From what I understand, variable selection based on p-values (at least in regression context) is highly flawed. It appears variable selection based on AIC (or similar) is also considered flawed by some, for similar reasons, although this seems a bit unclear (e.g. see my question and some links on this topic here: What exactly is "stepwise model selection"?).
But say you do go for one of these two methods to choose the best set of predictors in your model.
Burnham and Anderson 2002 (Model Selection and Multimodel Inference: A Practical Information-Theoretic Approach, page 83) state that one should not mix variable selection based on AIC with that based on hypothesis testing: "Tests of null hypotheses and information-theoretic approaches should not be used together; they are very different analysis paradigms."
On the other hand, Zuur et al. 2009 (Mixed Effects Models With Extensions in Ecology with R, page 541) seem to advocate the use of AIC to first find the optimal model, and then perform "fine tuning" using hypothesis testing: "The disadvantage is that the AIC can be conservative, and you may need to apply some fine tuning (using hypothesis testing procures from approach one) once the AIC has selected an optimal model."
You can see how this leaves the reader of both books confused over which approach to follow.
1) Are these just different "camps" of statistical thinking and a topic of disagreement among statisticians? Is one of these approaches simply "outdated" now, but was considered appropriate at the time of writing? Or is one just plain wrong from the start?
2) Would there be a scenario in which this approach would be appropriate? For example, I come from a biological background, where I am often trying to determine which, if any, variables seem to affect or drive my response. I often have a number of candidate explanatory variables and I am trying to find which are "important" (in relative terms). Also, note that the set of candidate predictor variables is already reduced to those considered to have some biological relevance, but this may still include 5-20 candidate predictors.