An Urchin in the Storm: Essays About Books and Ideas by Stephen Jay Gould

By Stephen Jay Gould

"What excitement to work out the cheating, the inept, and the faulty deftly given their due, whereas compliment is lavished at the deserving―for purposes good and really stated."―Kirkus Reviews

Ranging so far as the fox and as deep because the hedgehog (the urchin of his title), Stephen Jay Gould expands on geology, organic determinism, "cardboard Darwinism," and evolutionary thought during this gleaming assortment.

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Its theory proclaims such differences as a fundamental prediction. Myths of Gender by Anne Fausto-Sterling is a fine contribution to the empirical literature on human gender differences. If her argument is correct, then this fundamental sociobiological theory for human universals has failed, leaving very little of substance for the putative revolution. Myths of Gender is a courageous book, for it centers its conclusion upon the most undervalued and systematically ignored of all data—so-called null results.

The mechanic’s seal of current approval does not imply past construction for contemporary usage. 3 The false equation of one with the other is, in my view, the Achilles heel of human sociobiology. Belief in a higher power is, no doubt, markedly functional, even adaptive in evolutionary terms, for many people, but we cannot conclude from this current belief that such a notion arose by natural selection directly for religious ardor, nor can we infer that such belief is a genetically grounded entity at all (another requirement for Darwinian argument).

A leading journal rejected her paper with the comment: Why would you want to publish such nonresults? The study of gender differences suffers the same disabling bias. Measured differences are prominently reported, usually with much fanfare and much attention from the press. We really have no idea how often such differences are not found, for we don’t know what results are simply not published. But, at least, we might tabulate assiduously all reported studies, positive, negative, and null results.

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