Atlanta Science Tavern hears E. O. Wilson

AST eats at Everybody's Pizza in Decatur after the E. O. Wilson lectureMay I recommend the Atlanta Science Tavern?  If you live in metro Atlanta, that is (if you don’t, do a little googling and you might find a science tavern active in your city).  The AST is coordinated by the soft-spoken (and very tall) Josh Gough, and offers a great opportunity to hear accomplished researchers speak on subjects like astronomy, geology, biology, etc.  in a friendly pub environment.  How can you resist the Three “-ations”?: Education, Conversation, and Libation (there’s also Gustation, Mastication and Digestitation, but hey).  The get-togethers usually attract around 25 attendees.

E. O. Wilson speaks at EmoryIn addition to its regular meetings, the Atlanta Science Tavern also met for a special outing to see fabled scientist E. O. Wilson, who spoke at the “Evolution Revolution” conference at Emory University on October 23rd.  (October 23rd is also, ironically, the date that Archbishop James Ussher famously calculated that the Lord created the universe in 4,004 BC…so, uh, happy Creation Day!)

E. O. Wilson participates in Evolution Revolution at EmoryWilson (the “E. O.” is short for “Evolution Only” <ahem>) gave a wide-ranging talk, which covered Charles Darwin’s illustrious career, but also touching on Wilson’s career as an entymologist (specializing in ants), and the ongoing struggle to keep creationist/intelligent design folderol out of the science curriculum.  (Funny, Wilson seemed to get a little miffed at having to field questions about ID, even if the questions were from pro-evolution people wanting advice on how best to combat the creationists.)

Charles Darwin looms large in the work of E. O. WilsonWilson, who’ll be 80 on his next birthday, is best known for coining the term “sociobiology” and for his controversial concept of “consilience” (i.e. the unification of all human knowledge, whereby the sciences will be combined not just with one anothe rbut also with the humanities!). 

Wilson is also a passionate environmentalist; indeed, a noticeable vein of misanthropy ran through the audience at this event.  When asked during Q&A about what, given the absence of a diety, was mankinds purpose, Wilson’s first response was “to destroy the rest of the planet”, which struck me as only a half-sarcastic remark. 

Wilson, although a bit hard of hearing, was very witty and quick with the quips.  When discussing the supposed propensity of human males to “stray” based on the local availability of female partners, he pointed to the number of academics for whom their second wives were also their students.

Wilson’s latest book is The Creation, an appeal to secularists and believers to work together to save nature.



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