By Stephen Jay Gould
"What excitement to determine the cheating, the inept, and the erroneous deftly given their due, whereas compliment is lavished at the deserving―for purposes good and actually stated."―Kirkus Reviews
Ranging so far as the fox and as deep because the hedgehog (the urchin of his title), Stephen Jay Gould expands on geology, organic determinism, "cardboard Darwinism," and evolutionary idea during this gleaming assortment.
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Extra info for An Urchin in the Storm: Essays About Books and Ideas
Small increases in speed or bite size (or an occasional munching of two stems at once) would put pandas over their obvious edge of viability. But Schaller’s effort does dramatically demonstrate that pandas, though surrounded by food, can barely extract enough from their bounty. Nonetheless, Schaller’s entire discussion proceeds within the prevailing adaptationist model. He interprets everything that pandas do as adaptations to their curious mode of life. ” In some trivial sense, of course, pandas are “adapted”—they are getting by.
Humans are particularly subject to the pop variety (speculative, storytelling adaptationism) for many reasons, three most prominent: (1) We have so little data about a slow-breeding species that cannot be overtly manipulated for experimental purposes. (2) The nongenetic process of cultural evolution often mimics the results of Darwinian (genetic) adaptation. In other species, limited consciousness guarantees that good behavioral design be shaped by evolutionary forces. Humans may devise good solutions without waiting for new genetic propensities, and then teach these advantages to their kids and neighbors.
Do human males and females exhibit the predicted disparities? For if we cannot detect such universal distinctions amid the diversity of human cultures, what good can pop sociobiology provide? Its theory proclaims such differences as a fundamental prediction. Myths of Gender by Anne Fausto-Sterling is a fine contribution to the empirical literature on human gender differences. If her argument is correct, then this fundamental sociobiological theory for human universals has failed, leaving very little of substance for the putative revolution.