E.O. Wilson — Of Ants and Men will be broadcast nationwide on PBS on September 30 at 9 p.m. (check local listings to confirm broadcast time).
“So, I wanted that word — biodiversity — to remind us how little we know about the natural world and of the danger that we destroy it before we even know it’s there.”—E.O. Wilson, from “Of Ants and Men”
Beginning with his unusual childhood in Alabama, E.O. Wilson—Of Ants and Men chronicles the famed biologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s lifelong love for the natural world and the groundbreaking research that would establish him as the foremost authority on ants. It is an exciting journey of ideas but also an endearing portrait of a remarkable man; often dubbed “a Darwin for the modern day.”
Wilson’s discovery of ant pheromones in the 1960s led him to start thinking about systems of communication in nature on a grand scale. He was one of the first to start thinking about ecosystems, still a revolutionary concept at the time, and the ways different species fit together inside them. His book, Island Biogeography and the word “biodiversity,” which he coined in the 1980s, have since become the cornerstones of conservation biology. This would have been enough for most scientific careers but there was so much more to come.
Wilson’s work on ant communication led him to his remarkable studies of advanced social behavior throughout the animal world, and when his studies turned to human behavior, the new and controversial discipline of sociobiology was founded, creating an uproar in the scientific community. Hardly had that controversy died down when he was embroiled in yet another fierce debate about the theory of evolution, which has brought him into conflict with biologists who fiercely oppose his theory of “group selection.”
But above and beyond these scientific debates lies Wilson’s abiding passion for the natural world and its conservation. E.O. Wilson—Of Ants and Men culminates with his work in the great National Park of Mozambique, Gorongosa, which brings together the great themes of his life and work: nature and humanity’s place in it.
Executive Producer: Graham Townsley
Director: Shelley Schulze
Editor: Amy Young
Photo: Lentsoe Mamatela
Read more about E.O. Wilson — Of Ants and Men on our blog
Read more about E.O. Wilson — Of Ants and Men on the PBS website
The best PBS broadcast that I have ever seen. Dr. Wilson’s passionate view of the world around us is contagious. The next day after seeing the broadcast, I began taking notice of the insect world as I worked in my garden and even rescued a small frog from my swimming pool that would have certainly drowned. Thank you Dr. Wilson for helping me see things that have long been forgotten. If only humankind had your passion, the world would be such a wonderful place. The best Christmas gift that I could receive this year would be to have a glass of wine with E.O. Wilson.
Re-inspired & reignited by this well done and super documentary! So excited to have been able to catch it on PBS last night and to see brought to life the words I have read that have inspired my own career for so many years!
Thanks to E.O. Wilson for all his important work!
This was an amazing program. Will it be broadcast again?
It would be wonderful to be able to see this once more. Will it be broadcast again?
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful program, especially on sociobiology and a nice brief criticism of reductionism. But Wilson fails utterly on presenting the “tribalism” as group selection – e.g.. as in sports where loyalties are among unrelated individuals (teams and students) a completely unnecessary and unconvincing group selection explanation. Wilson forgets that group identification evolved long ago when the group (tribe), to which an individual would sacrifice his own safety or even life, was likely to be more closely related than someone from another tribe. He also never mentions reciprocal altruism, which need not invoke group selection and works at the individual (read gene) level perfectly well. Having said that, what a wonderful mind coming from a perfect gentlemen.
I encourage you to write me, although i have not seen or have any knowledge of the program contents the title alone, begs of my new found knowledge………..
So good to have news of one of my heros of science. From the trailers, itis clear that I am going to love “Of Ants and Men”