Harvard severely disciplines evolutionary biologist Martin Nowak for his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, closes Nowak’s evolution institute

This has been in the air for some time: after a few years of pondering, Harvard has rendered its judgment on evolutionary biologist Martin Nowak for his connections to Jeffrey Epstein.  I haven’t been a fan of Nowak, particularly his work with Ed Wilson and Corina Tarnita on group selection, but I don’t take any … Continue reading Harvard severely disciplines evolutionary biologist Martin Nowak for his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, closes Nowak’s evolution institute

Harvard report on Jeffrey Epstein finds missteps, makes recommendations

I wasn’t aware that Harvard was conducting a special inquiry into the disposition of the big-time money it received from convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, but the Big Three of newspapers, the New York Times, (first screenshot), the Washington Post (second screenshot) and Boston Globe (last screenshot) have just published stories on Harvard’s newly released … Continue reading Harvard report on Jeffrey Epstein finds missteps, makes recommendations

An interview with E. O. Wilson: He’s still on about group selection

Matthew sent me a link to this interview with the renowned biologist E. O. Wilson published in The Chronicle Review (part of the Chronicle of Higher Education). It’s generally okay but has some reportorial errors and, sadly, documents Wilson’s continued insistence that human altruism evolved by selection among groups (“group selection”).  The article appears to … Continue reading An interview with E. O. Wilson: He’s still on about group selection

The kin selection argument continues, with those denying its importance holding firm. They’re wrong.

In 2010, Martin Nowak, Corina Tarnita, and E. O. Wilson wrote a paper in Nature (reference and link below) arguing that “kin selection,” selection based on relatedness (shared alleles among nestmates) was not—as had long been maintained—a key factor in the evolution of “eusocial” insects. (Those are species in which there are nonreproductive “castes” of workers, … Continue reading The kin selection argument continues, with those denying its importance holding firm. They’re wrong.

New paper shows that Nowak et al. were wrong: kin selection remains a valuable concept in evolutionary biology

In 2010 three authors—Martin Nowak, Corina Tarnita, and E. O. Wilson—published a paper in Nature (reference and link below) purporting to explain the evolution of eusociality in insects: the phenomenon whereby a colony contains different “castes” that perform different tasks, and at least one caste is sterile.  In bees, for example, there is usually a single fertile … Continue reading New paper shows that Nowak et al. were wrong: kin selection remains a valuable concept in evolutionary biology

The group-selection dustup continues: E. O. Wilson calls Richard Dawkins a “journalist”

I’ve been an admirer of Ed Wilson for a long time (after all, he helped me get into Harvard). He founded the discipline of evolutionary psychology, which is a branch of sociobiology, has been an ardent conservationist, and his work on ants is unparalleled, though he’s not really incorporated the latest statistical methodologies into his phylogenetic … Continue reading The group-selection dustup continues: E. O. Wilson calls Richard Dawkins a “journalist”

Martin Nowak, evolution, and God

Sorry, folks; I published this prematurely (hitting “publish” rather than “save draft”), so all 11 comments have been lost. I apologize, but feel free—if you remember what you said—to repost your comments. ***** Martin Nowak is a well-known professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard, specializing in theoretical models for the evolution of cooperation. His work … Continue reading Martin Nowak, evolution, and God

Mark Vernon on Richard Dawkins, evolution, and scientific “myth”

Late summer is apparently open season on Richard Dawkins, and the inimitable Mark Vernon has procured his Dawkins Hunting License. (There’s another ludicrous attack on Dawkins’s atheism that I’ll discuss tomorrow). Vernon is a former Anglican priest who now embarrasses himself by writing accommodationist articles for the Guardian; his hallmark is using a lot of … Continue reading Mark Vernon on Richard Dawkins, evolution, and scientific “myth”

E. O. Wilson mistakenly touts group selection (again) as a key factor in human evolution

As most of you know, Edward O. Wilson is one of the world’s most famous and accomplished biologists.  He was the founder of evolutionary psychology (known as “sociobiology” back then), author of two Pulitzer-Prize-winning books, one of the world’s great experts on ants, an ardent advocate for biological conservation, and a great natural historian. His … Continue reading E. O. Wilson mistakenly touts group selection (again) as a key factor in human evolution

How not to do science journalism: the Guardian screws up the group-selection debate

I’m particularly peeved about the Guardian‘s latest report on the group-selection debate, one fueled by a Nature paper by Nowak, Tarnita, and (E. O.) Wilson, and by Wilson’s new book, The Social Conquest of Earth, that was very critically reviewed by Richard Dawkins in Prospect.  If you’re a regular here, you’ll know that the debate … Continue reading How not to do science journalism: the Guardian screws up the group-selection debate