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

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.

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 picture several reviewers of my own books as passing a long future lodged between Brutus and Judas in the jaws of Satan.

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

American history without Lincoln.

Stephen Jay Gould
Something deep within us drives accurate messiness into the neat channels of canonical stories.
Stephen Jay Gould

Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution - paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce.

Stephen Jay Gould
Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups.
Stephen Jay Gould

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

Stephen Jay Gould
[C]ontingency is a thing unto itself, not the titration of determinism by randomness.