Wilson’s War ‘Sociobiology’


Edward O. Wilson is at it again. The renowned Harvard biologist, naturalist, and synthesizer of fields has been challenging scientific orthodoxy for decades. His groundbreaking 1975 book, Sociobiology, launched a new field and ignited widespread controversy when he asserted that human behavior could be explained more by our genes than our learned behavior: humans were tabulae rasae no more. Thirty-five years later, the polymath and winner of more than 100 awards (including two Pulitzers) is still making people mad. This time he’s contesting the most central premise of today’s evolutionary theory: that we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for our families. In fact, he argues, like some ants or termites, humans have evolved to defend other groups—whether a country, a football team, or a faith. It is this social nature that has made us the world’s dominant species.