December 1, 2007 | David F. Coppedge

Wilson Duo Resurrects Darwin’s Taboo

Group selection (sociobiology) has long been a taboo subject, but now its time has come.  This is what an article on EurekAlert claims.  E. O. Wilson and David Sloan Wilson are on a new campaign to promote group selection.
    The two Wilsons called for a new consensus on sociobiology in The Quarterly Review of Biology, 136 years after Darwin suggested in 1871 that morality might evolve in groups (The Descent of Man).  A little historical background tells what happened next:

Wilson and Wilson trace much of the confusion in the field to the 1960’s, when most evolutionists rejected “for the good of the group” thinking and insisted that all adaptations must be explained in terms of individual self-interest.  In an even more reductionistic move, genes were called “the fundamental unit of selection,” as if this was an argument against group selection.  Scientific dogma became entrenched in popular culture with the publication of Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene (1976).  Although evidence in favor of group selection began accumulating almost immediately after its rejection, its taboo status prevented a systematic re-evaluation of the field until now.

The upshot is that Charles Darwin wins again:

Based on current theory and evidence, Wilson and Wilson show that natural selection is unequivocally a multilevel process, as Darwin originally envisioned, and that adaptations can evolve at all levels of the biological hierarchy, from genes to ecosystems.  They conclude with a rallying cry that paraphrases Rabbi Hillel: “Selfishness beats altruism within groups.  Altruistic groups beat selfish groups.  Everything else is commentary,” Wilson and Wilson free sociobiology to once again pursue all lines of inquiry within its discipline.

Of course, altruism is merely a phantom artifact in this view; it is really self-interest that is behind group interest.  To them, this operates at all levels – from bacteria to Constitutional Conventions.
    The entry did not provide any responses from evolutionists who reject group selection (e.g.,“survival of the fictitious,” 08/26/2004; non-Darwinian mechanisms 07/23/2004; George C. Williams 05/31/2004).

OK, George, get the posse and round up these mavericks.  They’re getting out of line again (05/31/2004).
    Ever since Darwin welcomed imagination and storytelling into science, it has caused a bit of consternation among his disciples.  Sometimes Father Charlie would just make a suggestion here or there without really developing it.  This has allowed all the competing cults to find quotes from The Mosstuh to justify their versions of Darwinism, as if they alone are the faithful ones.
    E. O. Wilson, the former fundamentalist kid turned creation-hating atheist (see New Scientist), loves selfishness so much, he wants to promote it throughout the entire hierarchy of existence.  David Sloan Wilson, the publicist, will be sure to spread this new gospel of selfishness in “Evolution for Everyone” (05/31/2007, 11/01/2005).  Selfishness for Everyone!  Preach it, brother!  If Wilson & Wilson get their way, this will be the rallying cry for Darwin Day 2008.  Greater hate hath no man, than a man exalt himself over his friend.
    Since we now know that the Wilson Boys promote selfishness as the highest good, we can ignore everything they say, can’t we?  After all, they don’t care about what is good, true or beautiful.  They’re just in it for themselves.

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Categories: Darwin and Evolution

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