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Stephen Jay Gould
Michael Shermer's obituary -- and his forthcoming paper "This view of science: Stephen Jay Gould as historian of science and scientific historian" -- should be in the files of everyone even remotely connected to phylogenetic systematics. The range of his interests -- I would say, his unquenchable curiosity -- was, to iterate an understatement, range-less...from Marcel Duchamp's artistic puns to Oliver Sacks to spandrels. For me, it is a profound pity to know that any Steve Gould "sequel" to his latest volume -- to explicate nuances of areas he did not cover in The structure of evolutionary theory -- will have to be formulated by others. He deliberately chose not to discuss them -- phylogenetic systematics as applied to dinosaurs, e.g., the gendering and racializing of scientific taxonomies since the 1800s (Donna Harraway's work was admired !
by him, as were the scholarships of other women such as S.B. Hrdy), the role mass extinctions have probably had as causalities of evolutionary changes (Lamarck is still useful sometimes) -- as, obviously, The structure could not be an encyclopedia of the theories-of-everything. &nb!
sp; I believe that many of the professional "jealousies" of Stephen Jay Gould, especially from Europe's "game theoretics", were not predicated upon scientific disagreements vis-a-vis his ideations (he was never one to shirk admitting his conceptual mistakes in print), but were based upon the world Stephen Jay Gould came from, part of that "vanished world" (as Roman Vishniac called it) eradicated in the 1933-1945 Kingdom of Night. In other words, he was attacked because of his...shall I fill in the blanks? Isaiah Berlin, long ago, called it a "higher" categorization of the same hatreds. Even the British Museum and Stephen Gould were attacked by one such syncophant as perpetrating "Marxism" in their presentations of clades and punct!
uated equilibrium. Steve Gould, in a funny yet poignant elucidation of the many "scientific" and "popular" distortions of the Gould/Eldredge concepts which, I think, may have come from the basements in the world of "real TV", provides example after example of what I am alluding to. Brian J. Alters and Sandra M. Alters, in their brilliant Defending evolution in the classroom (with an S.J. Gould foreword), presents an array of other paradigms, as well, and, hopefully, parents on the DML will have this book in their homes to counteract not only the Right but, sadly, those (idola tribus) in paleobiology who want "pure" science without "ideas" (cave ab homine unius libri), cowboy hat paleontology advocated by paripatetic golems vs. searching out the wonders of macroevolution.
So much more could be said. I think of the poignant days when I learned Willis O'Brien and Rod Serling and Marcel Delgado had died, and when Ned Colbert's voice was no more...when Calvin & Hobbes ceased appearing... or when I received a late-night message, and realized Sam Welles would never again give me his big hugs and forever tease me that I could never prove Darwin had, indeed, ripped off Wallace's ideas of divergence and natural selection, when he had no real reason to because he had independently formulated similar ideas. Some measure their lives on what they were doing the Day Kennedy/Lennon Was Shot...others, like me, see life as a series of punctuated equilibria. I loved arguing with Stephen Jay Gould's often playful dictum that one should not call "birds" dinosaurs, just as I knew Mendel was not a Mendelian, and still believe others, later, made far more contributions to understanding the processes of evolution(s) than did Darwin. John Ost!
rom's papers on gregarious dinosaurs, on Deinonychus and Archaeopteryx, are far more relevant historically, as being part of the "founder effect" of what many of us are thinking of vis-a-vis dinosaurs, than many of Darwin's pages which were derived from letters and not from actual field work. The PhyloCode, and Tom Holtz's work on theropods, to mention two other examples, will, I think, illuminate our shared paths with greater intensity than Darwin's many silences.
Stephen Jay Gould. As Pish-Tush said, "I am right and you are right and everything is quite correct". I shall, with a sense of pride in knowing I read you during your entire career, say Kaddish not in sadness but in gratitude for having been able to hear your voice. Others have chosen to turn a deaf ear. And yet.