Week 12. What is behind or under the Theory

November 2th:

We talk about "the games animals play" but how do they play them? While we are still a long way away from understanding how the brain makes complex decisions, neural recording from primates during cognitive tasks has offered significant insight to this problem.

Sugrue, L.P., Corrado, G.S., and Newsome, W.T. (2005) Chooseing the Greater of Two Goods: Neural Currencies for Valuation and Decision Making CHOOSING Nat Rev Neurosci 6:363-375.

November 2th:

Answer 2 of the following 4 questions. (download handout)
Type the answers. Bring them to class. Be prepared to discuss and amend your answers.

1) Gould and Lewontin use metaphors (the basilica of St. Marks, and Voltaire's Candide) in order to ridicule a scientific research approach that they deem inappropriate.  Mayr contradicts these authors in a more straightforward manner and ultimately supports the use of adaptationist thinking. Compare and contrast the writing style in these two papers. (There is a book, Understanding Scientific Prose, that is dedicated to the discussion of Gould and Lewontin's writing technique)

2) Who are (were) Stephen J. Gould, Richard Lewontin, and Earnst Mayr? Why are these men qualified to debate the topic of Adaptationist program? (you'll have to look outside these papers to answer this one.

3) Mayr makes recommendations about how an adaptationist program should be executed.  Discuss those recommendations in your own words while comparing and contrasting them to the "Alternative Strategies" as outlined by Gould and Lewontin.

4) Define atomization and Bauplan and discuss their relative role in an adaptationist program.

Gould & Lewontin (1979) Spandrals of St. Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: a critique of the adaptionist program PRS 205:581-598.
Mayr (1983) How to Carry out the Adaptionist Program? Amer Nat 121:324-334.

The Gould and Lewontin paper created a great stir, and has been read by all evolutionary biologists, most behavioral biologist, all ecologists, and many other scientists. Their writig style if far from scientific. This single paper is the focus of an entire book that examines the style more than the content. I wouldn't expect you to read that book but the following paper presents and interesting and very entertaining stylistic critique.
Queller (1995) The Spaniels of St. Marx and the Panglossian Paradox: A critque of a rhetorical programme. Quart. Rev. Biol 70:485-489.
Don't be fooled, this debate has not been layed to rest. For a modern discussion see.
Lynch, M. (2007) The Frailty of Adaptionist Hypotheses for the Origins of Organismal Complexity. PNAS 104:8597-8604.