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Weekly Roundup
Weekly Roundup, Thursday 6 January, 2022

Weekly Roundup

· 6 min read

Dear Quilletters,

Last week the world lost one of the true greats of biology—E.O. Wilson, who died at age 92. While known to the public primarily for his work on ants and later as a leading popularizer of conservation biology, Wilson was also perhaps the first major target of what many now call “cancel culture,” a topic frequently discussed in the pages of Quillette. With the publication of his 1975 book Sociobiology, Wilson marched head-first into a minefield of political correctness by tackling the popular conceit that human minds are “blank slates” shaped entirely by environmental factors. Wilson's dangerous idea, now accepted by nearly all modern (competent) biologists, is that human behavior, psychology, and even aspects of morality must be viewed, at least in part, as products of natural selection.

Pushing back against blank slate psychology and the excesses of environmental explanations for human behavior has been a core theme in Quillette since its founding, and we owe brave and pioneering thinkers like E.O. Wilson gratitude for their steadfast commitment to telling the truth on such volatile topics. We are therefore delighted to have been able to publish for our readers a never-before-seen 2009 interview with E.O. Wilson by author and historian Alice Dreger, who met with Wilson routinely when performing research for her 2016 book Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar's Search for Justice.

This week we bring you a fascinating collection of articles that touch on culture, art, and science, as well as a list of Quillette's top 10 most popular articles of 2021. This week's podcast episode features New York Times opinion columnist Ross Douthat.

For a more detailed account of E.O. Wilson's early encounters with cancel culture, as well as an analysis of a new post-mortem attempt at cancelling Wilson published in Scientific American, see essays by UnHerd Senior Editor Ed West and evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne in the “Around the Web” section below.

Thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to bringing you new and interesting content in 2022 and beyond.

Colin Wright
Managing Editor

Weekly Roundup

A Trans Pioneer Explains Her Resignation from the US Professional Association for Transgender Health
On her website, Berkeley-based clinical psychologist Erica Anderson describes her mission as helping those “who have embarked upon a gender journey.” She also seeks to advance the “shared goals of social justice and transgender well-being,” and offers assistance to anyone seeking to “understand, edu…
The Need for a Culture of Achievement
What does Ayn Rand have to offer to our era? The Russian-born American author rose to prominence as a novelist and philosopher in the middle of the 20th century, and attracted a large audience on the American Right with her sharp critique of communism. The comprehensive alternative she presented in
The Free-ish World
A review of World in Danger: Germany and Europe in an Uncertain Time by Wolfgang Ischinger, Brookings, 280 pages (November, 2020) Every winter in Bavaria, the great and the good from Europe and the United States gather to take stock of the threats facing the world. The Munich Security Conference
Burgis on Hitchens—Getting Radicalism Wrong
A review of Christopher Hitchens: What He Got Right, How He Went Wrong, and Why He Still Matters by Ben Burgis, Zero Books, 160 pages (January 2021) December 15th marked the 10th anniversary of Christopher Hitchens’s death, an occasion that produced a renewed flurry of think-pieces pontificating abo…
My APA Resignation
I’ve been a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) for years, and a fellow for the past six or seven years. I sat on their Council of Representatives, which theoretically sets policy for the APA, for three years. I am just ending my term as president of the
A Conversation with E.O. Wilson (1929–2021)
NOTE: The pioneering American biologist Edward O. Wilson passed away on December 26th, aged 92. The following interview was conducted by phone on August 24th, 2009, as part of Alice Dreger’s research for her book Galileo’s Middle Finger. The text has been lightly edited for length and fluency.
Remembering Berlin’s Post-Communist Art Colony—Before It Became ‘Kitsch for the Rich’
There are days in 1989 when the smell of sulphur hangs in the streets, a reminder that West Berlin is surrounded by the dark continent of the Eastern Bloc, which strikes Westerners as an old, rusting, colourless industrial world populated with smoking chimneys and glum-faced proletarians operating g…
The Pretext of Diversity in American Universities
Whenever the topic of affirmative action and academic diversity trends, a certain classroom experience comes to mind. After a lecture comparing the political philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, I asked my students which seemed worse: tyranny or anarchy. A consensus began to gel around anar…
Quillette Podcast #177: New York Times Columnist Ross Douthat on His Hellish Experience with Lyme Disease
Quillette podcast host Jonathan Kay speaks with New York Times opinion columnist Ross Douthat about how his new book—which explores both his own fight against chronic Lyme disease, and the controversy surrounding the condition within the medical community.
Quillette’s Top 10 of 2021
Welcome to Quillette’s most popular articles of the year measured by number of pageviews from January 1 - December 26, 2021. We hope you enjoy them. Number 1:Unspeakable Truths about Racial Inequality in America | Glenn Loury “Blacks are being treated like infants whom one dares not to touch. One

From Around the Web

Scientific American does an asinine hit job on E. O. Wilson, calling him a racist
Scientific American has hit rock bottom with this new op-ed that is nothing more than a hit piece on Ed Wilson, basically calling him a racist. It is written by someone who apparently has no traini…
E.O. Wilson and the birth of cancel culture
Would the Huxley-Wilberforce debate even be allowed today?
Scientific American Goes Woke
A case study in how identity politics poisons science

Colin Wright

Colin is an evolutionary biologist, writer, founding editor of Reality’s Last Stand, contributing editor for Quillette, and an academic advisor to the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine.

On Instagram @quillette