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Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes (1980)
by Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Jay Gould
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Witty and well-informed as ever. One of the best is on how pioneers of statistics got it all wrong about immigration, moulding their criteria to fit their racist prejudices. Several excursions into Darwin, how wide-ranging he was, what a master of detail as well as grand theory. Strong on, or rather against, creationists - no such thing as "scientific creationism". Seems to be a particularly American delusion, a precursor to our present "post-truth" culture. ( )
Another set of Gould's essays, mostly focused on the theme of evolution in one form or another. Like many of these volumes, some of the essays have dated a bit more than others, but there remain some interesting bits.
I just don't know what to think. I don't have the training. I'm glad to know it's old so I don't have to feel like I'm missing something important! (That is to say, any of the ideas he proposes that have been accepted are now part of the current literature, and those that were not accepted can be disregarded. :)
This is the fourth in a series written by Stephen Jay Gould, a paleontologist from Harvard University. Gould looks at some of the early, flawed and heavily biased research that supported racial superiority, along with other factors involved in the evolution of families and species and scientific considerations in determining origins. Gould supports the basic Darwinian theory but takes issue with the frequently misunderstood understanding and adaptation of Darwin's work by the public. This work is an academic treatise, and as such, it is little wonder that so few people so deeply invested in evolutionary theory have bothered to read explanations of this type.
A collection of essays, almost all of them originally published in Natural History Magazine, covering various topics in evolutionary biology and related fields. These are from the early 1980s, so some of them are a bit dated, but they're still very much worth reading. Gould is a lucid, thoughtful writer, and his subject matter is always intriguing, at least for those of a scientific mindset. He isn't simply popularizing scientific concepts or offering up interesting scientific factoids for his readers, either. There's a lot of original thought, analysis, and argument here, whether Gould is attempting to dispel over-simplistic myths about important people in the history of science, contesting the popular notion that extinct species are necessarily failed or "inferior" species, or -- a favorite theme -- pointing out the ways that biologists often fail to sufficiently take into account the role that chance and contingency play in evolution. Fascinating stuff.
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Lively and fascinating. . . . Gould] writes beautifully about science and the wonders of nature. Tracy Kidder
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)575Natural sciences and mathematics Life Sciences, Biology Physiological systems in plants
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An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.