Re: virus: Dawkins is an idiot

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Thu, 14 Nov 1996 17:29:49 -0800 (PST)

On Thu, 14 Nov 1996, David McFadzean wrote:

> Eva-Lise Carlstrom <> wrote:
> > > At 02:59 AM 28/08/70 +0000, David Leeper wrote:
> Actually I wrote this:
> > > I don't think I'm being subjective. One of the great puzzles of
> > > evolution was why do peacocks grow those enormous tails? It takes
> > > a lot of energy to grow the tails and they are at a disadvantage
> > > when it comes to escaping predators. It is not a subjective opinion.
> > > (The answer, BTW, is sexual selection. An adjunct to natural
> > > selection, but certainly not non-Darwinian.)
> >
> > Actually, sexual selection is "non-Darwinian", since Darwin didn't, I
> > believe, suggest or discuss it. It is not, however, anti-Darwinian, in
> > that it doesn't deny any of Darwin's theory. Which is probably what you
> > meant.
> "Darwin first put forward the idea [of sexual selection] in
> _The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex_ (1871).
> ... Almost a century earlier, his grandfather Erasmus Darwin
> had written that by consistently choosing stronger, better-
> formed males as their mates, women had gradually improved the
> human race."
> (Sexual Selection, _The Encyclopedia of Evolution_)
> --
> David McFadzean
> Memetic Engineer
> Church of Virus
Oops, sorry about the misattribution; I must have gotten lost in the
headers while trimming.

I stand corrected--maybe. The example in question, on peacocks' tails,
concerns a feature which does *not* bring with it generalized fitness, as,
say, strength does. I guess whether the Darwins thought of the sexual
selection explanation for such decorative features depends on what
Erasmus meant by 'better-formed'. And I guess I should read the books!