In UK Prospect magazine:
Wilson declares, in The Meaning of Human Existence, that the “time has come… to make a proposal about the possibility of unification of the two great branches of learning”—science and the humanities (philosophy, in particular). It has to be said, though, that what Wilson calls “unification” actually looks more like submission—of the humanities to the territorial ambitions of the natural sciences. He told me he’d like to see a “rebirth of philosophy,” by which he seemed to mean philosophers learning to ask “just the sort of questions we [biologists] are asking here.”
“As late as the 1970s,” Wilson writes, “the orientation of the social scientists was primarily towards the humanities. Their prevailing view was that human behaviour is primarily or even entirely cultural, not biological in origin… By the end of the 20th century the orientation flipped towards biology. Today it is widely believed that human behaviour has a strong genetic component.” (There are, of course, differences of opinion among biologists as to which evolutionary story best fits the facts. The day before I met Wilson, he’d appeared on Newsnight, where he was asked about remarks he makes in the book about Richard Dawkins, whom he describes as an “eloquent journalist.” In 2012, Dawkins reviewed Wilson’s book The Social Conquest of Earth for Prospect and dismissed his theory of “group selection,” which he proposes as an alterntive to “kin selection”, as “implausible” and “unsupported by evidence.” Wilson, though, insists that “no one has… refuted the mathematical analysis” underpinning the theory.)
Our friend comments, “Oh, E.O.,” then notes, “The reporter does a poor job here in engaging or refuting him but I don’t think he’s of that caliber.”
Well no, friend. But media today thrive on not asking the tough questions. Like: When you, E.O. Wilson, say give half the planet to wild animals, surely you don’t mean that the environmentalist elite will give up their fashionable bicoastal digs. You mean that third world families will be dispossessed. Right? How else would it really turn out?
That kind of journalism is dead and gone, and the legacy media will not be far behind.
See also: New Coynage: E.O. Wilson calls Richard Dawkins a “journalist”
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