Saturday, April 11, 2015

An Academic Flashback

It’s spring cleaning time here at FirstNerve Manor. I’ve been getting rid of some academic books I’ve dragged around with me for decades. The dust jacket on one of them caught my eye—an author photo of Edward O. Wilson (that’s him on the right, Charles Lumsden on the left).

This is Wilson as he looked when I met with him for a job interview at Harvard, about the time I got my doctorate in biological psychology. He was cordial and soft-spoken; I was a bit awestruck.

I’m not sure he knew what to make of me or my work on rodent reproductive strategies and behavioral time-sharing. He led me into the humidified chamber that housed his ant colonies and showed me a few—he kept them in large plastic tubs.

“You psychologists study individuals,” he said, peering down into a tub, one eye wandering independently of the other. “I study entire societies.”

An odd duck, but brilliant in some respects.

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