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Stephen Jay Gould

Stephen Jay GouldBorn: 10-Sep-1941
Birthplace: New York City
Died: 20-May-2002
Location of death: Manhattan, NY
Cause of death: Cancer - other [1]

Gender: Male
Religion: Agnostic [2]
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Biologist, Paleontologist, Author

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Evolutionary scientist

Stephen Jay Gould said that his interest in paleontology was sparked by a visit with his father to the American Museum of Natural History when he was five years old, looking in awe at the towering Tyrannosaurus skeleton. He studied at Antioch College and Columbia University, and became one of the most respected and influential evolutionary biologists of the 20th century.

With Niles Eldredge, Gould developed the Theory of Punctuated Equilibrium, proposing that evolutionary change happens in fits and starts rather than, as other scientists have maintained, as an ongoing, steady process of slow change. According to their theory, there are extended eons in which many or most species in a given region show little evolutionary change until, suddenly in geological time, a new species arises, triggering relatively rapid evolutionary change. Their theory has not been universally accepted, but it has generated lively debate among experts in evolutionary science.

Gould stated that scientists should resist the assumption that every biological feature exists for some adaptive, evolutionary purpose, arguing instead that many biological features arise and fade by evolutionary happenstance. For challenging certain aspects of the modern Darwinian framework, Gould's work was sometimes misunderstood and cited by "creationists", though Gould himself had no patience for such beliefs, and testified in a landmark 1981 legal case, McLean v. Arkansas, that "creation science is not science".

He wrote numerous books and essays on a wide array of topics, including arguments against jingoism and racially biased intelligence tests, biographical essays on long-dead scientists, and explorations of the gray area between science and religion. His writings made him a celebrity scientist on a level approaching Albert Einstein or Carl Sagan. He was an aficionado of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas and an enthusiastic fan of baseball, particularly partial to the New York Yankees. Despite the advent of personal computers, he eschewed such technologies and wrote all his books on old-fashioned typewriters.

Gould overcame a 1980s bout with abdominal mesothelioma through experimental treatments, but in 2002 he succumbed to an unrelated cancer in his bed, at home in Manhattan. For the last months of his life his bed had been in his library, for easier access to his sizable collection of books.


[1] Adenocarcinoma, a type of glandular cancer.

[2] Jewish by family and culture, he referred to himself as a "Jewish agnostic".

Father: Leonard Gould (court stenographer)
Mother: Eleanor Gould (artist)
Wife: Deborah Lee (m. 3-Oct-1965, div., two sons)
Son: Jesse Gould
Son: Ethan Gould
Wife: Rhonda Roland Shearer (sculptor, m. 1995 until his death, two children)
Son: Jade Allen (stepson)
Daughter: London Allen (stepdaughter)

    High School: Jamaica High School, Jamaica, NY (1958)
    University:
BA Geology, Antioch University (1963)
    University: PhD Paleontology, Columbia University (1967)
    Scholar: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (internship, 1960s)
    Teacher: Geology, Antioch University (1966-67)
    Teacher: Ass't Prof of Geology, Harvard University (1967-71)
    Teacher: Assoc. Prof of Geology, Harvard University (1971-73)
    Professor: Geology, Harvard University (1973-2002)
    Professor: Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, Harvard University (1982-2002)
    Professor: Visiting Research Professor of Biology, New York University (1996-2002)

    Natural History Columnist (1974-2001)
    Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology Currator (1973-2002)
    Charles Schuchert Award 1975
    MacArthur Fellowship 1981
    American Book Award 1981, for The Panda's Thumb
    Discover Magazine Scientist of the Year 1981
    National Book Award for Science, Philosophy, Religion 1981, for The Panda's Thumb
    National Book Critics Circle Award 1982, for The Mismeasure of Man
    Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science 1983, for The Mismeasure of Man
    CSICOP Glenn T. Seaborg Award 1986
    GSA History of Geology Award 1988
    AHA Morris D. Forkosch Prize 1990, for Wonderful Life
    Britannica Award & Gold Medal for Dissemination of Public Knowledge 1990
    Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science 1990, for Wonderful Life
    Aventis Prize for Science Books 1990, for Wonderful Life
    Ignasi Iglesias Prize 1991, for Italian translation of The Mismeasure of Man
    Linnean Medal 1992 (with R. E. Schultes)
    John P. McGovern Award 1993
    Library of Congress Living Legend 2000
    Humanist of the Year 2001
    American Naturalist Editorial Board (1977-80)
    Evolution Associate Editor (1970-72)
    Science Editorial Board (1986-91)
    Systematic Zoology Editorial Board (1970-72)
    Academy of Achievement
    Alexandria Library in Egypt Board of Trustees
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1983)
    American Association for the Advancement of Science (1975)
    American Humanist Association
    American Society of Naturalists Vice President and Acting President (1979-80)
    British Museum Trustee
    CSICOP
    European Geosciences Union Foreign Member
    French National Museum of Natural History Board of Trustees
    History of Science Society
    International Academy of Humanism Laureate
    Linnean Society of London Foreign Member
    National Academy of Sciences (1989)
    NASA Space Exploration Council (1989-91)
    National Science Foundation
    Paleontological Association (UK)
    Paleontological Society
    Rockefeller Foundation Trustee (1994)
    Royal Society of Edinburgh Foreign Member (1990)
    Science for the People
    Smithsonian Institution Commission on the Future (1992-94)
    Society for American Baseball Research
    Society for the Study of Evolution Vice President (1975-76)
    Society for the Study of Sports History
    Society of Systematic Zoology
    Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
    Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society
    The Third Culture
    Jewish Ancestry
    Asteroid Namesake 8373 Stephengould

    FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
    Baseball (18-Sep-1994) · Himself

Author of books:
Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History (1977, non-fiction)
Ontogeny and Phylogeny (1977, non-fiction)
The Panda's Thumb (1980, essays)
The Mismeasure of Man (1981, non-fiction)
Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes (1983, essays)
The Flamingo's Smile (1985, essays)
An Urchin in the Storm (1987, essays)
Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle (1987, non-fiction)
Wonderful Life (1989, non-fiction)
Bully for Brontosaurus (1991, essays)
Eight Little Piggies: Reflections in Natural History (1993, non-fiction)
Dinosaur in a Haystack (1995, non-fiction)
Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin (1996, non-fiction)
Darwinian Fundamentalism (1997, non-fiction)
Questioning the Millennium (1997, non-fiction)
Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms (1998, non-fiction)
Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life (1999, non-fiction)
Crossing Over: Where Art and Science Meet (2000, non-fiction)
The Lying Stones of Marrakech (2000, essays)
I Have Landed (2002, essays)
The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (2002, non-fiction)
The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox (2003, non-fiction)


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