Saturday, March 24, 2018

The debate about cultural selection

Continuing this post, therein I linked to Pinker's criticism of the phenomenon, as well as commentary on Pinker's claims. One response is by evolutionary biologist David C. Queller, wherein he said:

"Modern group selection theory is as mathematically rigorous as individual selection or inclusive fitness theory.  I say this despite being someone who favors the inclusive fitness approach and whose entire career has been based on it.   I think of these less as alternative theories that make different predictions than as two different languages describing the same world.  They simply divide up fitness in slightly different ways – inclusive fitness into effects on self versus others, and multilevel selection into between-group and within-group parts – and a simple partition of fitness should not alter predictions.  Inclusive fitness became popular, despite the head start enjoyed by multilevel selection thinking, because it successfully weighted the relative importance of its two fitness components, using genetic relatedness.   Without a similar set of weights, group selection advantages could not be accurately judged, and their strength and importance was often overemphasized. [...] However, modern multilevel selection theory does have such weights, the between-group and within-group genetic variances, whose ratio happens to be relatedness of the actor to its groupmates (including itself).  Once the proper weights are accounted for, the two approaches give essentially identical results."

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