Edward Osborn Wilson ( b. 1929, Birmingham AL)
- Former Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University
- National Medal of Science
- Currently Pellegrino Research Professor in Entomology, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology,
- Also Honorary Curator in Entomology at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative
[ Milestones ] [ Links
] [Outline of Consilience ]
- The Future of
Life (Knopf, April 2002)
- Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
- The Naturalist (Island, 1994) Autobiography
- The Diversity of Life (Harvard, 1992; Norton rev. ed., 1999) Argues
that the biodiversity crisis, the "sixth extinction," threatens
30% to 50% of all species by 2050.
- The Ants (with Bert Hölldobler) (Harvard, 1991) Pulitzer Prize
- Biophilia (Harvard, 1984)
- On Human Nature (Harvard, 1978) Pulitzer Prize
- Sociobiology: The New Synthesis
(Harvard, 1975) Sets forth his thesis that the behavior of all life forms is
- The Insect Societies (Harvard, 1971)
- Age 9, read National Geographic article "Stalking Ants, Savage
- Age 13, discovered first known U.S. colonies of fire ants, Solenopsis
invicta, the "ants from hell," in Mobile, Alabama vacant lot.
- BS, MS from University of Alabama
- 1955, PhD Harvard University. Hired as Assistant Professor of Biology
- Late 1950s, proposed that ant societies are bound together by system of
chemical signals. Proved by experiment existence of pheromones.
- 1975, publishes Sociobiology in which he controversially argues
parallels between ant and other animal societies, including human.
- 1976, attendees at annual American Anthropological Association meeting
defeat resolution condemning sociobiology as "an attempt to justify
genetically the sexist, racist and elitist status quo in human
society." Reporting the event, Time magazine compares it to the
church's denunciation of Galileo.
- 1977, National Medal of Science for pheromone research
- 1978, at meeting of American Association for the Advancement of Science,
has pitcher of ice water poured on his head by indignant colleague reacting
to Chapter 27 of Sociobiology
- 1986, with several colleagues coins term "biodiversity"
- 31 January 2002, mentioned in Economist
review of Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg's book The Skeptical
Environmentalist as "one of the world's most distinguished scientists, and a dedicated green,
[who] deplores 'the Lomborg scam' because of 'the extraordinary amount of scientific talent that has to be expended to combat [him] in the media...[Mr Lomborg and his kind] are the parasite load on scholars who earn success through the slow process of peer review and
approval.' That would be wrong even if all scientists shared Mr. Wilson's fear that the world will become a
'hellish place to exist', which they do not. Environmental policy involves politics and economics, compromises and trade-offs, a division of burdens geographically and over time. It could not be left to scientists, even if they agreed on the science. We parasites would even then be right to insist on having our say."
RANDOM INCENDIARY QUOTATIONS
In a Darwinian sense the organism does not live for itself. Its primary function is not even to reproduce other organisms; it reproduces genes, and it serves as their temporary carrier... Samuel Butler's famous aphorism, that the chicken is only an egg's way of making another egg, has been modernized: The organism is only DNA's way of making more DNA.
altruism . . . [is] self-destructive behavior performed for the benefit of
Science and technology, combined with a lack of self-understanding and a Paleolithic obstinacy, brought us to where we are today. Now science and technology, combined with foresight and moral courage, must see us through the bottleneck and out.
(The Future of Life)
The pattern of human population growth in the 20th century was more bacterial than primate.
Perhaps the time has come to cease calling it the "environmentalist" view, as though it were a lobbying effort outside the mainstream of human activity, and to start calling it the real-world view.
China deserves close attention, not just as the unsteady giant whose missteps can rock the world, but also because it is so far advanced along the path to which the rest of humanity seems inexorably headed. If China solves its problems, the lessons learned can be applied elsewhere.
. . . environmentalism. . . . is the guiding principle of those devoted to the health of the planet. But it is not yet a general worldview, evidently not yet compelling enough to distract many people away from the primal diversions of sport, politics, religion, and private wealth.
. . . The relative indifference to the environment springs, I believe, from deep within human nature.
. . . We are innately inclined to ignore any distant possibility not yet requiring examination. It is a hardwired part of our Paleolithic heritage.
Assembled by David
Fenimore, University of Nevada, Reno.