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Pandas Thumb Paperback – Sep 1 1992
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“It is a wonder what Mr. Gould can do with the most unlikely phenomena: a tiny organism's use of the earth's magnetic field as a guide to food and comfort, for instance, or the panda's thumb—which isn't one. . . . Science writing at its best.” — The New Yorker
“Stephen Jay Gould is a serious and gifted interpreter of biological theory, of the history of ideas and of the cultural context of scientific discovery. . . . is fresh and mind-stretching. Above all, it is exultant. So should its readers be.” — H. Jack Geiger (New York Times Book Review)
About the Author
Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Geology at Harvard University. He published over twenty books, received the National Book and National Book Critics Circle Awards, and a MacArthur Fellowship.
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the essays here dealt with Richard Dawkins' controversial stand (in The Selfish Gene) on genes in which he states that a person is just a gene's way to make another gene. (This is different from normal evolutionary thought in that genes there are the subject of random variation which then is subject to the environment and tested.) Gould is not convinced by Dawkins' theory, mainly because, he says, there is no evidence that genes can be linked to specific attributes, i.e., there isn't an "eye" gene. Gould wrote this some years back, so it will be interesting to see if he revisits this subject now that researchers have indeed discovered the "eye" gene (through testing on flies).
Gould also covers Robert Bakker's theories about warm-blooded dinosaurs (later written up in Bakker's The Dinosaur Heresies) and the link to birds, a good essay for people to review prior to the hullabaloo that will follow Jurassic Park 2 (it's always fun to check up on an author's source material).
As Henry Adams said, "A teacher... can never tell where his influence stops." So it can be said of Stephen Jay Gould as these essays are twenty plus years old they still have inherent and intrinsic value as they are essential in historical character. Gould's writings here are compassionate, well founded, plausible, and spot-on. As Gould explores evolutionary biology, were dinosaurs dumb, a panda's thumb, or why are there as many men as women born, to magneticly seeking food... Gould explores the realm of biological theory and does an excellent in expanding the readers mind .
If found this book to be a wonderful look into how biology, theory and history all interplay with discovery. Gould acts as a tour guide to thought and observation as he writes. This is an excellent book written in a more relaxted style, but his rapier skill is apparent and you cannot help but read on and enjoy his elegantly explored essays.
These essays have a broad range, but are integrated and organized into eight sections of thought-provoking prose. Enjoy Gould's arguments as he takes you on a ride. A ride that compels us to seek the answers within ourselves.
Most recent customer reviews
An entertaining and elegantly written collection of discursive essays on natural history and evolution. Read morePublished on Sept. 8 2002 by D. P. Birkett
This volume is a collection of Gould's earlier essays for the New York Museum of Natural History. They reflect his marvelous insight into the heart of current arguments in... Read morePublished on March 8 2001 by Atheen
First published on 1980, The Panda's Thumb is a collection of slightly edited essays from Professor Gould's monthly column at Natural History Magazine. Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2001 by Leonardo Alves
I'll be short, there are plenty of other good reviews. My main point is that this book, although written over 20 years ago, retains its readability and accuracy because many of... Read morePublished on April 21 2000 by Roger McEvilly
I bought this book for a class several years ago. I still read it sometimes, because it has many great historical essays. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys science.Published on March 24 2000 by Oskar Norlander
What Carl Sagan is to astronomy, Stephen Jay Gould is to biology. Both men can write about their subjects fascinatingly and in layman's terms without dumbing down the material. Read morePublished on Oct. 31 1999 by ADP
I read this book for an undergraduate course about fifteen years ago. It was by far the best part of the course and its content has stuck with me ever since. Read morePublished on Aug. 14 1999
I had to read this book for a class a few years ago, and I found it to be extremely thought provoking. Read morePublished on April 21 1999 by firstname.lastname@example.org