History does include aspects of directionality, and the present range of causes and phenomena does not exhaust the realm of past possibilities.
The board transported its jurisdiction to a never-never land where a Dorothy of the new millennium might exclaim: "They still call it Kansas, but I don't think we're in the real world anymore."
We live in an essential and unresolvable tension between our unity with nature and our dangerous uniqueness. Systems that attempt to place and make sense of us by focusing exclusively either on the uniqueness or the unity are doomed to failure. But we must not stop asking and questing because the an
Great theories are expansive; failures mire us in dogmatism and tunnel vision.
Organisms [...] are directed and limited by their past. They must remain imperfect in their form and function, and to that extent unpredictable since they are not optimal machines. We cannot know their future with certainty, if only because a myriad of quirky functional shifts lie within the capacit
We are the accidental result of an unplanned process ... the fragile result of an enormous concatenation of improbabilities, not the predictable product of any definite process.
The median isn't the message.
If evolution almost always occurs by rapid speciation in small, peripheral isolates, then what should the fossil record look like? We are not likely to detect the event of speciation itself. It happens too fast, in too small a group, isolated too far from the ancestral range ...
Natural selection is a theory of local adaptation to changing environments. It proposes no perfecting principles, no guarantee of general improvement
Advocates for a single line of progress encounter their greatest stumbling block when they try to find a smooth link between the apparently disparate designs of the invertebrates and vertebrates.
... a local, indigenous, American bizarre-ity.
I have often been amused by our vulgar tendency to take complex issues, with solutions at neither extreme of a continuum of possibilities, and break them into dichotomies, assigning one group to one pole and the other to an opposite end, with no acknowledgment of subtleties and intermediate position
Some evolutionists will protest that we are caricaturing their view of adaptation. After all, do they not admit genetic drift, allometry, and a variety of reasons for nonadaptive evolution?
We have become, by the power of a glorious evolutionary accident called intelligence, the stewards of life's continuity on earth. We did not ask for this role, but we cannot abjure it. We may not be suited to it, but here we are.
A lot of scientists hate writing. Most scientists love being in the lab and doing the work and when the work is done, they are finished.
Paleontologists [fossil experts] have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin's argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life's history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we almost never see the very process we profess
The great merit of Stephen Gould's account of the disastrous history of phychometrics is that he shifts the argument from a sterile contest between environmentalists and hereditarians and turns it into an argument between those who are impressed with what our biology stops us doing and those who are
In what I like to call the Great Asymmetry, every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible...
I believe [...] that we can still have a genre of scientific books suitable for and accessible alike to professionals and interested laypeople. The concepts of science, in all their richness and ambiguity, can be presented without any compromise, without any simplification counting as distortion, in
If any issue should unite liberals and conservatives, anyone who cares about the integrity of human achievement or respect for human accomplishment, may we not all pledge to avoid the silly censoring that can lead to a codification of Orwell's Newspeak? Consider John Milton's reasons for why good ar
Nature is objective, and nature is knowable, but we can only view her through a glass darkly and many clouds upon our vision are of our own making: social and cultural biases, psychological preferences, and mental limitations (in universal modes of thought, not just individualized stupidity).
God was there when it happened. We were not there.... Therefore, we are completely limited to what God has seen fit to tell us, and this information is in His written Word.
Goethe died in 1832. As you know, Goethe was very active in science. In fact, he did some very good scientific work in plant morphology and mineralogy. But he was quite bitter at the way in which many scientists refused to grant him a hearing because he was a poet and therefore, they felt, he couldn
I am glad that the life of pandas is so dull by human standards, for our efforts at conservation have little moral value if we preserve creatures only as human ornaments; I shall be impressed when we show solicitude for warty toads and slithering worms.
Is uniformitarianism necessary?
Charles Darwin viewed the fossil record more as an embarrassment than as an aid to his theory ...
Pictures are not incidental frills to a text; they are essences of our distinctive way of knowing.
As we discern a fine line between crank and genius, so also (and unfortunately) we must acknowledge an equally graded trajectory from crank to demagogue. When people learn no tools of judgment and merely follow their hopes, the seeds of political manipulation are sown.
But our ways of learning about the world are strongly influenced by the social preconceptions and biased modes of thinking that each scientist must apply to any problem. The stereotype of a fully rational and objective scientific method, with individual scientists as logical (and interchangeable) ro
They have this absurd notion that something that occurs in the past and that is not subject to direct observation is not provable. That's nonsense .... There is a mystery as to how evolution occurs, but there is not a whole lot of doubt as to whether it occurs.