Always be suspicious of conclusions that reinforce uncritical hope and follow comforting traditions of Western thought.

-Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould

The spirit of Plato dies hard. We have been unable to escape the philosophical tradition that what we can see and measure in the world is merely the superficial and imperfect representation of an underlying reality.

Stephen Jay Gould
The legends of fieldwork locate all important sites deep in inaccessible jungles inhabited by fierce beasts and restless natives, and surrounded by miasmas of putrefaction and swarms of tsetse flies.
Stephen Jay Gould

In science, 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.' I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

Stephen Jay Gould
Evolution is one of the two or three most primally fascinating subjects in all the sciences.
Stephen Jay Gould

Fundamentalism is rigorously and systematically used to indoctrinate and subjugate young minds. It is a contraceptive designed to prevent intellectual fertilization.

Stephen Jay Gould
The human brain became large by natural selection (who knows why, but presumably for good cause). Yet surely most "things" now done by our brains, and essential both to our cultures and to our very survival, are epiphenomena of the computing power of this machine, not genetically grounded Darwinian entities created specifically by natural selection for their current function.
Stephen Jay Gould

I strongly reject any conceptual scheme that places our options on a line, and holds that the only alternative to a pair of extreme positions lies somewhere between them. More fruitful perspectives often require that we step off the line to a site outside the dichotomy.

Stephen Jay Gould
Our creationist detractors charge that evolution is an unproved and unprovable charade-a secular religion masquerading as science. They claim, above all, that evolution generates no predictions, never exposes itself to test, and therefore stands as dogma rather than disprovable science. This claim is nonsense. We make and test risky predictions all the time; our success is not dogma, but a highly probable indication of evolution's basic truth.
Stephen Jay Gould

Asian Homo erectus died without issue and does not enter our immediate ancestry (for we evolved from African populations); Neanderthal people were collateral cousins, perhaps already living in Europe while we emerged in Africa... In other words, we are an improbable and fragile entity, fortunately successful after precarious beginnings as a small population in Africa, not the predictable end result of a global tendency. We are a thing, an item of history, not an embodiment of general principles.

Stephen Jay Gould
The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best - and therefore never scrutinize or question.