Can I pay any higher tribute to a man [George Gaylord Simpson] than to state that his work both established a profession and sowed the seeds for its own revision? If Simpson had reached final truth, he either would have been a priest or would have chosen a dull profession. The history of life cannot be a dull profession.

-Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould

Throughout his last half-dozen books, for example, Arthur Koestler has been conducting a campaign against his own misunderstanding of Darwinism. He hopes to find some ordering force, constraining evolution to certain directions and overriding the influence of natural selection. [...] Darwinism is not the theory of capricious change that Koestler imagines. Random variation may be the raw material of change, but natural selection builds good design by rejecting most variants while accepting and accumulating the few that improve adaptation to local environments.

Stephen Jay Gould
The human mind delights in finding pattern—so much so that we often mistake coincidence or forced analogy for profound meaning. No other habit of thought lies so deeply within the soul of a small creature trying to make sense of a complex world not constructed for it.
Stephen Jay Gould

Any decent writer writes because there's some deep internal need to keep learning.

Stephen Jay Gould
Orchids were not made by an ideal engineer; they are jury-rigged from a limited set of available components.
Stephen Jay Gould

I can envision observations and experiments that would disprove any evolutionary theory I know.

Stephen Jay Gould
The world is full of signals that we don't perceive.
Stephen Jay Gould

The center of human nature is rooted in ten thousand ordinary acts of kindness that define our days.

Stephen Jay Gould
In his anti-Darwinian book... (and eponymously named The Neck of the Giraffe ), Francis Hitching tells the story... "The need to survive by reaching ever higher for food is, like so many Darwinian explanations of its kind, little more than a post hoc speculation." Hitching is quite correct, but he rebuts a fairy story that Darwin was far too smart to tell - even though the tale later entered our high school texts as a "classic case" nonetheless.
Stephen Jay Gould

The essence of Darwinism lies in its claim that natural selection creates the fit. Variation is ubiquitous and random in direction. It supplies raw material only. Natural selection directs the course of evolutionary change.

Stephen Jay Gould
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 to study.