Talk:Natural selection

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Former good article Natural selection was one of the Natural sciences good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Less is more[edit]

I think this article would be better if it tried to say less.

There is too much history, and the history is botched and old-fashioned. If you can't be bothered to read current historical scholarship, then you shouldn't be writing about the history of this topic. It is simply mistaken to suggest that Dobzhansky established the idea that mutation supplies the material on which selection acts. This was established much earlier by de Vries, Bateson, and others. The most important scholarly work on this topic in recent decades is Gayon's _Darwinism's Struggle for Survival_, which argues that Darwin's conception of natural selection was mechanistically yoked to blending inheritance of masses of variations, that this is why the scientific world was correct to abandon Darwin's original view upon the discovery of genetics, and that early geneticists (de Vries, Morgan, etc) carried off "the most important event in the history of Darwinism", which was to reconceive a principle of selection for the Mendelian world that Darwin and his early followers had denied. When mechanistically oriented scientists invoke selection today, they are using the geneticist's principle. It is very important to understand that most of what evolutionary biologists read about their history is garbage-- a fetishistic view of Darwin and his influence peddled by what historian Peter Bowler calls the "Darwin industry", and a self-serving history of the 20th century "synthesis" peddled by Fisher, Mayr, et al. to make Fisher, Mayr, et al look good. Some earlier historians of evolution such as Provine and Allen clearly were drinking Mayr's kool-aid, and Provine has been very open about this, and about how the view that he held in 1971 (when he wrote his famous history of theoretical population genetics) fell apart within a decade (read his later works, or the Afterword to the 2001 re-print of his 1971 book). Generally historians have caught on to "Synthesis Historiography" and are trying to get away from it, but this article is just replaying old myths.

The tone of the article has a significant aspect of justifying and glorifying the concept of natural selection, whereas advocacy is not the job of wikipedia. Obviously this is not the place to debate with creationists, but the editor is mistaken if he thinks that substantive scientific and philosophical issues are out of scope. The nature of selection, and the operational legitimacy of the concept, are issues debated by professional philosophers (e.g., Fodor and Palmarini-Piatelli, to name a recent prominent example). The current article cites Daniel Dennett-- are you aware that this guy is like the Dawkins of the philosophers, an extremist who is very articulate and bombastic? It is obviously relevant to this article to address scientific views of the scope and power of selection as an explanatory principle. That is, what do scientists believe about the extent to which natural selection shapes the biological world? Finally, the concept of natural selection is obviously a matter of confusion among practicing scientists. The current article demonstrates this confusion. For instance, the example of penicillin appears to attribute the "development" of penicillin resistance to "natural selection", but then also suggests that selection only eliminated non-resistant individuals. Which is it? Does natural selection cause traits to arise? Wouldn't the world be a better place if this article pointed out the confusion rather than quietly exemplifying it?

I think the solution to this is just to scale back the article, try to say less, and try to be more careful about what is said. The point is not to undermine the concept of selection or to glorify it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dabs (talkcontribs) 13:15, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

Types of selection[edit]

I have rewritten this section to address the following concerns: (1) well-known types of selection such as stabilizing and directional selection were not included; (2) the section was lacking a well-described classification structure, to explain the ontology behind different types of selection (this is important given the bewilderingly large number of types of selection). I felt the only way to achieve these aims was via a complete re-write. I have kept the original figure describing selection in terms of life cycle, however.

I also would propose to remove the next section on “Sexual Selection” as redundant, but have left it as-is for now. Mikeweale (talk) 14:01, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

I've had no feedback so far. I'm going to go ahead and delete the "sexual selection" subsection as per my comments above Mikeweale (talk) 15:25, 16 September 2014 (UTC)
I'm afraid I don't have time to see what's going on now, however you probably need a better edit summary than 'Delete "sexual selection" section'—why should that section be deleted? If there is a long reason, it should be placed on the article talk (here), and the edit summary could say "remove because xxx per talk" where xxx is a very brief reason and "per talk" is the clue that more can be seen here. Are you just saying the section is redundant, or is there a little more explanation somewhere? Johnuniq (talk) 01:15, 17 September 2014 (UTC)
I'm sorry to be unclear. The redundancy is created because "sexual selection" is also a "type of selection", and in a recent edit to the "type of selection" section I had added a paragraph on sexual selection (immediately prior the "sexual selection" section). I also had in the back of my mind previous comments in the Talk section which referred to this article being too long, which I agree with. In summary, removing this section was my attempt to make this article less verbose. A shorted version of this section now appears in the "types of selection" section, which makes more sense to me because it is indeed a type of selection, and if anyone wants to learn more about sexual selection they can of course follow the link to the main Wikipedia article on this subject. Anyway, my apologies for lack of clarity and I'll leave it up to you to decide whether to revert back to deleting the "sexual selection" section. Mikeweale (talk) 18:33, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

Hey @Mikeweale, thanks for working on this article. My recommendation is to fold in the sexual section content into the types of selection section and edit the remainder into a short summary of our article on sexual selection. That allows you to reduce the redundancy somewhat while still retaining a pointer to what is one of the more important mechanisms for selection.

I would also encourage you to re-use the sources we have now in the sexual selection paragraphs or add new sources to the types of selection, as we want to make sure readers can verify the content in an article like this. Protonk (talk) 19:15, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

Tidying up the last three main sections[edit]

The section on historical development is too long, and the last section on “The Genetic Basis of Natural Selection” lacks logical coherence and is very scrappy at present. I propose to start a new article on “Historical Development of Natural Selection”, which would allow this section to be substantially shortened. Note that, in my view, the historical development of natural selection is separate to that of evolution because, prior to On the Origin of Species, natural selection was primarily evoked as an anti-evolutionary mechanism, to keep species in their place, whereas evolution was primarily evoked as occurring through other (generally teleological) processes. I also propose to substantially cut down and revise the last section. I also propose to add a section on “Universal Darwinism” to the penultimate section (“Impact of the Idea”) Mikeweale (talk) 14:01, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

natrual selection[edit]

natural selection is undeniable fact of the universe. but, natural selection works only if be properly designed.


Competition deserves its own separate article, and the content copied over here is far too detailed for this article. This one does require a mention of competition, but not at the level that the merger resulted in. Therefore, I have partially reverted the merger. I am happy to discuss this. Vanamonde93 (talk) 18:41, 25 April 2015 (UTC)