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Stephen Jay Gould (1941–2002)

Autor von Zufall Mensch. Das Wunder des Lebens als Spiel der Natur

121+ Werke 27,297 Mitglieder 275 Rezensionen Lieblingsautor von 155 Leser:innen

Über den Autor

Born in New York City in 1941, Stephen Jay Gould received his B.A. from Antioch College in New York in 1963 and a Ph.D. in paleontology from Columbia University in 1967. Gould spent most of his career as a professor at Harvard University and curator of invertebrate paleontology at Harvard's Museum mehr anzeigen of Comparative Zoology. His research was mainly in the evolution and speciation of land snails. Gould was a leading proponent of the theory of punctuated equilibrium. This theory holds that few evolutionary changes occur among organisms over long periods of time, and then a brief period of rapid changes occurs before another long, stable period of equilibrium sets in. Gould also made significant contributions to the field of evolutionary developmental biology, most notably in his work, Ontogeny and Phylogeny. An outspoken advocate of the scientific outlook, Gould had been a vigorous defender of evolution against its creation-science opponents in popular magazines focusing on science. He wrote a column for Natural History and has produced a remarkable series of books that display the excitement of science for the layperson. Among his many awards and honors, Gould won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His titles include; Ever Since Darwin, The Panda's Thumb, Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes, Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory and Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin. Stephen Jay Gould died on May 20, 2002, following his second bout with cancer. (Bowker Author Biography) weniger anzeigen
Hinweis zur Begriffsklärung:

(eng) This is the author page for Stephen Jay Gould. For the mystery writer, please see Stephen Gould. If you have books by the scientist listed as by "Stephen Gould", please consider editing the author field to include his full name. Thank you.

Bildnachweis: A photo of Stephen Jay Gould, by Kathy Chapman online


Werke von Stephen Jay Gould

Ontogeny and Phylogeny (1977) 351 Exemplare
Das Ende der Zeiten (1998) 293 Exemplare
The Best American Essays 2002 (2002) — Herausgeber; Einführung — 219 Exemplare
Adam's Navel (1993) 134 Exemplare
Punctuated Equilibrium (1972) 100 Exemplare
Illuminations: A Bestiary (1986) 58 Exemplare
Alexis Rockman (2004) 16 Exemplare
Evolution & Extinction: Essays (1998) 12 Exemplare
Gould. Obra Esencial (2003) 6 Exemplare
Stephen Jay Gould on Evolution (1994) 4 Exemplare
"Curveball" 3 Exemplare
Uomini e fossili 3 Exemplare
Il millennio che non c'è (1999) 2 Exemplare
A Wiccan Reader, Vol. 1 (2010) 2 Exemplare
I pilastri del tempo (2000) 2 Exemplare
Dějiny planety Země (1998) 1 Exemplar
Galileo Galilei 1 Exemplar
Selected Writings 1 Exemplar
various books 1 Exemplar
America Revisited 1 Exemplar
Os Oito Porquinhos (1996) 1 Exemplar
Nonmoral Nature 1 Exemplar
Book Of Life 1 Exemplar
Steven Jay Gould 1 Exemplar

Zugehörige Werke

Abgrund (1993) — Erzähler, einige Ausgaben8,102 Exemplare
The Far Side Gallery 3 (1988) — Vorwort — 2,076 Exemplare
Wilde Schimpansen. Verhaltensforschung am Gombe- Strom. (1971) — Vorwort, einige Ausgaben1,300 Exemplare
The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing (2008) — Mitwirkender — 790 Exemplare
Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea (2001) — Einführung, einige Ausgaben777 Exemplare
The Best American Essays of the Century (2000) — Mitwirkender — 758 Exemplare
Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series (1963) — Einführung, einige Ausgaben733 Exemplare
Darwin (Norton Critical Edition) (1970) — Mitwirkender — 642 Exemplare
Baseball: A Literary Anthology (2002) — Mitwirkender — 329 Exemplare
Man's Place in Nature (1863) — Einführung, einige Ausgaben243 Exemplare
Verborgene Geschichten der Wissenschaft (1995) — Mitwirkender — 234 Exemplare
Der Wert der Wissenschaft (1918) — Herausgeber, einige Ausgaben197 Exemplare
The Best American Essays 1994 (1994) — Mitwirkender — 176 Exemplare
The Best American Science Writing 2000 (2000) — Mitwirkender — 165 Exemplare
The Best American Essays 1991 (1991) — Mitwirkender — 142 Exemplare
The Best American Science Writing 2001 (2001) — Mitwirkender — 132 Exemplare
Charles Darwin. "Nichts ist beständiger als der Wandel". Briefe 1822-1859 (2008) — Einführung, einige Ausgaben120 Exemplare
The Best American Essays 1990 (1990) — Mitwirkender — 117 Exemplare
Fossils: The Evolution and Extinction of Species (1991) — Einführung — 116 Exemplare
Athanasius Kircher: the Last Man Who Knew Everything (2004) — Mitwirkender, einige Ausgaben92 Exemplare
The Simpsons: Season 9 (2014) — Guest star — 90 Exemplare
Granta 16: Science (1985) — Mitwirkender — 81 Exemplare
The Best American Essays 1986 (1986) — Mitwirkender — 68 Exemplare
The Art of National Geographic (1999) — Vorwort — 63 Exemplare
Spektrum der Wissenschaft , Spezial: Leben und Kosmos (1995) — Mitwirkender — 20 Exemplare
The Viking Atlas of Evolution (1996) — Consulting editor — 14 Exemplare
New Scientist, 12 March 1987 (1987) — Mitwirkender — 1 Exemplar



Gebräuchlichste Namensform
Gould, Stephen Jay
Rechtmäßiger Name
Gould, Stephen Jay
New York, New York, USA
New York, New York, USA
metastatic adenocarcinoma
New York, New York, USA
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Antioch College (BA|1963)
Columbia University (Ph.D|1967)
Shearer, Rhonda Roland (2nd wife)
Harvard University
American Museum of Natural History
Paleontological Society
Society for the Study of Evolution
Museum of Comparative Zoology
Preise und Auszeichnungen
Library of Congress "Living Legends Award" for scientists and inventors"
Humanist of the Year (2001)
MacArthur Fellowship (1981)
Linnean Medal (1992)
Darwin-Wallace Medal (2008)
Paleontological Society Medal (2002) (Zeige alle 19)
Golden Plate Award (1982)
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (1983)
National Academy of Sciences (1989)
American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1983)
St. Louis Literary Award (1994)
Sue Tyler Friedman Medal (1989)
Charles Schuchert Award (1975)
Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science (1983, 1990)
National Book Award (1981)
National Book Critics Circle Award (1981)
In Praise of Reason Award (1986)
The Isaac Asimov Award (1995)
The Pantheon of Skeptics (2011)
Hinweis zur Identitätsklärung
This is the author page for Stephen Jay Gould. For the mystery writer, please see Stephen Gould. If you have books by the scientist listed as by "Stephen Gould", please consider editing the author field to include his full name. Thank you.



I admit to coming to this book with a slightly unjustified negative bias. I'm not sure where I picked this up but I had the impression that SJG was both a "bit full of himself" and maybe not all that trustworthy anyway with his science. Can't recall where I picked up these impressions because I haven't read any of his books to date but certainly there was some reference in the work of EO Wilson to the effect that SJG was not a pleasant work colleague. Anyway, I shall try and put that behind me and review objectively. First, I find myself agreeing with the general thrust of SJG argument: that is, that the bacteria are the dominant species on the earth and always have been. (Though this ignores viruses as a life form because I suspect that viruses are probably greater in number and variety than the bacteria).
SJG's next point is that evolution is not necessarily towards increasing complexity or sophistication. And he goes to great lengths with a baseball analogy to show that where there are walls or limits to change (or scores) then this effectively prevents evolution in certain directions. I must confess that I think one of his diagrams is just plain wrong. It's that on p119 where he has batter's averages in earlier years ..say up to 1930 with a fairly wide spread in the standard deviation and a figure for more recent years where the standard deviation is narrower. In the second case he has moved the whole distribution closer to the right wall, claiming that the overall standard of play has improved (both by batters and pitchers). However, his X axis is the batting average and the mean figure hasn't changed. so the distributions should be one under the other ...not moved closer to the wall. The average hasn't moved closer to the wall at all. Improvement in play is not from moving closer to the wall but by the narrowing of the standard deviation. He seems dot assume that his batter's average is a measure of the objective quality of batting, but it's really a ratio which doesn't change much because the pitchers have also improved.
Actually, I found the whole baseball segment overwrought to make a fairly simple point. I suspect SJG was trying to express his common touch with the rest of humanity. (Through the baseball analogy) ......though his writing style belies this. I took a couple of samples of his prose and ran it through the Flesch test of readability. It came in at 44 and 45 which means that it's difficult to read (Grade 13). And I would concur. It's hard work mainly because he both uses big words, long sentences, and lots of expansions on ideas within the sentences (or qualifying statements). Here is a fairly typical Gouldian paragraph "This last-ditch defense of equine progress cannot be sustained. The conventional trends are by no means pervasive (though their relative frequency does increase through the bush, albeit in a fitful way). Several late lineages negate the most prominent trends, and a different outcome for the history of horses perfectly plausible in our world of contingency (see Gould, 1989)-would have compelled a radically altered tale". Not easy reading ...and not because of scientific words.

I did like his debunking of the ladder--like sequencing of the evolution of the horse and other popularisations of evolution. And I did like the diagram on p165 showing the expansion of mean and extreme values within branching evolutionary sequence. Though I did find myself wondering whether the left "wall" was truly a wall. I guess it's only a wall if the species can't degrade or regress into its ancestral form. And I'm not so convinced by this. Ok if you define a species as a strain that can't interbreed with ancestral forms then this may be correct. But at the borderline where new species are being formed there is a certain element of plasticity around interbreeding and hybridisation. And Darwin made the point that the fancy varieties of pigeons (like tumblers etc) that had been bred...if left to their own devices, would quickly revert to the common rock pigeon. OK a variety is not the same as a species...but it's also a question of exactly where one draws the line. And around the line there will be some fertile interbreeding.

I also found his logic a bit strange with the discussion of foraminifera (forams) (Fig 23 on p154). Ok he demonstrates that in three different geological periods forams started small in size but over time displayed a great range of specie sizes. But always the smallest sized predominates so (he claims) there is no trend to increased complexity. It's just what you expect when there is a "wall" a lower limit. In this case, the "wall" is 0.15mm because this is the smallest mesh size used to filter out the forams. But surely this is an artificial wall and there will be species which were initially washed down the drain but then, over time, some of those species increased in size and were then picked up in the sieves where it was registered as just another "small" species. around 0.15 mm. Probably doesn't destroy his argument about small sizes predominating and the larger sizes being a "tail" but it just seems a bit sloppy logic to me.
I did like the diagram on p180 and his associated commentary. He makes the point that animals and plants are just a small twig on the evolutionary chart ...and humans an even smaller twig. It does put things in perspective....though, I guess, I have long been aware of the predominance of bacteria and fungi (and viruses and phage ) among the living things. Actually, I understand that the phage actually outnumber bacteria by about 2:1 so SJG was also wrong about the bacteria being the modal life forms. (Though arguable if phage are truly independent life forms....however, even humans rely on eating plants and animals to survive so are we independent life forms?).

So where do I sit after reading and considering the book. I must confess that I'm impressed. he does introduce some radical ideas and argues for them very cogently...albeit with (to my eye anyway) a few slips. His writing style is a bit overwrought ...but understandable and sometimes quite delightful. I was going to give it 4 stars but I think I'll upgrade that to 5 and I might even seek out some more of his work.
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booktsunami | 17 weitere Rezensionen | Nov 27, 2023 |
This is volume 4 of the collected essays by the late Stephen Jay Gould. As before, it is the usual mixture of some rather esoteric ones that go a bit over my head and subjects I find more interesting. I had to skip the article on baseball however, being from the UK and unable to drum up any interest. The discussion of mass extinctions was interesting, given that these essays were written during the period when the theory that the dinosaurs (and many marine invertebrates) had been wiped out by an asteroid strike was beginning to gather sufficient evidence to be accepted. Some of the articles have no doubt been superseded by more recent scientific developments which is problematic when a reader such as myself doesn't know which have been affected. So all in all, I rate this at 3 stars.… (mehr)
kitsune_reader | 12 weitere Rezensionen | Nov 23, 2023 |
This book was quite a slog and I found it organised rather oddly. There was a long section devoted to detailed examination with diagrams of reconstructions of various animals found in the Burgess Shale, then an account of the history of the discoveries and the man who found them, with an analysis of his wrongheaded shoehorning of the creatures into existing groups still extant today rather than the odd and extinct experimental lifeforms that the book discusses. It wound up with a long discussion of contingency - basically the unlikelihood of anything like ourselves evolving if anything in the long sequence of historical accidents had gone adrift at any one point.

I haven't read a full updated account but it seems that quite a bit of the book has been overtaken by subsequent discoveries. Certainly, it was obvious just looking at the picture that one of the creatures, Hallucigenia, had been shown upside down especially when Gould talks about the clumsiness of its movements on legs that had hardly any rotation at the joint - well, no, because those are obviously spines on its back. Because I can't tell which parts of the book are still valid, although the historical material presumably is still relevant and that was interesting, I can only rate this as an 'OK' 2 stars.
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kitsune_reader | 30 weitere Rezensionen | Nov 23, 2023 |
A mostly interesting history of the development of intelligence tests that studies in depth what is really being measured by them and whether intelligence is a 'thing' that can be given a simple score - the author's conclusion being that it cannot.

The earlier chapters describe the various fallacies of the attempts by scholars and scientists from about the eighteenth century onwards to classify intelligence, and reveal the racist, sexist and class based assumptions which relegated everyone but white men of the prosperous classes into a sliding scale of decreasing intelligence with black people at the bottom. It discusses the development by Binet of tests which were meant to identify children who were struggling at school and the areas they were having difficulties with, intended by him to help the children concerned but how these tests and ratings were taken up as a "thing" that could encapsulate a person's intelligence in a single score, treated as set in stone for their whole lifetime. The tests were misapplied and used to subsequently label most children as failures through schemes such as the 11 exam in the UK and the IQ tests in the USA based on the misuse of the results of testing on the USA army during WWI.

The author analyses in detail the long report on army testing which showed how the testing was fatally flawed for various reasons including, among other things, lack of buy-in from officers, verbal browbeating instructions of the picture-based tests given to men who were illiterate and often couldn't hear the instructor due to the rooms being overcrowded or who couldn't understand because they spoke little English, illiterate men being sent to do the written test because there were too many queued up to do the picture based tests, the picture based tests needing marks to be made on paper often by men who had never picked up a pen/pencil before, and too many tests crammed into the time allowed. All this information was in the massive report but no one read it and just took the 'doctored' figures in the summary which cut out a lot of the negativity.

The army tests were then used uncritically for decades as the basis for IQ tests. Gould gave a batch of the tests including the picture based ones to his students as an experiment and despite their fully comprehending what the tests were - another problem to the original people who had to be familiar with American culture which a lot of the immigrant recruits weren't - they couldn't finish a lot of them in the time given because it wasn't physically possible to mark the paper in time on long batteries of repetitive number based tests.

The final chapter deals with factor analysis which is a mathematical technique applied to test performance. Most of this went rather over my head, but I did grasp the fact that one of its major champions had been recently, at the time the book was published, revealed in detail to have falsified most of his conclusions. That part of the book was the least engaging for me and I had to break off from reading to refresh myself with some fiction in order to eventually get through it. So overall I would rate the book at 3 stars.
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kitsune_reader | 13 weitere Rezensionen | Nov 23, 2023 |



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