Gardner’s theory of multilevel selection: Where he goes wrong and why

Two things have happened recently. First, Jonathan Pruitt and I (Pruitt and Goodnight 2014 Nature 514:359) have been asked to reply to a goodly number of letters to the editor concerning our paper on multilevel selection in Nature. These letters have made it clear to me that many people have a very basic misunderstanding of […]

A one line proof of Fishers fundamental theorem

Lots of people get bent out of shape about Fisher’s Fundamental theorem, and spend lots of pages talking about it. The problem is that people tend to see the FFT as being magical. Theoreticians promote this because, well, the basic proof is so simple that you need to add some sort of complication to justify […]

Genes, society, sexism and racism

James Watson has been in the news for more than just his efforts to sell some bullion. He has also been in the news for his completely outrageous racist and sexist comments. Two of the more famous ones are the time he told a reporter that he is “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” […]

Genetic distance and FST

First off, I did a search for papers that used contextual analysis in some form or another to analyze experimental data. This is the list I came up with. It seems pretty pitiful for a statistical method that (1) works and (2) with the exception of Heisler and Damuth using a very small data set […]

Hiatus announcement and group selection 1 and 2.

The main piece of sad news this week is that I am just simply overwhelmed, and I am going to have to take a hiatus from writing. I will try to post occasionally, but look for once or twice a month rather than weekly. The reason is that I signed a book contract. I need […]

Variance in a structured world

So far I have been writing about things that in some sense I fancy I know something about the answer. Today, all I have is conundrum. The conundrum I have is this: one of the unspoken themes of this blog is that the “mean field approximation” is inadequate, and yet I am failing to provide […]

On partitioning fitness

I realized last week that I should probably explain more clearly what I meant by temporal components of fitness. As a result, a discussion of variance will have to wait until next week (I actually am flying to California for a National Academies Keck Futures Initiative meeting next week, so the next update may be […]

A conversation with a physicist: Some thoughts on fitness

This past week I went over to the university at a nearby city, and talked to some physicists interested in complex systems, and among other things, biology. As seems to be the nature of physicists turned biologists, I was impressed with some of their ideas, but also impressed with their lack of knowledge of biology, […]

Spider Group Selection

I could keep going on what an individual is, but at least at this point I have put out the main points I have been thinking about. It may be a subject we will return to in the future. What I really should talk about a bit is our recent paper, “Site-specific group selection drives […]

Individuals as Multispecies Entities

I am feeling a bit schizophrenic these days, splitting my time between developing models of species differentiation, experimental design to measure the genetics of species differentiation – yes, it can be done, and blogging. The last is a bit confusing because it starts me wondering, when did I become a philosopher.   And lets just say, […]