John's Reviews > The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History

The Panda's Thumb by Stephen Jay Gould
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's review
Jan 16, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: books-i-own, science, favorites, essay-collection, favorites-from-my-youth
Read in December, 2001

"The Panda's Thumb" is the second volume in a series of essay collections culled primarily from Gould's column "This View Of Life" that was published for nearly thirty years in Natural History magazine, the official popular journal of the American Museum of Natural History. Once more readers are treated to elegantly written, insightful pieces on issues ranging from racial attitudes affecting 19th Century science to evolutionary dilemnas such as the origins of the Panda's thumb (Not really a dilemna, though "scientific" creationists might argue otherwise; instead Gould offers an elegant description of how evolution via natural selection works.) and the evolutionary consequences of variations in size and shape among organisms. Gould is differential to the work of other scientists, carefully considers views contrary to his own, and even points the virtues of the faulty science he criticizes. Those who say contemporary science is dogmatic should reconsider that view after carefully reading this volume or any of the others in Gould's series. Instead, what we see are the thoughts of a fine scientist rendered in splendid, often exquisite, prose.

(Reposted from my 2001 Amazon review)

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