Field of Science

Group selection lectures

Is natural selection at the group level an important evolutionary force? is the question asked to Stuart West, Samir Okasha, Herbert Gintis, and Mark Pagel.

It's a controversial topic, as some scientists think it is a much underrated and important level at which selection can act, while others are dismissive, saying that it cannot occur. That's a nice way to polarize the arguments, I think.

Here's West with an argument that the whole debate is overrated:

West points out that i) inclusive fitness is the theory that can be and, indeed, has been used to study what we might call group selection, and ii) that group adaptation does not generally occur. In other words, he notes that the issue of whether group selection occurs was solved a long time ago, and needn't be controversial anymore.

"Slimemolds are much more altruistic than humans are" - Stuart West.

Also see the videos of the talks by Herbert Gintis, Mark Pagel, and Samir Okasha.

In the end the four of them gathered for a panel discussion - which I haven't watched yet (it's hard to find 74 minutes available for that) - but I am certain it will be a great show.

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