Group selection

From: Agner Fog (
Date: Sun 20 Feb 2005 - 11:00:53 GMT

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    I am splitting this thread (What happened to the journal of memetics?) because Keith Henson introduced a new subject.

    Keith Henson wrote:
    >I got this far and then took a look at your web page . . . .
    >It might look like group selection happens, but it is much better described by selfish genes and Hamilton's inclusive fitness criteria.

    That's the predominant view among evolutionary biologists today, but I disagree. Some simplified mathematical theories say that group selection doesn't work, but real world observations seem to indicate the opposite. That's why I am doing research on group selection, and I am trying to refine the mathematical models.

    The non-reproductive castes among ants and bees might possibly be explained by kin selection because they have haplodiploid inheritance, i.e. they have more genes in common with their siblings. But this explanation doesn't work for termites, naked mole rats, and other social animals. They have diploid inheritance, so they share only half their genes with their siblings, and less with their half-siblings.

    Kin selection theory says that I should help my brother if his gain is more than the double of my costs. But this doesn't explain why we are sending money to starving children in Africa and tsunami victims in Asia. You may say that this is because of religious memes. This may be true to some extent, but atheists give to charity too.

    Why do birds and many other animals have ritualized fights, and why do they respect the outcome of the fight? A hungry bird that has lost the fight for the best territories would be better off by not respecting the territorial boundaries than starve to death.

    There are so many behaviors among animals as well as humans that can't be explained by kin selection and reciprocal selection. This is why I am doing research on group selection. I have not published very much yet, but you can see the most important results at =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

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