25 Stephen Jay Gould Quotes For Science Lovers

Put some respect on the name of science with our Stephen Jay Gould quotes. 

Stephen Jay Gould is remembered as one of the world’s premiere paleontologists and scientists

Learn more about this academic giant with our Stephen Jay Gould quotes. 

Who was Stephen Jay Gould?

Stephen Jay Gould was an American scientist, paleontologist, author, and baseball lover. 

His books have reshaped how many people view evolution.

He published hundreds of extraordinary papers, journals, and essays, making complicated science accessible and understandable. 

Below are scientific studies attributed to Stephen Jay Gould:

  • Spandrel
  • Exaptation
  • Punctuated Equilibrium

From picked on to sought after

Like many people, Stephen had a tough time in school. 

School can be cruel for children who like learning. 

Gould grew up in Queens, NY, where his classmates called him Fossil Face because of his love for natural history. 

Despite the teasing and bullying, Gould would never relinquish his love for science. 

He used his classmates’ teasing to fuel his pursuit of higher education. 

Over time, his diligence would pay off as he became one of the most sought-after scientists in his field. 

Who inspired Stephen Jay Gould?

Inspiration comes from many places. 

Three people inspired Stephen. 

First, Gould was inspired by Charles Darwin after he read the book Origin of Species

Darwin became the standard that Gould would pursue when it came to academic excellence. 

He loved Darwin so much that he was disappointed when Origin of Species was not extensively covered at his high school in Queens. 

However, when it came to nonacademic heroes, Gould fell in love with Yankees legend Joe Dimaggio. 

He collected all of his baseball cards and followed the Yankees religiously. 

His third hero is more personal: his father. 

Gould’s fight with cancer

Cancer does not care if you have a genius mind.

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Gould had several cancer scares throughout his life. 

He battled cancer, but in 2002, he was diagnosed with metastatic adenocarcinoma in his lungs.

It eventually spread to his brain, liver, and spleen. 

He died ten weeks after his diagnosis. 

For more awesome content, check out our Stephen Jay Gould quotes below. 

The top Steven Jay Gould quotes from Ever Since Darwin

Short Steven Jay Gould quotes about natural selection and genius

Let’s start our journey with these interesting quotes about the nature of evolution. 

1. “The world, unfortunately, rarely matches our hopes.” — Steven Jay Gould, Shades of Lamarck, 76

2. “Random variation may be the raw material of change.” — Steven Jay Gould, Double Trouble, 38 

3, “Natural selection builds good design by rejecting most variants.” — Steven Jay Gould, Double Trouble, 38 

4. “Hyper-selectionism has been with us for a long time in various guises.” — Steven Jay Gould, Natural Selection and the Human Brain, 57

5. “I would propose breadth of interest and the ability to construct fruitful analogies between fields.” — Steven Jay Gould, Darwin’s Middle Road, 66

The top Steven Jay Gould quotes from Ever Since Darwin

Check out these fascinating Steven Jay Gould quotes from one of his most well-known books. 

6. “Like Dr. Seuss’ Lorax, I like to think that I speak for the trees.” — Steven Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin, 14

7. “I am not unmindful of the journalist’s quip that yesterday’s paper wraps today’s garbage.” — Steven Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin, 14

8. “Beyond vanity, my only excuses for a collection of these essays lie in the observation that many people like them.” — Steven Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin, 14

9. “I am also not unmindful of the outrages visited upon our forests to publish redundant and incoherent collections of essays.” — Steven Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin, 14

10. “They seem to cohere about a common theme: Darwin’s evolutionary perspective as an antidote to our cosmic arrogance.” — Steven Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin, 14

The best Steven Jay Gould quotes from The Panda’s Thumb

Here, we have some of Gould’s most memorable quotes about the diversity of life on Earth. 

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11. “Results rarely specify their causes unambiguously.” — Steven Jay Gould, The Panda’s Thumb, 34

12. “Sufficiently complex systems have greater richness.” — Steven Jay Gould, The Panda’s Thumb, 16

13. “Organisms have a history that constrains their future in myriad, subtle ways.” — Steven Jay Gould, The Panda’s Thumb, 16

14. “Organisms are not billiard balls, propelled by simple and measurable external forces to predictable new positions on life’s pool table.” — Steven Jay Gould, The Panda’s Thumb, 16

15. “If we have no direct evidence of fossils or human chronicles, if we are forced to infer a process only from its modern results, then we are usually stymied or reduced to speculation about probabilities.” — Steven Jay Gould, The Panda’s Thumb, 34

Famous Steven Jay Gould quotes from Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes

In this selection, Gould gives interesting context about the nature of life on Earth. 

16. “Organisms are directed and limited by their past.” — Steven Jay Gould, Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes, 42

17. “Morality is a subject for philosophers, theologians, students of the humanities, indeed for all thinking people.” — Steven Jay Gould, Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes, 42

18. “The answers will not be read passively from nature; they do not, and cannot, arise from the data of science.” — Steven Jay Gould, Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes, 42

19. “The factual state of the world does not teach us how we, with our powers for good and evil, should alter or preserve it in the most ethical manner.” — Steven Jay Gould, Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes, 42

20. “Our failure to discern a universal good does not record any lack of insight or ingenuity, but merely demonstrates that nature contains no moral messages framed in human terms.” — Steven Jay Gould, Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes, 42

Steven Jay Gould quotes, and sayings from The Median Isn’t the Message

Let’s finish our Steven Jay Gould journey with these awesome quotes. 

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21. “Means and medians are the abstractions.” — Steven Jay Gould, The Median Isn’t the Message, 40

22. “Variation is the hard reality, not a set of imperfect measures for a central tendency.” — Steven Jay Gould, The Median Isn’t the Message, 40

23. “But all evolutionary biologists know that variation itself is nature’s only irreducible essence.” — Steven Jay Gould, The Median Isn’t the Message, 40

24. “This is a personal story of statistics, properly interpreted, as profoundly nurturant and life-giving.” — Steven Jay Gould, The Median Isn’t the Message, 40

25. “Trying to keep an intellectual away from literature works about as well as recommending chastity to Homo sapiens, the sexiest primate of all.” — Steven Jay Gould, The Median Isn’t the Message, 40

Find your inspiration

Stephen Jay Gould is a fantastic example of the power of motivation. 

He allowed his passion for learning to push his curiosity to the limits. 

Who or what inspires you?

Be sure to tell us in the comments below and share these quotes with your science-loving friends. 

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