Reaction Paper - A reaction to the speaker David Wilson, who gave a guest lecture promoting the concepts within his new book

Essay by phishstyxz September 2003

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"Darwin's Cathedral: evolution, religion, and the nature of society" - David Wilson

The speaker, David Sloan Wilson, believes that societies function as single organisms, and morality and religion biologically and culturally evolved adaptations that enable human groups to function as single units rather than an assortment of individual unites. His lecture was a poor attempt to explain group selection, which is selection for a characteristic specifically because the characteristics enhance the reproductive success of the group as a whole, rather than solely the individual.

The beginning of his lecture was not very helpful in proving anything; he merely quoted several phrases from scientists and read them to the audience. I wasn't really sure where he was going at this point. Then, he went on to explain examples or should I say a lack of examples, which he considered to undergo group selection. He allegedly did some sort of experiment with chickens and their eggs.

He tried to say that under group selection the experiment showed that there was an increased production of all the chickens' eggs. However, within a group selection only certain individuals benefited. There was also some weird twist in this experiment, he tried selecting for the best individuals and then put them all together in one cage, and they got violent with each other and de-feathered each other, while at the same time he used the best group of chickens together in the same cage that produced the most eggs as a group. Then, he compared the group of the best selected individuals with the best group, and somehow he tried to prove his point. I don't really think anyone was convinced except for himself. It seemed like the only thing he tested for was who works the best in a cage, because that...