Not at all. My claim is that it’s reasonable to describe Valentino as “attractive” even if he never attracted any women. If he’d been raised in a monastery and no women ever laid eye on him, for example. Frankly, your entire argument makes no sense to me.
Well, no, what you say doesn’t make sense – which is why I wouldn’t say it. What I’m saying is that a
cheetah who can run 10% faster is more fit to hunt gazelles, even if any particular cheetah who is faster doesn’t end up catching more gazelles than a slower cheetah (because she’s killed by a hunter in her youth, for example). The slower cheetah is not “selected”. Where did you get that idea?[quote=“Eddie, post:113, topic:5784”]
Note that this last complaint is not Waddington’s. It’s mine. Waddington was complaining that the simpler conception of fitness was tautologous, not incoherent.
Yes, I know. Waddington’s complaint makes sense in terms of “fitness” as it was then conceived. Not surprising, since he was a highly competent biologist. You will note the response of evolutionary biologists when the propensity definition of fitness was proposed: it was accepted. As far as I can tell, it was immediately and universally accepted, with no controversy. This tells me that it was recognized as capturing the right way to think about fitness, something that was already implicit in the way biologists were deploying the term. As the paper proposing the definition noted, researchers’ emphasis on statistically significant measurements of fitness meant that they were already had some such notion in mind, without having fully articulated it. I’ll note that a probabilistic definition was also implicit in Kimura’s work using diffusion theory. I’m pretty sure he’d already derived an expression for the probability that a beneficial allele is lost by chance, a concept that makes no sense if “beneficial” simply means “survives”. [quote=“Eddie, post:113, topic:5784”]
Look, I know I am not going to get a profession to change its ways. I’m just giving you reasons why that profession sometimes fails to communicate itself to others, and does not succeed in winning over the public. In popular expositions of evolution, the profession gladly teaches the public that what is “fit” will be “selected”; but then out of the other side of its mouth, as here, it says that what is fit is not necessarily selected – but gives no plain-language examples, and no plain-language reason, for saying so.
Your complaints have been all over the map here, and have certainly included that charge that the concept of fitness doesn’t have content. In any case, none of this is exactly kept secret. If you look at the Wikipedia entry on biological fitness, the very first section is titled “Fitness is a propensity”, and it includes exactly the kind of plain language example that you say we don’t offer.
You might consider modifying your approach. Rather than telling experts in a field that one of their central concepts is without value, you might start by asking questions: What exactly do you mean by that term? Why is it defined that way and not some other way? How do you find the concept useful?