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  Topic: Steve Gould and Project Steve, Would he have signed on?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Wesley R. Elsberry

Posts: 4966
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 26 2005,19:20   

Here are some of the comments from over at "The Unbalanced Centrifuge":


At Tuesday, October 25, 2005 1:20:59 PM, Hari Narayan Singh said...

   "Well, I will keep you posted. I commend Pivar for raising this issue. The dead are helpless when it comes to their reputation. Their friends must speak for them."

   In Gould's case, why don't we let his own ideas speak for him? Adding punctuated equilibrium to evolutionary theory produces a model that still relies heavily on natural selection. Punctuated equilibrium says that the rate of change in a species will remain relatively static for long periods, and change relatively rapidly during periods of dramatic environmental change or an isolation of part of a population. In the first case, organisms in the species will be selected for traits that are better suited to the new environment, and perhaps change relatively quickly.

   The second case is sligthly different. A small segment of a larger population, the splinter group would have less genetic diversity to dilute new changes, and therefore new mutations would have a large effect. Still, harmful changes will be weeded out by natural selection, and new beneficial mutations will be fixed in the population. This is a structuralist argument in that the DNA you start out with determines what effect natural selection will have on it. Evolutionists have never denied this; even before darwin, paleontologists made morphological analogies with species in successive strata. Just because it might be more adaptive for a wing to form free of the constraints imposed by a hand-like structural ancestor doesn't mean it can. Selection works with what it has available. But it is essential in species change in that it can fix new traits in a population. A new trait that is highly beneficial will prosper and come to dominate a population. Without selection it would be expressed by a tiny minority, since specific mutations occur in individuals; if the individual doesn' reproduce more than others, its trait will eventually die out.

   We need to dispose with these two tired caricatures: a Gould who is purely structuralist and doesn't recognize the importance of natural selection, and other evolutionary bioliogists who see evolution as completely selection-driven, without regard to the gene pools of populations. It's kind of like people who think that there is a controversy over whether "nature" or "nurture" is true. It's both, people.


At Tuesday, October 25, 2005 1:46:56 PM, Hari Narayan Singh said...

   After my first comment, it still said "0 comments." Maybe this one will register.


At Tuesday, October 25, 2005 2:55:55 PM, Pat Hayes said...

   Here's Gould's testimony in McLean v. Arkansas, available online here at

   Now it may be that Gould has changed his mind now that he is dead. We can't be sure of that. Nevertheless, when he was still with us and acting as the scourge of creationists everywhere -- intelligent design wasn't even a glint in the creationists eyes back then -- here's what he had to say:

   Q: In terms of the evidence, the physical evidence we have observed, you do mention in this article The Peppered Moths, which has been referred to before in this courtroom. Now I want to see if I understand how you view this. Did these moths change color?

   A: Evolution changes gene frequencies within populations. What happened in the case of the peppered moths is that before industrial soot blackened the trees around Manchester, that the moths which exist in two different forms, depending on which state of the gene they have, basically peppered and black, with very few black ones, almost all the moths in the population were peppered, when industrial soot blackened the trees in England, there was very strong selection for the first time against peppered moths, which had been virtually invisible against the lighter trees. And there was then for the first time an advantage to the black moths, as we call them, black moths, a few of them. And within fifty years the population consisted almost entirely of black moths, and that's natural selection.

   Q: But did the peppered moths reproduce into black moths?

   A: No. What happened was what the theory of natural selection predicts would happen, namely, that from a spectrum of variability, which included the peppered moths and black moths, the gene frequencies changed, indeed, the gene from black moths the gene that produces black colors, excuse me, increased markedly and frequently within the population until virtually all moths were black. [Emphasis added, RSR]

   From pages 618-619 of the transcript.

   This dose of reality based commentary courtesy of Red State Rabble.


At Tuesday, October 25, 2005 4:25:58 PM, Kevin W. Parker said...

   "Natural selection, an immensely powerful idea with radical philosophical implications, is surely a major cause of evolution, as validated in theory and demonstrated by countless experiments."

   - Steven Jay Gould, Darwinian Fundamentalism


At Tuesday, October 25, 2005 4:46:37 PM, Hari Narayan Singh said...

   Dude, watch the language, anonymous. I think your post is going to be deleted soon. Are you sure Pivar was trying to "stomp" Gould's reputation? It could very well be that he just doesn't understand Steve's writings.


At Tuesday, October 25, 2005 6:45:09 PM, Mike Walker said...

   "Natural selection, an immensely powerful idea with radical philosophical implications, is surely a major cause of evolution, as validated in theory and demonstrated by countless experiments." SJG.

   Nice try Denise. And since Kevin was so kind to do the minimal amount of legwork necessary to refute Mr. Pivar's ridiculous claims (in Gould's own words, no less) perhaps it's time to rethink your accusations.

   A gracious retraction would do you the power of good, but then, I'm not holding my breath...


At Wednesday, October 26, 2005 12:15:24 AM, Fred said...

   Denyse, rather than quoting someone who *claims* to know what Gould believed, why not crack open a book or do a Google search and find out for yourself? Gould was a total believer in natural selection.

   It is YOU who seem determined to miss the point, not Eugenie Scott.

   One thing is for sure: Stephen Jay Gould was a much better scientist than you are a journalist. He at least did some research.

   PS: You decide how much you can trust Pivar, since he's plugging a book that "presents a new paradigm of evolution" and goes against Gould's work.

   PPS: Did I mention you're not much of a journalist?


At Wednesday, October 26, 2005 1:02:45 AM, Hari Narayan Singh said...

   No need for personal attacks.


At Wednesday, October 26, 2005 4:51:58 AM, Anonymous said...

   My name is Dave Mullenix. I don't want to post anonymously, but this blog's software won't take any ID I give it. I want to say this: there IS a need for at least minimally responsible journalism on this blog. Steven J. Gould was one of the most prolific science writers who ever lived. Statements by Gould on the importance of natural selection are thick on the ground - look at how easily people were able to find and post them on this blog, Panda's Thumb and probably other places as well. It would have been RESPONSIBLE journalism if Ms. O'Leary had taken the minimal effort to pick up a few of Gould's books and read them before rushing to publish the unsupported statements of a man whose only claim of authority is that he had once been a friend of Gould. In fact, she wouldn't have had to even read a book. She could have found statements by Gould contradicting his "friend" with a Google search, as others have already done.

   Add this faux pas to the recent case where she rushed the unsupported word of a student into print without bothering to ask for the names of the professors he slandered and contacting them to get their side of the story and the credibility of this blog has dropped to less than zero.


At Wednesday, October 26, 2005 7:38:37 AM, Ed Darrell said...

   What's the next headline here? "Jesus would have denied salvation?" "Mohammed would have condemned polygamy?" "Buddha would have disowned meditation?" "Washington would have favored reannexation to Britain?"

   "O'Leary recants ID?"


At Wednesday, October 26, 2005 2:33:59 PM, Gary Telles said...

   Having been a devoted reader of Stephen Jay Gould's essays in Natural History for many years, as well as of his popular books, my only comment is that the absolute absence of any journalistic integrity on your part, Ms. O'Leary, is clearly evidenced by your unwillingness to bestir your lazy posterior to do the SLIGHTEST amount of research on how Gould actually viewed Natural Selection. As you can see, the result is that you and this "chemical engineer friend Pivar" have repeatedly and deservedly had your irresponsible, foolish heads handed to you. Thus ends your "scandal".
   Gary Telles

"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

  22 replies since Oct. 26 2005,19:10 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  


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