Edward Osborne Wilson is an American biologist (Myrmecology, a branch of entomology), researcher (sociobiology, biodiversity), theorist (consilience, biophilia), and naturalist (conservationism). A two-time Pulitzer Prizewinner, Wilson argues that human behaviour can largely be explained by biology. He is Pellegrino University professor emeritus of entomology at Harvard University. Wilson is known for his career as a scientist, his advocacy for environmentalism, and his secular humanist ideas concerned with religious and ethical matters. He is a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism.
From an early age, Wilson was interested in natural history. At nine, Wilson undertook his first expeditions at the Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC. At the age of 16, intent on becoming an entomologist, he began by collecting flies, but the shortage of insect pins caused by World War II caused him to switch to ants, which could be stored in vials. With the encouragement of Marion R Smith, a myrmecologist from the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, Wilson began a survey of all the ants of Alabama.
Wilson defines sociobiology as “the systematic study of the biological basis of all social behavior.” By applying the evolutionary principles which went a long way to explaining the behavior of the social insects to understanding the social behavior of animals, including humans, Wilson established sociobiology as a new scientific field. He argued that all animal behavior, including humans, is the product of heredity and environmental stimuli/past experiences and free will is an illusion. He has referred to the biological basis of behaviour as the “genetic leash.”