Common Misconceptions about SelectionSelection is not a force in the sense that gravity or the strong nuclear force is. However, for the sake of brevity, biologists sometimes refer to it that way. This often leads to some confusion when biologists speak of selection "pressures." This implies that the environment "pushes" a population to more adapted state. This is not the case. Selection merely favors beneficial genetic changes when they occur by chance -- it does not contribute to their appearance. The potential for selection to act may long precede the appearance of selectable genetic variation. When selection is spoken of as a force, it often seems that it is has a mind of its own; or as if it was nature personified. This most often occurs when biologists are waxing poetic about selection. This has no place in scientific discussions of evolution. Selection is not a guided or cognizant entity; it is simply an effect.
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