Stephen Jay Gould 1941-2002 – News and Comment

Stephen Jay Gould 1941-2002 – News and Comment – Brief Article

Paul Kurtz

Skeptical inquirers deeply regret the passing of STEPHEN JAY GOULD. He played a unique role in the public square, for he was an eloquent exponent of the scientific outlook. His prolific writings and brilliant lectures at Harvard and universities far and wide on evolutionary paleontology and biology and his forthright criticisms of creationism cast him as a powerful defender of science. At a time when pseudoscientific and fringe claims continue to grow, there are all too few scientists willing to enter into the fray.

Gould’s death leaves a void and it dramatizes anew how important it is to have popularizers of science. This role was played by Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov, CSICOP Fellows of the past. We need to encourage new and daring defenders of science, gadflies in the name of critical inquiry; interpreters able to extend the public’s understanding of science and its methods. All too few scientists and scholars today are willing to venture beyond their specialties in order to communicate with a wider audience.

Gould offered his own often controversial theories on how evolution occurred-such as his punctuated equilibrium hypothesis-and he suffered criticisms as a result. A veteran polemicist, he stood his ground in many debates with scientific colleagues. Throughout, he demonstrated that science grows by constant questioning and peer review.

Stephen Jay Gould was a Fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and a recipient of its highest “In Praise of Reason” award. He was a frequent speaker at our conferences. He will be sorely missed.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group