I first gave E. O. Wilson some extended thought when his book Consilience came out in 1999. When I was younger, I was intrigued by grand syntheses, which is what Consilience attempts to be. I don’t think I read it, though, just the summaries. The idea was, as I recall, that at some blessed time in the future all the sciences (all forms of knowledge?) would come together in one synthesis. If that’s wrong, don’t bother to explain to me what it really said. I don’t care.
My second thought was that of course something like this could be published only by a “grand old man.” Someone who had made his name in some part of science and then had gone on to pontificate about other things. Tiresome, but not the first time.
I follow a number of biologists on Twitter, including experts on insects and ants, Wilson’s favorite. They were inspired by him and are now trying to assess his legacy. Consilience wasn’t Wilson’s only attempt at a grand synthesis; he had earlier written on sociobiology, and that was where he got into trouble.
White guy scientists are in the news again. With E. O. Wilson’s death, his legacy is being reviewed, and some of it is not nice. President Biden’s science adviser, Eric Lander, has had to to apologize to his staff for bullying and other bad behavior toward them.
None of this is a surprise.
When Eric Lander was nominated in 2021, Peter Aldhous at BuzzFeed News collected a number of incidents showing Lander to not work well with women.
Following up on science stories that have been badly handled by the media.
I am tempted to refer to this phenomenon as “flying saucers” to emphasize the nonsense that surrounds it. The report was released last week and seems to have been drowned out by Critical Race Theory and other shiny objects thrown out to distract from real issues.
Kelsey Atherton comprehensively explains why, no matter what UFOs may be, the military will never tell us everything they know. Everything they know would inform adversaries of the capabilities of military sensors and other things we’d rather they not know.
Here’s another view of the reporting on UFOs and other things, and I’m quoted.
I’m annoyed by the New York Times hire of Bret Stephens, more annoyed by the defense that Times editors are mounting on Twitter. I’m annoyed that this has to be said again, but here we are, as Times editors tell us that any criticism is merely trying to silence a conservative voice. My objections have nothing to do with Stephens’s political views, except that it is clear that those views drive his views of climate change.
I was once a climate skeptic, with a great deal more basis than Stephens’s sense that life is uncertain and therefore we should eat dessert first. My skepticism arose BECAUSE I knew something about the climate models. Read More
The Trump circus in the White House continues. You have undoubtedly seen more than enough articles about Michael Flynn’s resignation as National Security Advisor because of his (not fully explained) telephone conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, or maybe it was because he lied to Vice President Michael Pence, or maybe it was because someone leaked about the whole mess to the media.
So I won’t link to much of that; in any case, I am working on posts relating to it and the question of just how connected the White House is to Russia. Flynn is the third to resign from Trump’s service for too much connection to Russia, along with Paul Manafort and Carter Page. You have probably seen news reports about calls for an independent investigative body to look at the whole mess. Read More