Overview

It has been a while since my last post. Last week I had some re-exams and I could not find some time for blogging. Still, I managed to find some interesting stuff on the internet.

First of all I want to give attention to the old and currently revived debate about group selection that is going on between the multilevel group selection theory scientists and the scientists that are admiring the gene-centered view of evolution.

The basic of the controversy lies in an article that was written by Nowak, Tarnita and co-authored  by renowned evolutionist E.O. Wilson.  The article about the evolution of eusociality states that the famous theory of kin selection (proposed by E.O. Wilson himself) was not longer plausible as an explanation of the evolution of eusociality and that instead group selection was the mechanism that caused the evolution of eusociality.  I am not going to explain the concepts that they illustrate, and I refer you to the article in nature for a thorough explanation.

This disagreement has caused several strong reactions from the academic community and in that reaction they say thatthe points made by Nowak et. al. are a misunderstanding of evolutionary theory and a misrepresentation of the empirical literature. Moreover several reactions from notable scientists are very personal, which was expected because many of the scientists involved have built their whole career about this. Richard Dawkins even exploded, not in a literal sense by the way, and accused Wilson of ‘wanton arrogance’. Wilson replied and said that he does not think that Dawkins is actually a scientist. In other words: Shut up and let me and my scientific peers do the thinking.

And that is really interesting. Scientists accusing each other that they have committed intellectual dishonesty, even if they are respected among peers and have performed thousands of experiments. I think it is a very natural process that a scientist becomes offended when his views, on which he has built his whole career are washed away (though I am not saying that Wilson is right). Moreover it raised the question when people can be called scientists. On which criteria can we call somebody a scientists. I am thinking about it now and probably will say something about it in the future.

Second, I found an interesting story about a preacher that was converted to atheism and because of he de-conversion he has lost his job, wife and house. It illustrates the fact that religious communities which are very close together do not know how to handle de-converts.

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