Friday, May 25, 2012

Trashing SJ Gould

California CSULB Psychology professor Kevin MacDonald writes:
Stephen Jay Gould is definitely high on the list of ethnically motivated pseudoscientists ... I was struck by how many evolutionary biologists viewed Gould as a charlatan and were willing to say so in public. ...

Gould’s importance comes from his position at Harvard as well as his access to the media....

Gould is a Jewish intellectual hero, so it’s not surprising to see attempts to rehabilitate him. ...

Gould was a major voice of the Jewish intellectual left — especially influential in the decline of Darwinism in the social sciences. To that extent, his life work can be seen as an evolutionary battle on behalf of his own group against his perceived enemies — people of European descent whom he blamed for historical anti-Jewish attitudes and ultimately for the Holocaust.
I have criticized the late Gould, but I was not aware of the connections between his writings and Jewish identity. For examples of my criticisms, I did not agree with him denying human evolution, liking to quote Freud, saying that science is often a political prejudice, and giving bad descriptions of scientific facts.

For an example of his silliness, here is a video of Gould quoting Freud and Marx to argue that great ideas are in dehumanizing revolutions, that evolution does not make progress, and that science is not objective.

All of this understates the problem with him. Gould was not just a Harvard professor with access to the media, as MacDonald says. He was the most famous scientist in the world, and he was the leading public expositor of what science was all about. He was elected president of thee AAAS, the leading American science organization. His most famous work, The Mismeasure of Man, became of the most broadly acclaimed science books of the last 50 years.

And yet nearly everything Gould says in this book is wrong. He was repeatedly refuted by other scholars, and never defended himself against the criticisms, except to imply that his critics were racists. He was a fraud.

Gould used (or misused) his status to promote his leftist (Marxist) views. Scientists are entitled to their political and religious views, of course, but he would give fallacious pseudoscientific arguments for them. There are also many non-Jews who are arrogant, over-opinionated, mistaken, and over-ambitious.

Gould has been called "the second most influential historian of science (next to Thomas Kuhn)." A SciAm blog just reprinted a profile of Kuhn that shows his confusing disregard for scientific truth. Both were famously promoters of Paradigm shift theory, which I sharply criticize in my book as being historically inaccurate and faulty as a description of science.

I used to think that it was impossible for a high-status and highly-respected scientist to be so wrong on so many things. (There is also a hot dispute between Dawkins and EO Wilson over what evolution is all about, but I have not yet decided who is correct. I also got banned from Jerry Coyne's blog for saying, among other things, that Coyne harshly criticized Gould.)

No comments:

Post a Comment