Edward Osborne Wilson:
"The Social Conquest of Earth" (Liveright, 2012)

(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
One normally does not review garbage, unless it is written by famous scientists who will get stellar reviews in most magazines, in which case some counter-reviews are needed to warn the book-buying public. This is a terrible book written by a scientist who used to write terrific books.

Wilson gets everything wrong, even his own specialty (ants). The whole archeological record that he mentions is so obsolete that he must have used books published several decades ago. Or perhaps he wants to see humans as a kind of ants so badly that he distorts the archeological record to suit his desire.

Wilson attacks kin selection theory in such a clumsy and biased manner that he probably succeeds in promoting it. It is also a bit shameless that Wilson does not mention the reaction to his 2010 paper attacking kin-selection theory: it was rejected by every biologist who cared to comment in Nature magazine.

For what it is worth, the book equates humans and ants and shows how these social animals went on to conquer the world. (Why non-social animals like spiders, that too spread all over the world, don't qualify is not explained). From observing both ants and humans, Wilson infers that group selection is more important than kin selection.

My main objection to equating humans with ants is that ants (and all animals i can think of) live the very same life generation after generation, whereas humans have this annoying habit of changing their habits from one generation to another. Being social might or might not matter, but the fact that one generation does NOT want to live the way the previous generation lived is probably a very important cue to understanding why humans (and not ants) came to dominate the world. See my essays on creativity

See also:
Wilson, Edward Osborne: SOCIOBIOLOGY (Belknap, 1975)
Wilson Edward Osborne: THE DIVERSITY OF LIFE (Harvard University Press, 1992)
Wilson Edward Osborne: GENES, MIND AND CULTURE (Harvard Univ Press, 1981)
Wilson Edward-Osborne: CONSILIENCE (Knopf, 1998)

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