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One of America’s most celebrated scientists and writer, Edward O. Wilson, in his passage, The Fitness of Human Nature, demonstrates that genes and culture connect to the evolution of humans. Wilson’s purpose is to exemplify that sociobiology is integrated immensely into human evolution. He adopts an informational tone to appeal to the wide audience. Wilson writes an easy to read scientific passage that can be understood by a broader audience while portraying credibility as a scientist and writer.
Wilson begins his passage by hypothesizing what human nature is, the makings of human nature, and stating that humans have brains that are uniquely based off its evolution. “It is the epigenetic rules, the hereditary regularities of mental development that bias culture evolution in one direct as opposed to another and thus connect the genes to culture….” (Austin 145). Wilson brings in his credibility by talking about a scientific term not have stored in their vocabulary and demonstrates his knowledge of the concept. Wilson also brings up the term “epigenetic rules” to display that it connects the two largest parts of our evolution, but he does it by giving the exact definition of the phrase and immediately states why it is in the passage. Next he says “…I have no wish either to overwork the metaphor of the selfish gene or to minimize the creative powers of the mind” (Austin 145). Likewise, with the quote previous to this one, he is using terminology not used in daily language justifying his credible background. This second term is brought up to inform that humans possess selfish genes. Shortly after stating the term, he concisely defines selfish genes using the minimal amount of words and provides a definition at the bottom of the page. Providing background information helps readers learn the material compared to demonstrating unfamiliar concepts with no background (Cross 9). This is what Wilson exactly does in order to keep his vast audience informed. Moreover, “Brains that choose wisely possess superior Darwinian fitness, meaning that statistically they survive longer and leave more offspring than brains that choose badly” (Austin 145). The word “statistically” sticks out and relates to previous research Wilson has done on this subject as a scientist and researcher. He now gets into the concept that our brains are more complex and different from other species. He also brings in another concept from evolution, “Darwinian fitness.” He only states what human brains possess, but then immediately translates what he said. Additionally, Wilson discovers, “What is truly unique about human evolution, as opposed to say chimpanzee or wolf evolution, is that a large part of the environment shaping it has been cultural” (Austin 146). Wilson compares human and particular animal evolutions as if he has studied them because he knows how they compare and contrast. Providing light on a comparison between two different ideas can help readers on what the author is trying to say. Wilson argues that human evolution is unique, and he does this by comparing two different developments. Comparing concepts help readers grasp the idea that human nature is indeed different. Throughout this entire section, Wilson demonstrates his scientific knowledge on human evolution with an informative tone that helps the readers understand complex ideas within human evolution.
After quickly discussing the foundation of human nature, Wilson illustrates on what sociobiology is and the procedures of the significant research taking place on the subject. “Sociobiology… offers a key link in the attempt to explain the biological foundation of human nature” (Austin 146). As a scientist, he can easily construct connections between two topics: sociobiology and human nature. When Wilson defines sociobiology he also adds in “… (or Darwinian anthropology, or evolutionary psychology, or whatever more politically acceptable term one chooses to call it) …” (Austin 146). This addition makes the word more relatable to the vast audience. Therefore, it is easier to grasp. After defining sociobiology, he starts providing an outline of the research procedure within human studies on page 146. Wilson does this easily because he has had experience in human studies and can inform readers about it. Providing an outline can convey a logical flow to the audience and make the research process easier to understand. Wilson also uses an organizational strategy, “…organizational strategies are used to construct connections and develop relationships among the ideas” (Cross 13). Using a type of organizational strategy can assist his audience by learning the material Wilson teaches. To be more specific, “Outlining is an organizational strategy, as is clustering or any other activity that groups concepts into taxonomic categories with shared characteristics. Classification into categories is a major learning-and ultimately scholarly-activity in disciplines such as botany, zoology, and biology” (Cross 13). Wilson is contributing with his purpose perfectly, he is teaching a topic within biology and uses classification of categories within the text to inform the readers easily. With Wilson’s strategies to discuss sociobiology and the procedures that take place in studying human studies, he again leaves readers more informed about sociobiology.
After a current view on human studies, Wilson brings the audience back and discusses the first evolutionary principles that are still within the human evolutionary development. Throughout this section, Wilson summarizes each concept with his information on the topic. He summarizes kin selection, parental investment, mating strategy, status, territorial expansion and defense, and contractual agreement. Wilson demonstrates credibility by displaying his information about these principles without using any sources. Also, he exhibits credibility because of his ability to apply these concepts to particular examples and connections. As Wilson portrays his knowledge about evolution, he can enlighten readers easily by giving examples and making connections. When Wilson discusses kin selection, he provides a case about two sisters, only one of them having offspring, and this resulting in a loss of genetic fitness on pages 146-147. After mentioning this example, he states an important idea that those genes spread through the population on page 147. Using this kind of logical flow helps readers understand when he demonstrates ideas. An example of Wilson using connections is the part where he discusses contractual agreements. He brings together the concept of contractual agreements and the status system of insects based off of their differences on page 149. Furthermore, Wilson can connect these principles to other ideas because he has had a background in studying evolution within different species. With someone having a background on the topic at hand, it makes the person a lot more believable in what they say. The first evolution principles are easier to learn from an individual who has reliability on the topic. Having credibility and giving an example or connection has given the audience a better approach to be informed about original evolutionary models.
If readers still do not believe Wilson has credibility within this text, readers can examine his national bestseller, Consilience. On the first page of Consilience, before the actual text, Edward O. Wilson’s background is displayed. Inside this biography, it states that “He received his B.S and M.S. in biology…, his Ph.D in biology…received both of its college wide teaching awards” (Wilson n.p.). Furthermore, the biography goes into detail about his scientific and writing prize-winning awards, and also stating where he has taught on the same page. Moreover, this book was published in 1998, and can also demonstrate his experience and expertise in the field of biology. Having qualifications like these prove to the audience he is credible for what he says within a biology context.
Edward O. Wilson is a scientist and a writer that can exemplify how genes, culture, and sociobiology participate substantially in human evolution by adhering to a casual tone towards the audience. Wilson also uses special teaching techniques within his writing. Writing a scientific piece of text is challenging when the author wants a broad range of people to understand the concepts he is explaining. However, Wilson was able to construct a passage that informed a large audience of basic evolutionary principles. Now consider other various types of scholarly and scientific articles, would it of been easier to read and understand if the authors of those texts decided to use strategies similar to Wilson’s?
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