Draft talk:E. O. Wilson

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WTF are you talking about? Wilson may have made one or two off color remarks at some point in his career, but the vast majority of his work reflected his position as a respected biologist and ecologist. Calling him a "pseudoscientist" and accusing him of being a Nazi is just baseless.--Umichcynic (talk) 21:49, 22 January 2022 (UTC)

Bit deeper than 'one or two off-colour topics', as shown here: [1]. Existing draft might be pushing a little too far, though. Queexchthonic murmurings 23:16, 22 January 2022 (UTC)
Also, improve, don't delete. That's what drafts are for. Queexchthonic murmurings 23:16, 22 January 2022 (UTC)
i reverted the delete, but im having second thoughts on that. as it stands there there currently very little supported by the references. i dont know enough about the guy or sociobiology to 'improve' the article, but whats here, based on the references provided, is either false and or a disingenuous quote mine free from context. AMassiveGay (talk) 00:03, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
or i thought i reverted the delete - queex beat me to it seems AMassiveGay (talk) 00:08, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
The trouble is that there really isn't any room for "improvement" in this article. As it is written, it's just tinfoil hat BS. That isn't to say that Wilson was a saint, but this is just slanderous fiction written by somebody who very obviously has no familiarity with Wilson or his work.--Umichcynic (talk) 00:13, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
Have you read the link I gave? I certainly think it needs to be toned down, but calling it 'tinfoil hat BS' is, well, BS. Queexchthonic murmurings 00:15, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
your link doesnt seem have a whole lot to say about wilson beliefs or his science, and i dont see anything in it that would support anything within the article as it stands now. its seems more about peoples criticism of wilsons and how other people responded to that criticism. AMassiveGay (talk) 00:34, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
I linked it because I read it today and it provides an overview. It extracts a quote pointing out that Wilson offered full-throated support to Philippe Rushton as the latter tried to publish what was undeniably racist claptrap. Wilson was also apparently ahead of the curve in that he dismissed reasoned criticism of his work on the grounds that it was 'Marxist'. It might be an idea to let this article lie fallow until Sepkoski finishes their work. As that's going to reference primary sources, anything we can put together now we'd probably have to completely rewrite once that appeared anyway. Queexchthonic murmurings 01:03, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
Wilson wrote about ants and ecology. Referring to him as "HBD Pseudoscientist and defender of biological determinism, scientific racism, and eugenics" is just fractal wrongness as nothing he wrote was ever within a purview of any of those particular topics.--Umichcynic (talk) 01:27, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
thats not completely true either. they wrote on about a lot more than just ants and they were pretty big on a form of biological determinism (sociobiology, which isnt even mentioned in the article. kinda odd considering this where all he controversy around him seems from). scientific racism and eugenics? seems he has been accused of this from some quarters, but the case isn made to say he was for these things, in ths article at least.
@queex all that really tells us is he was quite touchy AMassiveGay (talk) 08:40, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
its entirely possible that the page creator @CBH fully intends to add to and elaborate and clarify whats in the article making this conversation entirely moot, but it already makes bold claims that i dont think a case can be made to fully support. AMassiveGay (talk) 10:27, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
@Umichcynic If you'd read the link I provided, you would have seen that he wrote about more than that, including the wildly unwarranted application of his ant work to human behaviour, which is the criticism at issue. @AMassiveGay Taking exception to criticisms is touchy, invoking 'Marxism' as an explanation for why the criticisms are wrong indicates far-right ideation. Queexchthonic murmurings 10:34, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
maybe, maybe not. the circumstances of his invoking marxism is not really explained in that link though. the criticism in he was responding isnt explained or linked to. its not enough AMassiveGay (talk) 10:44, 23 January 2022 (UTC)

Heads up; the editor CBH is likely owned by someone trying to discredit RW and its rumoured on Twitter they are someone from OpenPsych. They were temp blocked for creating a page on Eric Turkheimer filled with absurdities (the entire page was rewritten). (talk) 18:57, 23 January 2022 (UTC)

Regardless, I'd prefer to shitcan the page. The author clearly has an axe to grind, and appears to be from the Marxist Progressive Labor Party (a known splinter group of the Progressive Marxist Labor Party). Bongolian (talk) 20:03, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
what happens with drafts? do they go through the whole AfD process as per usual? AMassiveGay (talk) 22:34, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
Well spotted, BoN. Let's shit-can this until we have a better idea what's in the primary sources Sepkoski is working from. Hopefully not too long. Queexchthonic murmurings 22:46, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
I don't think there's any formal policy about deleting drafts. I took it upon myself to delete a slew of them that were stubs and hadn't been edited in more than a year, drive-bys basically. For something that's attracted more attention like this, a vote on the talk page would probably suffice. Bongolian (talk) 01:26, 24 January 2022 (UTC)
I wonder if the intellectual errors of Wilson are really significant after his death. Consider the case of Charles Darwin: A. N. Wilson, in Charles Darwin, Victorian Mythmaker, claims Darwin "was a fraud, a liar, a racist, and a closet eugenicist." Should we introduce Darwin as a pseudoscientist? I'd love to hear what creationists would make out of that.Ariel31459 (talk) 01:57, 24 January 2022 (UTC)
I think part of the problem with this draft is that it seems to take all criticism as contemporary. Wilson pioneered the field of sociobiology and was criticized for it by some as being an unfalsifiable concept; he was nonetheless later proven largely correct about it when genetic analysis got better. The criticism of his being a scientific racist seems to stem a time well before the global genetic analysis of populations (The History and Geography of Human Genes by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza et al. in 1994) that basically ended any legitimate scientific arguments predicated on human races. Bongolian (talk) 02:44, 24 January 2022 (UTC)
@Ariel31459 I'm not sure what point you are getting at here - the review you linked was calling A. N. Wilson's biography a load of twaddle (I suspected it was going to be rough when the book was written by a Daily Mail columnist, but wow). I don't see the parallel between criticism of a dead scientist that's proven nonsense and criticism of a dead scientist where the argument is colorable. Queexchthonic murmurings 10:46, 25 January 2022 (UTC)
interestingly, the quote mine from the article '"the latest attempt to reinvigorate [...] tired theories" that "provided an important basis for the enactment of sterilization laws and restrictive immigration laws by the United States between 1910 and 1930 and also for the eugenics policies which led to the establishment of gas chambers in Nazi Germany." ' - 'tired theories' in the source its taken from includes the theories of charles darwin. AMassiveGay (talk) 10:54, 25 January 2022 (UTC)

Agree the tone of this draft is too negative. Duncan from Teflpedia (talk) 05:28, 25 January 2022 (UTC)

@Queex The point is simply someone like Darwin may well have privately held views that we today would view as racist. If he did not present them in some way that stuck in the scientific historiography, who cares really? In the Myers blog linked above Myers admits "I knew Wilson and I don’t think he was intentionally racist." These are sticky ideas that are topics in the philosophy of science. In other words they are serious and merit serious treatment. I am also nonplussed at a biologist like Myers presenting himself as a sort of moral philosopher in the rough. Ariel31459 (talk) 16:37, 25 January 2022 (UTC)


This vote has been closed. Please do not add, remove or change votes.
The result of this vote was: Result: vaporize, 6 to 1


  1. Yes! Bongolian (talk) 05:36, 25 January 2022 (UTC)
  2. it's wank AMassiveGay (talk) 07:54, 25 January 2022 (UTC)
  3. Not balanced, a hit job. PanGalacticGargleBlaster (talk) 14:25, 25 January 2022 (UTC)
  4. A negative overall view of Wilson would, at this time, be viewed as at least eccentric.Ariel31459 (talk) 16:54, 25 January 2022 (UTC)
  5. In its current form it is unsalvageable. Duncan from Teflpedia (talk) 12:28, 26 January 2022 (UTC)
  6. I could not find any information on it, making it libel. And even though he died, it was recent (last 6 months), so we still have to keep BLP in mind. Andrew5 (talk) 15:05, 27 January 2022 (UTC)
    you cannot libel the dead. AMassiveGay (talk) 15:55, 27 January 2022 (UTC)
    From what I heard you can until six months from their death. Andrew5 mobile (talk) 16:13, 27 January 2022 (UTC)
    BLP on 6 months (actually 6 months - 2 years) is a WP rule of thumb.[2] It has no basis in law, and is not RW policy. Bongolian (talk) 18:14, 27 January 2022 (UTC)
    We had a discussion on this not too long ago in late November. In Texas, this would be libel, but not under US, and RW is based in New Mexico. I couldn't find out if he resided in Alabama or Massachusetts but either way, it isn't Texas. Still would be interesting to look up these laws, however. --Andrew5 (talk) 18:28, 27 January 2022 (UTC)
    Apologies to GC, but fuck Texas. It's not New Mexico, where it matters. I suspect that the RW founders were careful about where to incorporate. Bongolian (talk) 18:37, 27 January 2022 (UTC)

Keep, because I will improve it[edit]

  1. Here is a quote from Wilson defending J. Philippe Rushton:
    "I think Phil is an honest and capable researcher. The basic reasoning by Rushton is solid evolutionary reasoning; that is, it is logically sound. If he had seen some apparent geographic variation for a non-human species – a species of sparrow or sparrow hawk, for example – no one would have batted an eye." - Quoted in A Mirror to Nature by Peter Kundtson
    A person who expresses views such as these is a pseudoscientist, no matter what his apologists say to justify him. It doesn't matter what legitimate work they do in other areas. Isn't that the reason we have articles about individuals such as Richard Haier, Linda Gottfredson or Jan te Nijenhuis? Those people's writings also are mostly not about race, but their writings about race cast doubt on the validity of all their other work. It also means they must never be seen as authorities of any kind, because to do so would lend credence to their white supremacist views. One of reasons these views appear credible is when they are supported by "respectable" scientists. RationalWiki has never made an exception to this principle before, so let's not make an exception in Wilson's case. --CBH (talk) 09:16, 25 January 2022 (UTC)
    a quote with no context says nothing, and opinions of rushton says nothing about sociobiology - wilson's own baby. your focus is on the wrong thing and makes me doubt you will save the article in anyway. i care not what other articles exist on rationalwiki, it tells as nothing about this article AMassiveGay (talk) 10:33, 25 January 2022 (UTC)
    The problem I see in just a quick skim is that, while a few people have taken his application of sociobiology to humans (mostly in the 1975 Sociobiology book, apparently) as uncomfortably close to the eugenics of old, such is a very controversial assertion that Dr. Wilson absolutely rejected. It seems like there is a "both sides" thing. Wilson seemed well aware that humanity is complicated, that it was hard to separate culture from genetics, and that humanity is way more complicated than "Gene X makes you Superman". I don't see him advancing a eugenics argument, at the moment. On the other hand, politicians are fantastic at ignoring the nuances of science for tribalism purposes, so those who protest perhaps have a point. (Or maybe not.)
    It's worth a subject to explore these sort of tensions. But this article is an extremely bad start, like that Scientific America blog editorial which seems incredibly single-minded to yell "racist!" with little justification. PanGalacticGargleBlaster (talk) 14:25, 25 January 2022 (UTC)
    It is specious to propose that a person's false idea, or set of false ideas, should necessarily invalidate other ideas they may propound. Ariel31459 (talk) 17:39, 25 January 2022 (UTC)


  1. Let's stub it. Keep the basic facts, introduce what milquetoast criticism seems reasonable as of now, and the stub will remind us to revisit it later. I'm worried that if we just delete it we'll forget to replace it, even when all the facts are on the table. Shitcanning better than leaving it as is, though. Queexchthonic murmurings 10:49, 25 January 2022 (UTC)

For when we rewrite this[edit]

Here's a sourced reference detailing Wilson's uglier record: https://magazine.scienceforthepeople.org/online/the-last-refuge-of-scoundrels/ . 16:44, 3 February 2022 (UTC)

Here is another recent source: Ideology as Biology. I think this source also should be added to Wikipedia's biography of Wilson. --CBH (talk) 06:24, 8 February 2022 (UTC)