E. O. Wilson

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E. O. Wilson : biography

June 10, 1929 –

The unit and target of selection

Wilson has argued that the "unit of selection is a gene, the basic element of heredity. The target of selection is normally the individual who carries an ensemble of genes of certain kinds." With regard to the use of kin selection in explaining the behavior of eusocial insects, Wilson said to Discover magazine, the "new view that I’m proposing is that it was group selection all along, an idea first roughly formulated by Darwin."Richard Conniff June 25, 2006.

Awards and honors

Wilson at a "fireside chat" during which he received the Addison Emery Verrill Medal in 2007 Wilson’s scientific and conservation honors include:

  • Member, National Academy of Sciences, 1969
  • U.S. National Medal of Science, 1976
  • Pulitzer Prize for On Human Nature, 1979
  • Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, 1984
  • ECI Prize, International Ecology Institute, terrestrial ecology, 1987
  • Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award, 1988
  • Crafoord Prize, 1990, a prize awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in certain sciences not covered by the Nobel Prize, and therefore considered the highest award given in the field of ecology
  • Pulitzer Prize for The Ants (with Bert Hölldobler), 1991
  • International Prize for Biology, 1993
  • Carl Sagan Award for Public Understanding of Science, 1994
  • Time Magazine’s 25 Most Influential People in America, 1995
  • Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences of the American Philosophical Society, 1998.
  • American Humanist Association’s 1999 Humanist of the Year
  • Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science, 2000
  • Nierenberg Prize, 2001
  • Distinguished Eagle Scout Award 2004
  • Dauphin Island Sea Lab christened its newest research vessel the R/V E.O. Wilson in 2005.
  • Addison Emery Verrill Medal from the Peabody Museum of Natural History, 2007
  • given yearly to honor a maximum of three individuals who have shown that they can, in some way, positively impact life on this planet.
  • Member of the Honorary Board, and Scientist in Residence for the 2008 symposium organized in Crans-Montana (Switzerland).
  • Distinguished Lecturer, University of Iowa, 2008–2009
  • on Nokuse Plantation in Walton County, Florida 2009
  • Explorers Club Medal, 2009
  • , 2010
  • Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture, 2010
  • 2010 Heartland Prize for fiction for his first novel Anthill: A Novel Recorded on November 13, 2010.
  • EarthSky Science Communicator of the Year,2010

Spiritual and political beliefs

Views on religion

As paraphrased by Michael McGoodwin

Scientific humanism

Wilson coined the phrase scientific humanism as "the only worldview compatible with science’s growing knowledge of the real world and the laws of nature".in Harvard Magazine December 2005 p 33. Wilson argues that it is best suited to improve the human condition. In 2003 he was one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto.

God and religion

On the question of God, Wilson has described his position as provisional deism.The Creation He has explained his faith as a trajectory away from traditional beliefs: "I drifted away from the church, not definitively agnostic or atheistic, just Baptist & Christian no more." Wilson argues that the belief in God and rituals of religion are products of evolution.Human Nature He argues that they should not be rejected or dismissed, but further investigated by science to better understand their significance to human nature. In his book The Creation, Wilson suggests that scientists ought to "offer the hand of friendship" to religious leaders and build an alliance with them, stating that "Science and religion are two of the most potent forces on Earth and they should come together to save the creation." Harvard Gazette June 15, 2006