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Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 1 month ago




              ------Ronald Fisher and Runaway----



Ronald Fisher (1890-1962) was a British polymath whose contributions spanned the fields of Biology and Evolutionary Theory, Statistics, and Genetics.  He is associated with the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis (1936-1947), which began to integrate Mendelian genetics into the framework of evolutionary theory.


Fisher was very mathematically minded, and approached theoretical problems from that perspective.  He made significant leaps in statistics and population genetics.  He was a sustainable farmer on his estate during WWI.  He was a proponent in the early eugenics movements (focused on sterilization in Britain), along with Francis Galton, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Margaret Sanger, and Winston Churchill.  He believed in racial differences from a genetic standpoint, but saw this as a challenge to create just societies despite them.



Some prominent contributions to Evolutionary Theory:

- polymorphisms are not neutral, but are always under selection pressure

- heterozygote advantage (hybrid vigor)

- the probability of a mutation increasing the fitness of an organism decreases proportionately with the magnitude of the mutation

- larger populations carry more variation, so that they have a larger chance of survival


He was highly influential on WD Hamilton.



- We must explain the origins of sexual preferences

  - Darwin didnt offer explanations for female choice!

- Choice preferences must be under selective pressure

  - Genes code for certain preference

"The tastes of organisms, like their organs and faculties, must be regarded as the product of evolutionary change, governed by the relative advantages which such tastes confer" - Fisher, 1930


- Sexual ornaments are honest fitness indicators: they reflect health, vigor, etc




 - 1930: Fisher wrote The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection

 - Suggested that sexual ornaments and female prefences can enter a positive feedback loop, leading to exponential growth in both.

     - Ever-choosier females, ever more ornamentation in males (Ever sexier sons)


 - Feedback loop ends when the ornaments become too extravagent and the most ornamented males fail to survive (the loop reaches a ceiling)

"Both the feature preferred and the intensity of preference will be augmented together with ever-increasing velocity, causing a great and rapid evolution of certain conspicuous characteristics, until the process can be arrested by the direct or indirect effects of Natural Selection" - Fisher, 1930


- Runaway was criticized by Julian Huxley, in papers and in Evolution: The Modern Synthesis, which he wrote in 1942

  - Huxley thought sexual selection was "bad for the species," and evolution was progress toward mastry of the environment

For years afterwords, Sexual Selection driven into intellectual exile, regarded as one of Darwin's bloopers












Thoughts and Notes


Huxley's distaste for sexual selection was typical, wrapped up perhaps in the comfy intellectual/elite/puritan/academic/$$$ feedback loop of his illustrious clan.  He falls under the spell of ye olde essence vs. existence duality which tainted interpretations of Darwin for so long:


The notion that evolution is a movement towards

    greater complexity

    higher intelligence

    more elaborate behavior

    "improvement in efficiency of living, " (Huxley)

    "increased control over and independence of the environment" (Huxley)

    "a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state" (the etymological evolution)

    harder faster better stronger (Daft Punk)



JudeoChristianAnthropoEthnoCentric anyone?  We Must Protect The Queen!!!


Maybe trade her in for the Red Queen instead: limping along to keep up, constantly updating our EEA protocols to stick around.  Our brains/behavior may be, in the words of George Carlin, "an evolutionary cul-de-sac."  Dewey knew: evolution a process, not an end.


Survival of the Fit Enough!


            - Ragnarock!


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