Steven J. Gould

Essay by MattiTomsonJunior High, 9th gradeA-, May 2004

download word file, 4 pages 4.6

Stephen Jay Gould

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Stephen Jay Gould (September 10, 1941 - May 20, 2002) was a New York-born American paleontologist and writer of popular science. Born Jewish, he did not formally practice any organized religion.

With Niles Eldredge he proposed in 1972 the theory of punctuated equilibrium, wherein evolutionary change occurs relatively rapidly in comparatively brief periods of environmental stress, separated by longer periods of evolutionary stability. According to Gould, this overthrew a key tenet of neo-Darwinism; according to most evolutionary biologists, his theory was an important insight but merely modified neo-Darwinism in a way fully compatible with what had been known before.

Gould as known to the general public

Gould became widely known through his popular science essays in Natural History magazine and a number of books, including The Panda's Thumb, The Flamingo's Smile, Wonderful Life, and others.

Gould was an emphatic advocate of evolution and wrote prolifically on the subject, conveying an awareness of contemporary evolutionary theory to a wide audience.

A recurring theme in his writings is the history and development of evolutionary (and pre-evolutionary) thinking. His early research involved the study of the fossil record of snails (detailed in another of his essays). He was also a baseball fanatic and made frequent references to the sport (including an entire essay) and a very wide range of other topics.

Although a Neo-Darwinist, his inclinations were less gradualist and reductionist than most neo-Darwinists, and he opposed sociobiology. He spent much of his time fighting against pseudoscience and creationism. Gould used the term Non Overlapping Magesteria (NOMa) to describe how, in his view, science and religion could no comment on each other's realm.

Gould was considered by some to be one of the preeminent theoreticians in his field. However, most evolutionary biologists disagreed with...