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Steven Jay Gould Essays

“He calls me at 11 at night Massachusetts time,” says his frequent collaborator David S.

Woodruff, a biologist at the University of California at San Diego, “and we talk until 11 my time.

Gould won the National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism in 1980 and in 1981 received both the American Book Award for .

Gould regarded himself primarily as an evolutionary biologist, where his queries explored subjects from fossils to growth and development, speciation, extinction, adaptation as well as many more facets of the field.

But as he became more famous, his essays became more bloated, studded with baroque and distracting digressions that seemed only to demonstrate his erudition. As a workaholic myself, I could only stand in awe of his diligence.

His close colleague David Woodruff described it: His brontosauran appetite for work is the envy and despair of his colleagues.

Toward the end he seemed to become soft on religion, publishing a book that I consider almost as misguided as punctuated equilibrium: (1999).

Today will be an orgy of remembrance of the events of ten years ago; even at 5 a.m. I have nothing to contribute to what’s already been said, so I just want to remember another anniversary that took place yesterday: what would have been the 70th birthday of Stephen Jay Gould, probably the most prominent evolutionary biologist of our time (September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002).While a highly influential scientist in the areas of his specialty, he also made, through his writing and speaking, an unparalleled connection to the public concerning many aspects of science and its impact on humanity. Gould's memory, we present three essays from magazine.This View of Life: The Creation Myths of Cooperstown Or, why the Cardiff Giants are an unbeatable and appropriately named team.A passage in his most recent book revealed that his older son, Jesse, 12, suffers from a learning disability.A friend speaks with awe of Gould spending several hours each night patiently reading and talking to his son, never despairing that he could overcome this problem, like he has so many others, by sheer will and effort.At Harvard he held the titles Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and Professor of Geology.He was also Vincent Astor Visiting Research Professor of Biology at New York University.As a writer of science, philosophy, and history his interests embraced a great range of issues pertinent to both science and society.He wrote with passion, facility and clarity about such topics as racial stereotyping, the human genome, health and longevity, evolution and creationism, art, poetry, music, and baseball.I suppose that, with the exception of his monographs on snails, I’ve read everything the man ever wrote: all of his books, his scientific papers, and even his last behemoth of a book, . Like many, I found him voluble, opinionated, and often arrogant—but never boring.(That I found interesting for two reasons: he admitted that there was no convincing evidence for one of his big ideas, species selection, and there was a fascinating discussion of Darwin’s “principle of divergence”—Darwin’s idea on how species arise—which Gould felt was one of Darwin’s most important contributions.) I knew Steve fairly well, for he was on my Ph. I crossed swords with him often about his theory of punctuated equilibrium, which, I thought, called needed attention to the patterns of stasis in the fossil record, but was completely wrongheaded as a theory of , depending as it did on assumptions about population genetics which were already known to be wrong.


  1. The Richness of Life The Essential Stephen Jay Gould. These 44 essays represent his best-known pieces from his books and from essays for.

  2. Stephen Jay Gould is best known for the theory of punctuated. to write hundreds of articulate, engaging, intelligent, and informative essays.

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