Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Late night thoughts on multi-level selection theory

I was just re-reading D.S. Wilson's old paper on Multi-level selection theory's implications for psychology.  In relation to education reform resistance, it stirred up a few old thoughts and a few new ones:

  • if our institutionalized education system functions as an adaptive group, according to Wilson, for between group selection to occur it must be competing against some other group or lone individuals.  The only real contenders for competitors are homeschoolers, non-schoolers, radical charter schoolers, and, if the medium hadn't been so hybridized perhaps some online schoolers. This leads to some rather interesting investigations.

1 comment:

  1. Here's another multi-level selection theory paper (text chapter) that deals with the operationalization of some of the basic equations. Most interesting is page 113's graph of an unstable equilibrium resulting from weak multi-level selection (i.e. between group selection isn't much stronger than within group selection). This is likely what happens in education. Between group forces are fairly weak so there is a fair bit of oscillation from between-group to within-group behavioural expressions. As a result of this and education's large public role tolerance is fairly large. Tolerance also grows over time as the number of iterates between these two selective states increases. This leads to the eventual tolerance flip that Sigmund was able to model in his Tides of Tolerance paper in Nature.