- Jul 2022
NOTES AND REFERENCES
Dear god I really hate when publishers do their references/notes like this. Sitting here at the end, unlinked to the actual text. There's a special place in hell for editors that do this in the digital age.
- Jun 2022
I can see why there's so much backlash on this piece.
It could and should easily have been written without any reference at all to E. O. Wilson and been broadly interesting and true. However given the editorial headline "The Complicated Legacy of E. O. Wilson", the recency of his death, and the photo at the top, it becomes clickbait for something wholly other.
There is only passing reference to Wilson and any of his work and no citations whatsoever about who he was or why his work was supposedly controversial. Instead the author leans in on the the idea of the biology being the problem instead of the application of biology to early anthropology which dramatically mis-read the biology and misapplied it for the past century and a half to bolster racist ideas and policies.
The author indicates that we should be better with "citational practices when using or reporting on problematic work", but wholly forgets to apply it to her own writing in this very piece.
I'm aware that the magazine editors are most likely the ones that chose the headline and the accompanying photo, but there's a failure here in both editorial and writing for this piece to have appeared in Scientific American in a way as to make it more of a hit piece on Wilson just days after his death. Worse, the backlash of the broadly unsupported criticism of Wilson totally washed out the attention that should have been placed on the meat of the actual argument in the final paragraphs.
Editorial failed massively on all fronts here.
This article seems to be a clear example of the following:
Any time one uses the word "problematic" to describe cultural issues, it can't stand alone without some significant context building and clear arguments about exactly what was problematic and precisely why. Otherwise the exercise is a lot of handwaving and puffery that does neither side of an argument or its intended audiences any good.