Hope As Infection

Oh, baby, oh…

Behold the path to Righteouness, in Her name’s sake.

Hat tip: Mother Nature, Andrew Sullivan’s blog

Intercompatible Living

One reason I love the New York Review or TNR’s and the Atlantic’s back-of-the-book, or the TLS is that I know that I’ll never get around to reading E.O. Wilson’s new tome, “The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies.” So I get to read Tim Flannery’s summary/review. It is indeed hard not to infer all sorts of human lessons from the way ants live and organize themselves; and if you ever need a break from human narcissism, a simple look at a leafcutter nest will do the trick. Here’s one of Flannery’s more fanciful – but also stimulating – passages:

In their native land fire ants form discrete colonies, with just one or a few queen ants at the Leafcutter_ants_transporting_leaves center of each. This is how most ants live, but something very strange happened to the fire ants soon after they reached the United States. They gave up founding colonies by the traditional method of sending off flights of virgin queens, and instead began producing many small queens, which spread the colony rather in the way an amoeba spreads, by establishing extensions of the original body. Astonishingly, at the same time the ants ceased to defend colony boundaries against other fire ants. As Hölldobler and Wilson put it, “With territorial boundaries erased, local populations now coalesce into a single sheet of intercompatible ants spread across the inhabited landscape.” This remarkable shift was caused by a change in the frequency of a single gene.

Is it possible, The Superorganism left me wondering, that the invention of the Internet is leading to a similar social evolution of our own species?

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