Renowned biologist and naturalist E.O. Wilson regaled the crowd at last week’s Aspen Environment Forum with his wit and wisdom during an on-stage interview. A choice segment:

The worst thing you can do to a child, in my opinion, is take them on a hike through a botanical garden where there are the names of the trees on the side. Rachel Carson once said, so true, take the child to the seashore, turn her loose with a pail, and tell her to go explore the tidepools. Don’t tell her the names of any of these things. Let her find them, let her touch them, let her bring them to you, talk about them, and then you give her the name.

These squeezed-in lives of children who are taken occasionally to a park like that or a zoo to see the labels is all part of what I like to call — I hope I’m not offending anyone — the “soccer mom syndrome.” I believe that soccer moms are the greatest enemy in modern life of natural history and proper biological education.

Later, when the audience Q&A session got underway, a woman prefaced her question by saying she’d forgive Wilson for his insult against soccer moms.

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With a twinkle in his eye, Wilson retorted, “Don’t. Remain irritated and think further upon it.”