Natural selection applies to species and not individuals



Natural selection applies to species not to individuals. The most you can say is that evolution and learning are very similar processes where you try new things and you discard what does not work.

Hogwash. Next.

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Perhaps you would like to share with everyone here how natural selection applies to you.

:rofl: I can only guess that you think that “natural selection” – which refers to differential survival and reproduction of organisms like me – is the same as “evolution”, which is a broad term that is typically applied to lineages. Lineages evolve. Organisms are selected. Of course, selection can be thought of as acting at even smaller scales, but the unit of selection is me. The claim that “Natural selection applies to species not to individuals” is ludicrous.

Perhaps you would like to share with everyone here how natural selection applies to you.

P.S. doing that without running straight into social Darwinism is difficult I think. So I repudiate it utterly as immoral as well as rationally unsupportable. It doesn’t apply you because you do not live under the Nazis. We protect the weaker members of society as well we should.

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All anyone needs to know is whether I am an organism. I am. Bye!

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Yes you are. It is the automatic conclusion without further thought that therefore natural selection applies to you which should be examined.

This is not to say that civilization is the end of evolution as many believed for a long time. This is because there is another part of the process of evolution which Darwin didn’t know about. This is what happens when communities protect its weaker members. Instead of stopping evolution it actually a stimulus for evolution because what drives evolution is not natural selection but variation. By protecting its members a community makes it so its members don’t all have to be Daniel Boons and thus this becomes the basis for specialization and cooperative systems such as technology. Besides human civilization, we see this in the development of multi-cellular organisms and even before that in the development of the eukaryotic cell.

You are mistaken about lots of things, one of which is illustrated by the gratuitous falsehood that my conclusions were reached “automatically” and “without further thought.” Now, when I said “bye” before, I was oh-so-subtly signaling that I don’t think this conversation has value. Is that clear now?

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He either reproduced or he didn’t. Whether he did so or not is partly a result of the particular genetic variants he possesses. Therefore natural selection applies to him.

That reduces some selective pressures but it doesn’t remotely eliminate natural selection.


Yes! Very good. I was thinking if someone asked me that question my answer would be… “I have three children.”

But that was a while ago. So… that answer doesn’t apply to me anymore. And in any case this just genetics which isn’t such an all consuming matter for humanity anymore. It might not be long before genetics becomes just one of our tools of technology and then what will natural selection have to do with us?

Just because we are Christians who accept the theory of evolution as fact, doesn’t mean that Darwinism must be our new philosophy and theology. Where we come from doesn’t necessarily dictate where we are going.

So natural selection has already applied to you, even though you’re not a species.

It’s natural selection, which is the subject of this thread.

This doesn’t seem to have any connection to the question at hand.


From Wikipedia

Natural selection acts on the phenotype, the characteristics of the organism which actually interact with the environment, but the genetic (heritable) basis of any phenotype that gives that phenotype a reproductive advantage may become more common in a population.

Apparently glipsnort and sfmatheson think they are a phenotype with a reproductive advantage and perhaps becoming more common in the population.

Personally I can think of quite a few things which are becoming more common in the human population and natural selection has nothing to do with it. This is because natural selection has very little to do with people living in a society which doesn’t buy into the philosophy of social Darwinism.

Neither of us wrote anything like that, because both of us know what the phrase “natural selection” means.

Selection can be strong, weak, positive, negative, and frequency-dependent. It involves individuals. The question was never whether it can be subtle, or shifting, or moderated by zillions of other things. My goal in the discussion is to correct the ludicrous claim, by you, that “Natural selection applies to species not to individuals." Whether Steve or I have a “reproductive advantage” is laughably irrelevant to that.

Sure. Anyone can. That, again, is not remotely relevant to your misunderstanding of the concept of natural selection. No one ever claimed that natural selection is the only thing acting on humans or human populations. I can’t discern why you think this is the topic of discussion, but it is tiresome to watch your claims evolve and to watch you project your mostly incorrect ideas onto a couple of people who happen to be professional scientists.


Thermodynamics might help as an analogy. If you push a volume of gas into a vacuum chamber the overall result is the molecules will spread out evenly within the chamber, on average. However, if you put just a handful of molecules into a vacuum you may have instances where the molecules gather in one space for a moment. Thermodynamics is a stochastic process, so you can get deviations from the mean when you have a low number of interactions. All molecules are being affected by the same mechanisms, but you get an emergent process when you have large numbers. This is very similar to how natural selection plays out in populations.

Individuals are experiencing natural selection. The effect of that mechanism on individuals produces an emergent process at the level of the population. The mechanism applies to all individuals which results in an increase of average fitness for the population as a whole.