Group Selection

Applied to Anthropomorphic Optimism by Ruby at 2y
Applied to Evolving to Extinction by Ruby at 2y
Applied to Group selection update by Ruby at 2y

People who are unfamiliar with evolutionary theory sometimes proposeGroup Selection posits that a featurenatural selection might not operate at the level of genes in individuals, and instead also operate at genes in groups of individuals, i.e. selecting for genes for the group even at the expense of the organism is there for the good of the group - forindividual. For example, you might posit that human religion is an adaptation to make human groups more cohesive, since religious groups outfight nonreligious groups.

Postulating group selection is guaranteed to make professional evolutionary biologists roll up their eyes and sigh.See also:Evolution, Alienness of evolution

See also

From the old discussion page:

Talk:Group selection

I'd love to see lw posts that discuss/critique the group selection ideas of E.O. Wilson, David Sloan Wilson, and Herbert Gintis. Should the wiki cite outside non-LW sources on such issues? --MichaelBishop 19:48, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

The wiki is primarily for systematization and clarification of the topics already discussed on the blog. New material should go through the blog. --Vladimir Nesov 15:37, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

The reference to the model on the Gene Expression webpage should be removed, as that model does not include group selection. Group selection means the effect of selection at the level of the group. That model does not incorporate selection at the level of the group. PhilGoetz (talk) 16:44, 14 December 2014 (AEDT)

The discussion of birth ratios makes no sense. If group selection predicts higher female/male birth ratios, individual selection by the same token predicts higher male/female ratios. The fact that the ratio is nearly 1:1 then indicates a compromise between group selection and individual selection. Since individual selection exists, this would seem to be a proof rather than a disproof of the counterbalancing existence of group selection. PhilGoetz (talk) 18:06, 14 December 2014 (AEDT)

Created by Eliezer Yudkowsky at 2y

Added by Phil Goetz: In contrast to what is written above, I note that:

  • The arguments presented above only argue against genetic group selection for altruism; and yet they are then used to dismiss cultural group selection for non-altruistic properties (for example, religion).
  • Species selection for altruistic-like traits has been found to occur in nature; see "Group selection update" below.
  • And yet, species selection is a kind of group selection; and most of the arguments against group selection apply against species selection.
  • The mathematical model cited above does not allow groups to be selected against, therefore it does not test group selection.
  • The historical record is full of examples of group-level cultural adaptation and selection in humans.
  • The arguments presented above only argue against genetic group selection for altruism; and yet they are then used to dismiss cultural group selection for non-altruistic properties (for example, religion).
  • Species selection for altruistic-like traits has been found to occur in nature; see "Group selection update" below.
  • And yet, species selection is a kind of group selection; and allmost of the arguments against group selection apply against species selection.
  • The mathematical model cited above does not allow groups to be selected against, therefore it does not test group selection.
  • The historical record is full of examples of group-level cultural adaptation and selection in humans.
  • The arguments presented above only argue against genetic group selection for altruism; and yet they are then used to dismiss cultural group selection for non-altruistic properties (for example, religion).
  • Species selection for altruistic-like traits has been found to occur in nature; see "Group selection update" below.
  • And yet, species selection is a kind of group selection; and all of the arguments against group selection apply against species selection.
  • The mathematical model cited above does not allow groups to be selected against, therefore it does not test group selection.
  • The historical record is full of examples of group-level cultural adaptation and selection in humans.

Added by Phil Goetz: In contrast to what is written above, I note that:

  • The arguments presented above only argue against group selection for altruism; and yet they are then used to dismiss group selection for non-altruistic properties (for example, religion).
  • Species selection for altruistic-like traits has been found to occur in nature; see "Group selection update" below.
  • And yet, species selection is a kind of group selection; and all of the arguments against group selection apply against species selection.
  • The mathematical model cited above does not allow groups to be selected against, therefore it does not test group selection.
  • The historical record is full of examples of group-level cultural adaptation and selection in humans.

The historical fiasco of group selectionism is relied on as a clear-cut(clear-cut) case in point of the dangers of anthropomorphism.

Yudkowsky usesThe historical fiasco of group selectionism asis a clear-cut case in point of the dangers of anthropomorphism.

People who are unfamiliar with evolutionary theory sometimes propose that a feature of the organism is there for the good of the group - for example, that human religion is an adaptation to make human groups more cohesive, and it survives becausecohesive, since religious groups outfight nonreligious groups.

To the best of mythis editor's knowledge, no definite example of a group-level adaptation has ever been observed in a mammalian species. Ever.

It seems to be extremely popular among a certain sort of amateur evolutionary theorist, though - there's a certain sort of person who, if they don't know about the incredible mathematical difficulty, will fall in love with speculationsfind it very satisfying to speculate about adaptations for the good of the group.

Yudkowsky uses group selectionism as a case in point of the dangers of anthropomorphism.

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People who are unfamiliar with evolutionary theory sometimes propose that a feature of the organism is there *forfor the good of the group*group - for example, that human religion is an adaptation to make human groups more cohesive, and it survives because religious groups outfight nonreligious groups.