Monday, July 16, 2012

Evolutionists against group selection

Perhaps the hottest dispute in science is whether evolution acts at the gene level, or also at the group level. Defenses of group evolution are in the current Sci Am (print only) and by E.O. Wilson in the NY Times. It is attacked by Steve Pinker and Jerry Coyne. Pinker is criticized by Gelman and others.

E.O. Wilson spent most of his career studying ants, and became a big-shot by speculating generalizations to human beings. So he thinks of human cultures as being like ant colonies. He admits that his current positions is contrary to what he has said for many years, but he does not address others who say he is wrong today.

If group selection applies to humans, then the most well-documented example is that of Jews. According to K. MacDonald, the evolutionary strategy only works because Jews teach it to those within the group, and deny it to those outside the group. Pinker is Jewish, so he would have to deny it. He wrote:
MacDonald's various theses, even if worthy of scientifically debate individually, collectively add up to a consistently invidious portrayal of Jews, ... Of course I have not plowed through MacDonald's trilogy and therefore run the complementary risks of being unfair to his arguments ...
As argued here, Pinker is a Jewish atheist whose last book has a sharply anti-Christian bias to it. His view is more ideology than science.

Group selection is just one of several evolution principles that leftist intellectuals deny. They also deny that IQ exists and is heritable, that humans have evolved in the last 50k years, that racial diffences exist, besides skin color, and that human sexes are different, besides the obvious. A core principle of evolution is that traits develop by being heritable, and by groups with advantageous traits outcompeting others. This applies to humans just like plants and animals.

The leftist magazine The Nation complains:
Do you know what the worst thing about the recent Gallup poll on evolution is? It isn’t that 46 percent of respondents are creationists ...

It’s that the proportion of college graduates who are creationists is exactly the same as for the general public. ...

It’s useful for us as a species to understand that we are a recent appearance on this planet and that 99.9 percent of all species that have ever existed have gone extinct.
The complaint is not so much about what the public understands, but that they have not adopted a suitably leftist worldview.

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt argues that liberals have trouble understanding certain concepts because that have a crippled moral sense. While more academics are liberals, they fail to appreciate basic moral values.

Another evolution-related controversy is free will. Besides Sam Harris (video), his fellow new-atheist religion-haters Jerry Coyne and Victor Stenger adamantly argue that science shows that Free will is an illusion. They say that a leftist atheistic scientific worldview requires believing that everything in the universe was determined in the first second of the big bang. No, this is another thing that evolutionists get wrong. There is no more scientific reason to doubt free will than there was when theologians debated it centuries ago.

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