Stephen Jay Gould to speak on ‘Necessity of Failure’

World-renowned paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould will speak at Williams College on Tues., March 2, at 8 p.m. in Chapin Hall.

Gould’s talk is part of the lecture series, titled, “The Necessity of Failure: Achievement Through Adversity.” The event is free and open to the public.

Gould, the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, teaches and lectures on paleontology, evolutionary biology, geology, and the history of science.

He is the author of more than a dozen books and collections of essays on science, including Ontogeny and Phylogeny, a scholarly study of the theory of recapitulation; The Mismeasure of Man, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for 1982; The Panda’s Thumb: More Reflections in

Natural History, winner of the 1981 National Book Award for Science; and Wonderful Life, winner of the Rhone-Poulenc Prize (Britian’s leading award for science books), the 1990 Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science, and the Forkosch Award from the Council on Democratic Humanism.

His two most recent works, Dinosaur in a Haystack: Reflections in Natural History (1996)and Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin (1996), have received enormous critical acclaim. Dinosaur in a Haystack is the seventh in a serious of collections of miscellaneous essays from Natural History magazine, and covers a wide range of topics from Edgar Allen Poe’s neglected book on malacology to the Nazi’s misuse of science at the Wannsee Conference. Full House is a more controversial text in which

Gould makes fascinating use of statistics to challenge the popular view that progress is characteristic of the history of life.

Gould challenges his readers to “cash out the deepest meanings of the Darwinian revolution and to view natural reality as composed of varying individuals in populations.”

The New York Review of Books says of Full House, “Gould uses a lifetime obsession with baseball, a close call with cancer, and an enormous knowledge of the history of life to build a case that links sport, disease, statistics, and evolution into a seamless narrative, and ‘he does so brilliantly.’ “

Gould holds honorary degrees from 36 colleges and universities, including Williams College, which awarded him a Doctor of Science in 1985.

His writing has earned him numerous awards and honors, including the 1992 Golden Trilobite Award from The Paleontological Society, the 1991 Iglesias Prize, the 1983 and 1990 Phi Beta Kappa Book Awards in Science, the 1983 American Educational Research Association Outstanding Book Award, and the 1980 National Magazine Award in Essays and Criticism. Gould was also a finalist for the 1991 Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction for Wonderful Life.

His academic achievements have been recognized by such organizations and institutions as the Royal College of Physicians, London; the National Association of Geology Teachers; the Linnean Society of London; the National Association of Biology Teachers; the American Institute of Professional Geologists; the Geological Society of London; the American Anthropological Association; and the American Geological Institute. His research has been supported by numerous grants from the National Science Foundation.

Gould is a member of the board of the British Museum of Natural History, the international board of advisers of the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, the council of the National Portrait Gallery, and the board of editors of Science magazine. He received his A.B. from Antioch College in 1963 and his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1967. Gould’s lecture is supported by a Howard Hughes Institute grant to Williams College.

Taken from the Office of Public Affairs