In their 1998 book Unto Others, and in various articles before this, Sober and David Sloan Wilson challenge this view. While one of their challenges takes the form of naming organisms, such as the so called "brain worm" (Dicrocoelium dendriticum), which has a life cycle much like that of the haystack organisms above, they present a more significant argument, based on the notion of trait groups.
Trait groups can occur within larger groups through the interaction of particular genetic traits, and need not interact for a generation to promote survival value. Sober and Wilson see kin selection, which is often considered an alternative to group selection, as a special case of a trait groups. To see how a trait group could be beneficial, let's imagine an altruist trait, such as cooperation with another organism even in such cases were it only benefits 40% as much as the organism it helps, and a selfish trait such as cooperating with another organism only when it will benefit more than the organism it helps. The first trait is considered altruistic in Sober and Wilson’s sense because the within-group fitness of the altruistic organism drops every time it cooperates compared with the other member of the group. Now imagine five organisms, one of which is altruistic in regards to this trait, and the rest of which are selfish. Assume that each case of cooperation increases the chance of survival and reproduction by 10 units, which is divided among the interacting pair (group of two). Now assume that member of the population groups/interacts with each other member of the population one time. After all the interactions have taken place, the selfish organisms have each acquired 6 units. This is because they all refuse to cooperation with other selfish members (since it is impossible for both members to benefit more than the other), but each takes advantage of the altruist benefits over that individual in a ratio of 60% to 40%. The altruist on the other hand has interacted with 4 selfish organisms and thus has earned 16 units (four for each encounter) and thus has a greater survival advantage than the selfish members of the population. The altruist ends up winning the survival "war" even though it came out behind in every survival "battle".
Because individuals can form hundreds or even thousands of trait groups within its life span, the trait group selection model does not have to rely on the unlikely situation of an entire population isolating into groups, merging, and then isolating into groups again. Likewise the rate at which trait groups can form and dissolve can be many times faster than the rate at which individuals reproduce, providing cumulative as opposed to all-or-nothing benefits. It is important to note that this argument has not settled the issue of group selection however. There is still heavy debate as to whether or not such formations count as “real” groups in the traditional biological sense of groups affected by group selection.