Saturday, February 28, 2009

Getting Darwin Right

Michael Shermer wants to clear up some misconceptions.

......natural selection is a description of a process, not a force. No one is “selecting” organisms for survival in the benign sense of pigeon breeders selecting for desirable traits in show breeds or for extinction in the malignant sense of Nazis selecting prisoners at death camps. Natural selection is nonprescient—it cannot look forward to anticipate what changes are going to be needed for survival.

Natural selection simply means that those individuals with variations better suited to their environment leave behind more offspring than individuals that are less well adapted.

It may be.....that organisms that are bigger, stronger, faster and brutishly competitive will reproduce more successfully, but it is just as likely that organisms that are smaller, weaker, slower and socially cooperative will do so as well.