Did Human Social Behavior Evolve Via Group Selection? E. O. Wilson Defends That View In The NYT
Author: Jerry Coyne
Here’s one last (I hope) post on the brouhaha about the evolution of social behavior that I’ve covered over the last year or so.
I think E. O. Wilson must be feeling a bit beleaguered about the criticism he’s endured for his relentless advocacy of group selection. Not only was he an author of the Nowak et al. paper in Nature
arguing that group selection rather than kin selection was the prime mover of social evolution in insects and humans—a paper that was excoriated by biologists who work on the evolution of behavior—but his new book, The Social Conquest of Earth, which makes the same group-selection argument, has also been strongly criticized.
Perhaps this explains why Wilson took to the pages of the Sunday New York Times to defend his views in an Opinionator piece called “Evolution and our inner conflict.”
His thesis is this:
Within biology itself, the key to the mystery is the force that lifted pre-human social behavior to the human level. The leading candidate in my judgment is multilevel selection by which hereditary social behavior improves the competitive ability not of just individuals within groups but among groups as a whole.
“Multilevel selection” is another word for “group selection.”
Read more at Whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com