, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 343–346 | Cite as

Selection bias?

Stephen G. Brush: Choosing selection: The revival of natural selection in Anglo-American evolutionary biology, 1930–1970. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2009, viii+183pp, $35.00 PB
  • Henry M. Cowles
Book Review

“To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” This idea—often attributed, like so many pithy sayings of murky provenance, to Mark Twain—can be read either as a statement about how all inquiry is instrumental or as a normative critique of ‘selection bias.’ It is in this latter sense, that of a mismatch between argument and evidence, that the adage comes to mind when one reads Stephen G. Brush’s Choosing Selection, a history of the Modern Synthesis in evolutionary biology and the triumph of what Brush calls the “Natural Selection Hypothesis” (or NSH) over alternative mechanisms, especially random genetic drift. Brush makes clear at the beginning that this tiny book—clocking in, with footnotes, at less than 130 pages—is but one case study among many in a larger project on theory choice in science. It is this admission, and the somewhat disjointed set of philosophical background materials within which it is set, that first brings the issue of ‘selection bias’ to mind, and the...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program in History of SciencePrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

Personalised recommendations