Coyne: Selection Pressure are metaphors
I mentioned offhand the other day that the notion of “selection pressures” in evolutionary biology is a metaphor, not dissimilar to the metaphor of a “selfish gene,” but Matthew convinced me that this idea was more profound than I thought (LOL!), so I’ll write a bit more about it.
A quick refresher: the other day Andrew Brown wrote one of his usual muddled columns in the Guardian, claiming, as he often does, that Richard Dawkins is a malign influence on evolutionary biology. His argument was the usual blather that gene aren’t really “selfish,” and that this metaphor has led to deep confusion. In the comments after his piece, Brown repeats this claim in response to a criticism (h/t to moleatthecounter for finding this):
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