Evolution for Everyone

David Sloan Wilson

Only one reason for ignoring the E-word remains to be considered: All branches of knowledge should ideally be consistent with each other, but every branch need not be consulted for the study of any particular branch. I rarely feel the need to consult quantum physics when I study evolution, and perhaps evolution rarely needs to…

Working backwards through our four reasons to ignore evolution, we have shown that smart people don’t necessary converge on the facts of the matter from different starting positions (4) and that reasoning on the basis of design benefits from knowledge about the designing process (3). Here is our next reason for ignoring the E-word (2):…

With Tinbergen’s four questions in mind (II), we can continue examining the reasons why evolution might be irrelevant for the study of a particular trait, even though the trait is a product of evolution. Reason #4 has already been considered (I) and this post will consider reason # 3: The concept of design long predates…

If you’re an economist, you know about Jan Tinbergen, who shared the first Nobel Prize in Economics with Ragnar Frisch in 1969 for his work on dynamic models of economic processes. If you’re an evolutionist, you know about the other Tinbergen, Jan’s younger brother Niko, who shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine with Konrad Lorenz…

I spend much of my time talking with people about subjects, such as education or economics, that have not been traditionally approached from an evolutionary perspective. For me, evolution provides a framework for thinking about all living processes, a fact that is already established for the biological sciences and is in the process of becoming…

Greetings from Lisbon, where I am helping to inaugurate the first EvoS program in Europe. EvoS (for Evolutionary Studies, pronounced as one word) teaches evolution across the curriculum. I started the first program at Binghamton, others are sprouting across the United States, and the first program in Europe has started thanks to a petite woman…

The rehabilitation of group selection took another step with the publication of a commentary titled “Eight Criticisms Not to Make About Group Selection” in the journal Evolution. The authors are Omar Eldakar, my former PhD student currently at the University of Arizona’s Center for Insect Science, and yours truly. Omar conducts wonderful research on male…

The March 24 issue of Nature includes 5 responses to the critique of inclusive fitness theory by Martin Nowak, Corina Tarnita, and Edward Wilson published earlier in Nature. One of the responses has 137 co-authors, illustrating the degree to which the evolution community has become aroused. I am reminded of the old record album titled…

As readers of this blog know, I am increasingly using evolution to make a difference in a practical sense, in the formulation of public policy through the Evolution Institute and in my own community through the Binghamton Neighborhood Project. I chronicle my odyssey in my newest book, The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My…

So far I have paid homage to George Williams for his clear thinking about adaptation and natural selection, including his principle for evaluating whether a trait counts as a group-level adaptation (see part I). George was wrong when he made the empirical claim that “group-related adaptations do not, in fact, exist”, but it is thanks…