On Kinship

On Facebook one of my friends posted that they were attending a conference on reconceptualizing kinship, and of course, I responded that it was tempting to put in my two cents worth on the subject. To my shock another commenter asked me to do just that. SO, given that I have been absolutely swamped since […]

Population structure and recombination

One of the joys of a genic view is the apparent constancy of things. One of the big ones is that a gene has an effect that can in some sense be considered a constant that can be written down and stored on a piece of paper in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnall’s […]

A quick review of the phenotypic perspective, pt 2

Continuing on with my brief reprise of the tenets of this blog: Individuals are the level at which we assign fitness. First a parable. If we go back to Mayr, he thought that the species was the only natural unit of organization, and argued that the biological species concept (BSC) was the correct definition of […]

A quick review of the phenotypic perspective, pt 1

Some of the recent comments I have received have made me realize that maybe I should re-emphasize some of the very early points I made on this blog. The point of this blog is to blatantly promote a phenotypic view of evolution, and do try to dislodge the dominant paradigm of the gene as the […]

Down the rabbit hole: More on multispecies organisms

I just tripped and fell down another rabbit hole. I was going to skip this week, but I would love input on this issue, so here it is. Earlier I argued that the organism was a multispecies entity. This makes perfect sense if we consider mitochondria to be symbiotic bacteria in a host cell, and […]

Some thoughts on aging and the phenotype

I have been gone a while. Something of a creative meltdown after the Evolution meetings. Perhaps one to many Caparinha, at what might have been the best party ever at an Evolution meeting. Leave it to the Brazilians to throw a party with enough food and liquor and the wackiest live music ever. In any […]

Why there is no Genic Selection

This is the week before the Evolution meetings, so the big question of the day is what can I post that I believe to be true, and will rile enough people up to get a good discussion going. I decided Sam Scheiner was a good target – we were graduate students together, he is a […]

Why reductionism DOES work: Individuals to genes

In the last couple of posts I have suggested that reductionism is for chumps. Two weeks ago I argued that gene interactions made average effects wonder around all over the place, and last week I argued that indirect genetic effects mucked up the works if there was population structure. This would seem to imply that […]

Why reductionism doesn’t work, Part 2: Groups to individuals

Williams (1966) famously wrote “In explaining adaptation, one should assume the adequacy of the simplest form of natural selection, that of alternative alleles in Mendelian populations, unless the evidence clearly shows that this theory does not suffice.” This principle of parsimony makes two interesting points. The first phrase “In explaining adaptation” makes the point that […]

Why reductionism doesn’t work; Part 1, Individuals to genes

One thing that often used to happen, perhaps not so much any more, is that people will say that we don’t need to worry about levels of selection because all selection can be reduced to selection acting directly on genes. George Williams perhaps put this view best, first with his principle of parsimony, which argues […]