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Richard Lewontin on Stephen Jay Gould
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The famous leftist geneticist Richard Lewontin reminisces about team teaching at Harvard with the even more publicly influential leftist paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould in an interview with David Sloan Wilson (hat tip to philosopher @NSesardic):

RL: Now I should warn you about my prejudices. Steve and I taught evolution together for years and in a sense we struggled in class constantly because Steve, in my view, was preoccupied with the desire to be considered a very original and great evolutionary theorist. So he would exaggerate and even caricature certain features, which are true but not the way you want to present them. For example, punctuated equilibrium, one of his favorites.

Stephen Jay Gould brought a Marxist perspective to the study of the fossil record. Instead of seeing steady evolution of fossils over the eons, he saw revolution: fossils would stagnate in form for huge periods of time, and then suddenly change, like France from 1789 or Russia from 1917. Gould called this Punctuated Equilibrium.

It’s kind of like the Mexican ex-dictator’s Porfirio Diaz’s observation, after many decades of his uncontested rule, as he was suddenly being bundled onto a steamship to exile in the opening of the vast Mexican Revolution: “Nothing ever happens in Mexico, until it happens.” There’s some wisdom in that, even if it doesn’t immediately suggest an obvious research program.

And … Gould was kind of right about the fossil record. That’s a not unreasonable corrective to the Victorian progressive assumption that evolution implies constant small reforms in fossils over time. But he was also kind of wrong, as well, as a paleontologist. There are also a lot of small changes over time.

Glasses are often part full and party empty simultaneously.

He would go to the blackboard and show a trait rising gradually and then becoming completely flat for a while with no change at all, and then rising quickly and then completely flat, etc. which is a kind of caricature of the fact that there is variability in the evolution of traits, sometimes faster and sometimes slower, but which he made into punctuated equilibrium literally. Then I would have to get up in class and say “Don’t take this caricature too seriously. It really looks like this…” and I would make some more gradual variable rates. Steve and I had that kind of struggle constantly. He would fasten on a particular interesting aspect of the evolutionary process and then make it into a kind of rigid, almost vacuous rule, because—now I have to say that this is my view—I have no demonstration of it—that Steve was really preoccupied by becoming a famous evolutionist.

Isn’t it kind of discriminatory that Darwin’s WASP liberal Theory of Evolution is in all the history books, when Gould’s Ashkenazi Marxist Theory of Revolution deserves, in SJG’s mind and that of his many fans in the late 20th Century, to be alongside it?

Ambition in a scientist is, on the whole, a good thing. Gould had ambition galore, along with a pleasing prose style. He made some useful discoveries. I don’t dismiss his punctuated equilibria observation — it seems to me like a useful model to keep in mind, even if it’s undertheorized.

iSteve Commenter Charles Erwin Wilson II observes:

Gould’s theory evaded the gold standard of science. What can you predict? Gradual change? Yep, Gould is on board. Sudden change? Yep, Gould is on board. No change at all? Yep, Gould is on board.

Retrospectively, Gould is a genius. Prospectively, Gould is useless.

Historians aren’t very good at predicting the future, but that’s okay.

That natural history is kind of like human history is a not worthless observation on Gould’s part. Someday we may be able to see his accomplishments without being distracted by his egomania, lack of needed mathematical skills, and political and ethnic animosities.

 
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  1. Gould’s theory evaded the gold standard of science. What can you predict? Gradual change? Yep, Gould is on board. Sudden change? Yep, Gould is on board. No change at all? Yep, Gould is on board.

    Retrospectively, Gould is a genius. Prospectively, Gould is useless. Plus Gould said that every human should be expected to have exactly the same outcome – with respect to intelligence.

    Gould was an idiot.

    • Agree: NickG
    • Replies: @Anon
    His bio should be called Misuse of Science.
    , @AnotherDad

    … because Steve, in my view, was preoccupied with the desire to be considered a very original and great evolutionary theorist.
     
    Forget, not meeting the gold standard of science. Our Steve is being too kind here--maybe Steve affinity? Gould is not just not the "original" and "great" evolutionary theorist he wanted to be, he's not a scientist at all.

    I'm a complete layman and yet a better "evolutionary theorist".

    AnotherDad Theorem:

    Any genetic trait that is not fixed, that varies amongst inviduals, must vary among "population groups".

    Gould seems to deny this. But if one accepts genetics, it's ... just math! (Proof is left as an exercise for the reader.)

    AnotherDad Theorem:

    Our evolved large brain--shaping our cognition, communication and behavior--putting the sapien in homo sapien, is our salient competitive advantage--ergo the main canvas upon which selection is most likely to make its mark. The recent explosion of diverse novel geographical and especially cultural environments since the neolithic revolution should have produced--and be producing--relatively rapid change in our brains. A "punctuation" in the equilibrium if you will, which would vary according to these differing geographic and cultural environments.

    Gould definitely denies this. He doesn't even take his one "insight"--if you can call "punctuated equilibrium" insightful--seriously.


    Gould is not a scientist at all. He's a political propagandist, and actually an anti-scientist.
    , @Verymuchalive

    Gould’s theory evaded the gold standard of science. What can you predict? Gradual change? Yep, Gould is on board. Sudden change? Yep, Gould is on board. No change at all? Yep, Gould is on board.
     
    A theory which explains all outcomes is not a scientific theory since it is not falsifiable, as Karl Popper explained many years ago.
    Gould was an idiot. Probably. But worse than that: he wasn't even a scientist.
    , @slumber_j
    Well, I don't think he was an idiot at all, but he wasn't even remotely as important as he thought he was.

    Lewontin:


    now I have to say that this is my view—I have no demonstration of it—that Steve was really preoccupied by becoming a famous evolutionist.
     
    Well, I actually do have a demonstration of it. I took Gould's Core Curriculum course as a freshman in college--one of several hundred undergraduates who would file into a vast lecture theater in the Science Center to listen to him more or less recite one of his amusing essays from Natural History magazine a couple of times a week.

    At some point after the course was over, I went to pick up my graded term paper at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, which is where SJG had his office. On the way out, I ran into the man himself and thought I might as well tell him that I'd enjoyed his lectures, which I had. So I said, "Professor Gould..."

    He waved his hand in front of his face as he walked quickly past me with his attache case, staring at the ground and muttering: "I'm sorry, I don't have time right now." It was like a caricature of a self-important busy person.

    So I said to his receding form in its down parka, "I just wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your lectures in Science B-13."

    He stopped, turned, literally spread his arms and beamed and thanked me, and asked my name.

    A few days later I returned from class to find a message from a Mr. Safer, asking me to return the call to a New York number. Despite the long-distance charges, I did so and was duly asked to be an extra for a fake lecture that SJG would be staging in the coming days for the benefit of 60 Minutes.

    I figured why not and was rewarded with a closeup of me on the finished segment, nodding, which a lot of my recent high-school classmates happened to see on national television.

    So I guess I was complicit in satisfying Gould's Lust For Glory. Anyway, I have no doubt that it existed.

    , @Ian M.
    Is prediction essential to good science? It might be true that it is the gold standard, but I think that explanation is more fundamental to science than prediction. Darwin's own theory, for example, was meant primarily as an explanation consistent with the various data available to him. But he doesn't spend a lot of time in Origins using his theory to generate predictions of future events.
  2. When I think of the great paleontologists of the twentieth century-Roy Chapman Andrews, Barnum Brown, Robert T Bakker, Jack Horner- it’s all people who discovered important specimens as opposed to mere theorists. Granted, they got good paradigm changing theories out of their fieldwork (see the “Dinosaur Renaissance”) but it wasn’t theory alone as “evolutionists” or whatever. Of course, now actual field work may be “problematic”:

    https://medium.com/@PhoebeFossil/diversity-harassment-and-other-big-stuff-a-letter-to-my-earth-science-buds-5ea31f724a1c

    I welcome the revamped Cultural Marxist natural history where the dinosaurs died out because of toxic masculinity

  3. Anonymous[252] • Disclaimer says:

    but is ambition in non-scientists a good thing?

    there are lots of things I don’t understand – say, the latest debates over whether neutrinos have mass or the way that Fermat’s last theorem was (apparently) proven recently. But from 50 years in this game, I have learned two things: (1) I can ask friends who work in these areas to explain it to me at a level that I can understand, and they can do so, without particular difficulty; (2) if I’m interested, I can proceed to learn more so that I will come to understand it. Now Derrida, Lacan, Lyotard, Kristeva, etc. — even Foucault, whom I knew and liked, and who was somewhat different from the rest — write things that I also don’t understand, but (1) and (2) don’t hold: no one who says they do understand can explain it to me and I haven’t a clue as to how to proceed to overcome my failures. That leaves one of two possibilities: (a) some new advance in intellectual life has been made, perhaps some sudden genetic mutation, which has created a form of “theory” that is beyond quantum theory, topology, etc., in depth and profundity; or (b) … I won’t spell it out.

    Chomsky elaborates on as the impetus for post-structuralism in the academy, saying “it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s going on. Suppose you’re a literary scholar…. If you do your work seriously, that’s fine, but you don’t get any prizes for it.” He makes the claim that humanities scholars use mystifying jargon and cook up “theory” in order to compete with theoretical physicists and mathematicians, who get prizes, grants, and prestige for advancing incredibly complicated scientific work.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Postmodern "Theory" is also an entry barrier for English Departments. There are a huge number of smart people who love English literature and could teach it well at the college level. Erecting a barrier to entry that they first have to apprentice for years learning horrible jargon that offends their refined taste in prose style keeps a lot of potential entrants out of the field.
    , @mr. wild
    Eventually you would think that they'd have run out of ways to say that everything is a social construct, but there seems to be an unlimited number of ways. It's like the Thomas Friedman Op Ed Generator.
  4. Sometimes the glass is “party empty”. I’m stealing that …

  5. @Anonymous
    but is ambition in non-scientists a good thing?

    there are lots of things I don't understand - say, the latest debates over whether neutrinos have mass or the way that Fermat's last theorem was (apparently) proven recently. But from 50 years in this game, I have learned two things: (1) I can ask friends who work in these areas to explain it to me at a level that I can understand, and they can do so, without particular difficulty; (2) if I'm interested, I can proceed to learn more so that I will come to understand it. Now Derrida, Lacan, Lyotard, Kristeva, etc. -- even Foucault, whom I knew and liked, and who was somewhat different from the rest -- write things that I also don't understand, but (1) and (2) don't hold: no one who says they do understand can explain it to me and I haven't a clue as to how to proceed to overcome my failures. That leaves one of two possibilities: (a) some new advance in intellectual life has been made, perhaps some sudden genetic mutation, which has created a form of "theory" that is beyond quantum theory, topology, etc., in depth and profundity; or (b) ... I won't spell it out.
     
    Chomsky elaborates on as the impetus for post-structuralism in the academy, saying “it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s going on. Suppose you’re a literary scholar…. If you do your work seriously, that’s fine, but you don’t get any prizes for it.” He makes the claim that humanities scholars use mystifying jargon and cook up “theory” in order to compete with theoretical physicists and mathematicians, who get prizes, grants, and prestige for advancing incredibly complicated scientific work.

    Postmodern “Theory” is also an entry barrier for English Departments. There are a huge number of smart people who love English literature and could teach it well at the college level. Erecting a barrier to entry that they first have to apprentice for years learning horrible jargon that offends their refined taste in prose style keeps a lot of potential entrants out of the field.

    • Agree: Desiderius, TomSchmidt
    • Replies: @Desiderius
    This is an observation with an application approaching universality.
    , @J.Ross
    Another way of saying this so the stemmies get it: we can't take our culture back without taking our literature classes back.
    , @Anonymous
    It’s the same function - if even more effective - as the useless but expensive third year of law school. A guild barrier, more or less.
    , @anonymous
    The philosopher John Searle, like Chomsky, found Foucault perfectly reasonable in private conversation, so he asked him why then did he write such garbage. He replied, "John, to be taken seriously in France, 2/3 of what you write has to be impenetrable nonsense."
  6. Gould called this Punctuated Equilibrium.

    Most people call it Shit Happens Theory.

    If an environment is constant, and if its organisms are well-adapted to it, there’s bound to little change. But when the environment undergoes rapid change, many organisms face the choice of adapt or die out.

    • Replies: @Enochian
    Did Gould propose that evolution happens in bursts in response to changes in the environment, or just that evolution happens in bursts? The former seems like it would have some ability to make predictions, since you can look for a sudden environmental change and see if the animals alter quickly to match it.
    , @Intelligent Dasein

    Gould called this Punctuated Equilibrium.

    Most people call it Shit Happens Theory.
     
    Actually, it used to be called Saltation, and it was the dominant theme in pre-Darwinian evolutionary thinking.

    Although Gould was basically a Gradualist, one could say that Punctuated Equilibrium was really an epicyclic addition to the Darwinian scheme which attempted to bring it back into line with the evidentiarily more established and inherently more plausible Saltationist hypothesis.

    One of the more frustrating aspects of discussing Darwinism today derives from the fact that the idea has undergone serious definitional creep since its inception, such that its more ardent adherents now hold it to be synonymous with biological change simpliciter, which reduces their position to that of an invincible tautology. "Organisms change over time, therefore Darwinism is true," goes the argument. But Darwin made a number of very specific claims regarding the nature and mechanism of biological change. Gradualism was the entire substance and motivation of his theory; it was precisely this which he put forth as his unique contribution, his "claim to fame," and he devoted considerable space in the Origin of Species to explaining away the many difficulties and objections raised by other naturalists concerning the development of traits which seemed to require more suddenness and/or directedness than he was willing to allow. Contrary to the unjust assignations and shallow camp mentality of Darwin's over-solicitous modern friends---who hold that any opponent of their master must be a Young Earth Creationist or a Paleian design advocate---there are real and solid naturalistic reasons for rejecting the Gradualist approach which have been given indefensible short shrift within the prevailing paradigm. For the Darwinists to vampirize and transvaluate Saltationist ideas simply as means of bolstering their own floundering theory is historically improper and scientifically misleading.

    What ought to be clear is that if one wishes to accept the fact of biological change at all, then the appearance of monsters not only cannot be categorically ruled out, but is ineluctably implied and must be taken as a given. The origin of life itself, of free-moving animals, of males and females, and the emergence of the major taxa are all such monstering events. They happen without ascertainable cause and certainly not according to the fitness principle. Here we must acknowledge the presence of an epistemological limit to reasonings proceeding within the confines of strict efficient causality. Darwinism, in attempting to go beyond that limit, destroys itself, as does Intelligent Design, Creationism, and Vitalism. Darwinism is held onto as fanatically as it is just because the sovereign intellect, in attempting to reduce everything to an object of its mechanical-causal ideation, requires that the awareness of this limit be obscured.
  7. @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    Gould's theory evaded the gold standard of science. What can you predict? Gradual change? Yep, Gould is on board. Sudden change? Yep, Gould is on board. No change at all? Yep, Gould is on board.

    Retrospectively, Gould is a genius. Prospectively, Gould is useless. Plus Gould said that every human should be expected to have exactly the same outcome - with respect to intelligence.

    Gould was an idiot.

    His bio should be called Misuse of Science.

  8. Main proponent of the Ashkenazi Marxist Theory of Revolution:

    Jean Leopold Nicolas Frederic, Baron Cuvier (1769 – 1832.)

  9. @Steve Sailer
    Postmodern "Theory" is also an entry barrier for English Departments. There are a huge number of smart people who love English literature and could teach it well at the college level. Erecting a barrier to entry that they first have to apprentice for years learning horrible jargon that offends their refined taste in prose style keeps a lot of potential entrants out of the field.

    This is an observation with an application approaching universality.

  10. Stephen Jay Gould on Stephen Jay Gould:

  11. @Anon
    Gould called this Punctuated Equilibrium.

    Most people call it Shit Happens Theory.

    If an environment is constant, and if its organisms are well-adapted to it, there's bound to little change. But when the environment undergoes rapid change, many organisms face the choice of adapt or die out.

    Did Gould propose that evolution happens in bursts in response to changes in the environment, or just that evolution happens in bursts? The former seems like it would have some ability to make predictions, since you can look for a sudden environmental change and see if the animals alter quickly to match it.

    • Replies: @Anon
    Did Gould propose that evolution happens in bursts in response to changes in the environment, or just that evolution happens in bursts?

    I dunno. I never read him thought a friend long ago used to tell me about books of Gould and Dawkins. He respected Gould but reluctantly admitted Dawkins was closer to the mark. (Maybe it was just tribalism cuz he was of the tribe like Gould.) Gould's Morton Skull-Duggery tells me he was a louse.

    Personally, I think rapid evolution is unlikely in a stable natural environment where things are in balance. By that I mean no single species has a chance of domination or state of ease. The ecological balance is actually maintained by violence. They eat others, and others eat them. Because all organism are under constant threat in a ecological balance, only a narrow band of traits is favored. For example, a fox in a forest may be eaten by other animals. It must have a narrow range of fight-or-flight impulses. Any fox that deviates from that narrow range will die. A fox that is TOO aggressive will try to take on a wolf or cougar and get killed. A fox that is too friendly will also get killed. Instead of running like a mofox, it will try to be friends with other animals like in BAMBI. God luck with that. So, as predator and prey, these foxes need a narrow range of traits. The famous fox experiment could happen only in a human environment.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jFGNQScRNY

    The above video was an example of evolutionary explosion. In just several generations, foxes underwent drastic genetic changes. But such couldn't have happened in nature.
    The experiments selected for tameness, and this trait, upon being favored, unleashed unexpected explosion of new traits in vocal sound, fur color, and behavior. But such foxes would have died in the wild. Too trusting, too friendly. More eager to play than run like a mofox.

    But maybe such kinds of evolution did happen among animals on occasion under certain circumstances. Suppose a bunch of animals live in an environment of ecological balance. They eat others but are eaten too. But suppose their most feared predators gradually die out, and the species are no longer under threat of being killed. When they were prey, only the most adept could survive. But without predatory pressure, there can be a variety of them. Even slow ones will survive. Even friendly ones will survive breed. And without predatory pressures, the ones that are friendly could end up mating more because they are more sociable.

    Something like that happened with humans with the "10,000 yrs of explosion". For most of their (pre)history, humans were under predatory pressure. They lived in an intense world of fight/flight. They killed animals and were killed by animals. And tribes hunted tribes, even ate other tribes. So, only a narrow range of traits were favored and maintained. But as civilization developed, a greater variety of people in personality and ability could survive and reproduce. And since brute survival was no longer the decisive factor, a whole range of traits in personality and leanings could be favored.

    Indeed, it's somewhat strange that blacks are so much alike even though they are the oldest race. Scientists say Africans have the widest range of DNA. But in terms of visible traits, blacks are very narrow. So much of it comes down to 'sheeeeiiit', 'run like motherfuc*a', 'whup his ass', 'she a ho' .
    We see these traits in blacks all across the continent and wherever blacks go. Look how they be bumping-and-grinding in UK as in Jamaica and Detroit and Liberia. (To be sure, one kind, the Bantus, invaded much of Africa and wiped out other sub-races of blacks.)
    This could be because black traits were selected in an intense fight/flight environment. 'Sheeeiiit' could have derived from watching a lion eat a fellow Negro alive. 'Run like mothafuc*a' reflects how blacks reacted when a herd of elephants came stampeding their way. 'Whup his ass' could be what kept a black tribe alive when they saw a chimpanzee that became dinner. And 'she a ho' is illustrative of a culture where, if you didn't get thumped, you just went to get humped.

    In contrast, Near Eastern folks began to milk cows and develop agriculture. So, they had food surplus. And they had settlements that kept out dangerous animals. So, it was no longer fight/flight. Thus, more could survive, and wider range of personalities and mental traits could develop.

    From barracks-evolution that weeded out everyone except those most suited to tough survival(like in FULL METAL JACKET), it went to ballroom-evolution where people didn't need to be on the edge all the time(like in THE SHINING). Thus, wider range of traits emerged, and some of them came to be favored for their beauty, style, or creativity.

  12. All of this is to not say outright that the Bernays Hype Machine is actually self-defeating. A true great does not need or benefit from a breathless “f’ing-science-loving” eight-color-text Wired hagiography. Or his own TV show.
    James Randi researched Nostradamus and found that, without the predictions that guaranteed his fame, there was much to admire (provided he was remembered at all). Nostradamus provided free medical assistance in a plague-affected area and privately expressed sentiments about religious tolerance at a time when Protestants in France were being mass-murdered. His predictions were the most ignomious thing about him, although it is very amusing to read his quick explations to angry patrons for why personal horoscopes didn’t pan out.
    RUMOR
    Recall the Antifa troublemaking in Virginia and the Capital this past weekend. Russian hackers are claiming that feds used the opportunity to take a lot of pretty pictures. Given the fed track record, this could mean probation without imprisonment, or release with all charges dropped, for thousands of skull-cracking window-breaking litte thugs.

  13. @Steve Sailer
    Postmodern "Theory" is also an entry barrier for English Departments. There are a huge number of smart people who love English literature and could teach it well at the college level. Erecting a barrier to entry that they first have to apprentice for years learning horrible jargon that offends their refined taste in prose style keeps a lot of potential entrants out of the field.

    Another way of saying this so the stemmies get it: we can’t take our culture back without taking our literature classes back.

  14. Gould left a lot of droppings all over the field of paleontology. His interpretation of the Burgess Shale has not stood the test of time, but that did not stop him attacking Conway Morris and other better researchers in very personal terms for having views he did not share, views that have stood the test of time.

    • Replies: @Unladen Swallow
    Robert Trivers has an interesting account of Gould in his autobiographical book excerpts in Unz.com's science section, he also has personal accounts of Hamilton, Williams, Lewontin, and Phil Darlington who was curator of Harvard's Zoology museum. Trivers points out that Gould was trying to "replace" evolution with his own ideas when he first met him when Gould was an assistant professor and Trivers was still a graduate student. Trivers was the one who helped Edward O. Wilson with the theoretical part of his book "Sociobiology".
  15. Fwiw, I could never stand Gould’s writing style. Seemed obvious to me that he was trying harder to impress the grad students and former English majors who subscribed to the NY Review of Books than he was to explain anything clearly. He wanted to be — and, because most of them know nothing about science and can’t think scientifically, he was able to become — Their Guy in Science.

    • Agree: MEH 0910
    • Replies: @Mr. Anon

    Fwiw, I could never stand Gould’s writing style.
     
    Ditto. I found his prose style to be awful: wordy, pretentious, and unclear. I mean it really stood out as being exceptionally bad.
  16. > Retrospectively, Gould is a genius.

    I don’t see it, though the only exposure to him that I have is Mismeasure of Man.

    In that, what I saw was a man who writes (overly) cleverly, but misses the point. Yes, there have been mismeasurements in intelligence testing. Yes, physical brain size does not always directly map to IQ. Yes, it is an open question what the _mechanism_ behind intelligence is, and just how many factors there are (i.e. is there a single g, or are there multiple “engines” of intelligence?).

    But none of that in any way disproves what he says he’s disproving — that human races may vary in intelligence.

    On a positive note, I did learn a bunch of new words reading his book.

    • Replies: @Charles Erwin Wilson II

    On a positive note, I did learn a bunch of new words reading his book.
     
    Well, that is a good thing. Have you read Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire? Gibbon's prose is superb, and your dictionary will get a workout.
  17. Charles Erwin Wilson II says:

    “II” implies punctuated evolution, while “Jr” would suggest more gradual development.

    Richard Lewontin on Stephen Jay Gould

    Mary McCarthy was more illuminating on Lillian Hellman.

    • Replies: @Charles Erwin Wilson II

    “II” implies punctuated evolution, while “Jr” would suggest more gradual development.
     
    Bwah hah hah hah!
  18. It’s really hard to make useful contributions to evolutionary theory without a mathematical model these days. If you’re going to make, say, the concept of Punctuated Equilibrium carry any weight, you have to specify some mathematical model that characterizes when and how it might occur. The model itself might be very abstract, and the number of concrete “predictions” might be quite small. But you need enough such predictions that you can assert both that you are saying something meaningful, and that the model has at least in part been confirmed.

    Gould drew lines on a blackboard. What could possibly confirm or refute lines on a blackboard?

    You don’t have to be a high powered mathematician to create or understand these sorts of models. But it only seems like you’re saying something if you can’t do either.

    Lewontin was an ideological hack too. But he produced many genuinely useful scientific ideas, because he wasn’t a mathematical dolt.

    • Replies: @oddsbodkins
    E. O. Wilson made great progress despite being a mathematical dolt. But Wilson knew his limits and knew how to work with people whose talents complemented his.
    , @gcochran
    " many genuinely useful scientific ideas"

    List some.
  19. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

    Maybe some aspects of evolution are punctuated and some slow?

    Consider how cars are built.

    GM built the small black Chevrolet engine from 1955 to-when? 1986? 1997? 2003? Today?
    Depends on how you define Small Block Chevrolet Engine.

    From 1955 to 1986, they all interchanged as a unit and you could swap most accessories from any to any other. They changed the intake and exhaust manifolds, but the new heads would bolt on the block. Then they changed the oil seal, but you could interchange cranks with an adapter. Then they came out with the LT-1, which had some interchangeability but not as much, and then the LS6 style engine, which shares little but the 4.400 bore centers and the same basic bolt pattern on the back.

    Perhaps if you caught a 300 million year old coelecanth today it would be as different from the modern one as a LS6 is from a ’55 265 V8.

  20. That natural history is kind of like human history is a not worthless observation on Gould’s part. Someday we may be able to see his accomplishments without being distracted by his egomania, lack of needed mathematical skills, and political and ethnic animosities.

    Other than that Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?

  21. Anonymous[666] • Disclaimer says:

    It’s kind of like the Mexican ex-dictator’s Porfirio Diaz’s observation, after many decades of his uncontested rule, as he was suddenly being bundled onto a steamship to exile in the opening of the vast Mexican Revolution: “Nothing ever happens in Mexico, until it happens.”

    Or Philip Roth’s observation: “People think about history in the long term, but history, in fact, is a very sudden thing.”

  22. Someone, somewhere on the internet commented about this article:

    Laziness led to extinction of Homo erectus

    Their point was “Given the high heritability of behavior, if Homo erectus had a good thing going” there was little need for them to change until it was too late, and they probably couldn’t change anyway.”

  23. @megabar
    > Retrospectively, Gould is a genius.

    I don't see it, though the only exposure to him that I have is Mismeasure of Man.

    In that, what I saw was a man who writes (overly) cleverly, but misses the point. Yes, there have been mismeasurements in intelligence testing. Yes, physical brain size does not always directly map to IQ. Yes, it is an open question what the _mechanism_ behind intelligence is, and just how many factors there are (i.e. is there a single g, or are there multiple "engines" of intelligence?).

    But none of that in any way disproves what he says he's disproving -- that human races may vary in intelligence.

    On a positive note, I did learn a bunch of new words reading his book.

    On a positive note, I did learn a bunch of new words reading his book.

    Well, that is a good thing. Have you read Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire? Gibbon’s prose is superb, and your dictionary will get a workout.

    • Replies: @megabar
    > Have you read Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire?

    I'm compiling a reading list after a long hiatus, so this is perfect timing. Thanks!
  24. 25 years ago, PBS made Gould and joke man Billy Crystal leading experts on BASEBALL in that “monumental” series of little Kennie Burns. At least Crystal could do a decent Mickey Mantle imitation. Why the hell Gould was there, talking about the 1951 NL playoff between the Giants and the Dodgers, escapes me. George Plimpton was also there, talking about Carl Hubbel’s screwball, but Old George was an actual sportswriter for Esquire. Doris Goodwin was also called upon to pontificate on the Boston Red Sox. Sleeping with Lyndon Johnson should get any decent woman banned from polite society.

    According to Burns, Blacks, being forced to play in the segregated Negro Leagues, was almost as big an atrocity as Hitler gassing the Jews. Whitey is always to blame on PBS. Even if Whitey didn’t commit the crimes of Hitler, Whitey would if he could. PBS is as predicable as paint when comes to questions of race in the United States.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    The reductio ad absurdum of Ken Burns' interminable "Baseball" documentary was Stephen Jay Gould singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" a capella all the way through.
    , @Charles Erwin Wilson II

    Sleeping with Lyndon Johnson should get any decent woman banned from polite society.
     
    True, but what is worse is that she liked it.
    , @Bugg
    Compared to Burns and his daughter's factually-challenged and atrociously dishonest work with their Central Park 5 fairy tale, the least of his crimes. And make no mistake, that crime led to NYC paying these vicious bastards $41 million.
    , @Ganderson
    I never read Paper Lion, but I loved Plimpton's book about the NHL, Open Net. Lots of good stuff about Don Cherry, my all time favorite Canuck.

    Burns is obsessed with race, particularly blacks. It mars all his work. If one only had his documentaries to go by you'd think that everyone who played in the Negro Leagues was a Hall of Famer- kind of a corollary to the notion that if you handed some random Black guy a clarinet he'd be better than Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw. Also over the course of 9 hours he never mentioned Harmon Killebrew!

    Burns' obsession with Blacks does not extend to living among them- Cheshire County, NH, where he resides, is less than 1/2 of 1% Black.
  25. @Steve Sailer
    Postmodern "Theory" is also an entry barrier for English Departments. There are a huge number of smart people who love English literature and could teach it well at the college level. Erecting a barrier to entry that they first have to apprentice for years learning horrible jargon that offends their refined taste in prose style keeps a lot of potential entrants out of the field.

    It’s the same function – if even more effective – as the useless but expensive third year of law school. A guild barrier, more or less.

  26. Punctuated equilibrium and gradualism are both likely parts of evolution. Population bottlenecks existed over a few dozens years and a few thousand years.

  27. OT – Stephen Miller is quietly getting shit done and building his own deep state. Chad nationalist jew vs virgin internet antisemite

    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/08/stephen-miller-refugees-state-department

    Currently, the U.S. is on pace to admit around 22,000 refugees this fiscal year. Defenders of the policies argue that the cuts offset a surge in asylum seekers, while critics dismiss the notion as a manufactured crisis. “By 2020, I would not be surprised if we just don’t have this program anymore,” said Jennifer Quigley, an advocacy strategist for refugee protection at Human Rights First. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s 5,000 next year and then zero.” (

    Miller has been particularly attentive to the refugee program at the State Department, which flows through the bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, cultivating attachés to assist his agenda. (Miller’s defenders say he is working to execute the president’s agenda, not his own.) “He is definitely in empire-building mode and succeeding at it,” a former administration official who worked on refugee policy told me. “He’s plugged every hole across the U.S. government and replaced every weak link with one of his staunch allies so that there is virtually no path forward for anyone who cares about refugee protection. You just run up against a wall at every path.”

    Perhaps Miller’s greatest achievement, however, is how he has managed to project his influence largely from the shadows, deploying ideological apostles to do his dirty work. “He wants to be able to put it out there, speak for the president, not have his fingerprints on it, not risk his own political future, not get out ahead of the boss but be able to use his anonymity to put forward these extreme views and cast them as the president’s,” said the former official who worked on refugee affairs. “He has just been a master operator on that front. His name hasn’t been on anything. He is working behind the scenes, he has planted all of his people in all of these positions, he is on the phone with them all of the time, and he is creating a side operation that will circumvent the normal, transparent policy process.” Miller will succeed, the former official continued, “and there won’t really even be a paper trail.”

    • Replies: @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    Excellent example of why hating on the Joos is not a winning strategy for us.
    , @snorlax

    “He’s plugged every hole across the U.S. government and replaced every weak link with one of his staunch allies so that there is virtually no path forward for anyone who cares about refugee protection. You just run up against a wall at every path.”
     
    https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/347/402/f6f.gif
    , @bomag
    Encouraging news; but for every S. Miller there are 4,792 SJWs eagerly grasping for the levers of gov't power to fill the country with wretched refuse in service to their Sauron.
  28. @candid_observer
    It's really hard to make useful contributions to evolutionary theory without a mathematical model these days. If you're going to make, say, the concept of Punctuated Equilibrium carry any weight, you have to specify some mathematical model that characterizes when and how it might occur. The model itself might be very abstract, and the number of concrete "predictions" might be quite small. But you need enough such predictions that you can assert both that you are saying something meaningful, and that the model has at least in part been confirmed.

    Gould drew lines on a blackboard. What could possibly confirm or refute lines on a blackboard?

    You don't have to be a high powered mathematician to create or understand these sorts of models. But it only seems like you're saying something if you can't do either.

    Lewontin was an ideological hack too. But he produced many genuinely useful scientific ideas, because he wasn't a mathematical dolt.

    E. O. Wilson made great progress despite being a mathematical dolt. But Wilson knew his limits and knew how to work with people whose talents complemented his.

  29. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says:
    @Enochian
    Did Gould propose that evolution happens in bursts in response to changes in the environment, or just that evolution happens in bursts? The former seems like it would have some ability to make predictions, since you can look for a sudden environmental change and see if the animals alter quickly to match it.

    Did Gould propose that evolution happens in bursts in response to changes in the environment, or just that evolution happens in bursts?

    I dunno. I never read him thought a friend long ago used to tell me about books of Gould and Dawkins. He respected Gould but reluctantly admitted Dawkins was closer to the mark. (Maybe it was just tribalism cuz he was of the tribe like Gould.) Gould’s Morton Skull-Duggery tells me he was a louse.

    Personally, I think rapid evolution is unlikely in a stable natural environment where things are in balance. By that I mean no single species has a chance of domination or state of ease. The ecological balance is actually maintained by violence. They eat others, and others eat them. Because all organism are under constant threat in a ecological balance, only a narrow band of traits is favored. For example, a fox in a forest may be eaten by other animals. It must have a narrow range of fight-or-flight impulses. Any fox that deviates from that narrow range will die. A fox that is TOO aggressive will try to take on a wolf or cougar and get killed. A fox that is too friendly will also get killed. Instead of running like a mofox, it will try to be friends with other animals like in BAMBI. God luck with that. So, as predator and prey, these foxes need a narrow range of traits. The famous fox experiment could happen only in a human environment.

    The above video was an example of evolutionary explosion. In just several generations, foxes underwent drastic genetic changes. But such couldn’t have happened in nature.
    The experiments selected for tameness, and this trait, upon being favored, unleashed unexpected explosion of new traits in vocal sound, fur color, and behavior. But such foxes would have died in the wild. Too trusting, too friendly. More eager to play than run like a mofox.

    But maybe such kinds of evolution did happen among animals on occasion under certain circumstances. Suppose a bunch of animals live in an environment of ecological balance. They eat others but are eaten too. But suppose their most feared predators gradually die out, and the species are no longer under threat of being killed. When they were prey, only the most adept could survive. But without predatory pressure, there can be a variety of them. Even slow ones will survive. Even friendly ones will survive breed. And without predatory pressures, the ones that are friendly could end up mating more because they are more sociable.

    Something like that happened with humans with the “10,000 yrs of explosion”. For most of their (pre)history, humans were under predatory pressure. They lived in an intense world of fight/flight. They killed animals and were killed by animals. And tribes hunted tribes, even ate other tribes. So, only a narrow range of traits were favored and maintained. But as civilization developed, a greater variety of people in personality and ability could survive and reproduce. And since brute survival was no longer the decisive factor, a whole range of traits in personality and leanings could be favored.

    Indeed, it’s somewhat strange that blacks are so much alike even though they are the oldest race. Scientists say Africans have the widest range of DNA. But in terms of visible traits, blacks are very narrow. So much of it comes down to ‘sheeeeiiit’, ‘run like motherfuc*a’, ‘whup his ass’, ‘she a ho’ .
    We see these traits in blacks all across the continent and wherever blacks go. Look how they be bumping-and-grinding in UK as in Jamaica and Detroit and Liberia. (To be sure, one kind, the Bantus, invaded much of Africa and wiped out other sub-races of blacks.)
    This could be because black traits were selected in an intense fight/flight environment. ‘Sheeeiiit’ could have derived from watching a lion eat a fellow Negro alive. ‘Run like mothafuc*a’ reflects how blacks reacted when a herd of elephants came stampeding their way. ‘Whup his ass’ could be what kept a black tribe alive when they saw a chimpanzee that became dinner. And ‘she a ho’ is illustrative of a culture where, if you didn’t get thumped, you just went to get humped.

    In contrast, Near Eastern folks began to milk cows and develop agriculture. So, they had food surplus. And they had settlements that kept out dangerous animals. So, it was no longer fight/flight. Thus, more could survive, and wider range of personalities and mental traits could develop.

    From barracks-evolution that weeded out everyone except those most suited to tough survival(like in FULL METAL JACKET), it went to ballroom-evolution where people didn’t need to be on the edge all the time(like in THE SHINING). Thus, wider range of traits emerged, and some of them came to be favored for their beauty, style, or creativity.

  30. @27 year old
    OT - Stephen Miller is quietly getting shit done and building his own deep state. Chad nationalist jew vs virgin internet antisemite

    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/08/stephen-miller-refugees-state-department

    Currently, the U.S. is on pace to admit around 22,000 refugees this fiscal year. Defenders of the policies argue that the cuts offset a surge in asylum seekers, while critics dismiss the notion as a manufactured crisis. “By 2020, I would not be surprised if we just don't have this program anymore,” said Jennifer Quigley, an advocacy strategist for refugee protection at Human Rights First. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s 5,000 next year and then zero.” (
    ...
    Miller has been particularly attentive to the refugee program at the State Department, which flows through the bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, cultivating attachés to assist his agenda. (Miller’s defenders say he is working to execute the president’s agenda, not his own.) “He is definitely in empire-building mode and succeeding at it,” a former administration official who worked on refugee policy told me. “He’s plugged every hole across the U.S. government and replaced every weak link with one of his staunch allies so that there is virtually no path forward for anyone who cares about refugee protection. You just run up against a wall at every path.”
    ...
    Perhaps Miller’s greatest achievement, however, is how he has managed to project his influence largely from the shadows, deploying ideological apostles to do his dirty work. “He wants to be able to put it out there, speak for the president, not have his fingerprints on it, not risk his own political future, not get out ahead of the boss but be able to use his anonymity to put forward these extreme views and cast them as the president’s,” said the former official who worked on refugee affairs. “He has just been a master operator on that front. His name hasn’t been on anything. He is working behind the scenes, he has planted all of his people in all of these positions, he is on the phone with them all of the time, and he is creating a side operation that will circumvent the normal, transparent policy process.” Miller will succeed, the former official continued, “and there won’t really even be a paper trail.”
     

    Excellent example of why hating on the Joos is not a winning strategy for us.

    • Replies: @Amasius
    Worf's alright, therefore Klingons aren't a problem.
  31. @Reg Cæsar

    Charles Erwin Wilson II says:

     

    "II" implies punctuated evolution, while "Jr" would suggest more gradual development.

    Richard Lewontin on Stephen Jay Gould

     
    Mary McCarthy was more illuminating on Lillian Hellman.

    https://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-every-word-she-lillian-hellman-writes-is-a-lie-including-and-and-the-mary-mccarthy-122742.jpg

    “II” implies punctuated evolution, while “Jr” would suggest more gradual development.

    Bwah hah hah hah!

  32. @Anonymous
    but is ambition in non-scientists a good thing?

    there are lots of things I don't understand - say, the latest debates over whether neutrinos have mass or the way that Fermat's last theorem was (apparently) proven recently. But from 50 years in this game, I have learned two things: (1) I can ask friends who work in these areas to explain it to me at a level that I can understand, and they can do so, without particular difficulty; (2) if I'm interested, I can proceed to learn more so that I will come to understand it. Now Derrida, Lacan, Lyotard, Kristeva, etc. -- even Foucault, whom I knew and liked, and who was somewhat different from the rest -- write things that I also don't understand, but (1) and (2) don't hold: no one who says they do understand can explain it to me and I haven't a clue as to how to proceed to overcome my failures. That leaves one of two possibilities: (a) some new advance in intellectual life has been made, perhaps some sudden genetic mutation, which has created a form of "theory" that is beyond quantum theory, topology, etc., in depth and profundity; or (b) ... I won't spell it out.
     
    Chomsky elaborates on as the impetus for post-structuralism in the academy, saying “it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s going on. Suppose you’re a literary scholar…. If you do your work seriously, that’s fine, but you don’t get any prizes for it.” He makes the claim that humanities scholars use mystifying jargon and cook up “theory” in order to compete with theoretical physicists and mathematicians, who get prizes, grants, and prestige for advancing incredibly complicated scientific work.

    Eventually you would think that they’d have run out of ways to say that everything is a social construct, but there seems to be an unlimited number of ways. It’s like the Thomas Friedman Op Ed Generator.

  33. @candid_observer
    It's really hard to make useful contributions to evolutionary theory without a mathematical model these days. If you're going to make, say, the concept of Punctuated Equilibrium carry any weight, you have to specify some mathematical model that characterizes when and how it might occur. The model itself might be very abstract, and the number of concrete "predictions" might be quite small. But you need enough such predictions that you can assert both that you are saying something meaningful, and that the model has at least in part been confirmed.

    Gould drew lines on a blackboard. What could possibly confirm or refute lines on a blackboard?

    You don't have to be a high powered mathematician to create or understand these sorts of models. But it only seems like you're saying something if you can't do either.

    Lewontin was an ideological hack too. But he produced many genuinely useful scientific ideas, because he wasn't a mathematical dolt.

    ” many genuinely useful scientific ideas”

    List some.

    • Replies: @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    If we omit 'scientific' from 'many genuinely useful scientific ideas' we get Lewontin in the New York Review of Books:

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

     

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1997/01/09/billions-and-billions-of-demons/
    , @candid_observer
    I suppose that the Wikipedia entry on Lewontin's contributions is as good as anything else as a summary:

    Lewontin has worked in both theoretical and experimental population genetics. A hallmark of his work has been an interest in new technology. He was the first person to do a computer simulation of the behavior of a single gene locus (previous simulation work having been of models with multiple loci).[citation needed] In 1960 he and Ken-Ichi Kojima were the first population geneticists to give the equations for change of haplotype frequencies with interacting natural selection at two loci.[7] This set off a wave of theoretical work on two-locus selection in the 1960s and 1970s. Their paper gave a theoretical derivation of the equilibria expected, and also investigated the dynamics of the model by computer iteration. Lewontin later introduced the D' measure of linkage disequilibrium.[8] (He also introduced the term "linkage disequilibrium", about which many population geneticists have been unenthusiastic.[9])

    In 1966, he and Jack Hubby published a paper that revolutionized population genetics.[3] They used protein gel electrophoresis to survey dozens of loci in the fruit fly Drosophila pseudoobscura, and reported that a large fraction of the loci were polymorphic, and that at the average locus there was about a 15% chance that the individual was heterozygous. (Harry Harris reported similar results for humans at about the same time.)[10] Previous work with gel electrophoresis had been reports of variation in single loci and did not give any sense of how common variation was.

    Lewontin and Hubby's paper also discussed the possible explanation of the high levels of variability by either balancing selection or neutral mutation. Although they did not commit themselves to advocating neutrality, this was the first clear statement of the neutral theory for levels of variability within species. Lewontin and Hubby's paper had great impact—the discovery of high levels of molecular variability gave population geneticists ample material to work on, and gave them access to variation at single loci. The possible theoretical explanations of this rampant polymorphism became the focus of most population genetics work thereafter. Martin Kreitman was later to do a pioneering survey of population-level variability in DNA sequences while a Ph.D. student in Lewontin's lab.[11]
     

    Lewontin's work is cited a number of times in Hartl and Clark's book on Population Genetics, which suggests that his contributions were of some lasting value -- the sort of contributions other scientists could build upon.

    I can see the point that his ideas were more applications of already known basic approaches than bold new strikes.

    But, in science, they also serve who only stand and apply.

    My more basic point is that he has done useful science, which can't be said for Gould.

  34. @Detective Club
    25 years ago, PBS made Gould and joke man Billy Crystal leading experts on BASEBALL in that "monumental" series of little Kennie Burns. At least Crystal could do a decent Mickey Mantle imitation. Why the hell Gould was there, talking about the 1951 NL playoff between the Giants and the Dodgers, escapes me. George Plimpton was also there, talking about Carl Hubbel's screwball, but Old George was an actual sportswriter for Esquire. Doris Goodwin was also called upon to pontificate on the Boston Red Sox. Sleeping with Lyndon Johnson should get any decent woman banned from polite society.
    https://youtu.be/BNM6ait4LOc
    According to Burns, Blacks, being forced to play in the segregated Negro Leagues, was almost as big an atrocity as Hitler gassing the Jews. Whitey is always to blame on PBS. Even if Whitey didn't commit the crimes of Hitler, Whitey would if he could. PBS is as predicable as paint when comes to questions of race in the United States.

    The reductio ad absurdum of Ken Burns’ interminable “Baseball” documentary was Stephen Jay Gould singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” a capella all the way through.

  35. @gcochran
    " many genuinely useful scientific ideas"

    List some.

    If we omit ‘scientific’ from ‘many genuinely useful scientific ideas’ we get Lewontin in the New York Review of Books:

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1997/01/09/billions-and-billions-of-demons/

    • Replies: @Pericles

    If we omit ‘scientific’ from ‘many genuinely useful scientific ideas’ we get Lewontin in the New York Review of Books:

     

    Could also omit 'genuinely useful'.
    , @BrokenSymmetry
    "The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen." Lewontin

    Which is precisely why omnipotence is not one of Aquinas' 8 attributes of God. Scholasticism laid the ground for the belief in a regular universe running on laws that can, in principle, be discerned by the intellect. Contrast this with Islam, the shutters came down with al-Ghazali's embrace of occasionalism as the notion that Allah's omnipotence could be limited was held to be unthinkable. This of course was the worst possible context for modern science to develop.
    , @DH13

    because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.
     

    material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive
     

    materialism is absolute
     
    So Lewontin was a religious man after all.

    anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything
     
    G.K. Chesterton has a better one:

    anyone who stops believing in God, starts believing in anything
     
    , @MEH 0910

    Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
     
    Lewontin is looking to get a Marxist Boot in the door.
  36. @Detective Club
    25 years ago, PBS made Gould and joke man Billy Crystal leading experts on BASEBALL in that "monumental" series of little Kennie Burns. At least Crystal could do a decent Mickey Mantle imitation. Why the hell Gould was there, talking about the 1951 NL playoff between the Giants and the Dodgers, escapes me. George Plimpton was also there, talking about Carl Hubbel's screwball, but Old George was an actual sportswriter for Esquire. Doris Goodwin was also called upon to pontificate on the Boston Red Sox. Sleeping with Lyndon Johnson should get any decent woman banned from polite society.
    https://youtu.be/BNM6ait4LOc
    According to Burns, Blacks, being forced to play in the segregated Negro Leagues, was almost as big an atrocity as Hitler gassing the Jews. Whitey is always to blame on PBS. Even if Whitey didn't commit the crimes of Hitler, Whitey would if he could. PBS is as predicable as paint when comes to questions of race in the United States.

    Sleeping with Lyndon Johnson should get any decent woman banned from polite society.

    True, but what is worse is that she liked it.

  37. @Anon
    Gould called this Punctuated Equilibrium.

    Most people call it Shit Happens Theory.

    If an environment is constant, and if its organisms are well-adapted to it, there's bound to little change. But when the environment undergoes rapid change, many organisms face the choice of adapt or die out.

    Gould called this Punctuated Equilibrium.

    Most people call it Shit Happens Theory.

    Actually, it used to be called Saltation, and it was the dominant theme in pre-Darwinian evolutionary thinking.

    Although Gould was basically a Gradualist, one could say that Punctuated Equilibrium was really an epicyclic addition to the Darwinian scheme which attempted to bring it back into line with the evidentiarily more established and inherently more plausible Saltationist hypothesis.

    One of the more frustrating aspects of discussing Darwinism today derives from the fact that the idea has undergone serious definitional creep since its inception, such that its more ardent adherents now hold it to be synonymous with biological change simpliciter, which reduces their position to that of an invincible tautology. “Organisms change over time, therefore Darwinism is true,” goes the argument. But Darwin made a number of very specific claims regarding the nature and mechanism of biological change. Gradualism was the entire substance and motivation of his theory; it was precisely this which he put forth as his unique contribution, his “claim to fame,” and he devoted considerable space in the Origin of Species to explaining away the many difficulties and objections raised by other naturalists concerning the development of traits which seemed to require more suddenness and/or directedness than he was willing to allow. Contrary to the unjust assignations and shallow camp mentality of Darwin’s over-solicitous modern friends—who hold that any opponent of their master must be a Young Earth Creationist or a Paleian design advocate—there are real and solid naturalistic reasons for rejecting the Gradualist approach which have been given indefensible short shrift within the prevailing paradigm. For the Darwinists to vampirize and transvaluate Saltationist ideas simply as means of bolstering their own floundering theory is historically improper and scientifically misleading.

    What ought to be clear is that if one wishes to accept the fact of biological change at all, then the appearance of monsters not only cannot be categorically ruled out, but is ineluctably implied and must be taken as a given. The origin of life itself, of free-moving animals, of males and females, and the emergence of the major taxa are all such monstering events. They happen without ascertainable cause and certainly not according to the fitness principle. Here we must acknowledge the presence of an epistemological limit to reasonings proceeding within the confines of strict efficient causality. Darwinism, in attempting to go beyond that limit, destroys itself, as does Intelligent Design, Creationism, and Vitalism. Darwinism is held onto as fanatically as it is just because the sovereign intellect, in attempting to reduce everything to an object of its mechanical-causal ideation, requires that the awareness of this limit be obscured.

    • Replies: @Ian M.
    Nice comment.
  38. @Steve Sailer
    Postmodern "Theory" is also an entry barrier for English Departments. There are a huge number of smart people who love English literature and could teach it well at the college level. Erecting a barrier to entry that they first have to apprentice for years learning horrible jargon that offends their refined taste in prose style keeps a lot of potential entrants out of the field.

    The philosopher John Searle, like Chomsky, found Foucault perfectly reasonable in private conversation, so he asked him why then did he write such garbage. He replied, “John, to be taken seriously in France, 2/3 of what you write has to be impenetrable nonsense.”

    • Replies: @U-Bahn
    Roger Scruton is instructive about Foucault and his ilk.
  39. @Charles Erwin Wilson II

    On a positive note, I did learn a bunch of new words reading his book.
     
    Well, that is a good thing. Have you read Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire? Gibbon's prose is superb, and your dictionary will get a workout.

    > Have you read Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire?

    I’m compiling a reading list after a long hiatus, so this is perfect timing. Thanks!

    • Replies: @U-Bahn
    Add Richard Dawkins' River Out of Eden if you haven't already read it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Out_Of_Eden

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32275.River_Out_Of_Eden
    , @Romanian
    My recommendation - John Lothrop Motley's "Rise of the Dutch Republic" and "History of the United Netherlands". Free on Amazon and Gutenberg, if you want the individual ebooks. 2-3$ for the collected works.

    I loved it. Very good writing. Also, I get bonus Internet points for the more obscure recommendation!
  40. @27 year old
    OT - Stephen Miller is quietly getting shit done and building his own deep state. Chad nationalist jew vs virgin internet antisemite

    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/08/stephen-miller-refugees-state-department

    Currently, the U.S. is on pace to admit around 22,000 refugees this fiscal year. Defenders of the policies argue that the cuts offset a surge in asylum seekers, while critics dismiss the notion as a manufactured crisis. “By 2020, I would not be surprised if we just don't have this program anymore,” said Jennifer Quigley, an advocacy strategist for refugee protection at Human Rights First. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s 5,000 next year and then zero.” (
    ...
    Miller has been particularly attentive to the refugee program at the State Department, which flows through the bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, cultivating attachés to assist his agenda. (Miller’s defenders say he is working to execute the president’s agenda, not his own.) “He is definitely in empire-building mode and succeeding at it,” a former administration official who worked on refugee policy told me. “He’s plugged every hole across the U.S. government and replaced every weak link with one of his staunch allies so that there is virtually no path forward for anyone who cares about refugee protection. You just run up against a wall at every path.”
    ...
    Perhaps Miller’s greatest achievement, however, is how he has managed to project his influence largely from the shadows, deploying ideological apostles to do his dirty work. “He wants to be able to put it out there, speak for the president, not have his fingerprints on it, not risk his own political future, not get out ahead of the boss but be able to use his anonymity to put forward these extreme views and cast them as the president’s,” said the former official who worked on refugee affairs. “He has just been a master operator on that front. His name hasn’t been on anything. He is working behind the scenes, he has planted all of his people in all of these positions, he is on the phone with them all of the time, and he is creating a side operation that will circumvent the normal, transparent policy process.” Miller will succeed, the former official continued, “and there won’t really even be a paper trail.”
     

    “He’s plugged every hole across the U.S. government and replaced every weak link with one of his staunch allies so that there is virtually no path forward for anyone who cares about refugee protection. You just run up against a wall at every path.”

    • LOL: Romanian
  41. @Detective Club
    25 years ago, PBS made Gould and joke man Billy Crystal leading experts on BASEBALL in that "monumental" series of little Kennie Burns. At least Crystal could do a decent Mickey Mantle imitation. Why the hell Gould was there, talking about the 1951 NL playoff between the Giants and the Dodgers, escapes me. George Plimpton was also there, talking about Carl Hubbel's screwball, but Old George was an actual sportswriter for Esquire. Doris Goodwin was also called upon to pontificate on the Boston Red Sox. Sleeping with Lyndon Johnson should get any decent woman banned from polite society.
    https://youtu.be/BNM6ait4LOc
    According to Burns, Blacks, being forced to play in the segregated Negro Leagues, was almost as big an atrocity as Hitler gassing the Jews. Whitey is always to blame on PBS. Even if Whitey didn't commit the crimes of Hitler, Whitey would if he could. PBS is as predicable as paint when comes to questions of race in the United States.

    Compared to Burns and his daughter’s factually-challenged and atrociously dishonest work with their Central Park 5 fairy tale, the least of his crimes. And make no mistake, that crime led to NYC paying these vicious bastards $41 million.

  42. Many years ago at Johns Hopkins University Gould gave a lecture open to the public. It was in one of the largest lecture halls on campus. The number of people there was unbelievable. I sat on the stairs—there were no seats to be had. There were tons of Jewish women with minks and diamonds galore. I couldn’t believe it. There were also a number of prominent politicians and Washington Celebs. I had been to many a lecture but I had never seen anything like this.

    Prior to starting his lecture a school photographer tried to take his photo and Gould immediately verbally attacked him. Unbelievable. The Johns Hopkins Department who had booked him were falling all over themselves trying to praise him.

    It only took about twenty minutes into the lecture before I realized he was full of it and had a very weak understanding on evolution. When the short question and answer period began and one questioner started to punch some holes in Gould’s argument (it was the same thing I had caught on too) Gould immediately attacked the person and may have even questioned his credentials. Needless to say the question and answer period didn’t last long. Also, Gould permitted no tape recording of his lecture.

    • Replies: @Pericles

    Also, Gould permitted no tape recording of his lecture.

     

    The certain sign of a scoundrel.

    That reminds me, myriads of students are every day forced to listen to the malicious nonsense of the usual cast of well-paid grievance queens. I wonder why there are not more recordings leaked of what is being taught.

  43. Somewhat OT: Gender, Ethnic Studies profs earn about $12,ooo more than their peers in academia. What’s more, they also made about $15,000 more per year than their counterparts in fields like Math, Biology, and the Physical Sciences.

    https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11213

  44. 16

    It’s really hard to make useful contributions to evolutionary theory without a mathematical model these days. If you’re going to make, say, the concept of Punctuated Equilibrium carry any weight, you have to specify some mathematical model that characterizes when and how it might occur. The model itself might be very abstract, and the number of concrete “predictions” might be quite small. But you need enough such predictions that you can assert both that you are saying something meaningful, and that the model has at least in part been confirmed.

    This doesn’t seem difficult. Imagine a fitness function with many local maximums. Each local maximum can be thought of as an ecological niche. Some are occupied by a species, some aren’t. The fitness function is constantly changing (for example as the climate gets hotter or colder). This causes the position of the local maximums to wander around and as they do a species inhabiting a niche changes (evolves) to track the position of the maximum. But other things can happen. A maximum can split in two and if the new maximums move far enough apart you will get two species. Or a niche can become uninhabitable (meaning even a species perfectly adapted to that niche can’t reproduce enough to avoid dying out, think Viking colony in Greenland). The rates of change here are relatively slow. But something else can happen, a local maximum can stop being a maximum. Think of a hill on the side of a mountain and fill in the valley between the hill and the mountain. At some point the hill will stop being a local maximum and a species inhabiting that niche will run away up the mountain. This is a more rapid change. I haven’t read Gould but from the name “punctuated equilibrium” I have assumed this is what he is talking about.

  45. That natural history is kind of like human history is a not worthless observation on Gould’s part. Someday we may be able to see his accomplishments without being distracted by his egomania, lack of needed mathematical skills, and political and ethnic animosities.

    And making shit up, besmirching others, such as Samuel Morton (1799–1851) a textbook example of scientific misconduct by Gould who was guilty of precisely what he accused Morton of….classic projection.

  46. @Paleo Retiree
    Fwiw, I could never stand Gould’s writing style. Seemed obvious to me that he was trying harder to impress the grad students and former English majors who subscribed to the NY Review of Books than he was to explain anything clearly. He wanted to be — and, because most of them know nothing about science and can’t think scientifically, he was able to become — Their Guy in Science.

    Fwiw, I could never stand Gould’s writing style.

    Ditto. I found his prose style to be awful: wordy, pretentious, and unclear. I mean it really stood out as being exceptionally bad.

    • Agree: MEH 0910
  47. Stephen Jay Gould brought a Marxist perspective to the study of the fossil record.

    Perhaps he thought the Dinosaurs were a doomed class – the kulaks of the Animal Kingdom.

  48. Gould’s peers called his “punctuated equilibrium” theory “evolution by jerks.” He was despised for his showmanship by those closest to his area of research. As Steve Sailer notes, Gould was a skilled popular writer, but a scientific fraud in how he pushed a hidden Marxist agenda by distorting evidence and twisting logic.

    • Replies: @BrokenSymmetry
    The Gouldians retaliated by branding their opponent's position as "evolution by creeps".
  49. @22pp22
    Gould left a lot of droppings all over the field of paleontology. His interpretation of the Burgess Shale has not stood the test of time, but that did not stop him attacking Conway Morris and other better researchers in very personal terms for having views he did not share, views that have stood the test of time.

    Robert Trivers has an interesting account of Gould in his autobiographical book excerpts in Unz.com’s science section, he also has personal accounts of Hamilton, Williams, Lewontin, and Phil Darlington who was curator of Harvard’s Zoology museum. Trivers points out that Gould was trying to “replace” evolution with his own ideas when he first met him when Gould was an assistant professor and Trivers was still a graduate student. Trivers was the one who helped Edward O. Wilson with the theoretical part of his book “Sociobiology”.

  50. @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    Gould's theory evaded the gold standard of science. What can you predict? Gradual change? Yep, Gould is on board. Sudden change? Yep, Gould is on board. No change at all? Yep, Gould is on board.

    Retrospectively, Gould is a genius. Prospectively, Gould is useless. Plus Gould said that every human should be expected to have exactly the same outcome - with respect to intelligence.

    Gould was an idiot.

    … because Steve, in my view, was preoccupied with the desire to be considered a very original and great evolutionary theorist.

    Forget, not meeting the gold standard of science. Our Steve is being too kind here–maybe Steve affinity? Gould is not just not the “original” and “great” evolutionary theorist he wanted to be, he’s not a scientist at all.

    I’m a complete layman and yet a better “evolutionary theorist”.

    AnotherDad Theorem:

    Any genetic trait that is not fixed, that varies amongst inviduals, must vary among “population groups”.

    Gould seems to deny this. But if one accepts genetics, it’s … just math! (Proof is left as an exercise for the reader.)

    AnotherDad Theorem:

    Our evolved large brain–shaping our cognition, communication and behavior–putting the sapien in homo sapien, is our salient competitive advantage–ergo the main canvas upon which selection is most likely to make its mark. The recent explosion of diverse novel geographical and especially cultural environments since the neolithic revolution should have produced–and be producing–relatively rapid change in our brains. A “punctuation” in the equilibrium if you will, which would vary according to these differing geographic and cultural environments.

    Gould definitely denies this. He doesn’t even take his one “insight”–if you can call “punctuated equilibrium” insightful–seriously.

    Gould is not a scientist at all. He’s a political propagandist, and actually an anti-scientist.

    • Replies: @Anonymous

    Gould is not a scientist at all. He’s a political propagandist, and actually an anti-scientist.
     
    All true, yet none of it matters. He's on the Right Side of History.
    , @Charles Erwin Wilson II

    Gould definitely denies this. He doesn’t even take his one “insight”–if you can call “punctuated equilibrium” insightful–seriously.

    Gould is not a scientist at all. He’s a political propagandist, and actually an anti-scientist.
     
    True.
  51. @AnotherDad

    … because Steve, in my view, was preoccupied with the desire to be considered a very original and great evolutionary theorist.
     
    Forget, not meeting the gold standard of science. Our Steve is being too kind here--maybe Steve affinity? Gould is not just not the "original" and "great" evolutionary theorist he wanted to be, he's not a scientist at all.

    I'm a complete layman and yet a better "evolutionary theorist".

    AnotherDad Theorem:

    Any genetic trait that is not fixed, that varies amongst inviduals, must vary among "population groups".

    Gould seems to deny this. But if one accepts genetics, it's ... just math! (Proof is left as an exercise for the reader.)

    AnotherDad Theorem:

    Our evolved large brain--shaping our cognition, communication and behavior--putting the sapien in homo sapien, is our salient competitive advantage--ergo the main canvas upon which selection is most likely to make its mark. The recent explosion of diverse novel geographical and especially cultural environments since the neolithic revolution should have produced--and be producing--relatively rapid change in our brains. A "punctuation" in the equilibrium if you will, which would vary according to these differing geographic and cultural environments.

    Gould definitely denies this. He doesn't even take his one "insight"--if you can call "punctuated equilibrium" insightful--seriously.


    Gould is not a scientist at all. He's a political propagandist, and actually an anti-scientist.

    Gould is not a scientist at all. He’s a political propagandist, and actually an anti-scientist.

    All true, yet none of it matters. He’s on the Right Side of History.

  52. @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    If we omit 'scientific' from 'many genuinely useful scientific ideas' we get Lewontin in the New York Review of Books:

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

     

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1997/01/09/billions-and-billions-of-demons/

    If we omit ‘scientific’ from ‘many genuinely useful scientific ideas’ we get Lewontin in the New York Review of Books:

    Could also omit ‘genuinely useful’.

    • Replies: @Charles Erwin Wilson II

    Could also omit ‘genuinely useful’.
     
    The utility comes from the revelation of the degree to which the metaphysical commitment to materialism obtains with Gould, Lewontin, etc. They are true believers, impervious to either empirical evidence or logic.
  53. @niteranger
    Many years ago at Johns Hopkins University Gould gave a lecture open to the public. It was in one of the largest lecture halls on campus. The number of people there was unbelievable. I sat on the stairs---there were no seats to be had. There were tons of Jewish women with minks and diamonds galore. I couldn't believe it. There were also a number of prominent politicians and Washington Celebs. I had been to many a lecture but I had never seen anything like this.

    Prior to starting his lecture a school photographer tried to take his photo and Gould immediately verbally attacked him. Unbelievable. The Johns Hopkins Department who had booked him were falling all over themselves trying to praise him.

    It only took about twenty minutes into the lecture before I realized he was full of it and had a very weak understanding on evolution. When the short question and answer period began and one questioner started to punch some holes in Gould's argument (it was the same thing I had caught on too) Gould immediately attacked the person and may have even questioned his credentials. Needless to say the question and answer period didn't last long. Also, Gould permitted no tape recording of his lecture.

    Also, Gould permitted no tape recording of his lecture.

    The certain sign of a scoundrel.

    That reminds me, myriads of students are every day forced to listen to the malicious nonsense of the usual cast of well-paid grievance queens. I wonder why there are not more recordings leaked of what is being taught.

  54. @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    Excellent example of why hating on the Joos is not a winning strategy for us.

    Worf’s alright, therefore Klingons aren’t a problem.

  55. @27 year old
    OT - Stephen Miller is quietly getting shit done and building his own deep state. Chad nationalist jew vs virgin internet antisemite

    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/08/stephen-miller-refugees-state-department

    Currently, the U.S. is on pace to admit around 22,000 refugees this fiscal year. Defenders of the policies argue that the cuts offset a surge in asylum seekers, while critics dismiss the notion as a manufactured crisis. “By 2020, I would not be surprised if we just don't have this program anymore,” said Jennifer Quigley, an advocacy strategist for refugee protection at Human Rights First. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s 5,000 next year and then zero.” (
    ...
    Miller has been particularly attentive to the refugee program at the State Department, which flows through the bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, cultivating attachés to assist his agenda. (Miller’s defenders say he is working to execute the president’s agenda, not his own.) “He is definitely in empire-building mode and succeeding at it,” a former administration official who worked on refugee policy told me. “He’s plugged every hole across the U.S. government and replaced every weak link with one of his staunch allies so that there is virtually no path forward for anyone who cares about refugee protection. You just run up against a wall at every path.”
    ...
    Perhaps Miller’s greatest achievement, however, is how he has managed to project his influence largely from the shadows, deploying ideological apostles to do his dirty work. “He wants to be able to put it out there, speak for the president, not have his fingerprints on it, not risk his own political future, not get out ahead of the boss but be able to use his anonymity to put forward these extreme views and cast them as the president’s,” said the former official who worked on refugee affairs. “He has just been a master operator on that front. His name hasn’t been on anything. He is working behind the scenes, he has planted all of his people in all of these positions, he is on the phone with them all of the time, and he is creating a side operation that will circumvent the normal, transparent policy process.” Miller will succeed, the former official continued, “and there won’t really even be a paper trail.”
     

    Encouraging news; but for every S. Miller there are 4,792 SJWs eagerly grasping for the levers of gov’t power to fill the country with wretched refuse in service to their Sauron.

  56. @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    If we omit 'scientific' from 'many genuinely useful scientific ideas' we get Lewontin in the New York Review of Books:

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

     

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1997/01/09/billions-and-billions-of-demons/

    “The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.” Lewontin

    Which is precisely why omnipotence is not one of Aquinas’ 8 attributes of God. Scholasticism laid the ground for the belief in a regular universe running on laws that can, in principle, be discerned by the intellect. Contrast this with Islam, the shutters came down with al-Ghazali’s embrace of occasionalism as the notion that Allah’s omnipotence could be limited was held to be unthinkable. This of course was the worst possible context for modern science to develop.

    • Replies: @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    True.
  57. @Peter Johnson
    Gould's peers called his "punctuated equilibrium" theory "evolution by jerks." He was despised for his showmanship by those closest to his area of research. As Steve Sailer notes, Gould was a skilled popular writer, but a scientific fraud in how he pushed a hidden Marxist agenda by distorting evidence and twisting logic.

    The Gouldians retaliated by branding their opponent’s position as “evolution by creeps”.

  58. @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    If we omit 'scientific' from 'many genuinely useful scientific ideas' we get Lewontin in the New York Review of Books:

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

     

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1997/01/09/billions-and-billions-of-demons/

    because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

    material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive

    materialism is absolute

    So Lewontin was a religious man after all.

    anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything

    G.K. Chesterton has a better one:

    anyone who stops believing in God, starts believing in anything

    • Replies: @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    You have to love G.K. Chesterton.
  59. @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    Gould's theory evaded the gold standard of science. What can you predict? Gradual change? Yep, Gould is on board. Sudden change? Yep, Gould is on board. No change at all? Yep, Gould is on board.

    Retrospectively, Gould is a genius. Prospectively, Gould is useless. Plus Gould said that every human should be expected to have exactly the same outcome - with respect to intelligence.

    Gould was an idiot.

    Gould’s theory evaded the gold standard of science. What can you predict? Gradual change? Yep, Gould is on board. Sudden change? Yep, Gould is on board. No change at all? Yep, Gould is on board.

    A theory which explains all outcomes is not a scientific theory since it is not falsifiable, as Karl Popper explained many years ago.
    Gould was an idiot. Probably. But worse than that: he wasn’t even a scientist.

    • Replies: @Ian M.
    Popper's falsification theory of science is too glib. It can be a useful criterion, but there are problems with making straightforward falsification the distinguishing feature of what counts as science.
  60. @Detective Club
    25 years ago, PBS made Gould and joke man Billy Crystal leading experts on BASEBALL in that "monumental" series of little Kennie Burns. At least Crystal could do a decent Mickey Mantle imitation. Why the hell Gould was there, talking about the 1951 NL playoff between the Giants and the Dodgers, escapes me. George Plimpton was also there, talking about Carl Hubbel's screwball, but Old George was an actual sportswriter for Esquire. Doris Goodwin was also called upon to pontificate on the Boston Red Sox. Sleeping with Lyndon Johnson should get any decent woman banned from polite society.
    https://youtu.be/BNM6ait4LOc
    According to Burns, Blacks, being forced to play in the segregated Negro Leagues, was almost as big an atrocity as Hitler gassing the Jews. Whitey is always to blame on PBS. Even if Whitey didn't commit the crimes of Hitler, Whitey would if he could. PBS is as predicable as paint when comes to questions of race in the United States.

    I never read Paper Lion, but I loved Plimpton’s book about the NHL, Open Net. Lots of good stuff about Don Cherry, my all time favorite Canuck.

    Burns is obsessed with race, particularly blacks. It mars all his work. If one only had his documentaries to go by you’d think that everyone who played in the Negro Leagues was a Hall of Famer- kind of a corollary to the notion that if you handed some random Black guy a clarinet he’d be better than Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw. Also over the course of 9 hours he never mentioned Harmon Killebrew!

    Burns’ obsession with Blacks does not extend to living among them- Cheshire County, NH, where he resides, is less than 1/2 of 1% Black.

    • Replies: @Detective Club
    A lowly cleric, working in the Vatican, might have doubted the Divinity of Jesus every now & then, while serving under the Borgia popes. Burns can comfortably worship Negroes from afar in Cheshire County, NH to hear you tell it.

    The irony of Jackie Robinson is that the Jewish neighborhoods at the south-east end of Prospect Park and on Parkside Ave., near the Parade Grounds, started to turn Black after 1947 (Jackie's first glorious NL season). This greatly effected attendance at nearby Ebbetts Field, located on Bedford Avenue. The primary reason the Dodgers left Brooklyn is that the borough had rapidly become "integrated" (Bedford Avenue, along Parkside, Winthrop, Hawthorne and Fenimore, had become a No-Go zone for unaccompanied young women of all races by 1958, the Dodgers' first year in LA).
    , @grand old spice weasel
    Burns shortchanged most of flyover country to exalt the bittersweet sagas of Brooklyn and Boston; to the latter, the Big Red Machine was a mere footnote to heroic BoSox tragedy. He had it in for Chicago as well, glossing over the 1930s Cubs multiple NL flags (and those of the post-McGraw, pre-Say Hey Giants) to dwell on the Gas House Gang.
  61. Glasses are often part full and party empty

    Sounds like a great party!

    I don’t dismiss his punctuated equilibria observation — it seems to me like a useful model to keep in mind, even if it’s undertheorized.

    Wouldn’t this be necessary with the many many climate upheavals our space rock has endured through the billions of years? Our last major upheaval wiped out North America’s megafauna and surely caused evolution among the species that survived it.

    http://ocp.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/div/ocp/arch/examples.shtml

    This doesn’t seem terribly insightful to me.

  62. @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    Gould's theory evaded the gold standard of science. What can you predict? Gradual change? Yep, Gould is on board. Sudden change? Yep, Gould is on board. No change at all? Yep, Gould is on board.

    Retrospectively, Gould is a genius. Prospectively, Gould is useless. Plus Gould said that every human should be expected to have exactly the same outcome - with respect to intelligence.

    Gould was an idiot.

    Well, I don’t think he was an idiot at all, but he wasn’t even remotely as important as he thought he was.

    Lewontin:

    now I have to say that this is my view—I have no demonstration of it—that Steve was really preoccupied by becoming a famous evolutionist.

    Well, I actually do have a demonstration of it. I took Gould’s Core Curriculum course as a freshman in college–one of several hundred undergraduates who would file into a vast lecture theater in the Science Center to listen to him more or less recite one of his amusing essays from Natural History magazine a couple of times a week.

    At some point after the course was over, I went to pick up my graded term paper at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, which is where SJG had his office. On the way out, I ran into the man himself and thought I might as well tell him that I’d enjoyed his lectures, which I had. So I said, “Professor Gould…”

    He waved his hand in front of his face as he walked quickly past me with his attache case, staring at the ground and muttering: “I’m sorry, I don’t have time right now.” It was like a caricature of a self-important busy person.

    So I said to his receding form in its down parka, “I just wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your lectures in Science B-13.”

    He stopped, turned, literally spread his arms and beamed and thanked me, and asked my name.

    A few days later I returned from class to find a message from a Mr. Safer, asking me to return the call to a New York number. Despite the long-distance charges, I did so and was duly asked to be an extra for a fake lecture that SJG would be staging in the coming days for the benefit of 60 Minutes.

    I figured why not and was rewarded with a closeup of me on the finished segment, nodding, which a lot of my recent high-school classmates happened to see on national television.

    So I guess I was complicit in satisfying Gould’s Lust For Glory. Anyway, I have no doubt that it existed.

    • Replies: @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    Please accept my sympathy for your experience. But it is consistent with what I know about Gould.
  63. @anonymous
    The philosopher John Searle, like Chomsky, found Foucault perfectly reasonable in private conversation, so he asked him why then did he write such garbage. He replied, "John, to be taken seriously in France, 2/3 of what you write has to be impenetrable nonsense."

    Roger Scruton is instructive about Foucault and his ilk.

    • Replies: @Charles Erwin Wilson II

    Roger Scruton is instructive about Foucault and his ilk.
     
    Scruton is always worth reading.
  64. @megabar
    > Have you read Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire?

    I'm compiling a reading list after a long hiatus, so this is perfect timing. Thanks!

    Add Richard Dawkins’ River Out of Eden if you haven’t already read it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Out_Of_Eden

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32275.River_Out_Of_Eden

  65. The significance of Gould is that he was able to reconcile evolution with racial equality: that evolution is real, but that human evolution halted c. 30,000 years ago.

  66. @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    Gould's theory evaded the gold standard of science. What can you predict? Gradual change? Yep, Gould is on board. Sudden change? Yep, Gould is on board. No change at all? Yep, Gould is on board.

    Retrospectively, Gould is a genius. Prospectively, Gould is useless. Plus Gould said that every human should be expected to have exactly the same outcome - with respect to intelligence.

    Gould was an idiot.

    Is prediction essential to good science? It might be true that it is the gold standard, but I think that explanation is more fundamental to science than prediction. Darwin’s own theory, for example, was meant primarily as an explanation consistent with the various data available to him. But he doesn’t spend a lot of time in Origins using his theory to generate predictions of future events.

    • Replies: @Charles Erwin Wilson II

    Is prediction essential to good science?
     
    It is.

    It might be true that it is the gold standard, but I think that explanation is more fundamental to science than prediction.
     
    Explanation is great fun. Weaving a riveting story brings joy to the author, and satisfaction to the reader. But will you stake your life on it?

    There is a fairly recent movie about some young women whose calculations ensured the success of our trip to the moon. It is a lovely story, well written, and enjoyable. But I would not use that story to determine whether I would climb up on that rocket, and have them light the wick.

    Without prediction you have no way to discern fact from fiction. Will you bet your life on good fiction?
  67. @Verymuchalive

    Gould’s theory evaded the gold standard of science. What can you predict? Gradual change? Yep, Gould is on board. Sudden change? Yep, Gould is on board. No change at all? Yep, Gould is on board.
     
    A theory which explains all outcomes is not a scientific theory since it is not falsifiable, as Karl Popper explained many years ago.
    Gould was an idiot. Probably. But worse than that: he wasn't even a scientist.

    Popper’s falsification theory of science is too glib. It can be a useful criterion, but there are problems with making straightforward falsification the distinguishing feature of what counts as science.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
    There are indeed problems with falsification. It would perhaps be better to say that a theory that predicts all outcomes cannot be tested by the Empirical Theory of Logic and the theory is therefore not a scientific one. Regardless, Gould was no scientist, just a Materialist speculator.
    , @Charles Erwin Wilson II

    Popper’s falsification theory of science is too glib. It can be a useful criterion, but there are problems with making straightforward falsification the distinguishing feature of what counts as science.
     
    This is where you should provide an example. It should be a simple example, but it should clearly show why Popper was wrong.

    Unless you supplement your argument, you have demonstrated nothing. And if you cannot demonstrate the support for your argument, you are just another sophist, like Gould.
  68. @Ganderson
    I never read Paper Lion, but I loved Plimpton's book about the NHL, Open Net. Lots of good stuff about Don Cherry, my all time favorite Canuck.

    Burns is obsessed with race, particularly blacks. It mars all his work. If one only had his documentaries to go by you'd think that everyone who played in the Negro Leagues was a Hall of Famer- kind of a corollary to the notion that if you handed some random Black guy a clarinet he'd be better than Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw. Also over the course of 9 hours he never mentioned Harmon Killebrew!

    Burns' obsession with Blacks does not extend to living among them- Cheshire County, NH, where he resides, is less than 1/2 of 1% Black.

    A lowly cleric, working in the Vatican, might have doubted the Divinity of Jesus every now & then, while serving under the Borgia popes. Burns can comfortably worship Negroes from afar in Cheshire County, NH to hear you tell it.

    The irony of Jackie Robinson is that the Jewish neighborhoods at the south-east end of Prospect Park and on Parkside Ave., near the Parade Grounds, started to turn Black after 1947 (Jackie’s first glorious NL season). This greatly effected attendance at nearby Ebbetts Field, located on Bedford Avenue. The primary reason the Dodgers left Brooklyn is that the borough had rapidly become “integrated” (Bedford Avenue, along Parkside, Winthrop, Hawthorne and Fenimore, had become a No-Go zone for unaccompanied young women of all races by 1958, the Dodgers’ first year in LA).

  69. @Ganderson
    I never read Paper Lion, but I loved Plimpton's book about the NHL, Open Net. Lots of good stuff about Don Cherry, my all time favorite Canuck.

    Burns is obsessed with race, particularly blacks. It mars all his work. If one only had his documentaries to go by you'd think that everyone who played in the Negro Leagues was a Hall of Famer- kind of a corollary to the notion that if you handed some random Black guy a clarinet he'd be better than Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw. Also over the course of 9 hours he never mentioned Harmon Killebrew!

    Burns' obsession with Blacks does not extend to living among them- Cheshire County, NH, where he resides, is less than 1/2 of 1% Black.

    Burns shortchanged most of flyover country to exalt the bittersweet sagas of Brooklyn and Boston; to the latter, the Big Red Machine was a mere footnote to heroic BoSox tragedy. He had it in for Chicago as well, glossing over the 1930s Cubs multiple NL flags (and those of the post-McGraw, pre-Say Hey Giants) to dwell on the Gas House Gang.

    • Replies: @Ganderson
    I think the reason he spends a lot of time on the Gas House Gang is that they were built by Branch Rickey
  70. @Intelligent Dasein

    Gould called this Punctuated Equilibrium.

    Most people call it Shit Happens Theory.
     
    Actually, it used to be called Saltation, and it was the dominant theme in pre-Darwinian evolutionary thinking.

    Although Gould was basically a Gradualist, one could say that Punctuated Equilibrium was really an epicyclic addition to the Darwinian scheme which attempted to bring it back into line with the evidentiarily more established and inherently more plausible Saltationist hypothesis.

    One of the more frustrating aspects of discussing Darwinism today derives from the fact that the idea has undergone serious definitional creep since its inception, such that its more ardent adherents now hold it to be synonymous with biological change simpliciter, which reduces their position to that of an invincible tautology. "Organisms change over time, therefore Darwinism is true," goes the argument. But Darwin made a number of very specific claims regarding the nature and mechanism of biological change. Gradualism was the entire substance and motivation of his theory; it was precisely this which he put forth as his unique contribution, his "claim to fame," and he devoted considerable space in the Origin of Species to explaining away the many difficulties and objections raised by other naturalists concerning the development of traits which seemed to require more suddenness and/or directedness than he was willing to allow. Contrary to the unjust assignations and shallow camp mentality of Darwin's over-solicitous modern friends---who hold that any opponent of their master must be a Young Earth Creationist or a Paleian design advocate---there are real and solid naturalistic reasons for rejecting the Gradualist approach which have been given indefensible short shrift within the prevailing paradigm. For the Darwinists to vampirize and transvaluate Saltationist ideas simply as means of bolstering their own floundering theory is historically improper and scientifically misleading.

    What ought to be clear is that if one wishes to accept the fact of biological change at all, then the appearance of monsters not only cannot be categorically ruled out, but is ineluctably implied and must be taken as a given. The origin of life itself, of free-moving animals, of males and females, and the emergence of the major taxa are all such monstering events. They happen without ascertainable cause and certainly not according to the fitness principle. Here we must acknowledge the presence of an epistemological limit to reasonings proceeding within the confines of strict efficient causality. Darwinism, in attempting to go beyond that limit, destroys itself, as does Intelligent Design, Creationism, and Vitalism. Darwinism is held onto as fanatically as it is just because the sovereign intellect, in attempting to reduce everything to an object of its mechanical-causal ideation, requires that the awareness of this limit be obscured.

    Nice comment.

  71. @Ian M.
    Popper's falsification theory of science is too glib. It can be a useful criterion, but there are problems with making straightforward falsification the distinguishing feature of what counts as science.

    There are indeed problems with falsification. It would perhaps be better to say that a theory that predicts all outcomes cannot be tested by the Empirical Theory of Logic and the theory is therefore not a scientific one. Regardless, Gould was no scientist, just a Materialist speculator.

  72. Although- O’Malley wanted to stay in Brooklyn- he wanted to develop the land where the Barclay’s Center is today. Robert Moses wanted him to move to a publicly funded stadium in Flushing Meadow. A case could be made that Moses ran the Dodgers out of Brooklyn.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    But it's not exactly like O'Malley moving the Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1958 because Robert Moses wouldn't let him have what he wanted was like exile to Siberia for the Dodgers. I imagine the Dodgers have led Major League Baseball in attendance over the last 60 seasons taken together.

    The big factor was the coming of the jet airliner at the end of the 1950s which integrated the West Coast into the daily fabric of American life. Similarly, in the early 1960s, contemporary British pop culture started having a huge influence on Americans because it had gotten quick to travel back and forth across the Atlantic.

  73. During the debate about Kevin MacDonald, John Tooby had some interesting things to say on Gould’s ideas

    https://www.cep.ucsb.edu/slatedialog.html

    Gould invokes many levels of selection, but is especially notable for advancing his own peculiar theory of how large groups function as biological competitors — species level selection. In Gould’s view, most evolutionary change takes place when closely related biological lineages compete, with one surviving and spreading through the others’ ranges while the others go extinct. […] Gould is a relentless critic of gradualist orthodoxy – i.e., that substantial adaptive change usually takes long periods of time, and one might think of him as an advocate of a new more Hegelian genetics. Of course, there is not much difference between an incipient species and a “race”, and in Gould’s world of sudden genetic revolutions, there is not necessarily any difference at all: one moment a race, the next a new species. So, in Gould’s world, populations commonly undergo sudden and significantly differentiating evolutionary changes, with one eventually emerging victorious as the forebears of a new species destined to inherit the world from those being extinguished (one shrinks from saying “the inferior” but Gould does intimate that competitive ability between sibling species is often the deciding force). One way such an event can be defeated is through too much interbreeding – if the group that has undergone the hopeful evolutionary changes breeds too much with other populations, their distinctiveness is diluted, and they become reabsorbed into the general ruck.

  74. @grand old spice weasel
    Burns shortchanged most of flyover country to exalt the bittersweet sagas of Brooklyn and Boston; to the latter, the Big Red Machine was a mere footnote to heroic BoSox tragedy. He had it in for Chicago as well, glossing over the 1930s Cubs multiple NL flags (and those of the post-McGraw, pre-Say Hey Giants) to dwell on the Gas House Gang.

    I think the reason he spends a lot of time on the Gas House Gang is that they were built by Branch Rickey

  75. @Ganderson
    Although- O'Malley wanted to stay in Brooklyn- he wanted to develop the land where the Barclay's Center is today. Robert Moses wanted him to move to a publicly funded stadium in Flushing Meadow. A case could be made that Moses ran the Dodgers out of Brooklyn.

    But it’s not exactly like O’Malley moving the Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1958 because Robert Moses wouldn’t let him have what he wanted was like exile to Siberia for the Dodgers. I imagine the Dodgers have led Major League Baseball in attendance over the last 60 seasons taken together.

    The big factor was the coming of the jet airliner at the end of the 1950s which integrated the West Coast into the daily fabric of American life. Similarly, in the early 1960s, contemporary British pop culture started having a huge influence on Americans because it had gotten quick to travel back and forth across the Atlantic.

    • Replies: @Ganderson
    There many interesting threads to the story. As you say, jet travel was important, and as I understand it, there was an idea floated to make the PCL into a third Major League. In addition, there was a proposed Continental league (after the Dodgers and Giants had moved) that spurred expansion- MN (which wasn't an expansion team, I know, but created the new Senators) the Angels, Houston and the Mets. I don't think Walter O'Malley ever regretted moving to the west coast. But... if Moses hadn't stood in his way he would have never left Kings County.

    BTW, The Giants were ready and willing to relocate to Minnesota, but the Dodgers' move made SF more viable. If Moses had been more amenable I would have grown up rooting for the Giants rather than the Twins. Both teams massively underachieved in the 60's!
  76. @Pericles

    If we omit ‘scientific’ from ‘many genuinely useful scientific ideas’ we get Lewontin in the New York Review of Books:

     

    Could also omit 'genuinely useful'.

    Could also omit ‘genuinely useful’.

    The utility comes from the revelation of the degree to which the metaphysical commitment to materialism obtains with Gould, Lewontin, etc. They are true believers, impervious to either empirical evidence or logic.

  77. @BrokenSymmetry
    "The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen." Lewontin

    Which is precisely why omnipotence is not one of Aquinas' 8 attributes of God. Scholasticism laid the ground for the belief in a regular universe running on laws that can, in principle, be discerned by the intellect. Contrast this with Islam, the shutters came down with al-Ghazali's embrace of occasionalism as the notion that Allah's omnipotence could be limited was held to be unthinkable. This of course was the worst possible context for modern science to develop.

    True.

  78. @DH13

    because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.
     

    material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive
     

    materialism is absolute
     
    So Lewontin was a religious man after all.

    anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything
     
    G.K. Chesterton has a better one:

    anyone who stops believing in God, starts believing in anything
     

    You have to love G.K. Chesterton.

  79. @Ian M.
    Popper's falsification theory of science is too glib. It can be a useful criterion, but there are problems with making straightforward falsification the distinguishing feature of what counts as science.

    Popper’s falsification theory of science is too glib. It can be a useful criterion, but there are problems with making straightforward falsification the distinguishing feature of what counts as science.

    This is where you should provide an example. It should be a simple example, but it should clearly show why Popper was wrong.

    Unless you supplement your argument, you have demonstrated nothing. And if you cannot demonstrate the support for your argument, you are just another sophist, like Gould.

    • Replies: @Ian M.
    Sure. For example, Galileo's theory of heliocentrism predicted a visible stellar parallax. No stellar parallax was observed, which per the falsification theory of science, should have killed heliocentrism.

    Falsification is certainly relevant to science, but actual scientific practice is more complex than the simple heuristic lets on.
  80. @AnotherDad

    … because Steve, in my view, was preoccupied with the desire to be considered a very original and great evolutionary theorist.
     
    Forget, not meeting the gold standard of science. Our Steve is being too kind here--maybe Steve affinity? Gould is not just not the "original" and "great" evolutionary theorist he wanted to be, he's not a scientist at all.

    I'm a complete layman and yet a better "evolutionary theorist".

    AnotherDad Theorem:

    Any genetic trait that is not fixed, that varies amongst inviduals, must vary among "population groups".

    Gould seems to deny this. But if one accepts genetics, it's ... just math! (Proof is left as an exercise for the reader.)

    AnotherDad Theorem:

    Our evolved large brain--shaping our cognition, communication and behavior--putting the sapien in homo sapien, is our salient competitive advantage--ergo the main canvas upon which selection is most likely to make its mark. The recent explosion of diverse novel geographical and especially cultural environments since the neolithic revolution should have produced--and be producing--relatively rapid change in our brains. A "punctuation" in the equilibrium if you will, which would vary according to these differing geographic and cultural environments.

    Gould definitely denies this. He doesn't even take his one "insight"--if you can call "punctuated equilibrium" insightful--seriously.


    Gould is not a scientist at all. He's a political propagandist, and actually an anti-scientist.

    Gould definitely denies this. He doesn’t even take his one “insight”–if you can call “punctuated equilibrium” insightful–seriously.

    Gould is not a scientist at all. He’s a political propagandist, and actually an anti-scientist.

    True.

  81. @slumber_j
    Well, I don't think he was an idiot at all, but he wasn't even remotely as important as he thought he was.

    Lewontin:


    now I have to say that this is my view—I have no demonstration of it—that Steve was really preoccupied by becoming a famous evolutionist.
     
    Well, I actually do have a demonstration of it. I took Gould's Core Curriculum course as a freshman in college--one of several hundred undergraduates who would file into a vast lecture theater in the Science Center to listen to him more or less recite one of his amusing essays from Natural History magazine a couple of times a week.

    At some point after the course was over, I went to pick up my graded term paper at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, which is where SJG had his office. On the way out, I ran into the man himself and thought I might as well tell him that I'd enjoyed his lectures, which I had. So I said, "Professor Gould..."

    He waved his hand in front of his face as he walked quickly past me with his attache case, staring at the ground and muttering: "I'm sorry, I don't have time right now." It was like a caricature of a self-important busy person.

    So I said to his receding form in its down parka, "I just wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your lectures in Science B-13."

    He stopped, turned, literally spread his arms and beamed and thanked me, and asked my name.

    A few days later I returned from class to find a message from a Mr. Safer, asking me to return the call to a New York number. Despite the long-distance charges, I did so and was duly asked to be an extra for a fake lecture that SJG would be staging in the coming days for the benefit of 60 Minutes.

    I figured why not and was rewarded with a closeup of me on the finished segment, nodding, which a lot of my recent high-school classmates happened to see on national television.

    So I guess I was complicit in satisfying Gould's Lust For Glory. Anyway, I have no doubt that it existed.

    Please accept my sympathy for your experience. But it is consistent with what I know about Gould.

  82. @Steve Sailer
    But it's not exactly like O'Malley moving the Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1958 because Robert Moses wouldn't let him have what he wanted was like exile to Siberia for the Dodgers. I imagine the Dodgers have led Major League Baseball in attendance over the last 60 seasons taken together.

    The big factor was the coming of the jet airliner at the end of the 1950s which integrated the West Coast into the daily fabric of American life. Similarly, in the early 1960s, contemporary British pop culture started having a huge influence on Americans because it had gotten quick to travel back and forth across the Atlantic.

    There many interesting threads to the story. As you say, jet travel was important, and as I understand it, there was an idea floated to make the PCL into a third Major League. In addition, there was a proposed Continental league (after the Dodgers and Giants had moved) that spurred expansion- MN (which wasn’t an expansion team, I know, but created the new Senators) the Angels, Houston and the Mets. I don’t think Walter O’Malley ever regretted moving to the west coast. But… if Moses hadn’t stood in his way he would have never left Kings County.

    BTW, The Giants were ready and willing to relocate to Minnesota, but the Dodgers’ move made SF more viable. If Moses had been more amenable I would have grown up rooting for the Giants rather than the Twins. Both teams massively underachieved in the 60’s!

  83. @U-Bahn
    Roger Scruton is instructive about Foucault and his ilk.

    Roger Scruton is instructive about Foucault and his ilk.

    Scruton is always worth reading.

  84. @Ian M.
    Is prediction essential to good science? It might be true that it is the gold standard, but I think that explanation is more fundamental to science than prediction. Darwin's own theory, for example, was meant primarily as an explanation consistent with the various data available to him. But he doesn't spend a lot of time in Origins using his theory to generate predictions of future events.

    Is prediction essential to good science?

    It is.

    It might be true that it is the gold standard, but I think that explanation is more fundamental to science than prediction.

    Explanation is great fun. Weaving a riveting story brings joy to the author, and satisfaction to the reader. But will you stake your life on it?

    There is a fairly recent movie about some young women whose calculations ensured the success of our trip to the moon. It is a lovely story, well written, and enjoyable. But I would not use that story to determine whether I would climb up on that rocket, and have them light the wick.

    Without prediction you have no way to discern fact from fiction. Will you bet your life on good fiction?

    • Replies: @Ian M.

    Without prediction you have no way to discern fact from fiction.
     
    What prediction does this statement make that I can use to test it to know whether it is fact or fiction?

    Unless you supplement your argument, you have demonstrated nothing.
  85. @Charles Erwin Wilson II

    Popper’s falsification theory of science is too glib. It can be a useful criterion, but there are problems with making straightforward falsification the distinguishing feature of what counts as science.
     
    This is where you should provide an example. It should be a simple example, but it should clearly show why Popper was wrong.

    Unless you supplement your argument, you have demonstrated nothing. And if you cannot demonstrate the support for your argument, you are just another sophist, like Gould.

    Sure. For example, Galileo’s theory of heliocentrism predicted a visible stellar parallax. No stellar parallax was observed, which per the falsification theory of science, should have killed heliocentrism.

    Falsification is certainly relevant to science, but actual scientific practice is more complex than the simple heuristic lets on.

  86. @Charles Erwin Wilson II

    Is prediction essential to good science?
     
    It is.

    It might be true that it is the gold standard, but I think that explanation is more fundamental to science than prediction.
     
    Explanation is great fun. Weaving a riveting story brings joy to the author, and satisfaction to the reader. But will you stake your life on it?

    There is a fairly recent movie about some young women whose calculations ensured the success of our trip to the moon. It is a lovely story, well written, and enjoyable. But I would not use that story to determine whether I would climb up on that rocket, and have them light the wick.

    Without prediction you have no way to discern fact from fiction. Will you bet your life on good fiction?

    Without prediction you have no way to discern fact from fiction.

    What prediction does this statement make that I can use to test it to know whether it is fact or fiction?

    Unless you supplement your argument, you have demonstrated nothing.

  87. @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    If we omit 'scientific' from 'many genuinely useful scientific ideas' we get Lewontin in the New York Review of Books:

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

     

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1997/01/09/billions-and-billions-of-demons/

    Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    Lewontin is looking to get a Marxist Boot in the door.

  88. @gcochran
    " many genuinely useful scientific ideas"

    List some.

    I suppose that the Wikipedia entry on Lewontin’s contributions is as good as anything else as a summary:

    Lewontin has worked in both theoretical and experimental population genetics. A hallmark of his work has been an interest in new technology. He was the first person to do a computer simulation of the behavior of a single gene locus (previous simulation work having been of models with multiple loci).[citation needed] In 1960 he and Ken-Ichi Kojima were the first population geneticists to give the equations for change of haplotype frequencies with interacting natural selection at two loci.[7] This set off a wave of theoretical work on two-locus selection in the 1960s and 1970s. Their paper gave a theoretical derivation of the equilibria expected, and also investigated the dynamics of the model by computer iteration. Lewontin later introduced the D’ measure of linkage disequilibrium.[8] (He also introduced the term “linkage disequilibrium”, about which many population geneticists have been unenthusiastic.[9])

    In 1966, he and Jack Hubby published a paper that revolutionized population genetics.[3] They used protein gel electrophoresis to survey dozens of loci in the fruit fly Drosophila pseudoobscura, and reported that a large fraction of the loci were polymorphic, and that at the average locus there was about a 15% chance that the individual was heterozygous. (Harry Harris reported similar results for humans at about the same time.)[10] Previous work with gel electrophoresis had been reports of variation in single loci and did not give any sense of how common variation was.

    Lewontin and Hubby’s paper also discussed the possible explanation of the high levels of variability by either balancing selection or neutral mutation. Although they did not commit themselves to advocating neutrality, this was the first clear statement of the neutral theory for levels of variability within species. Lewontin and Hubby’s paper had great impact—the discovery of high levels of molecular variability gave population geneticists ample material to work on, and gave them access to variation at single loci. The possible theoretical explanations of this rampant polymorphism became the focus of most population genetics work thereafter. Martin Kreitman was later to do a pioneering survey of population-level variability in DNA sequences while a Ph.D. student in Lewontin’s lab.[11]

    Lewontin’s work is cited a number of times in Hartl and Clark’s book on Population Genetics, which suggests that his contributions were of some lasting value — the sort of contributions other scientists could build upon.

    I can see the point that his ideas were more applications of already known basic approaches than bold new strikes.

    But, in science, they also serve who only stand and apply.

    My more basic point is that he has done useful science, which can’t be said for Gould.

  89. “If a man occupied himself, all his life through, solely with logic, he would nevertheless not become logic; he must therefore himself exist in different categories”. Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety

    John Tooby, who I dare say knows more about how to read between the lines of these things as anyone says

    Now, while free of all moral content, Gould’s theory bears a striking resemblance to Nazi race theory – with its themes of competition between genetically distinct groups, victory or extinction, the threat of losing distinctive identity through the pollution of mixing with other breeds, the replacement of other populations as they expand their territory, etc. It lacks only the specific claim that “Aryans” are superior and have made the revolutionary leap in the evolutionary ladder.

    Tooby also says that Gould’s evolutionary theory has “a potential appeal to many ethnicities, not just Germans.” Maybe Gould thought his breed was in a struggle with a rival and genetically distinct group and was trying to do something useful for his people with his science.

  90. Mr. Gould was obviously an interesting and larger-than-life person, whether or not one agrees with his views (or science). Perhaps this is a tangent, but it seems the people who were closest to Gould don’t have much to say about him. No heartfelt reminiscences, no warm personal anecdotes. Weird?

  91. @megabar
    > Have you read Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire?

    I'm compiling a reading list after a long hiatus, so this is perfect timing. Thanks!

    My recommendation – John Lothrop Motley’s “Rise of the Dutch Republic” and “History of the United Netherlands”. Free on Amazon and Gutenberg, if you want the individual ebooks. 2-3$ for the collected works.

    I loved it. Very good writing. Also, I get bonus Internet points for the more obscure recommendation!

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