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E.O. Wilson

Father of Sociobiology

Deciding when you reach the point of diminishing return in one direction and you really ought to be picking up your gear and moving over to another sector on the advancing front. So I have, in a sense, been an opportunist. The one common thread in my scientific career has been the devotion to one group of organisms, the ants, which I set out to learn thoroughly for the pleasure of it, but also developed for the richness of new material and opportunities for discovery that they could provide. Given that as a kind of anchor, and given evolution as a grand organizing theme for developing research programs, I began with the relatively simple program, actually in my teens, of studying ants and their classification and a little bit of the natural history.
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E.O. Wilson

Father of Sociobiology

I am by nature a lateral thinker and an imperialist. I'll admit it. That is to say that if something is working at one level or one area, I like to say, "Well, maybe it will work at a broader area or across a larger span of time or biological organization." So (I was) encouraged by that success, it's true, and it was very successful. It really had an impact on ecology, and also on the study of biodiversity, and ultimately on conservation biology, because obviously, the processes of immigration of new species and extinction of resident species is fundamental in understanding the preservation of biodiversity in reserves and in the world generally.
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E.O. Wilson

Father of Sociobiology

Edward O. Wilson: Interesting question. I would have written it differently. I think I would have written a much longer chapter, and of course, I would have been ignorant of so many things we know today in terms of how biology and culture might interact. I didn't start studying that until about four years afterwards anyway, myself, but I certainly would have taken a very cautious tone, and I would have put in a lot about the political dangers on both sides. I would have tried to bulletproof myself from the left, and at the same time, I would have made concessions to the left about the high risk of misuse of any kind of biology on the right. I think that would have defused a lot of it, but I think there would have been a strong controversy. There wouldn't have been the one coming from my colleagues here quite as strong anyway, because that would have disarmed them.
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E.O. Wilson

Father of Sociobiology

You know, I was a loner, a solitaire, so this is the perfect sport for that. Those were very romantic days in which no one knew what the human limit was. No one knew what individual limits were. That still was the case when I became a jogger -- before the big running craze in the '60s -- and had one more go at it, trying for master's running, and discovered that my limitation that I found in myself at the college age was still there, adjusted for age, almost mathematically predictable what it would be when I would reach my maximum ability, which I think I did. So I did not become Roger Bannister. He beat me to it, and if I had been given the opportunity for a thousand years, I never would have made it.
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Oprah Winfrey

Entertainment Executive

I was the only Negro in a pageant of all red-haired girls and it's the "Miss Fire Prevention" contest. So the Lord knows, I'm not going to win. So I was very relaxed about it. I thought, "Well, I got a new gown, and this is great." So when it came time for the question and answer period, they asked, "What would you do if you had a million dollars?" And one girl said, "If I had a million dollars, I'd buy my mama a Frigidaire and my dad a truck." Someone else said if they had a million dollars they'd buy their brother Bubba a motorcycle because, "He's always wanted one," or they'd give it to the poor. And I said, all totally relaxed because I'm not going to win anyway, "If I had a million dollars, I would be a spendin' fool. I'm not quite sure what I would spend it on, but I would spend, spend, spend. Spendin' fool." Well, I ended up winning. And there was another question about what I would like to do with my life, my career. Well, everybody wanted to be a nurse, or a teacher, and I made this big speech about broadcast journalism -- mainly because I had seen Barbara Walters that morning on The Today Show. So I thought, "Well, what can I be? I can't be a nurse, can't be a teacher because that's what they were." So I said I wanted to be a broadcast journalist because I believed in the truth. I was interested in proclaiming the truth to the world and all. And I won the contest. Well what a shocked Negro, me.
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Oprah Winfrey

Entertainment Executive

I was working in Nashville, and so I moved to Baltimore, and I thought "Well, I'll do this for a while, and then I don't know what I'll do." So when I was called in and put on the edge of being fired and certainly demoted and knew that firing was only a couple weeks away. I was devastated. I was 22 and embarrassed by the whole thing because I had never failed before. And it was that failure that led to the talk show. Because they had no place else to put me, they put me on a talk show in the morning. And I'm telling you, the hour I interviewed -- my very first interview was the Carvel Ice Cream Man, and Benny from "All My Children" -- I'll never forget it. I came off the air, thinking, "This is what I should have been doing." Because it was like breathing to me, like breathing. You just talk. "Be yourself" is really what I had learned to do.
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Oprah Winfrey

Entertainment Executive

Recently, someone criticized us for airing a show on mothers who had gone through postpartum depression and had killed their children. They were saying that the show should not have aired in the afternoon because of other children watching. I absolutely agree with that. That's a very valid point. We should have considered that. That's one of the things I did not think about. I'm thinking that I'm going to help all these mothers who are going through this, but that person was absolutely right. So if the criticism is valid and comes from a point of view of being well thought out, and not just to attack, I accept it. I accept it and I usually get better as a result of it. Critics have actually helped me to get better.
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Tom Wolfe

America's Master Novelist

So I managed to get into that program at Yale, which turned out to be a terrific choice for somebody who wants to write. A bad choice if you want to -- as I was going to do -- be a teacher, because there are not that many American Studies departments. And a lot of the people who graduate from that program would end up at the bottom of the heap in somebody's history department or English department. But, it's absolutely great for writers. I discovered sociology there, which was like a light bulb going on over my head. Like most liberal arts students, I'd always looked down my nose at sociology as this kind of bogus science. When I finally had to deal with it in graduate school, I quickly came to the conclusion, which I maintain to this day, that it is, in fact, the queen of the sciences. I won't get into this, but biology, in my mind, is a subset of sociology, not the other way around.
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