Talk:Group selection/Archive 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search


Why is this linked to in the introduction. If it is important enough for the introduction it should be important enough to have at leas some space in the article. So it should either be removed from the intro or added into the rest of the article. Lonjers (talk) 02:10, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

Merge/Split of Unit of selection

Please see my comments on Talk:Unit of selection regarding a potential merger with/split of that page. Safay 01:06, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Beginning too negative

The second paragraph is too negative and only cites references from the 1960s. The later parts of the article provide balance and talk about a certain (controversial) resurgence of the idea of group selection, but some of this should be moved to the front. As it stands the introduction of the article gives the impression that group selection has been completely discredited which is not true. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 18:15, 25 April 2007 (UTC).

General comments, regarding technicality etc.

I think this article is very well written, though am a Biology finalist student. For this reason I feel that extreme caution should be used in adding extra contextual details. As long as there are links to relevant articles on theories etc. mentioned with in the text, surely the article is all right. If too much contextual information is added it can dilute the clarity of the article, see for example: Genetic Distance, which has unnecessary details on basic DNA structure. George-E 22:34, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

aka. 'Clade Selection' (don't know how to this myself and don't have the time to learn right now) This is an alternative 'unit of selection' along side 'Cell lineage Selection' (according to my lecture notes ~ also backed up on internet when googled)


The "Overview" sections opens with, "Specific syndromes of selective factors..."

What the heck is a "syndrome of selective factors" ?!! (talk) 16:46, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

a truly good writer -scientific or otherwise-- never ever compels his/her readers to use a dictionary... it is indeed disrespectful and elitist to risk insulting one's readers by letting them realize that they might after all not know all the words and phrases regularly used in educated narratives written in their native language, even if they indeed do not know all the words and phrases used in such narratives (of which NFL and WWF accounts happen not to be representative)... "god bless america !" ;) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:50, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

Group selection due to differing ESSs

The section implies altruism would 'arise' and invade a population of non-altruists, resulting in a more successful group than other groups. This is unlikely at the level of the individual, without strong kin selection. As there are no examples/refs i suggest expansion or removal of this section. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:40, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. Memills (talk) 05:02, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

Rewrite, reference, restructure, rethink (and illustrate)

This article still reads like an essay, and while a few of us have snipped away at the edges, it remains dreadfully hard to read, and it's very unclear if parts of it are supported by the references at all. The structure — a lead, a long "Overview" (?) and then a long waffly ramble through polysyllabic latino-graecate verbal complexities is truly stupefying. Can't we do a bit better?

How about some pictures, some references, and some short plain explanations?

A simple clear structure would be nice, too. Chiswick Chap (talk) 08:27, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

This entry should be completely rewritten

I have tried to rewrite some of the material, while dropping some of the rather random references to current literature. However, the entry is a mess and the general reader will not understand the material with any degree of insight.

Some the arguments were just wrong, so I deleted them. For instance, the notion that a gene can interact with its vehicle is just nonsense. A gene can interact with other genes in the genome, but that is a different concept.

I would simply replace what is here by the entry on units and levels of selection in the Stanford Encyclopedia, and then people can edit this. However, I suppose that would violate copyright laws or something. I'll ask Elisabeth Lloyd, who write that entry. Hgintis (talk) 08:27, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

Yes, that would be a copyvio, but there's no reason not to read it and base the new structure on it. BTW it seems we agree on the state of the article. Chiswick Chap (talk) 09:11, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

Doesn't blushing prove group selection?

Showing the tribe your internal state does not seem like it would make and individual more fit in a social context.Bodysurfinyon (talk) 04:47, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

Blushing signals youth and good circulation near the skin. These are sexually attractive traits, and are probably not much to do with group selection. --TylerTim (talk) 02:44, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

Edits by Yjiangnan

It seems Yjiangnan is unhappy with my removing much of his/her recent additions. To my eye, these additions are self-promotion of a particular paper by the Yjiangnan and too much space dedicated to this recent paper which may or may not be of much larger importance to the field. In an effort to avoid an edit war, I hope others can weigh in on these additions. In any case, I think Yjiangnan's edits need to be better and more humbly integrated into the article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pengortm (talkcontribs) 23:16, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

OK. Now I have made a broader review and cited more papers to make it more neutral. I hope someone with a different opinion would improve it instead of delete it without any respect for other's work!! 12:11, 8 November 2013 (UTC)~~

Regarding to the messages I received talking about conflict of interest, I shall say, in such a subject of long-term controversy, few people interested in this subject can remain absolutely free of conflict of interests. It may simply be that those who learned this subject a long time ago or may even have published papers related to it do not want to change their views. They see any new papers of opposite opinion as not neutral, especially for those who reject new papers even without seriously reading it! How does such deletions of other's entire edition not constitute a conflict of interest?? At least, I am honest enough to put my real name here. If there is really a conflict of interest that I do not think there is, people can see it. What I stated was just the conclusion of a dry hard rigorous model, not just an argument or an opinion. There is nothing non-neutral about it. It is just that it resolves so many issues about this subject that stating anything about it would seem not "humble" for someone who does not bother reading it.

It always annoys me that Wikipedia is often full of old schools, with information very misleading for the public. I know that Wikipedia is not for self-promotion, but I also believe that it is not for old wrong information misleading for the public either. So, I shall say, if someone thinks new papers that have went through rigorous peer-review are just self-promotion, he should at least have the decency to read it and make an appropriate judgement for it, not just calling it an argument when it is actually a rigorous model (as on the page evolution of ageing. Jiang-Nan Yang Yjiangnan (talk) 13:11, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

Thank you for your continued efforts Jiang-Nan Yang Yjiangnan. Your more recent edits do read as much more balanced and contextualized. One issue to keep in mind though is that we are also trying to make these articles readable by as large an audience as reasonably possible. Your edits are highly technical and don't seem to be well integrated into the larger article. Given that the article is already a big long mess, this issue is even more of a concern. My thinking is that your addition should probably still be deleted because the article is such a mess and yours makes it messier. I'm going to leave it alone and let other editors weigh in. 22:57, 8 November 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pengortm (talkcontribs)

Well, if you think you need to delete something, paragraphs in section "The haystack model and trait groups" would definitely be the place to go. They are long, without much citation, and does not weight sufficiently in our current understanding of group selection. If you think it is a mess, well, that depends on the definition of mess. A paragraph or even a section about viscous populations and group selection is definitely important and necessary for this entry of group selection, as population structure has become central to our current understanding of group selection. Another thing you may want to keep in mind is that this entry itself is very academic, and it will be wrong to avoid all technical points since many students will be reading it and building their understanding based on it. Compromising the quality of the article and neglecting the need of the most important audience just to serve an imaginary audience that may not even be large enough (giving this entry is itself academic) is not the right trade-off. Besides, I really do not see you point of my edits being "highly technical". "Highly" technical, seriously?? How are the other sections of the article not technical? Yjiangnan (talk) 12:07, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

A bit garbled and inaccurate, about the status of the controversy

I admit that the idea of a pithy summary of 'group selection' is beguiling. At least, group-oriented ‘altruistic’ behaviours within the animal kingdom have been documented repeatedly, and why this is so interesting, is that these worker castes in social insects, and alarm cries in bird flocks, have appeared, at a glance, to many, to completely contradict traditional evolutionary theory. The challenge, to evolutionary biologists, I think, really, is that in its simplest form, the theory of natural selection doesn't work. That's putting it baldly, the issue being behaviours, observed in both human and animal societies, that appear to benefit the group, even when it results in poor individual fitness. And, there is no seamlessly ‘unified’ selection theory. Is the real target of selection not what Darwin said it was? Original Darwinian natural selection theory stressed selection acting on the ‘individual’.

I'm particularly looking at this passage: 'Richard Dawkins and fellow advocates of the gene-centered view of evolution remain unconvinced about group selection.[41][42][43]'

First of all, [43] is this: ^ Dennett, D.C. (1994). "E Pluribus Unum? Commentary on Wilson & Sober: Group Selection". Behavioural and Brain Sciences 17 (4): 617–618. Archived from the original on 2007-12-27.

And I quote from this: '..there are indeed conditions under which groups can have the "harmony and coordination" required to behave, quite stably, as "organisms" or "individuals"--long enough to permit group selection effects to occur, for instance. But far from this undermining the gene's-eye perspective of Dawkins and Williams, it depends on it; it is only from that perspective that the enabling conditions for "group" solidarity can be explained.'

So, Dennett does not 'remain unconvinced', and I think that Dawkins is being misconstrued as well, but let's continue where I left off: 'In particular, Dawkins suggests that group selection fails to make an appropriate distinction between replicators and vehicles.[44]'

No, group selection does not fail to make a distinction. Rather, Dawkins is commenting here on the controversy, about group selection versus individual selection. He gets into what that controversy, in turn, is about. btw here is a link to the article:

Here, Dawkins is saying things like this: 'Of all the levels in the hierarchy of vehicles, the biologist's eye is drawn most strongly to the individual organism..For these and other reasons we automatically prefer to ask functional questions at the level of the individual organism rather than at any other level.'

That sounds like he's against group selection, but this is a rather patient, technical approach that he's taking, where he gets in points like this: 'I argue that genes in cuckoos have phenotypic expression in host behavior..' <--what is that if not group selection? And: 'There are reasons for coming down on the side of the individual organism rather than larger units, but it has not been a main purpose of this paper to advocate this view.' He is of the position, then, that here, controversy may exist, and discussion has resulted in a much clearer vision. And: '..the phrase "individual selection" may be misleading.'

What I gather from Dawkins, is that selection acting on groups is sometimes more important than selection acting on individuals, and that many adaptations, especial social adaptations, simply disprove selection acting only on individuals, on its face, and that we need to transcend individual selection, at least individual selection as a strict essentialist doctrine. However, that's pretty much his view of group selection, as well. I think this matter is so philosophical, abstract, that most sources get in over their heads trying to discuss it, it's beyond journalists.

I could continue, w/this: 'Psychologist Steven Pinker concluded that "Group Selection has no useful role to play in psychology or social science." [45]'

He's a popular science author who is known, in part, for his advocacy of 'evolutionary psychology'. So his opposition ought to be mentioned. This area is a thicket of contentious claims and counterclaims. But, Pinker is not operating on Dawkins' level (Dawkins has thought more about this, so I want him to be summarized accurately, and, standing on one foot, the position is that evolution has produced adaptively organized entities at the group level). DanLanglois (talk) 11:34, 19 November 2013 (UTC)


This article is rightly tagged as being in a mess; little action has been taken since 2013. Whole sections are without references, and it seems to me that it goes round in circles quite a bit (like a student uncertain of a topic). I think it needs simplifying and radically restructuring - if I'm not wrong, the key facts aren't too complicated:

1) a lot of loose talk about group selection and the good of the species/group back in the 1950s and 60s;

2) stern words from the 'selfish' crowd about how group-talk is all wrong, and that the only thing is individual selection, with its mathematically equivalent kin selection, as in the social insects, from the 1960s and 70s;

3) a bit of back-pedalling with some big cheeses arguing that after all, some limited bit of group selection is after all possible.

But the article makes a terrible meal of that. Why don't we structure the article like this:

  • (untitled lead) giving the overall story
  • "Good of the species" (naive Group Selection)
  • "Selfishness" (individual selection)
  • Group selection revisited

We can then ditch anything (however seemingly well-written) that is unreferenced. Not before time.

And by the way, I'd merge the "Criticism" section into "Group selection revisited" - sections called "criticism" or "controversy" are always more trouble than they're worth, and they tend to be ragbags because, after all, the title doesn't say anything about which point of view the section is supposed to be covering.

Thoughts? Chiswick Chap (talk) 05:02, 3 June 2015 (UTC)