[ExI] What Darwin Got Wrong?

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 2 18:23:29 UTC 2010

I'm reading the book before making any detailed comments, but, so far, the authors haven't differentiated between the two -- and I really don't think there's much of a difference between them. In the case of sexual selection, the organism (or the gene or whatever unit of selection) is still facing a survival selection. Its progeny won't be represented or won't be represented in high numbers if it fails against that particular filter, no? (The difference being, though, that it's likely that sexual selection can be roped off from other environmental factors because it's more likely to be directional.)



----- Original Message ----
From: spike <spike66 at att.net>
To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Sent: Tue, June 1, 2010 4:15:00 PM
Subject: Re: [ExI] What Darwin Got Wrong?

> ...On Behalf Of Dan
> Subject: [ExI] What Darwin Got Wrong?
> http://www.amazon.com/What-Darwin-Wrong-Jerry-Fodor/dp/0374288798
> Any of you read this one? Comments? I just picked it up a few 
> days ago and have started in on it. No big surprises just yet...
> Regards, Dan

Hi Dan thanks.  From the Amazon.com editorial reviews:

"...For one thing, according to the authors, natural selection contains a
logical fallacy by linking two irreconcilable claims: first, that creatures
with adaptive traits are selected, and second, that creatures are selected
for their adaptive traits..."

I haven't read the book, but that review almost sounds like what Darwin
carefully differentiated as two separate effects: survival selection and
mate selection.  He and later authors recognized that it is possible for
these two effects to work against each other in at least some cases.  In
Origin of Species Chapter 4, second paragraph under the section called
Sexual Selection, Darwin mentions specifically the peacock.  This might be a
puzzle, since the enormous plumage is heavy and would work against flight
from a predator.  Darwin's take on it is that in some species, the females
choose a mated based on his attractiveness, as opposed to many other species
in which the males fight for dominance to access mates.  This
may-the-pretties-man-win strategy prevents battle injury and would surely
contribute to the survival of the species encumbered by the absurd but
beautiful tail plumage.

I see no logical fallacy in Darwin's reasoning.  After reading the passage
in OoS, we can easily envision Darwin pondering these effects to great
length.  His writing demonstrates a life spent pondering nature.



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