Stephen Jay Gould quote

"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

Born: September 10, 1941

Die: May 20, 2002

Occupation: Paleontologist

Comment

More quotes of Stephen Jay Gould

Stephen Jay Gould

The pathways that have led to our evolution are quirky, improbable, unrepeatable and utterly unpredictable.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

I can envision observations and experiments that would disprove any evolutionary theory I know.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Recapitulation provided a convenient focus for the persuasive racism of white scientists; they looked to the activities of their own children for comparison with normal adult behavior in lower races.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

But if we laugh with derision, we will never understand. Human intellectual capacity has not altered for thousands of years so far as we can tell. If intelligent people invested intense energy in issues...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Goethe died in 1832. As you know, Goethe was very active in science. In fact, he did some very good scientific work in plant morphology and mineralogy. But he was quite bitter at the way in which many...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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,...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Life is short, and potential studies infinite. We have a much better chance of accomplishing something significant when we follow our passionate interests and work in areas of deepest personal meaning.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

In what I like to call the Great Asymmetry, every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

We who revel in nature's diversity and feel instructed by every animal tend to brand Homo sapiens as the greatest catastrophe since the Cretaceous extinction.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Paleontologists [fossil experts] have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin's argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life's history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Skepticism is the agent of reason against organized irrationalism--and is therefore one of the keys to human social and civic decency.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Obsolescence is a fate devoutly to be wished, lest science stagnate and die.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Current utility and historical origin are different subjects.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Any human being is really good at certain things. The problem is that the things you're good at come naturally. And since most people are pretty modest instead of an arrogant S.O.B. like me, what comes...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well - for we will not fight to save what we do not love.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The fundamentalists, by 'knowing' the answers before they start, and then forcing nature into the straitjacket of their discredited preconceptions, lie outside the domain of science -or any honest intellectual...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes—one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximum freedom...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Why, then, do I continue to claim that creationism isn't science? Simply because these relatively few statements have been tested and conclusively refuted.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Still, our creationist incubi, who would never let facts spoil a favorite argument, refuse to yield, and continue to assert the absence of all transitional forms by ignoring those that have been found,...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The myriad valleys could have arisen anywhere on the landscape. The current positions are quite accidental. If we could repeat the experiment, we might obtain no valleys at all, or a completely different...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

History does include aspects of directionality, and the present range of causes and phenomena does not exhaust the realm of past possibilities.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

... each with its own beauty, and each with a story to tell.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Forelimbs of people, porpoises, bats and horses provide the classic example of homology in most textbooks. They look different, and do different things, but are built of the same bones. No engineer, starting...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

In their recently aborted struggle to inject Genesis literalism into science classrooms, fundamentalist groups followed their usual opportunistic strategy of arguing two contradictory sides of a question...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Orchids were not made by an ideal engineer; they are jury-rigged from a limited set of available components.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Sure we fit. We wouldn't be here if we didn't. But the world wasn't made for us and it will endure without us.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

... For Dawkins, evolution is a battle among genes, each seeking to make more copies of itself. Bodies are merely the places where genes aggregate for a time ...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Some evolutionists will protest that we are caricaturing their view of adaptation. After all, do they not admit genetic drift, allometry, and a variety of reasons for nonadaptive evolution?

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Charles Darwin viewed the fossil record more as an embarrassment than as an aid to his theory ...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

'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 exactly why it is false.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Humans arose ... 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...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Speciation does not necessarily promote evolutionary change; rather, speciation 'gathers in' and guards evolutionary change by locking and stabilization for sufficient geological time within a Darwinian...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists-whether through design or stupidity, I do not know-as admitting that the fossil...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The literal record was not a hopelessly and imperfect fraction of truly insensible gradation within large populations but an accurate reflection of the actual process identified by evolutionists as the...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

I emphatically do not assert the general 'truth' of this philosophy of punctuational change. Any attempt to support the exclusive validity of such a grandiose notion would border on the nonsensical.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

... many folks take them seriously because they just 'know' that evolution can never be seen in the immediate here and now. In fact, a precisely opposite situation prevails: biologists have documented...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Our creationist detractors charge that evolution is an unproved and unprovable charade-a secular religion masquerading as science. They claim, above all, that evolution generates no predictions, never...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

If evolution almost always occurs by rapid speciation in small, peripheral isolates, then what should the fossil record look like? We are not likely to detect the event of speciation itself. It happens...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Sigmund Freud often remarked that great revolutions in the history of science have but one common, and ironic, feature: they knock human arrogance off one pedestal after another of our previous conviction...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Life shows no trend to complexity in the usual sense-only an asymmetrical expansion of diversity around a starting point constrained to be simple.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The modern theory of evolution does not require gradual change. It in fact, the operation of Darwinian processes should yield exactly what we see in the fossil record. It is gradualism that we must reject,...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Evolution is an inference from thousands of independent sources, the only conceptual structure that can make unified sense of all this disparate information.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

History employs evolution to structure biological events in time.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The essence of Darwinism lies in its claim that natural selection creates the fit. Variation is ubiquitous and random in direction. It supplies raw material only. Natural selection directs the course of...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Nothing matches the holiness and fascination of accurate and intricate detail.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The human mind delights in finding pattern—so much so that we often mistake coincidence or forced analogy for profound meaning. No other habit of thought lies so deeply within the soul of a small creature...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Nature is what she is - amoral and persistent.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Mary Anning [is] probably the most important unsung (or inadequately sung) collecting force in the history of paleontology.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

What's important is that all human knowledge be made available to all intelligent people who want to learn it.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

World views are social constructions and they channel the search for facts. But facts are found and knowledge progresses, however fitfully.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Science is all those things which are confirmed to such a degree that it would be unreasonable to withhold one's provisional consent.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

When people learn no tools of judgment and merely follow their hopes, the seeds of political manipulation are sown.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Look in the mirror, and don't be tempted to equate transient domination with either intrinsic superiority or prospects for extended survival.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best - and therefore never scrutinize or question.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Nothing is more dangerous than a dogmatic worldview - nothing more constraining, more blinding to innovation, more destructive of openness to novelty.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Evolution is a process of constant branching and expansion.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

What you see is that the most outstanding feature of life's history is a constant domination by bacteria.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

With copious evidence ranging from Plato's haughtiness to Beethoven's tirades, we may conclude that the most brilliant people of history tend to be a prickly lot.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

A lot of scientists hate writing. Most scientists love being in the lab and doing the work and when the work is done, they are finished.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The proof of evolution lies in those adaptations that arise from improbable foundations.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

At a minimum, in explaining evolutionary pathways through time, the constraints imposed by history rise to equal prominence with the immediate advantages of adaptation.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

I'm not a great deductive thinker, but I will admit to having competence in a very wide range of things - not being afraid to try to write about baseball, choral music and dinosaurs in the same week and...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Life began three and a half billion years ago, necessarily about as simple as it could be, because life arose spontaneously from the organic compounds in the primeval oceans.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

My own field of paleontology has strongly challenged the Darwinian premise that life's major transformations can be explained by adding up, through the immensity of geological time, the successive tiny...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Science is an integral part of culture. It's not this foreign thing, done by an arcane priesthood. It's one of the glories of the human intellectual tradition.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

What an odd time to be a fundamentalist about adaptation and natural selection - when each major subdiscipline of evolutionary biology has been discovering other mechanisms as adjuncts to selection's centrality.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Any decent writer writes because there's some deep internal need to keep learning.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The center of human nature is rooted in ten thousand ordinary acts of kindness that define our days.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

We have become, by the power of a glorious evolutionary accident called intelligence, the stewards of life's continuity on earth. We did not ask for this role, but we cannot abjure it. We may not be suited...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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,...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

We must [it has been arued] go beyond reductionism to a holistic recognition that biology and culture interpenetrate in an inextricable manner.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Science is not a heartless pursuit of objective information; it is a creative human activity.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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,...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Facts do not 'speak for themselves'; they are read in the light of theory.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Our current drug crisis is a tragedy born of a phony system of classification. For reasons that are little more than accidents of history, we have divided a group of nonfood substances into two categories:...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Homo sapiens [are] a tiny twig on an improbable branch of a contingent limb on a fortunate tree.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The dogmatist within is always worse than the enemy without.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

So much of science proceeds by telling stories.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The causes of life's history [cannot] resolve the riddle of life's meaning.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

But our ways of learning about the world are strongly influenced by the social preconceptions and biased modes of thinking that each scientist must apply to any problem. The stereotype of a fully rational...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

I am glad that the life of pandas is so dull by human standards, for our efforts at conservation have little moral value if we preserve creatures only as human ornaments; I shall be impressed when we show...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

As we discern a fine line between crank and genius, so also (and unfortunately) we must acknowledge an equally graded trajectory from crank to demagogue. When people learn no tools of judgment and merely...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

I strongly reject any conceptual scheme that places our options on a line, and holds that the only alternative to a pair of extreme positions lies somewhere between them. More fruitful perspectives often...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The legends of fieldwork locate all important sites deep in inaccessible jungles inhabited by fierce beasts and restless natives, and surrounded by miasmas of putrefaction and swarms of tsetse flies.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

All interesting issues in natural history are questions of relative frequency, not single examples. Everything happens once amidst the richness of nature. But when an unanticipated phenomenon occurs again...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

God was there when it happened. We were not there.... Therefore, we are completely limited to what God has seen fit to tell us, and this information is in His written Word.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Wind back the tape of life to the early days of the Burgess Shale; let it play again from an identical starting point, and the chance becomes vanishingly small that anything like human intelligence would...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

The more important the subject and the closer it cuts to the bone of our hopes and needs, the more we are likely to err in establishing a framework for analysis.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Skepticism's bad rap arises from the impression that, however necessary the activity, it can only be regarded as a negative removal of false claims. Not so... Proper debunking is done in the interest of...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Creationist critics often charge that evolution cannot be tested, and therefore cannot be viewed as a properly scientific subject at all. This claim is rhetorical nonsense.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Scientists have power by virtue of the respect commanded by the discipline... We live with poets and politicians, preachers and philosophers. All have their ways of knowing, and all are valid in their...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

If I have any insight at all to contribute it is this: find out what you are really good at and stick to it.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Human consciousness arose but a minute before midnight on the geological clock. Yet we mayflies try to bend an ancient world to our purposes, ignorant perhaps of the messages buried in its long history....

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Science simply cannot adjudicate the issue of God's possible superintendence of nature.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Life is a copiously branching bush, continually pruned by the grim reaper of extinction, not a ladder of predictable progress.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

People talk about human intelligence as the greatest adaptation in the history of the planet. It is an amazing and marvelous thing, but in evolutionary terms, it is as likely to do us in as to help us...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

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...

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

All science is intelligent inference; excessive literalism is delusion, not a humble bowing to evidence.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Theory-free science makes about as much sense as value-free politics.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

No one-liner can ever be optimal.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Details are all that matters; God dwells in these and you never get to see Him if you don't struggle to get them right.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution - paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

[Evolution is] one of the best documented, most compelling and exciting concepts in all of science.

Read more


Stephen Jay Gould

Human life is the result of a glorious evolutionary accident.

Read more



Related quote

Stephen Jay Gould

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.

Read more


Gina McCarthy

We need an international solution to the challenge of climate change, there's no question about it. But the real key is, can you actually get that - or get that solution - without the US' involvement?...

Read more


Ilchi Lee

In the current era, more than prodigies in mathematics, science, athletics, or art, I believe we need prodigies of good character and integrity. People who have polished their character and integrity until...

Read more


Peter Medawar

We cannot point to a single definitive solution of any one of the problems that confront us — political, economic, social or moral, that is, having to do with the conduct of life. We are still beginners,...

Read more


Jean-Michel Cousteau

Is it too late to prevent us from self-destructing? No, for we have the capacity to design our own future, to take a lesson from living things around us and bring our values and actions in line with ecological...

Read more


Robert A. Heinlein

There is no way that writers can be tamed and rendered civilized or even cured. The only solution known to science is to provide the patient with an isolation room, where he can endure the acute stages...

Read more


Robert Adams

I want to let you in on a little secret. There are no problems. There are no problems. There never were any problems, there are no problems today, and there will never be any problems. Problems just mean...

Read more


Charles Lindbergh

If we can combine our knowledge of science with the wisdom of wildness, if we can nurture civilization through roots in the primitive, man's potentialities appear to be unbounded, Through this evolving...

Read more


Carl Jung

The serious problems in life...are never fully solved. If ever they should appear to be so it is a sure sign that something has been lost. The meaning and purpose of a problem seem to lie not in its solution...

Read more


Albert Einstein

The mere formulation of a problem is far more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skills. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old...

Read more


Carl von Essen

Mystical experience of nature can be of particular relevance to our troubled age, bringing deeper into our consciousness and emotions the logic that nature sustains humanity as humanity must, in turn,...

Read more


Alan Moore

I'm dependent on writing for a living, so really it's to my advantage to understand how the creative process works. One of the problems is, when you start to do that, in effect you're going to have to...

Read more


Jay Maisel

There is no one solution to all problems. It's the problem itself that can lead to the solution.

Read more


Maria Montessori

Times have changed, and science has made great progress, and so has our work; but our principles have only been confirmed, and along with them our conviction that mankind can hope for a solution to its...

Read more


Thomas Merton

Our technological society has no longer any place in it for wisdom that seeks truth for its own sake, that seeks the fullness of being, that seeks to rest in an intuition of the very ground of all being....

Read more


Peter Singer

If a being suffers there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration. No matter what the nature of the being, the principle of equality requires that its suffering...

Read more


Timothy Keller

Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really...

Read more


Wayne Dyer

Where is the peace in more is better? This idea keeps us exclusively in the physical domain. You can replace the more is better belief with an inner serenity that doesn't need more to be acceptable....

Read more


Carl Friedrich Gauss

There are problems to whose solution I would attach an infinitely greater importance than to those of mathematics, for example touching ethics, or our relation to God, or concerning our destiny and our...

Read more


Lord Kelvin

The life and soul of science is its practical application, and just as the great advances in mathematics have been made through the desire of discovering the solution of problems which were of a highly...

Read more


Mark Twain

In the laboratory there are no fustian ranks, no brummagem aristocracies; the domain of Science is a republic, and all its citizens are brothers and equals, its princes of Monaco and its stonemasons of...

Read more


“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

― Dr. Seuss