|Wesley R. Elsberry
Joined: May 2002
"The Unbalanced Centrifuge" is going on about a "scandal" over NCSE's "Project Steve". A fellow named Stuart Pivar is trying to invoke Stephen Jay Gould's ghost to do Pivar's bidding, making claims such as that Gould never attributed any creative power to natural selection. A plethora of Gould quotes have been quoted, and essays cited, to show that Pivar is pretty completely ignorant of Gould's work.
One thing that I haven't seen noted elsewhere is that Gould, while living, took an extremely proprietary stance towards his prose. He didn't let mere editors sully his words. Why we should simply accept that Gould, dead, would contemplate having Stuart Pivar do his own hack edit job is beyond me. I'm sure that Gould raised more than a couple of drinks with Richard Milner, editor at Natural History magazine for many years during Gould's tenure as columnist there. Yet Gould didn't privilege Milner by letting him re-arrange or, heaven forbid, change his words around. But "The Unbalanced Centrifuge"'s case depends upon trusting Pivar's unsubstantiated retelling of Gould's stances over Gould's own unmeddled-with words. This also makes hash of the tale that Gould was somehow intimidated by "the establishment" into modifying what he would say in print. That's hogwash, pure and simple. Gould was one of the least conformist commentators around.
"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker