The Social Conquest of Earth

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The Social Conquest of Earth is a 2012 non-fiction book by biologist Edward O. Wilson.

Wilson adapted the title of Paul Gaugin's famous mural as a theme -- "What are we?", "Where did we come from?", "Where are we going?" -- for discussing his topic of eusocial behavior in several arthropod taxa and a few mammalian species, and its role in making humans as a species unique.[1]

The book argues, building on the paper The evolution of eusociality (2010) by Wilson, Martin Nowak and Corina Tarnita in Nature, arguing for more importance of group selection and attacking the idea of kin selection.


The Nature article was controversial, with many experts arguing against its conclusions, including an "outraged response" later in the same journal by 137 authors. Richard Dawkins wrote a harshly critical review for Prospect, in which he stated that Wilson had earlier supported Bill Hamilton's theory of kin selection but had, over the years, moved away from it, to the point where it was debatable that he had really understood the theory.[2]

The book was given a positive review by Yale psychologist and author, Paul Bloom, in the New York Times.[3]

The book was listed as on the New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books of the Year in 2012. [4]


  1. ^ Bloom, Paul (11 May 2012). "The Original Colonists". New York Times. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Dawkins, Richard (24 May 2012). "The Descent of Edward Wilson". Prospect (magazine). Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  3. ^ Bloom, Paul (2012-05-11). "‘The Social Conquest of Earth,’ by Edward O. Wilson". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-11-25. 
  4. ^ "100 Notable Books of 2012". The New York Times. 2012-11-27. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-11-25.