E.O. Wilson - Advice to Young Scientists

"The world needs you, badly." That's how celebrated evolutionary biologist and entomologist E.O. Wilson (also known as Darwin's heir, or the Lord of the Ants) begins this fascinating, amusing and inspirational TEDTalk presentation encouraging you, yes, you, to pursue a career in science and scientific research.

You may be apprehensive. You may think you're not smart enough, you may be uncomfortable with your own level of mathematical literacy, you may think that there's little you could discover, etc. Don't worry. Wilson himself is a prime example of modest beginnings overcoming adversity to achieve academic greatness, and as someone who's had to struggle with many things throughout his own professional life, he's gathered some tips and ideas that he's graciously willing to share with you, in the form of a few general principles, to help motivate you and guide you into the fascinating, meaningful and rewarding field of scientific research and discovery.

And in case you're wondering, yes, I am aware of the whole selfish-gene/inclusive fitness vs multi-level selection brouhaha that's recently exploded between people like E.O and D.S. Wilson on the one hand, and Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers and Steven Pinker on the other. My own ignorant take: E.O. Wilson is wrong to reject kin selection, and Dawkins and company are wrong to reject multi-level selection.

Still, the debate is fascinating, and as a public debate (and except when those involved resort to cheap ad hominem attacks), the ideas presented by both sides are raising the level of intellectual discourse to levels not common for the ordinary reader. Agree or disagree with his point of view, for instance, Dawkins' recent review of E.O. Wilson's latest book, while harsh, manages to provide a clear and powerful explanation of the nature of the debate, as well as his defense of the selfish gene hypothesis and inclusive fitness. Of course, things didn't end there, because then D.S. Wilson did his own review of Dawkins' review. Don't you just love it when things get meta? :)
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