[ExI] Group Selection Advances

spike spike66 at att.net
Fri May 1 17:12:58 UTC 2009

> ...On Behalf Of spike
> Subject: Re: [ExI] Group Selection Advances
> > Subject: [ExI] Group Selection Advances
> > 
> > Early on, I naturally believed in group selection, and 
> Darwin did too; it seemed rather obvious and logical... Lee
> When debates over group selection in evolution take place, 
> humans get into the picture.  Perhaps we have a hard time 
> discussing humans in evolution because we are too close to 
> the situation.  Furthermore humans evidently have all these 
> meta-memes which mess with our instincts.  For this reason it 
> is perhaps easier to debate the topic by looking at the 
> example of the Irish elk, which apparently evolved themselves 
> into a corner:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Elk
> spike

It seems that with the survival of the species at stake, some sporty young
Irish elk couple would have come up with an alternate position, in which the
stag's massive antlers could somehow rest on the ground.  It is difficult to
form a mental image of that.  Are humans the only species with more than one
mating position?

Intraspecies war (as far as I know) is seen in only four species, chimps,
gorillas, humans and ants.  The anthropologists argue to this day whether
the chimp and gorilla intraspecies fights qualify as war.  Some are more
comfortable comparing that phenom to a gang rumble, for they tend to be
chaotic and short-lived with little apparent overall plan or goal, and the
territory capture aspect is questioned.  So intraspecies war would then be
considered something that is seen in nature but is extremely rare if one
ignores humankind as an oddball species.  Even the ants would be considered
a special case, because the actual fighting is be done exclusively by the
non-breeders, as neither the queen nor the drones get involved in duking it
out, or in this case mandibling it out.  It is the workers which open a can
of whoop-abdomen.  It isn't clear to me that this case of war would lead to
group selection, for the losing side maintains its reproductive capacity.

Imagine a group of hungry pre-technology humans, where some extropian minded
individual comes up with the idea of agriculture.  Some agree this is a
great hi-tech way to get reliable food, but the majority insist on the
traditional way of praying to Etaoin Shrdlu for divine guidance in finding
roots, berries and squirrels.  Over time, the agriculturalists have a more
reliable food source, become richer and more numerous, and eventually
everyone is an agriculturalist.  If this is not a clear example of group
selection I don't know what else to call it.

I can imagine that group selection is analogous to intraspecies war: present
in nature but extremely rare.



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