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Re: Dinos in a haystack
Anybody who gives such a good argument for keeping brontosaur can't be all
Still, entertaining as the essays are, I don't think I've read them
thoroughly til I can find at least one place where he assumes others are
foolish for disagreeing with him. For example, he says science answers the
question how and leaves questions of why to philosophy and religion. People
are mistaken for attacking science as a philosophy. Then he goes on to
state that evolution is purely accidental; it produces bushes, not trees.
Agree or disagree, that is an answer to the why question: Accident.
Please remember, I'm not discussing why questions, just giving an example of
how he assumes anyone who disagrees is misunderstanding.
Again, here he is discussing the impact theory of extinction:
When strong hostility greets an interesting theory, and continues with
substantial vigor even after the theory has been effectively validated, we
must seek deeper causes in general philosophies and methodologies.
Paraphrased, we have to examine why people who disagree have deluded
themselves. There was a discussion on this list about whether it was even
theoretically possible to prove impact as the near-entire cause of
Or how about:
Two features of evolution, considered terribly important by most
professionals (myself included), must be marginalized, if not ignored by
cladistic icons: unique traits evolved by single lineages, and trends
within groups which do not lead to further branching events....And we want
to understand sustained trends within groups: What about the famous story
of fewer toes and higher teeth among horses?...Again, cladists have little
to say because transformations occurring on a single line of a cladogram
have no iconographic representation within their system.
Do you think cladistics made this mistake even at the comparatively early
stage about which he's writing (the book is 'Dinosaur in a Haystack',
copyright 1995)? Seems an underestimation which might have been dispelled.
So, I'd say a bit more self-righteous than stuck-up. Please pass me your
flame retardant fabric when you're through with it.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Sherry Michael" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2000 12:35 PM
Subject: Re: Dinos in a haystack
> I'm sure I'll get flammed out of the water for this, but I just can't
> Gould's work. When I read his stuff I just imagine a stuck up jerk who
> use every factiod and $10 word in every article and book he writes to
> how smart he is. I don't think he *is* a jerk, and I'm not attacking
> mind you. He really seems a pleasant enough fellow and I admire and can
> relate to his energy. He subjects seem fun too, but it's really hard for
> to stomach his style!