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People Are Not Ants...Says The Glass-Sided Ivory Tower
Roger Devlin wrote recently
[Edward O. ] Wilson’s co-written paper outlining the new theory has already sent shock waves through the world of academic biology: one hostile response in the journal Nature was signed by over one hundred authors!
Wilson's paper is The evolution of eusociality, Nature 466, 1057–1062, August 26, 2010. The respondents are
Patrick Abbot, Jun Abe, John Alcock, Samuel Alizon, Joao A. C. Alpedrinha, Malte Andersson, Jean-Baptiste Andre, Minus van Baalen, Francois Balloux, Sigal Balshine, Nick Barton, Leo W. Beukeboom, Jay M. Biernaskie, Trine Bilde, Gerald Borgia, Michael Breed, Sam Brown, Redouan Bshary, Angus Buckling, Nancy T. Burley, Max N. Burton-Chellew, Michael A. Cant, Michel Chapuisat, Eric L. Charnov, Tim Clutton-Brock, Andrew Cockburn, Blaine J. Cole, Nick Colegrave, Leda Cosmides, Iain D. Couzin, Jerry A. Coyne, Scott Creel, Bernard Crespi, Robert L. Curry, Sasha R. X. Dall, Troy Day, Janis L. Dickinson, Lee Alan Dugatkin, Claire El Mouden, Stephen T. Emlen, Jay Evans, Regis Ferriere, Jeremy Field, Susanne Foitzik, Kevin Foster, William A. Foster, Charles W. Fox, Juergen Gadau, Sylvain Gandon, Andy Gardner, Michael G. Gardner, Thomas Getty, Michael A. D. Goodisman, Alan Grafen, Rick Grosberg, Christina M. Grozinger, Pierre-Henri Gouyon, Darryl Gwynne, Paul H. Harvey, Ben J. Hatchwell, Jürgen Heinze, Heikki Helantera, Ken R. Helms, Kim Hill, Natalie Jiricny, Rufus A. Johnstone, Alex Kacelnik, E. Toby Kiers, Hanna Kokko, Jan Komdeur, Judith Korb, Daniel Kronauer, Rolf Kümmerli, Laurent Lehmann, Timothy A. Linksvayer, Sébastien Lion, Bruce Lyon, James A. R. Marshall, Richard McElreath, Yannis Michalakis, Richard E. Michod, Douglas Mock, Thibaud Monnin, Robert Montgomerie, Allen J. Moore, Ulrich G. Mueller, Ronald Noë, Samir Okasha, Pekka Pamilo, Geoff A. Parker, Jes S. Pedersen, Ido Pen, David Pfennig, David C. Queller, Daniel J. Rankin, Sarah E. Reece, Hudson K. Reeve, Max Reuter, Gilbert Roberts, Simon K. A. Robson, Denis Roze, Francois Rousset, Olav Rueppell, Joel L. Sachs, Lorenzo Santorelli, Paul Schmid-Hempel, Michael P. Schwarz, Tom Scott-Phillips, Janet Shellmann-Sherman, Paul W. Sherman, David M. Shuker, Jeff Smith, Joseph C. Spagna, Beverly Strassmann, Andrew V. Suarez, Liselotte Sundström, Michael Taborsky, Peter Taylor, Graham Thompson, John Tooby, Neil D. Tsutsui, Kazuki Tsuji, Stefano Turillazzi, Francisco Úbeda, Edward L. Vargo, Bernard Voelkl, Tom Wenseleers, Stuart A. West, Mary Jane West-Eberhard, David F. Westneat, Diane C. Wiernasz, Geoff Wild, Richard Wrangham, Andrew J. Young, David W. Zeh, Jeanne A. Zeh & Andrew Zink
What is that all these people who have been stirred up and gathered together to agree on a reponse to Wilson's paper are agreeing on? What has this little community, this little herd of independent minds, so defensive and agitated?
Why, they're protesting against the idea that men are like ants!
Or, to quote from Wilson''s novel, set in an ant colony,
The ants expelled a pheromone from a gland that opened at the base of their jaws. A chemical vapor spread fast. It shouted, Danger! Emergency! Run!
You can read more about the controversy in Wison's new book The Social Conquest of Earth,