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April 03, 2003

A note on blog-break

I'm going to reread Unto Others and Darwin's Cathedral so that I give a good summation of Wilson & co's position-I'm not a population geneticist, nor a great believer in group selectionism, so I want to do this well. That being said, since I have work & the rest of life to deal with, I will stop blogging & reading blogs until then (that likely means until sometime this weekend) I'm also going to go through critiques of Wilson's position-especially by J.M. Smith. This is important to me because I'm going to use this post to start a series tentatively titled, "Human(e) Sciences," that will cover ethnology & public policy, starting from a theoretical stance that is open to group selectionist explanations (if not embracing them totally).

Posted by razib at 08:03 PM

Razib, this is totally off-topic. Here's the link to a rather vague (and verbose) article on Tamil Brahmins.


It's still a fairly accurate depiction of the Tam-Bram mindset.

Posted by: Skitzo at April 4, 2003 01:25 AM

Razib, you can do all that in just a few days?! Is this genetic or do you partake of chemical enhancements?

Posted by: justapolak at April 4, 2003 06:33 AM

Razib: while you are speedreading, you might take on board C R Hallpike's 'The Principles of Social Evolution', which includes a devastating critique of loose analogies between social evolution and natural selection.

In fact, I think we would be better off not talking about social (or cultural) 'evolution' at all, as this tends to encourage the delusion that social change and biological evolution are similar. In my view, the differences are far more important than the similarities. Not least, in contrast to the position in biology, we have no reason whatever to assume that social or cultural traits (ideas, institutions, or whatever), are 'adaptive', whether for individuals or societies.

Posted by: David Burbridge at April 4, 2003 09:31 AM

See also my comment on Justapolak's post on the 'Groupies' discussion.

I don't think anyone disputes that group selection, in some sense, is theoretically possible. The arguments are over (a) how important it is in practice, and (b) what should be counted as group selection. D S Wilson prefers a very wide definition, while his critics think this leads to confusion.

Posted by: David Burbridge at April 5, 2003 01:09 AM