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Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Social World of the Ants Compared With That of Man

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 03 June 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2918
  1. Desmond O’Neill, consultant in geriatric and stroke medicine, Dublin
  1. doneill{at}

    Imagine a world where there are weavers, butchers, cattle rearers, masons, road makers, harvesters, bakers, mushroom farmers, excellent nurses of various kinds, gardeners, warriors, pacificists, slave makers, thieves, brigands, and parasites, but where we find no professors, orators, governors, bureaucrats, or generals, nor even corporals; nor do we find capitalists, speculators, or mere swindlers. This idyllic world was described almost 10 years before the great depression, and 80 years before our current recession, by one of the great medical polymaths of the last century, Auguste Forel (1848-1931).

    That the world described in this exquisite two volume book belongs to ants should come as no surprise, since Forel was one of the world’s greatest authorities on ants at …

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