post 74 Edit

This whole thread goes to show that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Arguing whether the phrase "survival of the fittest" is a tautology is stupid if the intention is to criticise evolutionary biology. This is just a bumper sticker phrase, not a part of the theory of evolution. You might as well try to criticise Einstein's theory of relativity by tearing apart the phrase "everything's relative".

Evolution is defined as "a change in allele frequencies". (Alleles are alternate forms of the same gene, like the alleles for brown eyes versus blue eyes). Natural selection is one of the mechanisms of evolution; it is defined as differential reproductive success of genotypes. Genotypes that have a higher reproductive success (i.e. leave more offspring) increase in frequency in the population. Fitness is simply the measure of reproductive success.

Fitness has many components, of which survival is only one. Fertility, fecundity and mating success are other important components of fitness. Whether or not the phrase "survival of the fittest" is a tautology, fitness is not equivalent to survival in mathematical models of evolutions.

Taking the time to understand the basics of evolution is a rewarding process. If you have the time to post your opinions, you should have time to learn something about evolution. Knowledge of evolution will not arrive at your brain via osmosis; it is not something that can be figured out by pondering phrases like "survival of the fittest" or baselessly speculating about the "adaptive significance" of some trait. You have to spend some time reading the works of people who study it. Not only will your own understanding of evolution increase (and this should be reward enough), would benefit if the "evolutionary discussions" progressed beyond the sophomoric levels evidenced by this thread.

Chris Colby --- email: or --- "'My boy,' he said, 'you are descended from a long line of determined, resourceful, microscopic tadpoles--champions every one.'"

       --Kurt Vonnegut from "Galapagos" 

Notes Edit

Chris Colby:

The phrase "survival of the fittest" is often used synonymously with natural selection. The phrase is both incomplete and misleading.

Chris Colby goes on to say in

..natural selection can only ever be an effect....

But Colby never tells us what is then the cause. By logic if something is an effect then something had to be the cause.

He used ns non-metaphorically formulating Meaningless sentences

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