Edward Wilson is probably the best writer on scientific subjects since Thomas Henry Huxley. He writes in a style that combines trenchant lucidity with mastery of exposition. Even the subtlest and most confusing intricacies of human nature are rendered easily accessible by Wilson's deft and engaging pen. He is especially good at providing apt metaphors to illustrate what might otherwise be difficult scientific conceptions. Behavioral tendencies in human nature are described, for example, as various channels, some of which are shallow (and can therefore more easily be overcome), while others are much deeper (and therefore much more resistant to efforts to counteract them). As befitting a man of science, Wilson supports his views, not with abstruse argumentation, but with facts collected and verified by practicing scientists.
Yet despite the solidity of Wilson's research, when "On Human Nature" first came out, it was viciously attacked by left-wing ideologues who violently disagreed with Wilson's conclusions regarding the limitations of man's nature. The Left, of course, wants to believe that human nature is largely fluid and malleable. Man, leftists argue, is the product, not of genetics or biology, but of social conditions, which can be changed. Under a "just" society, human nature would become transformed and evil would virtually disappear from the world. Wilson's "On Human Nature" thoroughly demolishes all these sterile hopes for man's secular salvation. Using scientific evidence, he demonstrates that most human behavior is genetic (or related to or influenced by genetics) and therefore unalterable. The sociologist Vilfredo Pareto has probably described this view of man most trenchantly when he wrote: "The centuries roll by, and human nature remains the same!" In "On Human Nature," Wilson shows us why Pareto is right.