Born in 1929 and died two years ago, on December 26, 2021, the famous biologist and mycologist (specialist in ants) Edward Osborne Wilson – known as “E. O. Wilson” – not only left behind to his peers a scientific work inspired by generations of conservationists and biologists. Evolutionary. He also left them with embarrassing questions about his connections to fanatical scientific circles – heirs to the “racist science” of the nineteenth century.H a century. For several months, the discovery of disturbing letters in his correspondence sparked lively discussions in the scientific community. What makes matters more clear is that EO Wilson is an icon of biology and environmentalism – he popularized the idea of “biodiversity” – and is considered by some to be Darwin’s successor.
His connections with one of the main representatives of “scientific racism” in North America, the Canadian psychologist John Philip Rushton (1943-2012), are revealed through two separate examinations of his personal archive, which he bequeathed to the Library of Congress. In February 2022, historians of science Mark Borrello (University of Minnesota) and David Sekowski (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) on the one hand, and Matthew Gibbons and Stacey Farina (Howard University in Washington) on the other, announced the announcement. The results of their dives were published in the correspondence of the great biologist respectively in New York Review of Books And in Science for the people.
The two analyzes agree and paint a picture of a great scientist who is keen to avoid public controversy, but plays on his prestige, behind the scenes, to promote pseudo-scientific theses about inequality between “human races.” “The relationship between Wilson and Rushton is not a story of guilt by association or honest mistakeswrite Matthew Gibbons and Stacey Farina. It is a story about how racist ideas were integrated into the body of science with the support of powerful allies working in the shadows. »
In 1986, E. O. Wilson was already a member of the American Academy of Sciences. As such, it can “sponsor” the publication of prestigious articles Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (With people). In the spring of 1986, John Philip Rushton asked EO Wilson to publish in a magazine With people One of his articles is about an alleged case “Genetic and cultural co-evolution” Complex social behaviors.
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