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

I dreamed of becoming a scientist, in general, and a paleontologist, in particular, ever since the Tyrannosaurus skeleton awed and scared me.

Stephen Jay Gould
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 language accessible to all intelligent people. [...] I hope that this book can be read with profit both in seminars for graduate students and if the movie stinks and you forgot your sleeping pills on the businessman's special to Tokyo.
Stephen Jay Gould

Death is the ultimate enemy - and I find nothing reproachable in those who rage mightily against the dying of the light.

Stephen Jay Gould
Phony psychics like Uri Geller have had particular success in bamboozling scientists with ordinary stage magic, because only scientists are arrogant enough to think that they always observe with rigorous and objective scrutiny, and therefore could never be so fooled while ordinary mortals know perfectly well that good performers can always find a way to trick people.
Stephen Jay Gould

Perhaps I am just a hopeless rationalist, but isn't fascination as comforting as solace? Isn't nature immeasurably more interesting for its complexities and its lack of conformity to our hopes? Isn't curiosity as wondrously and fundamentally human as compassion?

Stephen Jay Gould
No one supposed that dinoflagellates might actively kill fish as an evolved response for their own specific advantage, including a potential nutritional benefit for the algal cells. And yet the dinoflagellates do seem to be killing and eating fishes in a manner suggesting active evolution for this most peculiar reversal.
Stephen Jay Gould

No one should feel at all offended or threatened by the obvious fact that we are not all born entirely blank, or entirely the same, in our mixture of the broad behavioral propensities defining what we call "temperament.

Stephen Jay Gould
Each worldview was a cultural product, but evolution is true and separate creation is not. [...] Worldviews are social constructions, and they channel the search for facts. But facts are found and knowledge progresses, however fitfully. Fact and theory are intertwined, and all great scientists understand the interaction.
Stephen Jay Gould

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 even contact with the sea. How easy it is to be misled and to assume that no other landscape could possibly have arisen.

Stephen Jay Gould
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.