In the “development and evolution” thread on Thompson, Paul dismissed and contrasted him with “people who actually study organisms.”  Hence my latest referenced articles are by exactly those people that do. And even among the experts in the know there are differences and disagreements. Another such article confirming this is “Kin and multilevel selection in social evolution: A never ending controversy?” (The abstract is below.) Some adamantly choose one side of the debate, others like this article seeks some semblance of rapprochement. As to the debate, Pinker wrote a piece that explicitly shows on which side he butters his evolution: “The false allure of group selection.” In the comments section there is some good debate by those in the know on both sides. One of the most amusing is Dawkin’s reply titled: “Group selection is a cumbersome, time-wasting distraction.”

“Kin selection and multilevel selection are two major frameworks in evolutionary biology that aim at explaining the evolution of social behaviors. However, the relationship between these two theories has been plagued by controversy for almost half a century and debates about their relevance and usefulness in explaining social evolution seem to rekindle at regular intervals. Here, we first provide a concise introduction into the kin selection and multilevel selection theories and shed light onto the roots of the controversy surrounding them. We then review two major aspects of the current debate: the presumed formal equivalency of the two theories and the question whether group selection can lead to group adaptation. We conclude by arguing that the two theories can offer complementary approaches to the study of social evolution: kin selection approaches usually focus on the identification of optimal phenotypes and thus on the endresult of a selection process, whereas multilevel selection approaches focus on the ongoing selection process itself. The two theories thus provide different perspectives that might be fruitfully combined to promote our understanding of the evolution in group-structured populations.”