With the death of biologist E. O. Wilson on Sunday, I find myself again reflecting on the complicated legacies of scientists whose works are built on racist ideas and how these ideas came to define our understanding of the world…
After a long clinical career as a registered nurse, I became a laboratory-trained scientist as researchers mapped the first draft of the human genome. It was during this time that I intimately familiarized myself with Wilson’s work and his dangerous ideas on what factors influence human behavior.
His influential text Sociobiology: The New Synthesis contributed to the false dichotomy of nature versus nurture and spawned an entire field of behavioral psychology grounded in the notion that differences among humans could be explained by genetics, inheritance and other biological mechanisms. Finding out that Wilson thought this way was a huge disappointment, because I had enjoyed his novel Anthill, which was published much later and written for the public.
Wilson was hardly alone in his problematic beliefs. His predecessors—mathematician Karl Pearson, anthropologist Francis Galton, Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel and others—also published works and spoke of theories fraught with racist ideas about distributions of health and illness in populations without any attention to the context in which these distributions occur.
Even modern geneticists and genome scientists struggle with inherent racism in the way they gather and analyze data. In his memoir A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life, geneticist J. Craig Venter writes, “The complex provenance of ideas means their origin is often open to interpretation.”Monica R. McLemore, “The Complicated Legacy of E. O. Wilson” at Scientific American (December 29, 2021)
The thing is, when Wilson was alive, Darwinians denied the racism or insisted it was irrelevant and that Darwin’s sacred cause was to oppose slavery, yada yada …
Well, Vox Day is having none of it:
Those who have taken the ticket or are celebrated for their utility in building the false case against God had better enjoy their public adulation while it lasts. Even the most famous and well-respected scientists, who were lauded for their brilliance and whose work was absolutely integral in constructing the false scientific edifice of evolution by natural selection, are discovering that they and their work will be discredited and dishonored once the satanic narrative moves beyond them, as demonstrated by this article in Scientific American denigrating the legacy of evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson…Vox Day, “Evil Always Eats Its Own” at Vox Populi (January 20, 2022)
Once they’ve rejected all their heroes, what will they do?
You may also wish to read: Could we all get together and evolve as a group? (Wilson on group selection.)