Wednesday, January 2, 2013

#38 Journey to the Ants

Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific ExplorationJourney to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration by Bert Hölldobler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very interesting. Like all other forms of life, ants are fascinating. I learned a lot about: the diversity of ants; what makes colonial life (eusociality) so powerful (along with some of its drawbacks); why eusociality may have evolved in the first place (and about when that evolution took place); that among professional biologists there are naturalists and non-naturalists; and many, many other tidbits.

What I didn't like so much was the writing style. For example, too much time was wasted on saying things like "OK, now we'll tell you something weird and amazing." Just tell me what you have to say and let me decide whether it's weird and amazing or not. Another construct the authors used repeatedly is of the following form "such and such can be up to so much or more." Wait a just told me that so much was an upper bound, now you're saying that so much isn't really an upper bound. I mean, I get what they are trying to say, but I think they could have done it better, such as by saying "such and such typically ranges up to so much, but can be even more."

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