The fight over Nowak, Tarnita and Wilson’s paper heats up

An artist's depiction of E. O. Wilson, at center, surrounded by the adherents of Hamilton's inclusive fitness shortly after last week's Nature paper.

You’ve been pestering me about my take on Nowak et al’s claimed destruction of inclusive fitness as an explanation for eusociality. To be honest this sort of thing makes my brain hurt, and I haven’t finished processing the models in the supplemental information that are central to the paper’s arguments. So you’ll have to wait until I find the time to address it properly.

In the meantime, you can entertain yourself with these counterpoints:

5 thoughts on “The fight over Nowak, Tarnita and Wilson’s paper heats up”

  1. My brain is so pained by this stuff that I’ll let you all hash it out. To wit: I fail to grasp any essential difference between inclusive fitness and “standard natural selection theory in the context of precise models of population structure”, the latter seeming to me a sort of definition of inclusive fitness, if not perhaps the best expression of it.

    Okay, on to less painful endeavors…

  2. Poor EO Wilson! Maybe he’s just trying to show he is keeping up in modern research? He wasn’t even the primary author. 🙁 Though does the article indicate the roles each investigator played?

    And yeah, that supplementary info looks very scary.

    1. From the paper:
      “M.A.N., C.E.T. and E.O.W. collaborated on all aspects of this
      research project. C.E.T. led the development of the mathematical framework,
      presented in Part A of the Supplementary Information, which proves the
      foundational weakness of inclusive fitness theory.”

      … so I would expect that EOW bears some part of the blame

  3. Discontinuing the use of inclusive fitness is equivalent to discontinuing the use of the Pythagorean theorem. Using “you can do it all with personal fitness” as an excuse is equivalent to banning polar coordinates because we still have Cartesian coordinates. Hamilton’s Rule says X > cost/benefit is a necessary and sufficient condition to select for altruism and X= relatedness. Nowak, Tarnita, and Wilson define X in equation #2 in their paper and say that X only sometimes equals relatedness. However, they have the wrong definition for Q and Q bar in their paper because they confuse identity by descent with a likeness in state. When this is corrected I have proved X = relatedness and Hamilton’s Rule is saved.

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