The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the fifty-seventh contribution in the series, submitted by our editor-in-chief, Benjamin Blanchard.


Northwestern Prison Education Program

The ant content in this (Saturday!) post is far less than usual for the series, but the natural affinity between social insects and social justice warrants little explanation. Plus, as soon as I heard about program that serves as the topic for this post, I became increasingly antsy to feature it in the Philosophy Phriday series. What is the program you may ask? None other than that stated in the title: The Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP).

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the fifty-sixth contribution in the series, submitted by Dr. Audrey Yap.


Speech Acts and Unspeakable Ants

At the annual ACP/CPA (Association Canadienne de Philosophie/Canadian Philosophical Association) conference, I encountered an ant-related speech act.

The great Swiss myrmecologist Auguste Forel (1848 – 1931) once observed that “the greatest enemies of ants are other ants, just as the greatest enemies of men are other men.” In general, this maxim appears true – with exceptions. Once such exception was reported in 1977 in the journal Nature, by myrmecologists James H. Brown and Diane W. Davidson. These two researchers found that seed-harvesting ants compete with seed-eating rodents (!) in the Silverbell Bajada near Tucson, Arizona.

The Netflix show Queer Eye, a reboot of the popular Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, has been met with generally favorable reviews by critics and viewers alike. Thanks to Tube Correspondant Katerina Theodossiou, we now know the reason why, and it’s found in Season 1, Episode 5 (“Camp Rules“). In this episode, the Fab Five give Bobby Camp, a “devoutly Christian father of six”, a makeover. During the all-important scene, Jonathan Van Ness chats with Camp about his morning routine:

Cemeteries are known locations of an abundance of human bones. But cemeteries are not the only site where human bones have been deposited, in both modern and ancient times, and investigations of such bones, wherever they are found, can often tell us a lot about traumatic injuries, environmental changes, cultural histories, and a number of other phenomenon that might interest anthropologists, including forensic anthropologists. However, interpreting bones can be difficult. Various destructive factors can change the shape and other features of bones over time, and thus the more we know about processes of bone destruction, the more we can know about the other phenomena associated with the bones.

And here’s where the ants come in. A paper published earlier this year, in Forensic Entomology, formally reports a discovery that previously had only been the subject of speculation and anecdotes: direct modification of human bones… by ants.