EVOLUTION: ON OPTIMIZATION: "Optimization has its critics. The most common objection centers on the mistaken belief that the aim of this method is to test whether organisms are optimal. Actually, it is the assumptions of optimality that are tested. The failure to find support for a prediction can be used to determine whether an assumption is wrong. For example, if animals do not select the diet that maximizes energy intake, it may be because they are choosing a diet that optimizes a balance of different components, or that avoids the costs associated with obtaining larger prey. Once such possibilities have been identified, a new theory can be devised and its predictions tested. It has been argued that this process is circular but in practice it is no different from the successive predicting and testing that underlies most science.["