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On Stephen Jay Gould

"This book he's written now is an attempt to cement the status of Steve Gould as a major scientist, particularly as the major evolutionist of our time. That's absolutely, explicitly what he's trying to do. He's saying, 'I have had some major innovative ideas about evolutionary biology which are now being understood to be the seminal, paradigm-making moves that they are.' " (emphasis his)

— Michael E. Ruse, a philosopher of science, in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The article offers an interesting take on Gould's highly contested place in academia, and on what he thinks of himself, too (particularly in the Q&A at the end).

Addendum: Zoologist Mark Ridley's review of Gould's The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (which I should have mentioned above) offers some more substantive criticisms of the ideas in the book itself (and, by extension, Gould's place in the history of science). The review is decidedly mixed, and parts of it flatly contradict its rather upbeat conclusion; I get the sense Ridley in truth thinks it's pretty darn shoddy work. And his criticisms sound compelling, to me.

Further addendum: The New Yorker weighs in.

March 15, 2002 1:13 PM

Comments (and TrackBacks)

is steven jay gould still around?

Posted by Kelly on March 17, 2002 11:37 AM

"As I publication seek,
Help me Lord, for I am weak:
Ere I choose to sink or float it,
Let me clean forget who wrote it."

Science would be better served by minds like Gould's if they did not so often appear as package deals with egos like Gould's.

Posted by Sennoma on March 22, 2002 6:38 AM

Of course *Ruse* and *Ridley* are critical of Gould. They're some of the most conservative thinkers in the world of evolutionary biology. But if you take a more casual look at today's scientific journals, the appraisal seems to lean in favor of Gould's modern edifice. For those interested, a collection of reviews can be found here:

Posted by Malcolm on January 27, 2003 7:37 AM

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