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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index G > Stephen Jay Gould Quotes

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Stephen Jay Gould
(10 Sep 1941 - 20 May 2002)

American palaeontologist, evolutionary biologist, science historian and author who was a frequent and popular speaker on the sciences. His published work includes both scholarly study and many prize-winning popular collections of essays.


Science Quotes by Stephen Jay Gould (48 quotes)

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A man does not attain the status of Galileo merely because he is persecuted; he must also be right.
— Stephen Jay Gould
In essay 'Velikovsky in Collision', Natural History (Mar 1975), collected in Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History (1977, 1992), 154.
Science quotes on:  |  Attainment (33)  |  Correctness (11)  |  Galileo Galilei (92)  |  Mere (28)  |  Persecution (6)  |  Right (101)  |  Status (9)

Always be suspicious of conclusions that reinforce uncritical hope and follow comforting traditions of Western thought.
— Stephen Jay Gould
From The Flamingo's Smile (1987), 401.
Science quotes on:  |  Conclusion (104)  |  Follow (40)  |  Hope (93)  |  Reinforce (2)  |  Suspicion (22)  |  Thought (291)  |  Tradition (27)  |  Uncritical (3)  |  Western (9)

Among people I have met, the few whom I would term “great” all share a kind of unquestioned, fierce dedication; an utter lack of doubt about the value of their activities (or at least an internal impulse that drives through any such angst); and above all, a capacity to work (or at least to be mentally alert for unexpected insights) at every available moment of every day of their lives.
— Stephen Jay Gould
From The Lying Stones of Marrakech: Penultimate Reflections in Natural History (2000), 76.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (75)  |  Alert (3)  |  Angst (2)  |  Available (8)  |  Capacity (33)  |  Dedication (7)  |  Doubt (89)  |  Drive (23)  |  Great (164)  |  Impulse (20)  |  Insight (43)  |  Internal (11)  |  Kind (55)  |  Lack (37)  |  Least (14)  |  Life (743)  |  Met (2)  |  Moment (40)  |  Person (88)  |  Share (19)  |  Term (65)  |  Unexpected (21)  |  Unquestioned (3)  |  Utter (3)  |  Value (128)  |  Work (347)

As a different, but perhaps more common, strategy for the suppression of novelty, we may admit the threatening object to our midst, but provide an enveloping mantle of ordinary garb… . This kind of cover-up, so often amusing in our daily lives, can be quite dangerous in science, for nothing can stifle originality more effectively than an ordinary mantle placed fully and securely over an extraordinary thing.
— Stephen Jay Gould
In 'A Short Way to Big Ends', Natural History (Jan 1986), 95, No. 1, 18.
Science quotes on:  |  Dangerous (31)  |  Envelop (2)  |  Mantle (3)  |  Novelty (15)  |  Ordinary (33)  |  Originality (13)  |  Research (477)  |  Stifle (3)  |  Strategy (7)  |  Suppression (6)

Asian Homo erectus died without issue and does not enter our immediate ancestry (for we evolved from African populations); Neanderthal people were collateral cousins, perhaps already living in Europe while we emerged in Africa... In other words, we are an improbable and fragile entity, fortunately successful after precarious beginnings as a small population in Africa, not the predictable end result of a global tendency. We are a thing, an item of history, not an embodiment of general principles.
— Stephen Jay Gould
Wonderful Life (1989), 319.
Science quotes on:  |  Evolution (448)  |  Homo Sapiens (15)

Biological determinism is, in its essence, a theory of limits. It takes the current status of groups as a measure of where they should and must be ... We inhabit a world of human differences and predilections, but the extrapolation of these facts to theories of rigid limits is ideology.
— Stephen Jay Gould
The Mismeasure of Man (1981), 28-9.
Science quotes on:  |  Biology (136)  |  Fact (525)  |  Ideology (4)  |  Theory (520)

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
From 'G.G. Simpson, Paleontology, and the Modern Synthesis', collected in Ernst Mayr, William B. Provine (eds.), The Evolutionary Synthesis: Perspectives on the Unification of Biology (1998), 171.
Science quotes on:  |  Dull (22)  |  Establish (17)  |  History (254)  |  Life (743)  |  Paleontology (25)  |  Priest (13)  |  Profession (49)  |  Revision (4)  |  Seed (41)  |  George Gaylord Simpson (28)  |  Sowing (5)  |  Tribute (4)  |  Truth (665)

Creation science has not entered the curriculum for a reason so simple and so basic that we often forget to mention it: because it is false, and because good teachers understand why it is false. What could be more destructive of that most fragile yet most precious commodity in our entire intellectual heritage—good teaching—than a bill forcing our honorable teachers to sully their sacred trust by granting equal treatment to a doctrine not only known to be false, but calculated to undermine any general understanding of science as an enterprise?.
— Stephen Jay Gould
In 'The Verdict on Creationism' The Sketical Inquirer (Winter 1987/88), 12, 186.
Science quotes on:  |  Basic (41)  |  Bill (9)  |  Calculation (62)  |  Commodity (3)  |  Creationism (6)  |  Curriculum (8)  |  Destruction (72)  |  Doctrine (47)  |  Enterprise (15)  |  Equal (44)  |  False (62)  |  Forcing (2)  |  Forgetting (13)  |  Fragile (4)  |  General (65)  |  Good (154)  |  Heritage (6)  |  Honor (14)  |  Intellect (152)  |  Mention (9)  |  Precious (19)  |  Sacred (12)  |  Science (1376)  |  Simplicity (120)  |  Teacher (79)  |  Treatment (84)  |  Trust (33)  |  Undermining (2)  |  Understanding (315)

Evolution has encountered no intellectual trouble; no new arguments have been offered. Creationism is a home-grown phenomenon of American sociocultural history—a splinter movement … who believe that every word in the Bible must be literally true, whatever such a claim might mean.
— Stephen Jay Gould
Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms: Essays on Natural History (1998), 270.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (296)  |  Bible (74)  |  Creationism (6)  |  Evolution (448)  |  Religion (155)

Facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away while scientists debate rival theories for explaining them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air pending the outcome.
— Stephen Jay Gould
'Evolution as Fact and Theory', in Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes (1983, 1994), Chap. 19.
Science quotes on:  |  Apple (29)  |  Certainty (89)  |  Data (90)  |  Debate (15)  |  Difference (189)  |  Albert Einstein (241)  |  Explanation (151)  |  Fact (525)  |  Hierarchy (11)  |  Idea (391)  |  Increasing (4)  |  Interpretation (55)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (237)  |  Outcome (10)  |  Rival (8)  |  Scientist (371)  |  Structure (162)  |  Suspend (7)  |  Theory (520)  |  Theory Of Gravitation (6)  |  World (499)

Facts are not pure unsullied bits of information; culture also influences what we see and how we see it. Theories, moreover, are not inexorable inductions from facts. The most creative theories are often imaginative visions imposed upon facts; the source of imagination is also strongly cultural.
— Stephen Jay Gould
In The Mismeasure of Man (1981, 1996), 54.
Science quotes on:  |  Creative (29)  |  Culture (66)  |  Fact (525)  |  Imagination (192)  |  Impose (7)  |  Induction (43)  |  Inexorable (4)  |  Influence (90)  |  Information (86)  |  Pure (45)  |  Source (57)  |  Theory (520)  |  Vision (42)

History employs evolution to structure biological events in time.
— Stephen Jay Gould
The Flamingo's Smile (1987), 18.
Science quotes on:  |  Event (74)  |  Evolution (448)  |  History (254)  |  Time (320)

Honorable errors do not count as failures in science, but as seeds for progress in the quintessential activity of correction.
— Stephen Jay Gould
Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms: Essays on Natural History (1998), 163.
Science quotes on:  |  Correction (25)  |  Error (204)  |  Failure (98)  |  Progress (291)

Humans arose, rather, as a fortuitous and contingent outcome of thousands of linked events, any one of which could have occurred differently and sent history on an alternative pathway that would not have led to consciousness.
— Stephen Jay Gould
'The Evolution of Life on Earth' Scientific American (Oct 1994) reprinted in The Scientific American Book of the Cosmos (2000), 274.
Science quotes on:  |  Consciousness (56)  |  Evolution (448)  |  Human (316)

I am not, personally, a believer or a religious man in any sense of institutional commitment or practice. But I have a great respect for religion, and the subject has always fascinated me, beyond almost all others (with a few exceptions, like evolution and paleontology).
— Stephen Jay Gould
Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms: Essays on Natural History (1998), 281.
Science quotes on:  |  Fascination (24)  |  Religion (155)  |  Respect (40)

If new species arise very rapidly in small, peripherally isolated local populations, then the great expectation of insensibly graded fossil sequences is a chimera. A new species does not evolve in the area of its ancestors; it does not arise from the slow transformation of all its forbears.
co-author with Niles Eldridge (palaeontologist, 1943- )
— Stephen Jay Gould
'Punctuated Equilibria: An Alternative to Phyletic Gradualism', in Thomas J. M. Schopf (ed.), Models in Paleobiology (1972), 84.
Science quotes on:  |  Punctuated Equilibria (2)

If one small and odd lineage of fishes had not evolved fins capable of bearing weight on land (though evolved for different reasons in lakes and seas,) terrestrial vertebrates would never have arisen. If a large extraterrestrial object—the ultimate random bolt from the blue—had not triggered the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago, mammals would still be small creatures, confined to the nooks and crannies of a dinosaur's world, and incapable of evolving the larger size that brains big enough for self-consciousness require. If a small and tenuous population of protohumans had not survived a hundred slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (and potential extinction) on the savannas of Africa, then Homo sapiens would never have emerged to spread throughout the globe. We are glorious accidents of an unpredictable process with no drive to complexity, not the expected results of evolutionary principles that yearn to produce a creature capable of understanding the mode of its own necessary construction.
— Stephen Jay Gould
Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin (1996), 216.
Science quotes on:  |  Asteroid (10)  |  Bolt From The Blue (2)  |  Dinosaur (22)  |  Evolution (448)  |  Homo Sapiens (15)  |  Mammal (25)

In science “fact” can only mean “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.” I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.
— Stephen Jay Gould
'Evolution as Fact and Theory', in Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History (1983), 255.
Science quotes on:  |  Apple (29)  |  Evolution (448)  |  Fact (525)  |  Theory (520)

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
'The Stinkstones of Oeningen', In Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes (1983), 105.
Science quotes on:  |  Observation (390)

Is uniformitarianism necessary?
— Stephen Jay Gould
'Is Uniformitarianism Necessary', American Journal of Science, 1965, 263, 223.
Science quotes on:  |  Uniformitarianism (7)

It has become, in my view, a bit too trendy to regard the acceptance of death as something tantamount to intrinsic dignity. Of course I agree with the preacher of Ecclesiastes that there is a time to love and a time to die - and when my skein runs out I hope to face the end calmly and in my own way. For most situations, however, I prefer the more martial view that death is the ultimate enemy - and I find nothing reproachable in those who rage mightily against the dying of the light.
— Stephen Jay Gould
Bully for Brontosaurus: Reflections on Natural History (1991).
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (226)  |  Death (241)

Life is a copiously branching bush, continually pruned by the grim reaper of extinction, not a ladder of predictable progress.
— Stephen Jay Gould
Wonderful Life (1989), 35.
Science quotes on:  |  Extinction (50)  |  Life (743)

Mary Anning [is] probably the most important unsung (or inadequately sung) collecting force in the history of paleontology.
— Stephen Jay Gould
In Stephen Jay Gould and Rosamond Wolffe Purcell, Finders, Keepers: Eight Collectors (1992), 100.
Science quotes on:  |  Mary Anning (3)  |  Collection (36)  |  History (254)  |  Importance (169)  |  Paleontologist (13)  |  Unsung (2)

Natural selection is a theory of local adaptation to changing environments. It proposes no perfecting principles, no guarantee of general improvement,
— Stephen Jay Gould
Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History (1977), 45.
Science quotes on:  |  Natural Selection (69)

No Geologist worth anything is permanently bound to a desk or laboratory, but the charming notion that true science can only be based on unbiased observation of nature in the raw is mythology. Creative work, in geology and anywhere else, is interaction and synthesis: half-baked ideas from a bar room, rocks in the field, chains of thought from lonely walks, numbers squeezed from rocks in a laboratory, numbers from a calculator riveted to a desk, fancy equipment usually malfunctioning on expensive ships, cheap equipment in the human cranium, arguments before a road cut.
— Stephen Jay Gould
An Urchin in the Storm (1988), 98.
Science quotes on:  |  Creativity (62)  |  Geology (182)

No serious student of human behavior denies the potent influence of evolved biology upon our cultural lives. Our struggle is to figure out how biology affects us, not whether it does.
— Stephen Jay Gould
In An Urchin in the Storm: Essays about Books and Ideas (1988, 2010), 152.
Science quotes on:  |  Affect (8)  |  Biology (136)  |  Cultural (10)  |  Deny (19)  |  Evolution (448)  |  Figure Out (3)  |  Human Behavior (3)  |  Influence (90)  |  Life (743)  |  Potent (2)  |  Serious (28)  |  Struggle (38)  |  Student (112)

Not since the Lord himself showed his stuff to Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones had anyone shown such grace and skill in the reconstruction of animals from disarticulated skeletons. Charles R. Knight, the most celebrated of artists in the reanimation of fossils, painted all the canonical figures of dinosaurs that fire our fear and imagination to this day.
— Stephen Jay Gould
In Wonderful Life: the Burgess Shale and the Nature of History (1990), 23. First sentence of chapter one.
Science quotes on:  |  Artist (38)  |  Bone (52)  |  Celebration (5)  |  Dinosaur (22)  |  Fear (85)  |  Fire (101)  |  Fossil (99)  |  Grace (8)  |  Imagination (192)  |  Charles R. Knight (2)  |  Painting (23)  |  Reconstruction (11)  |  Skeleton (12)  |  Skill (44)

Run the tape again, and let the tiny twig of Homo sapiens expire in Africa. Other hominids may have stood on the threshold of what we know as human possibilities, but many sensible scenarios would never generate our level of mentality. Run the tape again, and this time Neanderthal perishes in Europe and Homo erectus in Asia (as they did in our world). The sole surviving human stock, Homo erectus in Africa, stumbles along for a while, even prospers, but does not speciate and therefore remains stable. A mutated virus then wipes Homo erectus out, or a change in climate reconverts Africa into inhospitable forest. One little twig on the mammalian branch, a lineage with interesting possibilities that were never realized, joins the vast majority of species in extinction. So what? Most possibilities are never realized, and who will ever know the difference? Arguments of this form lead me to the conclusion that biology's most profound insight into human nature, status, and potential lies in the simple phrase, the embodiment of contingency: Homo sapiens is an entity, not a tendency.
— Stephen Jay Gould
Wonderful Life (1989), 320.
Science quotes on:  |  Hominid (4)  |  Homo Sapiens (15)

Science is a procedure for testing and rejecting hypotheses, not a compendium of certain knowledge. … Theories that cannot be tested in principle are not a part in science.
— Stephen Jay Gould
In The Flamingo's Smile: Reflections in Natural History (1985), 111.
Science quotes on:  |  Certainty (89)  |  Compendium (3)  |  Hypothesis (212)  |  Knowledge (1017)  |  Procedure (14)  |  Rejection (22)  |  Science (1376)  |  Test (81)

Science is a search for a repeated pattern. Laws and regularities underlie the display.
— Stephen Jay Gould
In An Urchin in the Storm: Essays about Books and Ideas (1987, 2010), 181.
Science quotes on:  |  Display (18)  |  Law (370)  |  Pattern (43)  |  Regularity (20)  |  Repeat (22)  |  Science (1376)  |  Search (67)  |  Underlying (8)

Science simply cannot adjudicate the issue of God’s possible superintendence of nature.
— Stephen Jay Gould
In ‘Impeaching a Self-Appointed Judge’, Scientific American (Jul 1992), 119. Cited in Gerald L. Schroeder The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom (2009), 18 & 220.
Science quotes on:  |  God (321)  |  Issue (21)  |  Nature (862)  |  Science (1376)  |  Science And Religion (247)  |  Simplicity (120)

Sociobiology is not just any statement that biology, genetics, and evolutionary theory have something to do with human behavior. Sociobiology is a specific theory about the nature of genetic and evolutionary input into human behavior. It rests upon the view that natural selection is a virtually omnipotent architect, constructing organisms part by part as best solutions to problems of life in local environments. It fragments organisms into “traits,” explains their existence as a set of best solutions, and argues that each trait is a product of natural selection operating “for” the form or behavior in question. Applied to humans, it must view specific behaviors (not just general potentials) as adaptations built by natural selection and rooted in genetic determinants, for natural selection is a theory of genetic change. Thus, we are presented with unproved and unprovable speculations about the adaptive and genetic basis of specific human behaviors: why some (or all) people are aggressive, xenophobic, religious, acquisitive, or homosexual.
— Stephen Jay Gould
In Hen's Teeth and Horses Toes (1983, 2010), 242-243.
Science quotes on:  |  Adaptation (34)  |  Aggression (6)  |  Architect (14)  |  Behavior (36)  |  Biology (136)  |  Evolution (448)  |  Genetics (97)  |  Natural Selection (69)  |  Omnipotent (4)  |  Organism (103)  |  Science And Religion (247)  |  Sociobiology (3)  |  Trait (17)

Some beliefs may be subject to such instant, brutal and unambiguous rejection. For example: no left-coiling periwinkle has ever been found among millions of snails examined. If I happen to find one during my walk on Nobska beach tomorrow morning, a century of well nurtured negative evidence will collapse in an instant.
— Stephen Jay Gould
'A Foot Soldier for Evolution', In Eight Little Piggies (1994), 452.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (296)  |  Evidence (143)

Surely the mitochondrion that first entered another cell was not thinking about the future benefits of cooperation and integration; it was merely trying to make its own living in a tough Darwinian world
— Stephen Jay Gould
Wonderful Life: the Burgess Shale and the Nature of History (1990), 310.
Science quotes on:  |  Benefit (45)  |  Cell (110)  |  Cooperation (22)  |  Darwinian (3)  |  Future (183)  |  Integration (11)  |  Living (43)  |  Thinking (220)  |  Tough (5)  |  Try (55)

Taxonomy (the science of classification) is often undervalued as a glorified form of filing—with each species in its folder, like a stamp in its prescribed place in an album; but taxonomy is a fundamental and dynamic science, dedicated to exploring the causes of relationships and similarities among organisms. Classifications are theories about the basis of natural order, not dull catalogues compiled only to avoid chaos.
— Stephen Jay Gould
Wonderful Life (1989), 98.
Science quotes on:  |  Classification (77)  |  Taxonomy (14)

Taxonomy is often regarded as the dullest of subjects, fit only for mindless ordering and sometimes denigrated within science as mere “stamp collecting” (a designation that this former philatelist deeply resents). If systems of classification were neutral hat racks for hanging the facts of the world, this disdain might be justified. But classifications both reflect and direct our thinking. The way we order represents the way we think. Historical changes in classification are the fossilized indicators of conceptual revolutions.
— Stephen Jay Gould
In Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History (1983, 2010), 72
Science quotes on:  |  Change (234)  |  Classification (77)  |  Concept (70)  |  Direct (27)  |  Disdain (2)  |  Dull (22)  |  Fact (525)  |  Fossil (99)  |  Hang (8)  |  Hat (8)  |  Historical (4)  |  Indicator (6)  |  Neutral (6)  |  Order (116)  |  Rack (4)  |  Reflect (9)  |  Represent (12)  |  Resent (4)  |  Revolution (47)  |  Stamp Collecting (2)  |  System (106)  |  Taxonomy (14)  |  Thinking (220)

The equation of evolution with progress represents our strongest cultural impediment to a proper understanding of this greatest biological revolution in the history of human thought.
— Stephen Jay Gould
Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms: Essays on Natural History (1998), 173.
Science quotes on:  |  Culture (66)  |  Evolution (448)  |  Humankind (6)  |  Impediment (4)  |  Progress (291)  |  Revolution (47)  |  Understanding (315)

The history of life is more adequately represented by a picture of 'punctuated equilibria' than by the notion of phyletic gradualism. The history of evolution is not one of stately unfolding, but a story of homeostatic equilibria, disturbed only 'rarely' (i.e. rather often in the fullness of time) by rapid and episodic events of speciation.
— Stephen Jay Gould
'Punctuated Equilibria: An Alternative to Phyletic Gradualism', in Thomas J. M. Schopf (ed.), Models in Paleobiology (1972), 84.
Science quotes on:  |  Punctuated Equilibria (2)

The median isn't the message.
— Stephen Jay Gould
'The Median Isn't the Message', Discover, Jun 1985, 40.

The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best—and therefore never scrutinize or question.
— Stephen Jay Gould
Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin (1997), 57.
Science quotes on:  |  Enquiry (74)  |  Error (204)  |  Scrutiny (7)

The only universal attribute of scientific statements resides in their potential fallibility. If a claim cannot be disproven, it does not belong to the enterprise of science.
— Stephen Jay Gould
Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms: Essays on Natural History (1998), 155.
Science quotes on:  |  Attribute (19)  |  Disprove (10)  |  Fallability (3)  |  Statement (41)  |  Universal (53)

The spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm.
Co-authored with American biologist, R. C. Lewontin (1929- )
— Stephen Jay Gould
'The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptionist Programme', Proceedings of the Royal Society, 1979, 205, 581-98.
Science quotes on:  |  Evolution (448)

Theory and fact are equally strong and utterly interdependent; one has no meaning without the other. We need theory to organize and interpret facts, even to know what we can or might observe. And we need facts to validate theories and give them substance.
— Stephen Jay Gould
Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms: Essays on Natural History (1998), 155.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (525)  |  Interpret (8)  |  Meaning (85)  |  Observation (390)  |  Organize (7)  |  Theory (520)

Truly grand and powerful theories … do not and cannot rest upon single observations. Evolution is an inference from thousands of independent sources, the only conceptual structure that can make unified sense of all this disparate information. The failure of a particular claim usually records a local error, not the bankruptcy of a central theory … If I mistakenly identify your father’s brother as your own dad, you don’t become genealogically rootless and created de novo. You still have a father; we just haven’t located him properly.
— Stephen Jay Gould
Leonardo’s Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms: Essays on Natural History (1998), 155.
Science quotes on:  |  Evolution (448)  |  Inference (21)

We are the accidental result of an unplanned process … the fragile result of an enormous concatenation of improbabilities, not the predictable product of any definite process.
— Stephen Jay Gould
'Extemporaneous Comments of Evolutionary Hopes and Realities'. In Charles L. Hamrum (Ed.), Darwin's Legacy, Nobel Conference XVIII (1983), 101-102. Quoted in Holmes Rolston, Genes, Genesis, and God (1999), 17-18.
Science quotes on:  |  Evolution (448)  |  Natural Selection (69)

We must [it has been arued] go beyond reductionism to a holistic recognition that biology and culture interpenetrate in an inextricable manner.
— Stephen Jay Gould
An Urchin in the Storm (1988), 153.
Science quotes on:  |  Biology (136)  |  Culture (66)

Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world’s data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away while scientists debate rival theories for explaining them. Einstein’s theory of gravitation replaced Newton’s, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air pending the outcome. And human beings evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered … Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us for a style of argument that they themselves favor).
— Stephen Jay Gould
'Evolution as Fact and Theory', in Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History (1983), 254-255.
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Without a commitment to science and rationality in its proper domain, there can be no solution to the problems that engulf us. Still, the Yahoos never rest.
— Stephen Jay Gould
Ever Since Darwin (1980),146.
Science quotes on:  |  Problem (297)  |  Science (1376)  |  Solution (146)


See also:
  • 10 Sep - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Gould's birth.
  • Stephen Jay Gould - context of quote Mary Anning - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Stephen Jay Gould - context of quote Mary Anning - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Stephen Jay Gould - context of quote Honorable errors…not…failures in science - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Stephen Jay Gould - context of quote Honorable errors…not…failures in science - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Stephen Jay Gould - context of quote The status of Galileo - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Stephen Jay Gould - context of quote The status of Galileo - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Stephen Jay Gould: Reflections on His View of Life, by Patricia Kelley, Robert Ross and Warren D. Allmon (ed.). - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Stephen Jay Gould.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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