- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2002

BOSTON (AP) Stephen Jay Gould, a Harvard professor who brought evolutionary theory and paleontology to a broad public audience in dozens of wide-ranging books and essays, died yesterday of cancer.
He was 60 and died at his home in New York City, according to his assistant, Stephanie Schur.
"Most of us just appreciated that in Steve we had someone who put this very positive public face on paleontology, who was able to reach an audience that most of us would never reach, and not nearly so effectively," said Andrew Knoll, a colleague of Mr. Gould's at Harvard University for 20 years. "He really was paleontology's public intellectual."
Mr. Gould became famous not only for his voluminous writings but also for his participation in public debates about evolutionary theory.
Mr. Gould championed the teaching of evolution in school, arguing that creation-oriented teaching should not be allowed in classrooms.
But he also engaged in vigorous disputes with his fellow evolutionary theorists, particularly for his theory of "punctuated equilibria." Mr. Gould argued that evolution occurred in relatively rapid spurts of species differentiation rather than via gradual, continuous transformation. He believed short-term contingencies could play as important a role as irresistible evolutionary pressure.
A longtime New York Yankees fan, he appeared in Ken Burns' PBS documentary history of the sport and in 1999 wrote an obituary tribute to Joe DiMaggio for the Associated Press.
He also was an amateur choir singer, practicing every Monday night for many years at Boston's Cecilia Society, Mr. Knoll said.
Mr. Gould called human evolution "a fortuitous cosmic afterthought." Known for his engaging, often witty style evident in his columns in Natural History magazine, as well as collections of essays including "Ever Since Darwin" and "The Panda's Thumb." His book "The Mismeasure of Man," a study of intelligence testing, won the National Book Critics Award in 1982.
Later books included "Dinosaur in a Haystack" and "Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life."
"The Structure of Evolutionary Theory," a 1,500-page summary of his life's work, was published earlier this year. His most recent book was published just this month, "I Have Landed: The End of a Beginning in Natural History," a collection of his 300 consecutive Natural History essays published monthly without fail from 1974 to 2001.
Mr. Gould received his bachelor's degree from Antioch College in 1963 and a doctoral degree from Columbia University.
Survivors include his second wife, Rhonda Roland Shearer, with whom he had no children. He had two sons with his previous wife.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide