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.
Evolution is an obstacle course not a freeway; the correct analogue for long-term success is a distant punt receiver evading legions of would-be tacklers in an oddly zigzagged path toward a goal, not a horse thundering down the flat.
I like to summarize what I regard as the pedestal-smashing messages of Darwin's revolution in the following statement, which might be chanted several times a day, like a Hare Krishna mantra, to encourage penetration into the soul: Humans are not the end result of predictable evolutionary progress, b
I contend that the continued racial classification of Homo sapiens represents an outmoded approach to the general problem of differentiation within a species. In other words, I reject a racial classification of humans for the same reasons that I prefer not to divide into subspecies the prodigiously
We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universesâ€”one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximum freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way.
[In natural history,] great discovery often requires a map to a hidden mine filled with gems then easily gathered by conventional tools, not a shiny new space-age machine for penetrating previously inaccessible worlds.
All evolutionary biologists know that variation itself is nature's only irreducible essence... I had to place myself amidst the variation.
Change is more often a rapid transition between two stable states than a continuous transformation at slow and steady rates. . . .Change occurs in large leaps following a slow accumulation of stress that a system resists until it reaches the breaking point. Heat water, and it eventually boils. Oppre
My own field of paleontology has strongly challenged the Darwinian premise that life's major transformations can be explained by adding up, through the immensity of geological time, the successive tiny changes produced generation after generation by natural selection.
People are clever, but almost no one ever devises an optimal quip precisely at the needed moment. Therefore, virtually all great one-liners are later inventions - words that people wished they had spouted, but failed to manufacture at the truly opportune instant.
Science simply cannot adjudicate the issue of God's possible superintendence of nature.
Is uniformitarianism necessary?
Most impediments to scientific understanding are conceptual locks, not factual lacks. Most difficult to dislodge are those biases that escape our scrutiny because they seem so obviously, even ineluctably, just. We know ourselves best and tend to view other creatures as mirrors of our own constitutio
I think there have to be Bachs and Beethovens. We may have - there are so many more people. Musical training is available to so many more, but it may be that we've hit a right wall in terms of accessible styles and since we demand innovation as a criterion of genius, there may not be more innovative
At a minimum, in explaining evolutionary pathways through time, the constraints imposed by history rise to equal prominence with the immediate advantages of adaptation.
Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within.
The facts of nature are what they are, but we can only view them through the spectacles of our mind. Our mind works largely by metaphor and comparison, not always (or often) by relentless logic. When we are caught in conceptual traps, the best exit is often a change in metaphor not because the new g
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.
Wind back the tape of life to the early days of the Burgess Shale; let it play again from an identical starting point, and the chance becomes vanishingly small that anything like human intelligence would grace the replay.
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.
The myriad valleys could have arisen anywhere on the landscape. The current positions are quite accidental. If we could repeat the experiment, we might obtain no valleys at all, or a completely different system. Yet we now stand at the shore line contemplating the fine spacing of valleys and their e
Very little comes easily to our poor, benighted species (the first creature, after all, to experiment with the novel evolutionary inventions of self-conscious philosophy and art). Even the most "obvious," "accurate," and "natural" style of thinking or drawing must be regulated by history and won by
The literal record was not a hopelessly and imperfect fraction of truly insensible gradation within large populations but an accurate reflection of the actual process identified by evolutionists as the chief motor of biological change. The theory of punctuated equilibrium was, in its initial formula
In the great debates of early-nineteenth century geology, catastrophists followed the stereotypical method of objective science-empirical literalism. They believed what they saw, interpolated nothing, and read the record of the rocks directly.
Evolution is a process of constant branching and expansion. Stephen Jay Goul
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
[G]enes make enzymes, and enzymes control the rates of chemical processes. Genes do not make "novelty seeking" or any other complex and overt behavior. Predisposition via a long chain of complex chemical reactions, mediated through a more complex series of life's circumstances, does not equal identi
Natural selection is just three factors - over-production, variation, and inheritance combined to produce adaptation to changing local environments. It's not a principle or progress; it's just a principle of local adaptation. You don't make better creatures in any cosmic sense; you make creatures th
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 ...
Misunderstanding of probability may be the greatest of all impediments to scientific literacy.