About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A nice thread about Gould at Jerry's place

This thread over at Why Evolution is True has some fascinating discussion pro and con Stephen Jay Gould in the light of the newest evidence that Gould cheated (or at least did shoddy work) in The Mismeasure of Man, which is largely about the cheating done by earlier scientists involved in debates about human intelligence.

Read the whole thread - there are some interesting engagements between various commenters who seem to know a great deal of relevant stuff.

For my own part, I used to love Gould's popular books, and probably still would if I went back to them. He only really lost me with Rocks of Ages, where I had enough expertise of my own to tell that it was all smoke and mirrors. I like to think that the more narrowly science-based popularisations are more accurate, but we've long known that aspects of The Mismeasure of Man were scientifically suspect. This latest study appears to be a large nail in the coffin for that particular book.


Svlad Cjelli said...

Now, I am merely a son of a carpenter, and can barely drill straight - but is it not so that a particularly larger than standard nail might fracture the wood? :P

Blake Stacey said...

"As far as science studies goes, then, the paper is erecting and attacking a straw man. They produce no evidence that people who work in this area regard Gould’s critique of Morton as canonical, important, or valid. The only two relevant works they cite do not in fact mention it. One of the three references by skeletal biologists they cite as accepting Gould is actually completely dismissive of Gould [...] The bulk of the paper is indeed devoted to establishing a point that has been widely known for over two decades, and is widely accessible because it was published in a major journal: that Gould did not even reliably establish that Morton had indeed fudged unconsciously."