RE: Ethics (was FAI (aka 'Reality Hacking'))

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Mon Jan 31 2005 - 14:21:38 MST

> Stephen Gould's reputation is trash among serious evolutionary
> biologists,

It's just not true. He's a controversial figure, but plenty of serious
evolutionary biologists think his contributions were highly important, and
very few would deny he made *some* important contributions.

This article

gives a fair but generally critical assessment of Gould's academic

Many paleontologists regard Mr. Gould favorably, even when they disagree
with him. "There's no question he's been one of the most influential and
visible paleontologists, and indeed evolutionary biologists, in the last 50
years," says David Jablonski, a professor of geophysical sciences at the
University of Chicago and a young leader in the field. "Gould has provided
an overarching vision and this astonishing ability to move among disciplines
and integrate these ideas into producing a coherent picture."

Evolutionary biologists who study living organisms -- known as
neontologists -- are far less admiring. ....


But when they talk about his contributions, neither paleontologists nor
neontologists rank Mr. Gould nearly as high as the public does. In a study
of scientific citations, Florida State's Mr. Ruse found that few
evolutionary biologists, aside from paleontologists, refer to Mr. Gould's
key papers on punctuated equilibrium. The Chronicle's own examination of
citations -- performed by ISI, a database-publishing company in
Philadelphia -- yields more-favorable results, showing that three of the
papers studied by Mr. Ruse have garnered 500 citations, with one topping
1,000. Only 0.03 percent of papers ever top 500 citations, says David
Pendlebury, a researcher at ISI.

That makes Mr. Gould special but far from unique. Some 6,000 papers in the
ISI database have gained more than 500 citations. To most scientists in his
field, he is simply one of dozens of evolutionary thinkers who have made
important contributions in the past 100 years.

-- Ben

> not always because Gould gets it wrong, but because Gould claims, as his
> own brilliant revolutionary ideas, warped and dumbed-down
> versions of quite
> ordinary tenets of modern evolutionary biology. (Tooby and
> Cosmides 1997;

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