'? Is there a more Wiki-appropriate title for these? Ziggurat 23:05, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
This has a slightly nutbar flavour to it. It refers to ligitimate issues (some/most biologists would call it a tempest in a tea cup, others would call it a controversy) but the article really doesn't do justice to the issues and has a detectable POV creationist/ID slant. eg the following sentences are really indefensible characterizations:
- "Adaptation refers to those phenotypic traits of living systems characterized by their improbable functional organization"
- "The human hand, the veins' valves, the vertebrate eye, the hemoglobin molecule, the pony fish's glow, parental investment and kin altruism are notorious examples of adaptation"
The article really doesn't even attempt to address the whole "bean-bag genetics" / "levels of selection" topic, but seems to aim to use the vague outline of the topic to launch into half-baked musings on other topics. Pete.Hurd 18:14, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
Is there any reason why this entry is somewhat incorrectly called gene-centered while the text (correctly) talks about the gene-centric view? - Samsara 14:33, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
- In fact, how about calling the entry simply gene-centric view? The title is somewhat unwieldy, and you're unlikely to find a gene-centric view in any other discipline! - Samsara 17:24, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
- Sure, no problem at all. In fact, the changes have all been reverted already. - Samsara 23:50, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Gene by environment interaction
Yes, gene-environment interaction is a desperately needed article, perhaps this and a fix-up of heritability (also desperately needed) would be the same task, an exposition on shared vs. unique environmental variance etc. Such a fix would make a nice hammer to pound down the sticking-up nail that is the Nature versus nurture page. Pete.Hurd 15:03, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
- It turns out that such an article does exist, but it is unexpectedly capitalised: Gene-Environment Interaction. - Samsara 15:42, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
- Firstly, the selfish gene theory, properly understood, is most obviously not in opposition to "group selection" it in fact presents mechanisms for it (i.e. the proliferation of groups that SIGNIFICANTLY, as in not prone to chance, share adaptive allels which themselves only proliferate via group survival and hence selection). Portions of this article are clearly in misunderstanding of what Dawkins was getting at.
- Secoundly, de facto probablities illuminate little and statements that the functional organization of lifeforms on this earth is improbabl are by and large meaningless. It might, however, be appropriate in an article devoted to life on other planets, but even in this context, improbable status should only be laid upon UNKNOWNS it has little use when you ask the question for knowns. Example, the probability of a person winning a lottery is a figure of improbability, though you can still exact it, whereas when Jane Doe wins the lottery there is a probability of exactly 1, because we know this is what happened. The probability of life on any particular other planet is low, but here on earth it is 1. As this article attempts to illucidate a theory on the state of nature it must agree in tense and in application of appropriate maths.
There are more ornate and complicated ways of arguing against the term Improbable and I urge you to seek them out if you are in disagreement with the logic presented above.
I am changing the two parts of this article for there is abundant scientific evidence which affirms, for the time being, doing so.
126.96.36.199 02:37, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
- This theory is much more than kin selection, it refers to all levels of organisation. Kim van der Linde at venus 05:05, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
- Understood, my point still stands, dawkins wasn't the only person involved in the development of this theory, and so his ideas alone do not signify it. Group-Selectionists (pardon the neologism) quickly adaptapted group selectional theory to the fundaments of Selfish gene, which for the time being works and explains group selection phenomenon, see for example herd selection on scholar.google a clear adaptation of selfish gene grew out of such things. I would argue that group-selectionists of the more scientifically valid point of view have further adapted to taking each species as an individual case, and no longer assert that all species are subject to group selection (if in fact they ever did), for there are clear examples of this where except for mating all conspecifics are in direct competition with one another. In one last little observation I would like to add that media mainstream and scientific mainstream are two completely seperate things and this article needs to decide which it is, thus far it has adhered to media-mainstream formats in its oversimplifications and misidealizations of the theory in discussion. Additionally, I am removing the term improbable and will take steps to try to lock this page until further discussion proves more useful so far there has been no reasonable argument for the term "improbable" or the statement that "selfish gene" is at odds with "group selection".
- 188.8.131.52 15:33, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
The narrative is strangely ahistorical. It characterizes some early discoveries as being related to "genes" when the term and concept did not yet then exist, mixes up the order of things (i.e. Crick appears before Fisher), somewhat misattributes things (Mendel's fame is not the idea of particulate heredity—Galton and others had proposed this previously—but in describing the dominant/recessive behavior and the various laws), and is very vague at certain parts (i.e. saying that discoveries in inheritance happened "a few decades" after Darwin's Origin—in fact it was many decades later that most of that got worked out, after Darwin's death). It would be nice if someone could go over this and made the order more clear; as it is it would be very misleading if you tried to use this as an actual guide to the history of this concept. --Fastfission 19:26, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Stripping out sections!
I think the first 3 sections (Improbable functional organization, Evolution by natural selection, Discoveries in heredity) should be removed as they are essentially off topic. Does anyone else agree? — Axel147 23:24, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes, ideally they would be replaced with a short section of historical context. Laurence Boyce 13:48, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
The article's first section bore no real relevence to the focus of the rest of the article, and had a non-neutral point of view. In fact, it looked like someone just took some of the cliché, "it seems like X might be true, therefore X is true, and we shouldn't apply the scientific method to attempt to prove or disprove X," pro-ID arguments, peppered them with out-of-context attributions to Dawkins, and stuck them at the top of the article so unsuspecting visitors would be misled. That's lame. The "this is off-topic" tag serves no real purpose, so I simply deleted the section. It couldn't be cleaned up, because the section should never have been in the article in the first place.</rant> Sean Parmelee 04:33, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
Without a section describing the criticisms of this view, this article will never be complete. [Sorry - I have no userID to leave!] 184.108.40.206 08:36, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Unconfusing and modernising this article
I've just come across the article and I think it needs a lot of work. My main concerns are:
- The science reads like a time-warp from the 1970s. It turns out that things are a great deal more complicated than that, and almost every scientific statement made is an approximation with very important exceptions. (To give an extreme example, viruses work completely differently) The articles it references are much more up to date. In particular the notion that there is a simple relation between a gene and "its" phenotypical effect turns out to be gravely mistaken. Phenotypical effects come from complex networks of genes in many combinations, acting on many other complex networks.
- There are essentially two versions of "selfish gene" theory. The weak version is that "it is often useful to think about evolution from a 'selfish gene' perspective." Most people would agree with this, although as the complexities of genes and genetic networks become more evident the value of this approach becomes less clear - and real Evolutionary Dynamics is done at the level of types in populations, not genes. The strong version, that "the only valid way of thinking about evolution is from a 'selfish gene' perspective" is scientifically false (lots of good evolutionary science is done from other perspectives) and probably not held by any leading working biologists.
- The statement of the theory in the article is confused and not too well sourced. I have tried to straighten some of this out, but becasue I don't really support the theory It'd be better if someone else did. NBeale 21:14, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
- NBeale, are you trying to say that inheritance of acquired characters is an evolution factor? Can you cite a source to back up that claim? Regarding the remainder - there's no statement that the centra dogma is universally true, adding a statement saying such adds nothing to the article. "Subsequent research shows...", well, of course. Again, what does that add to the article? *Spark* 20:29, 24 November 2006 (UTC)
- When did Lamarckism come back as 'a' factor in evolution? Please revise your most recent changes to be more in line with currnet scientific understanding. Fred Hsu 14:57, 25 November 2006 (UTC)
NBeale, just FYI, I have some concerns with your recent edits, don't have to time now to go through it properly, but I can see much of what you've added being removed or significantly reworded. *Spark* 23:00, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Yes *Spark* is right I deleted large sections so should take it to talk. My view is that the article is cumbersome as it is. It has to assume the reader has basic understanding of natural selection, genes, heredity etc. I suggest the first two sections are removed (and maybe condensed into a historic background sections later in the article) — Axel147 15:13, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
How much popularity does this view hold among evolutionary scientists as compared to other models? The article should make clear if it is the strongest hypothesis right now or if another model is favored instead.--Urthogie 07:49, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
- All we can do is offer educated guesses (which offers little value). From my reading, the "gene centered view," in the moderated form—as understood today by Maynard Smith, Dawkins, and to some measure by G. C. Williams—is a strong minority. It all really depends on who you read, what journals, what books, and what sub-disciplines, and so forth. There's a lot of sample bias going on when people assert that their particular side has won the majority. Very few people have a good feel for the entire literature. In fact, one might say nobody really does. Each field must speak for itself on this issue. There has, however, been a somewhat limited consensuses on the definitions being used, and our basic understanding of the problem (genes replicate, organisms are targeted, populations evolve, etc., but even here there is much room for debate. And when multiple levels of selection interact, there is a great difficulty in determining how they interrelate, and to what degree. Williams divides the problem into two separate spheres: that of information and that of the physical medium. Mayr, Gould, and others, argue for hierarchal levels—but widely disagree on its typology and agency. What needs to be done—in my passionate opinion—is scientific polling of the scientific community. There is potentially so much value to be gained from this, not only for public policy issues, but for its obvious utility for the history of science (or science of history, as Michael Shermer calls it). I do not understand why this is not done with any rigor or frequency. And I wish some capable historian would take up the challenge. Best, Miguel Chavez 20:09, 23 May 2007 (UTC)
Few evolutionary biologists think the gene is the unit of selection. I think it should be noted that it is certainly a minority view and is as unpopular as ever. Most think it is on the level of organism.
From the NAS:
The proposal by Williams (7) to adopt the gene as the object of selection not only conformed to the prevailing reductionist spirit of the time but also fitted into the thinking of many geneticists who in the mathematical analyses of population genetics had adopted the gene as the principal entity of evolutionary change. Williams’s proposal was strongly endorsed by Dawkins (9). This idea of the gene as the target of selection was at first widely accepted, for instance by Lewontin (10). But eventually it was severely criticized (11, 12), and even its original supporters have now moderated their claims. The critics pointed out that “naked genes,” “not being independent objects” (9), are not “visible” to selection and therefore can never serve as the target. Furthermore, the same gene, for instance the human sickle cell gene, may be beneficial in heterozygous condition (in Plasmodium falciparum areas) but deleterious and often lethal in the homozygous state. Many genes have different fitness values when placed into different genotypes. Genic selectionism is also invalidated by the pleiotropy of many genes and the interaction of genes controlling polygenic components of the phenotype. On one occasion Dawkins (ref. 13, point 7) himself admits that the gene is not an object of selection: “. . . genetic replicators are selected not directly, but by proxy . . . [by] their phenotypic effects.” Precisely! Nor are combinations of genes, as for instance chromosomes, independent objects of selection; only their carriers are.
"The Individual Organism.
From Darwin to the present day most evolutionists (1) have considered the individual organism to be the principal object of selection. Actually, it is the phenotype which is the part of the individual that is “visible” to selection (14).
- From Darwin to a few decades ago, most people did not know how genetics worked. All they could observe were phenotypes. Now we know better. We know how each gene affects dozens if not hundreds of phenotypes. Ultimately it is the gene that is selected, because that is what is immortally cloned. Phenotypes are cloned; they are created by complex interactions between genes. Evolution selects genes that are selfish and cooperative at the same time, because genes need to be selfish in order to propagate at the expense of its rivals (actually alleles), but it also needs to be cooperative with other genes in the same organism in order that it be selected via phenotypes created by cooperation. Fred Hsu (talk) 02:13, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
Actually, most of the modern synthesis was done more than a few decades ago because of genetics. Genetics has been helping the TOE for almost a century or so. It is what originally made people think the gene was the unit of selection. Which is kind of an outdated idea. The phenotype is not just genetics, it is environment too. The modern synthesis says "The object of selection is the phenotype." How can the gene be the unit of selection then? The phenotype cannot be reduced simply to a gene. It is the entire organism, including its interaction with the environment. It is the organism which brings it all together. And the idea that genes are "selfish" is ridiculous anyway. That's like saying electromagnetism is selfish.
"An individual either survives or doesn't, an individual either reproduces or doesn't, an individual either reproduces very successfully or it doesn't. The idea that a few people have about the gene being the target of selection is completely impractical; a gene is never visible to natural selection, and in the genotype, it is always in the context with other genes, and the interaction with those other genes make a particular gene either more favorable or less favorable. In fact, Dobzhanksy, for instance, worked quite a bit on so-called lethal chromosomes which are highly successful in one combination, and lethal in another. Therefore people like Dawkins in England who still think the gene is the target of selection are evidently wrong. In the 30's and 40's, it was widely accepted that genes were the target of selection, because that was the only way they could be made accessible to mathematics, but now we know that it is really the whole genotype of the individual, not the gene. Except for that slight revision, the basic Darwinian theory hasn't changed in the last 50 years."
I gave it a B class, though it needs a longer lead and inline citations. Richard001 22:00, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
I looked in the section concerning challenges to the selfish gene theory for reference to this issue, but the challenges section seemed to focus primarily on the statements of individuals. Is anyone here familiar with tit-for-tat theory, and could that be included in the challenges section (or as separate challenges, perhaps differentiating between positions of authority and scientific claims)? I'm not sure how valid the theory is, but the implications would cast into doubt the universal nature of the selfish gene, no? -EarthRise33 23:03, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
origin of the replicators
This section is based on tenuous science. There is no good evidence for a 'primordial soup' in the fossil record. Likewise, it has never been proven that life originated on earth. --220.127.116.11 (talk) 01:17, 24 February 2008 (UTC)
- These considerations are primarily a theoretical exploration of the primordial soup model. The primordial soup, while, yes, it is not present in the fossil record, is a supposed precursor to life, the mechanistic explanation to biogenesis, which is necessary as a scientific construct to pursue abiogenesis hypotheses. And, yes, while it has not been 'proven,' it has similarly not been 'proven' that extraterrestrial seeding was the cause of life generation. This passage could use some enforcement of its questionable nature, but to delete it in its entirety is an injustice to abiogenesis pursuits, which play an important role in comprehending biology. -EarthRise33 (talk) 02:25, 29 February 2008 (UTC)
- While I don't entirely buy 18.104.22.168's concerns, the "beginning of the replicators" section is rather weak. It's in the wrong place for starters, it doesn't cite any sources (bar a popular science book), and it also articulates biogenesis which isn't entirely relevant here. It's not yet clear how far removed DNA and genes are from the earliest "organisms" (whatever they happened to be), so I reckon this section shouldn't be in the article. IT would be better off in, say, abiogenesis or something. Anyway, I've removed it to here for now. Cheers, --Plumbago (talk) 18:45, 14 April 2008 (UTC)
- Beginning of the replicators
- The gene-centered theory begins with the idea that life on earth contains DNA. DNA can be thought of as the modern equivalent of the first replicators which were formed from the primeval soup present in ancient seas. The primeval soup was a large group of individual substances which over time, due to evolution, formed replicators. These replicators had a chemical structure which allowed them to somehow use the individual substances of the 'soup' to replicate their chemical structure and form large chains of replicators. This could be achieved by positive-positive or positive negative replication, thus producing a large amount of these replicators, and causing the number of individual building blocks of the replicators to fall. Many different structures of these replicator chains were originally formed and due to natural selection or mutations in the replicator's structure, some replicator structures had an advantage over the others. Some may have had the ability to break up the structure of other replicators to aid the survival of these "carnivore replicators" by forming more building blocks from which to replicate themselves, much in the same way humans need amino acids from proteins to replicate DNA. Those replicators which survived and continued to replicate must have protected themselves by forming protein coats around themselves thus forming the first, what in modern biology we would call "vehicles" for replicators. Over billions of years of evolution these led to more complex vehicles and replicators becoming DNA. These more complex vehicles have led to the complex species we see on earth. This theory is explained in The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.
- I understand the concerns and see the relevancy, but I still think it is a relevant section, though still, albeit, in the utmost hypothetical. Certainly the gene-centric view is an important process in current biology, since it provides mechanisms for the evolution of certain traits or behaviors. However, I think, for two primary reasons, that the replicator origin is relevant: 1) it does seem to be a part of the selfish gene theory, as explained by Dawkins, who make the notion popular (as I understand it), and 2) the replicator origin scenario similarly portrays the rise of gene-centric organisms. It's not as much the gene-centric view as it is the hypothetical origin of the process itself. I think the distance is irrelevant, though, since the establishment of gene-centric replicators would give rise (eventually, however long eventually is) to the gene-centric organisms. Agreed, this might be relevant in abiogenesis if a mention of the selfish gene theory is made at the same time, but I think a reference should be retained here as well.
- Might it be helpful to trim it down some to make a less wordy introductory paragraph? -EarthRise33 (talk) 21:58, 16 April 2008 (UTC)
- Hi EarthRise33. Although Dawkins helped to make the selfish gene concept popular, and used something like the deleted replicator text in his The Selfish Gene book, the two are not strongly connected. In fact, Dawkins made a point of using a completely different model of abiogenesis (the clay theory of Cairns-Smith) in a later book, The Blind Watchmaker, to illustrate that the manner of the origin of life was not especially important to the gene-centered view. Since the article is about the gene-centric view of evolution, it seems the wrong place to prominently introduce hypothetical entities for which we have little evidence, and which have no obvious strong relevance for the entities that currently dominate biological evolution, genes. IMHO, the article should focus on the gene-centric view as applied to "modern" organisms (where "modern" means DNA-/RNA-based organisms that have genetic structures identifiable as genes). Otherwise, we risk tying this view to a particular unvalidated hypothesis. Cheers, --Plumbago (talk) 08:10, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
- Point taken. I still feel, though, that the origin should be included, even if is the hypothetical expansion of gene-centric theory back to its basic roots. Would there be justification for putting this suggestion later in the article, under a heading like "Hypothetical origin of replicators," with a statement of its tenuous possibility? -EarthRise33 (talk) 13:39, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
- Hi again EarthRise33. Obviously I disagree that the origin needs including here. The article essentially deals with the present day situation, so concrete subjects such as organisms and genes. I think it would be a mistake to get speculative in this article when we simply don't need to. Anyone interested in the origin of genes can look in more appropriate places like abiogenesis. Even the article on genes skips over any description of their evolution from hypothetical replicators. I think we should do the same here, although it'd be good to hear views from other editors too. Cheers, --Plumbago (talk) 14:03, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
Non-free image fair use rationale
The image of Richard Dawkins book fails to meet Non-free use content criteria #8.
It does not promote significant understanding of the topic at hand. (How does a image of a book cover - especially one that looks like a child's drawing - give understanding on evolutionary theory?) Neither would its removal be any detriment to understanding this topic.
Yes the book is important to this theory, but an image of its cover is not. Please consider removing this cover to comply with Wikipedia's guidelines on non-free content.
Image copyright problem with Image:The Selfish Gene3.jpg
The image Image:The Selfish Gene3.jpg is used in this article under a claim of fair use, but it does not have an adequate explanation for why it meets the requirements for such images when used here. In particular, for each page the image is used on, it must have an explanation linking to that page which explains why it needs to be used on that page. Please check
- That there is a non-free use rationale on the image's description page for the use in this article.
- That this article is linked to from the image description page.
Four causes article: is modern science teleological or does it at least attempt the opposite?
There is discussion at Four causes relevant to this article. It is being claimed that "Most modern theories of evolution are unabashedly teleological", and it is being argued that the article should remove references to modern science not being teleological and say the opposite. Comments please.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 09:07, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
- The statement begins with weasel words, and contains no arguments, just an unfounded assertion. Thus, I don't see any reason to take it seriously. - Soulkeeper (talk) 18:51, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
Relevance of the Price Equation?
At present, the section on the Price Equation doesn't state if the equation takes a side in the gene-centered vs organism-centered debate. So it probably has no place in this article. Thoughts? David.hillshafer (talk) 00:43, 23 December 2011 (UTC)