The ghost of Stephen Jay Gould.

Gould probably wrote the most understated, underrated book on evolution: The structure of evolutionary theory (a well chosen title) which garnered a collection of great reviews from left and right (summarized at, wherelse?: wiki) when published. It has taken me around 6 years to go over it, in detail. If people had read it, we wouldnt need this bs about evolution being true or not and deliver us from the barrage of donkey ass evolution books. SJ had a mammoothic intelligence: in size and reach, translated in great writing. But, his views on the dynamics of evolution are  bypassed too often by the lamestream evodevo intelligentsia today acting as cops of some violation of darwins’ testament. (by SJ, which he didnt). Gould criticized strongly the overassumptions of biologists that made darwins’ natural selection and adaptation their dogma, not their referent,  rising to biblical proportions, a condition still standing, He has been savaged about it. And then came the selfish stupid gene and some of the worst evolutionary science humankind has witnessed, now conflated in scientific harmony with, yes, atheism and SJG oeuvre got raped. On a side track: many terroaethists wont forgive SJG non overlapping magisteria bit on the coexistence of science and religion. Basically, Goulds’ position is; “let the religionists do whatever, it is not interesting to engage them”, unless as Andre Breton said and told Octavio Paz, quoted in La Llama Doble, “you make your atheism a religion”. Enough of this bs.

I bring SJG up cause a paper lead by, I pressume, the honorable Ralp Holloway (Columbia), out of his hibernation or  crypt (kiddin, I love Dr Holloway; I attended his Festschrift years ago in Bloomington, where I met the unforgettable Bruce Lahn, of Lewontin descent ) claims that Gould misrepresented and maybe lied in his analysis of the odious failed Morton, yeah that Morton, racist claims based on skulls volumes measurement done with seeds and lead shots; all very scientific.( How about making a cast and read cast volume directly?). Nobody better tha Dr Holloway in hte skull volume measurement business.

 In that paper, the authors state that: “Of the substantive criticisms Gould [1] made of Morton’s work, only two are supported here. First, Morton indeed believed in the concept of race and assigned a plethora of different attributes to various groups, often in highly racist fashion. This, however, is readily apparent to anyone reading the opening pages of Morton’s Crania Americana (sic, so?). Second, the summary table of Morton’s final 1849 catalog [10] has multiple errors (Dataset S3). However, had Morton not made those errors his results would have more closely matched his presumed a priori bias (and see Box 4). Ironically, Gould’s own analysis of Morton is likely the stronger example of a bias influencing results [11].” And also: “Overall, Gould concludes that his reanalysis of Morton’s shot-based data produces the “remarkable” result that there are no notable differences in mean cranial capacity between Morton’s groups, with Caucasians firmly mid-pack at 85 in3 and the overall range being 83 to 86 in3 [1]. However, Gould’s Caucasian figure was in error and should really be 87 in3 rather than 85 in3 [5]. (GIMME A FING BREAK)  And even accepting Gould’s inflated mean for Native Americans of 86 in3, the overall rank order of Gould’s results (whites/Native Americans/“Mongolians” and “Malays”/blacks) is then actually closer to Morton’s presumed a priori bias than were Morton’s own results (whites/“Malays”/blacks/“Mongolians”/Nat​iveAmericans).”

Ok. The points here are: too few skulls, too few “datasets’, two flaky, by todays protocols, methods of measuring accurately,  volumes when arguing about a couple of cubic inches!!.  I think the whole thing is arcane and silly. 

 However, I am surprised by the sanguine reactions and hand wrigging from many decent and totally orthodox scientists. I suspect a deep psychological twist going back to intellect envy (analogous to Franzens envy for Foster Wallace penis, well documented by Franzen himself). Some claim SJG dealt with too many things (sic), some compared him with some evolutionary so called-luminaries of today (of whom many never did a single experiment or made a single original observation), that he suffered from chronic standard deviation fatigue and confusion, so forth. Hawks, from his blog shoots a barrage of leadshots at point blank, but failed to kill SJG. I doubt of Hawks’ intention analyzing the data, yesterday, he went on a rampage (probably drunken).

 That is why this post is called the ghost, read Hawks blog of today (also the ghost) and witness the rage of an avenging angel. Well done SJG.

The White Pride website has picked up the story:  good luck Hawks: with luck you may become a white supremacist icon (the Ghost again).


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