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April 06, 2005

Update 2

From time to time I look through my old posts to see if any of them are still worth reading.

I gave a guide to the earliest ones here and an update in October 2004 here.

I think the following posts since October may still be of interest:

Dawkins on Kin Selection summarises and comments on Richard Dawkins’s often-cited but seldom-read paper ‘12 misunderstandings of kin selection’.

Continuing the theme of kin selection, It’s a Ring Thing explores how to measure coefficients of relationship in cases where the parties are related and/or inbred, using Wagner’s Siegfried and Brünnhilde as an illustration.

Limits to Hamilton’s Rule warns that W. D. Hamilton’s theory of inclusive fitness is seldom useful unless the organisms concerned are very closely related.

The X Chromosome Waltz explores exactly what is meant by saying that an X chromosome spends twice as long in female bodies as in male ones. (A note in that post proved that the limit of the sum 1/2 + 2/4 + 3/8 + 4/16 + 5/32.…. is 2. It was pointed out in comments that there is a simpler proof using elementary calculus.) A related post, X Chromosome Evolution, analyses the evolution of genes on an X chromosome which increase fitness when they occur in one sex while reducing fitness in the other, which has been suggested as a possible cause of homosexuality.

A cluster of posts earlier this year examined Frank Salter’s theory of ethnic genetic interests. Interracial marriage: Salter’s Fallacy identified what in my view is a fallacious argument Salter uses against interracial marriage. Ethnic Genetic Interests is a more general criticism of Salter’s theories. I emphasise that Salter himself does not put his theories forward as a scientific explanation of behaviour, but as a political proposal for how people should behave if they wish to recognise their ’ethnic genetic interests’. I do not see any reason why they should. A further post, Ethnic Genetic Interests: Part 2, contains some more technical criticisms.

As I have often been sceptical about group selection, I felt honour-bound to describe an apparently neglected paper I had found, which sets out a model in which group selection can work, though in a fairly narrow range of circumstances. I did this in a post Group Selection can work…just.

British or English? discusses the rather confusing issues of national identity and nomenclature within the British Isles. I subsequently (here) corrected the statement that ‘about half of the population of Wales speak Welsh‘, as it was pointed out in comments that this was too high.

More recently there is a cluster of posts on various aspects of ethnic groups in Britain: here on crime; here, here and here on education; and here on inter-ethnic marriage. Not much theory, but plenty of facts and figures, for those who like that kind of thing.

Posted by David B at 01:57 AM