On Monday, January 28, 2013 12:33:23 PM UTC-5, John Clark wrote:
> On Sun, Jan 27, 2013 at 9:47 PM, Craig Weinberg
> > wrote:
>> *MISCONCEPTION: Natural selection involves organisms trying to adapt.*
>> *MISCONCEPTION: Natural selection acts for the good of the species.*
>> *MISCONCEPTION: The fittest organisms in a population are those that are
>> strongest, healthiest, fastest, and/or largest.*
>> *MISCONCEPTION: Natural selection is about survival of the very fittest
>> individuals in a population.*
>> *MISCONCEPTION: All traits of organisms are adaptations.*
>> *MISCONCEPTION: Evolutionary theory implies that life evolved (and
>> continues to evolve) randomly, or by chance.
>> **MISCONCEPTION: Evolution results in progress; organisms are always
>> getting better through evolution.*
> I agree that all those things are misconceptions, except for "survival of
> the fittest" which is certainly not a misconception but is without a doubt
> true, just like all tautologies. By the way, for some reason that term is
> always associated with Darwin but he is not the one who coined it, Herbert
> Spencer was the first to used the phrase in a book of his that came out 5
> years after Darwin wrote Origins of Species.
The phrase 'survival of the fittest' is only a tautology if you conflate
fitness with idealized universal qualities like strength or power.
The page I linked is good because it reveals that this is not at all
supported by the science, and that in fact, any trait or lack of a trait
can turn out to provide an individual replicator with the 'best fit' to a
specific niche, at a specific time. There is no universal 'fitness' which
says that being good at cracking open nuts or storing water in a hump are
going to make you 'the fittest'.
Really 'fittest' is not true. As the link explains:
CORRECTION: Though "survival of the fittest" is the catchphrase of natural
selection, "survival of the fit enough" is more accurate. In most
populations, organisms with many different genetic variations survive,
reproduce, and leave offspring carrying their genes in the next generation.
It is not simply the one or two "best" individuals in the population that
pass their genes on to the next generation. This is apparent in the
populations around us: for example, a plant may not have the genes to
flourish in a drought, or a predator may not be quite fast enough to catch
her prey every time she is hungry. These individuals may not be the
"fittest" in the population, but they are "fit enough" to reproduce and
pass their genes on to the next generation.
> John K Clark
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