Alan's Reviews > The Social Conquest of Earth

The Social Conquest of Earth by Edward O. Wilson
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's review
Nov 03, 2011

liked it
Read from April 25 to May 21, 2012

The big idea is that humans and the highly social insects are the result of natural selection at two levels, the individual and the group. This explains a lot. It explains why we humans are both saints and sinners. Our saintly altruistic genes gave the group a competitive advantage. Our sinful selfish genes gave the individual an advantage. It explains why we love to join groups and immediately consider the group we joined better than all others, whether we were born into the group (US citizen), chose it (Red Sox Nation) or were assigned to it by a psychology grad student. It may even explain music, which does lots to connect groups. I gave it only 3 stars because the writing wasn’t as rigorous or careful as other books I’ve read recently on evolution, culture, behavior and brain science, like Kahneman’s "Thinking: Fast and Slow" and Pinker’s "The Better Angels of our Nature". In a number of places it came across a bit more as speculation than science. But, hey, it’s E.O. Wilson. He’s allowed.

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