Rebranding Group Selection

Nice post over on Falkenblog, Evolutionary Self Interest is Relative, which links to an excellent video on misunderstandings about the current iteration of group selection.

The video make it quite clear that much of the debate over group selection, like many other arguments, boils down to semantics. Both sides are essentially in agreement but due to terminology are unable to recognize it. Obviously some rebranding is in order. Multilevel selection is a far less loaded term, even if it sounds too much like multilevel marketing to be appealing to me.

The discussion of isolation and the success of psychopathic males among water striders leads to an obvious parallel with closed and restricted borders in human society. The option to flee is limited so the success of antisocial behaviors is enhanced. It’s hard not to think of N. Korea in that regard, but any border restrictions will have similar effects. The rising xenophobia in China is a very worrisome sign, as well as the increasing US measures against expatriation and immigration.

There is also an excellent point made about the size of the pie when talking about relative fitness that applies equally well to economics and economic policy. People prefer to be a destitute king of shit mountain rather than a wealthy poor person just because they have more than the next guy. Redistribution is based on the idea that the pie won’t change size, yet there is no basis for this assumption, and unfortunately, absent inter-group competition, little evolutionary reason for it to matter until extinction.

The video is about an hour long but worth the time for the human implications alone.