In case you’ve been following this issue, the controversy over Nowak, Tarnita & Wilson’s Nature paper continues today with the journal’s publication of 5 rebuttal letters (sorry, they’re behind a subscription barrier), signed by an astounding 150 scientists. These include some of the biggest names in evolutionary biology.

I remain unimpressed with the debate. As best as I can tell- this is not my area of research- the fight does not concern anything that actually happens out in the real world. Instead, the bickering boils down to disagreements over which sorts of evolutionary questions are the more interesting ones, and about which body of mathematics is more pleasant to use. These are both matters of subjective opinion. I’ve not seen any demonstration that the competing approaches make different enough predictions to test with empirical data.

As long as the partisans keep insulting each other in print, though, we’ll see enough bruised egos to prolong the entertainment.


some reactions in the science media: