Human Intelligence Controversial Views Essay

Science is not simply a collection of facts; it is a systematic method that allows us to test competing hypotheses, and create new knowledge. Many scientists have been wildly maligned during their careers, only to be ultimately vindicated. Even famous, and well regarded scientists, have proposed ideas that are/were considered "fringe". In some cases these scientists have been proven correct, in other cases they were ultimately shown to be incorrect, and some of their ideas are still up for debate. During the remainder of the course I will post some controversial quotes from well respected scientists in the field of Paleontology. I want to get your thoughts on these quotes based on what you have learned in class so far (although you are free to do independent research). Everyone who participates will earn some extra credit on the next exam, up to 5 points for excellent participation. Post your thoughts, they don't need to be long (paragraph or two is fine), but I hope they will be thoughtful. I also encourage you to interact with your classmates and their thoughts. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong here, I just won't you to practice thinking critically about the big concepts in the field of Paleontology.

American Paleontologist Stephen J. Gould famously developed the theory of "Punctuated Equilibrium", as discussed in earlier modules. Later in life, after seeing fossil specimens from the Burgess Shale , he notes "wind back the tape of life to the early days of the Burgess Shale; let it play again from an identical starting point, and the chance becomes vanishingly small that anything like human intelligence would grace the replay". This idea, which has been criticized by a number of biologists, including Richard Dawkins, was further explained in his book "Wonderful Life". What are your thoughts on Gould's quote? Do you agree? Disagree? Was the development of human intelligence inevitable, or does Gould have a point? Do you think the incompleteness of the fossil record had an affect on Gould's views?