1995 | In the Company of Animals conference, Keynote Address by Stephen Jay Gould | The New School

good afternoon I'm Jonathan Fantin president of the New School for Social Research and it's my pleasure to welcome you to the keynote address session four in the company of animals this conference is the third in a series of projects organized by our journal social research which addresses contested social issues from many different perspectives in public occasions like this and by means of exhibits mounted at collaborating New York City museums we're grateful to Arian Mack the talented editor of social research whose energy and imagination and hard work made this conference happen I'd like a round of applause the first in our series called in the time of plague the history and social consequences of lethal epidemic diseases included a public conference here at the new school and a collaborative exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in the time of play considered how societies both past and present respond to these kinds of catastrophes particularly the current AIDS epidemic we believe that recalling and reflecting on how such threats were dealt with and other times can lead to more effective public response to AIDS in our own time the second project home a place in the world involved a collaboration with five New York City museums in that project we explored the values ideas images history and experience of home in order to deepen our understanding and appreciation of what it means to have a home to belong but also to understand better what it means not to have a home not to have a homeland that is to be homeless in nation was our present endeavor and the company of animals is an exploration of the relationship between humans and other animals in addition to this conference it also includes exhibits and public programs at the Pierpont Morgan Library the museum for African art the Asia Society and the Jewish Museum as well as a reading of animal poetry organized by the Academy of American poets which will take place in our sueda corium tomorrow evening there are some ideas and events in human history which are self-evidently important the rise of nationalism revolutions development of Technology but there are other critical issues which are obscured by their familiarity and proximity to us and one of those issues is the relationship between ourselves and other animals throughout history and in all places animals have been an important part of human culture they've been hunted and domesticated befriended and eaten and feared romanticized and demonized studied and mythologized beliefs about our relationships with them have been continuous and are expressed in our traditions our language our arts and literature our religions and in our sciences and the ways in which we explain our relationship with animals reflect something about our self our sense of who we are and because contemporary attitudes have deep roots in the past and stem from the very different ways in which animals figure in our lives an important aspect of this project is to illuminate the close relationship between how we live and the ways in which we understand our relationships to animals over time and across geography now that relationship is not without controversy and you will undoubtedly have noted that the conference concludes with a policy discussion which will wrestle with some of the vexing questions concerning our responsibilities toward other creatures such as weather and under what conditions it might be morally acceptable to use animals in scientific research we deliberately placed this discussion at the end of the conference and the belief that the scholarship brought to bear on the topic over the next two days may well bring badly-needed new perspectives to the issue and provide us with a reasoned context for an intelligent policy discussion that in turn may lead to sensible policy decisions it's now my very special privilege to introduce the keynote speaker for in the company of animals Stephen Jay Gould is I'm delighted to say an honorary alumnus of the new school having received our Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 1986 we claim professor gules kinship and other ways as well he's a New Yorker by birth and a graduate of our neighbor Columbia University where he received his PhD in 1967 that year he joined the faculty of Harvard University as an assistant professor of geology and he's remained there through a long and distinguished career in 1973 he was appointed full professor as well as curator of an invertebrate paleontology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology and in 1982 he assumed a distinguished chair in geology it's nearly impossible to identify a scientist or humanistic thinker who spent more time in the company of animals than professor Gould and because he's combined profound knowledge of life on earth with rich social and ethical values and a great gift of writing and communication he has no doubt charted the course for many of you who have in your careers the would have much time to thinking about our relationship with animals professors ghouls books and other writings have made a major major contribution to our understanding of the subject and have garnered from him numerous awards including the National Book Award for Science in 1981 given for his work the pandas thumb and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1982 for the mismeasure of man I'm gonna stop right here because if I went on and listed all the honors and accomplishments you would never hear from him so without further ado ladies and gentlemen let me present to you professor Stephen Jay Gould hey mr. president is taller than me how does this go down now you said all you have to do is read it says okay yep we all know the conclusion to that most famous of all poems about invertebrates namely Robert Burns's – a louse the louse speaks from its position and a hairpiece of an upper class lady if I remember correctly I tried my best Scots accident except seeing the trouble mr. D'Amato is in at the moment the similar attempts I won't I bleed for him Oh would some power the gift egee us to see ourselves as others see us it would for many a blunder free us and foolish notion very familiar lines that you all know apparently unfortunately no such power exists and so everything we know about animals we see in our terms and especially having everything we see in our terms with especially about animals who are genuinely kindred I will discuss questions of homology or that evolutionary sense in which they are in a bit and therefore we may commanding a blunder and foolish notion I want to begin with a series of slides which is more or less symbolic of some of the issues of the errors we make and seeing everything in our terms not only as representatives of human forms and features but how we have a preference for seeing things in our own scale which is only one scale among many in nature and when we're deprived of knowledge about the actual scale we get all confused these first few photos are from a book I did with a wonderful photographer Roslyn Purcell several years ago called illuminations so we'll look at the first and then you'll get the metaphorical meaning of why I'm showing them the point is mrs. Ollie I assume you realize the only reason why archambaud those paintings work and we see faces there when he's made them out of books Toad's of flowers or pieces of wood is that we are programmed that's literally so to see faces and particularly to recognize human faces that's an odd metaphor it's just so interesting how often we get fooled I'll show you a couple of whimsical ones and a couple of more serious ones this is the underside of a turtles Kara fish looking at the backbone attached to the carapace but we see the two eye spots not a point of doing and the what looks like a mouth which is just the junction between two vertebrae and so it just amuses us because we see the face there which of course isn't or this one which of the eye spots at least these may actually have an adaptive function in nature of fooling that's scaring other predators away you think it is a large animal cuz of the eye spots but these are on the wing of moths Samiha moths and then a little more sinister this looks for all the world like the death set on a New England gravestone doesn't it but it isn't it's in part illusion only in part it is it is a head of something this is a fossil you ripped er at a relative of the horseshoe crab from the Silurian period the eyes are indeed eyes but the face is not looking out at you as it seems to all of us in fact you're looking down at the top of the head the eyes if anything are looking up the mouth is on the other side that you don't see what appears to be the nose is just a bulge in the midline the creatures bilaterally symmetrical there a lot of midline features what appears to be the mouth is just the junction of the head shield with the rest of the body or this and here we really get to love this photo the sinister water now this this is again mostly allusion but only mostly it looks really sinister we see that teeth and the hunched shoulders and the head coming over well the teeth are teeth of an organism but everything else is an illusion based on our tendency to see faces everywhere in fact what you're looking at is a photograph not at the face as you all think but through the backside of the skull of the howler monkey a Lavazza the teeth are indeed its teeth everything else is the back of the skull you're not seeing anything else in the face in fact the whole on top it's not a trepanation of the front of the skull but is the foramen magnum where the spinal column is attached that will show you that you're out the back what appear to be the eyes are just part of the configuration of the occiput of the skull and what appear to be the hunched shoulders which give it the sinister appearance are in fact the massive lower jaw of ala whatta that's why I love that name Alouette is a lark but alla whathe is the howler monkey because it's it's an AIDS I'm sure it's an onomatopoetic name it gives forth the tremendous sound in the South American forest by the resonating using the resonating chamber of those lower jaws not the hunched shoulders and then we come to issues of scale since we tend to see everything in our scale if we don't know what the scale of a photo is we do get very confused see we don't know what this is is it a photograph from 40,000 feet of a landscape no it isn't in fact it's it's whale jaws and we feel a little bit of comfort when we can identify it here's another which looks like the Southwest desert for the 30 or 40,000 feet but is again the interior of a whale jar with some blood vessel passages and then again when you don't know scale this could be except the proportions wouldn't be quite right a set of mountain ranges against a cloudy sky it is not it's the tooth of a mastodon and these are the individual cusps and that is the cotton that was actually in the box and which Rosamund purcell found the photographs and once we know the scale we're more comfortable however I do point out to you that a mastodon is a breast tooth animal that's Cuvier is somewhat sexist name but the Grand Teton Mountains of exactly the same etymology okay we need to turn that off for a while huh give me some lights bang now that's sort of one set of examples I want to now give a second set takes me a while to warm up into a general theme I love little side tangents hope you don't mind I want to warm up into the general theme of how we're always seeing not only animals with everything else in our terms but before quick examples of what in a way of the most egregious kind of misinterpretation we can make namely when we try to identify the attributes of animals as a result of nothing more than the arbitrary name that we happen to have given to them so we in view the name bad enough that we back read our-our features of organisms but when we back rate an arbitrary name that we happen to give to an organism and then assume that its characteristics clove in this arbitrary name then in a sense that's the ultimate of the back reading the fallacy I think and this pervades the ages Steve Glickman this afternoon talked about th White's best Jarrod translation if you look it the attributes of medieval bestiaries where are the properties of animals come from what why is the goat kapre for example and it will tell us these and that very same work well I have to invert the syllables it's Oscar de Kaap death he jumps in the high places but you go forward to the age of Newton and Sir Thomas Brown and Steve also wanted a quote but didn't have time so I will and we come to of various myths such as the famous myth of the beaver now I trust you all know the most important myth of the beaver the myth of the beaver is that the beaver to elude the hunter bites off his own testicles or stones it's a very old myth and Sir Thomas Brown in his sued oxy epidemic oh that is his epidemic of falsities it's the first of the great expose is of foolish wisdom so to speak written in the 1640s he goes through the various reasons why people ever would have believed that nonsense of the beaver to elude the hunted bites off his own testicles and points out I'm quoting now some have been so bad grammarians as to be deceived by the name the names of the Beavers cast or and many people thought that was castrated and therefore the stories likely to be true and then Brad Brown is marvelous his use of language so if you don't mind we'll go on just a little bit he says after a pointing out that the name castor do with it it does not share the same root its castration but ultimately derives from a Sanskrit word for ma that comes later and an incorrect interpretation of purposeful mutilation based on the internal position and therefore the near invisibility of the beavers testicles he then cites the factual evidence of intact males and the reasoned argument that a beaver couldn't even reach his own testicles if he wanted to bite them off and his this is now quoting from Brown the testicles properly so called or of a lesser magnitude and seated inwardly upon the loins and therefore if it were not it were not only a old subjunctive tense it were not only a fruitless attempt mood but impossible Act two eunuch eight or castrate themselves and might be in hazardous practice of art if it all attempted by others and then we move forward another hundred years to Linnaeus Linnaeus among his many coinages will come back to Mammalia later in this talk did coin as a name for the order that includes us among the mammals pre Maathai so first that leads to all sorts of trouble this time only sense in the opposite direction because this is this is one for the animal meaning almost taking over in this particular case I guess let me show the next slide the original use of use of primate in the English language is not for monkeys and apes but for heads of the Anglican Church this is this is mr. Usher who gave the famous date of 4004 BC the octopus is serious the Archbishop of Armagh tosya see barely a three months I should say Harry rivers Latin pronunciation was so outstanding I just want to assure you that I'm not being foolish I just learned my Latin in ecclesiastical conduct because I'm a believer I'm not I'm a good New York Jew but because I'm a choral singer so do you see been a pre Mawson and primate of All Ireland that where was it so oh yes I just want to read you but but of course then Linnaeus used the name for monkeys and apes and everybody thought that's the meaning I just wanna be this is just an excuse because I wanted to read one of the most marvelous letters somebody send this to me this is a letter from the Reverend Michael Michael Ingham who's the principal secretary to the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and he wrote it to a John Hearn the director of the Wisconsin regional primate research center who clearly thinking that this guy represented having seen his name and some mailing this probably the other kind of primate and then he is a terrific letter of ecclesiastics muscle live but this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity dear dr. Hearn thank you for your letter of December 4th addressed to dr. George cram of the primates world relief and Development Fund in which you seek information for your interact international directory of primatology I should perhaps inform you that the term primate in our context refers to the senior Archbishop and chief pastor of the Anglican Church of Canada the relief and Development Fund over which he presides as an agency for the alleviation of global poverty and hunger on behalf of Anglican Christians I think the primates in your study of perhaps of a different species while it is true that our primate occasionally enjoys bananas I've never seen him I've never seen him walk with his knuckles on the ground or scratch himself publicly under the armpits he does have three children but this is a far cry from quote breeding colonies of primates as your research project mentions like you we do not import our primates from the wild however they are elected from among the bishops of that church this is occasionally a cause of similar though arcane comment the subject of primate biology might be of great importance in your field but alas not so in ours there are a mere twenty eight Anglican primates in the whole world they are all males of course and so far we have had no problems of reproduction but lest you think this is all going away now we can turn that off and have the lights back I point out this to be of all the wonderful scenes you can quote in Jurassic Park one of the best comes right at the beginning when the paleontologist mr. grand or whatever his name is he's trying to persuade folks on his field trip out west that dinosaurs are related to birds and he gives a whole bunch of perfectly good arguments based on anatomy which is how the argument should be made then he turns around because this creatures named velociraptor and says even the word Raptor means bird of prey and that's his that's his closing argument that's the crowning glory even the word Raptor means bird prey so of course dinosaurs must be Birds this is Velociraptor the dinosaur but they're just a wonderful example because Raptor in English was used for humans centuries before I think was Linnaeus again used it as a term the birds of prey it comes from the Latin rapid rate to seize by force and I hope you recognize it the rape of Europa next time you see Titian stations painting at the Gardner Museum in Boston refers to the abduction of Europa not whatever happened afterwards it's the seizure by force which is rape and the original sentence is easy to see how it acquired the meaning but it is a human word for centuries before it becomes a bird word well okay that's an introduction to the theme of this talk which comes in two parts first that back reading that is the placement of human characteristics into animals is really in a sense the only way yeah there are a few exceptions among honorable scholars as both and others and there's your men and hunters etc I'm sure but but let's just say by far the overwhelmingly predominant way of understanding animals is by back reading human characteristics into them and then of course there's this other funny fallacy that it's responsible for so much of the bio determinist nonsense you then having identified in animals human phenomenon call than that like cuckoldry or Daltry or whatever you then read arrives them as natural for humans because if rape exists in Mallard DOCSIS has been claimed and clearly it is a biologically conditioned feature in human beings which is nonsense on many criteria so that'll be part one of the talk and there's really nothing particularly original there part two not only do we back read characteristics of ourselves when we're talking about animals but Pythagoras was right when he said that man is the measure of all things whether he meant just male human beings it was using the Greek term for all of us leave aside but now but that humans are the measure of all things is right and that therefore even the most abstract and universal issues of science and philosophy are often really at root inquiries about humans and particularly validations of human hegemony in the face of fear that we're not quite so powerful as we think we are and this leads me at the very end to a particular argument which in a way is the key to this talk and it's only possible point of mild originality that since human beings are a contingent product of history and not a predictable outcome of the laws of evolution or other natural laws that therefore these abstract universals which we have always seen as transcendently general are really tales from historical science after all because they since they are fundamentally ways in which we justify our own status and since that status is historically contingent rather than conditioned by the laws of nature so some of these very deepest and most abstract issues are really talks about historical particulars and not the transcending generalities they have always been assumed to be let me then go to the first point back reading as the only way we have looked at or tried to understand animals first let me point out that there is limited legitimacy to this on occasion because there is genuine homology that is we are animals and we are evolved from other animals and we do have varying degrees of kinship with animals and as you know evolutionary biologists make this key distinction when judging similar charities that exist among different organisms into homology and analogy analogy as similarities held because evolution is produced independently pretty much the same form over and over again the wing of a bat the wing of a bird the wing of an insect the wing of a pterosaur these are analogous features because the common ancestor of no pair had wings the wings evolved separately in each lineage homology are traits shared by common descent the bones in the arm of the whale in the horse and the bad and me are effectively the same topologically the whale swims the bad flies the horse runs and I just stick you laid clearly this is not a result of separate evolution for common function but is a tie to history we all have the same bones because we're come we have common ancestor in mammals which have this configuration and the point is for evolutionary biologists homology has primacy homological similarity the similarity of history in the sense is overwhelmingly powerful because an analogous similarity of convergence as we call it can never be anything other than superficial you cannot get independent evolution of hundreds of similar features just a mathematical probability argument if you have complex similarity it's Amala gaston Selvam ology is a deep and fundamental and important let me just give you one example of an excellent argument from homology in other words a legitimate back reading a forward reading in this case oh I know I forgot the obvious point is that since we know ourselves best if you can make an agenda on organ from homology it may not be invalid to see a feature in us that we understand better because we know it from personal experience and use that to interpret animal features if they are truly homologous that's not invalid let me give you my absolute favorite example of a brilliant argument by homology in this case more to explain humans from animal models and that's the third of Darwin's evolutionary book in all those books where evolution in one sense but I like to see his great evolutionary books as a trilogy of the Origin of Species 1859 the descent man in 1871 and the one that deserves to be much more read the third member of the trilogy the expression of the emotions and man and animals in 1872 absolutely brilliant book brilliant in the first sense because he does what he always does one of the things that this sophisticated audience wouldn't misunderstand but it's so often misunderstood about intellectual life is which is responsible for Talking Heads fallacies on television its intellectual supposed to be the people who have the deepest knowledge about the broadest questions put on an intellectual and he'll tell you what the course of the future is gonna be no it's not right the often the most important thing is to recognize the limits of what Jeff and to stick to what can be done the brilliance of Darwin's book about the emotions is that he's not trying to interpret in evolutionary terms what can't be done namely the deep meaning of the emotions the moral value of the emotions he's talking about to the expression of the emotions and man and animals that is the physical appearance the gestural capacities and their he the whole book is one really brilliant argument namely that if you look at the universal form of those emotional expressions that are universal across human cultures and Dorne was a great pains try to establish that universality and you interpret them by seeing the homological similarity with expressions in other mammals then you can understand that their origin must be evolutionary and cannot be by divine creation because although the expressions have no functional meaning in humans they seem arbitrary they don't have to mean what they universally do when you see what the other animals are doing in whom this emotion first arose it's very functional there and therefore the homology is best digitally digitally used with something else it is retained in human expression though the original purpose is no longer valid that sounds complex I can show you by example is much better three examples Oh homology yeah I mean of course we that's the whole point a few more pictures from Rosalyn Purcell the cat whose scholars ours and we know it I need more lights of the feet of a bog person and the hands of a monkey clearly we see the homology and we are not deceived all right from Darwin now terror what do we do we draw back we open our eyes as wide as possible in our mouth as wide as possible terror and surprise what's that all about we draw in I'm Darwin's argument isn't it's brilliant I think he's probably right is that when faced with terror and great danger what we have to do is take in as much information as we possibly can so we draw back against the act we open our eyes to see we take in so that we can smell or taste so that we have maximal information that is not functional for most causes of terror in human society today but that's where it comes from or disgust which is the vomiting reaction yeah by the way this book is popular among collectors because it represents the very first uses of photography in scientific argument and my favorite of all examples and I'm sure he's right raged what do we do with snarl we go hmm now what do we do we raise the side you know do the action you'll if you never realized you'll notice that you do it you raise the side of your lips thereby exposing your canine teeth which are no bigger in humans than any other teeth and therefore not a threat at all but in other animals the raising of the lips and the exposure the canine shows the large dangerous teeth as in the dog and therefore it makes sense there but we still do it it must be homological retention now the point is what are we doing for time you're doing pretty well for time now I got to take five minutes for straight science I'm sorry if it seems arcane but I don't want to leave the subject of homology without saying something about the most exciting development in development that has a science of memory illogical growth and evolutionary theory in the last decade namely the beginnings of understandings through genetic tracings of the actual course of development is genetically mediated what we have found is that the extent of homology it's just vastly greater than anyone would have thought in 1963 Ernst Meier the greatest evolutionist of this generation and she's still around he's 90 years old he'd be the first to say that was a dumb thing I wrote in 63 and would revel and the contrary finding but expressing the Darwinian consensus of the 60s Meyer said it would be vain to look for any homology that is genetic identity similarity based on common ancestry in the genetic sequences of genes from different phyla such as insects and humans the obvious example that have been separate for at least 550 million years because we know the natural selection so powerful and it's so completely altered every aspect of the genome that whatever similarities might have once existed have clearly been wiped out by the independent evolution over all that time and in such different directions friends it is not so the homology is between distant file are quite stunning and often produce very similar features many people have been saying it's the paper of the decade and I think that's probably right if any of you saw the cover of science a couple of weeks ago these remarkable experiments showing that a single gene eyeless and Drosophila can when expressed in a part of the body that doesn't normally form eyes produce fully functional eyes so you can make them on the wing you can make them on the tips of the antennae you can make them on the legs you'd make it practically anywhere point being that the homologue of that gene in humans called aniridia and in mice works just as well on the insects to produce eyes the development of eyes in insects in humans and in squid is the classic textbook example of convergence that is of independent evolution and clearly in an anatomical sense that is correct but it turns out there's homological underpinning of the developmental pathway they all carry the same pax6 gene that makes the structures sets up the making their that's stunning I mean I root for things like that for reasons I don't have time to go into it very much expresses my view of lies I'm predisposed to accept these things I never would have dreamed I'd have bet a substantial amount of money even two weeks ago you could never get a result like that in flies let me give you the example it's been most in the press I'll go through this fast and I'm sorry if it goes by too quickly for some I wish I had more time this is about body segmentation and the famous homeobox stories and arthropods that it's the group that includes insects and vertebrates it's not it's an old argument this is from a teen Jeff Schloss auntie laughs in 1830 who made and argued which turned out to be wrong and detailed but for which he was ridiculed that insects and vertebrates have a common structure based on the archetype of the vertebra just as good his friend had argued that the common form of plant structures is the leaf your plants and so here in 1830 publications Jeff hua has drawn a segment of a lobster but made it look like an element of the spinal column and a pair of ribs because he believes that that was a true homology and he did not shy away from the implications of that which are let's face it that if this be so than an insect who has an external skeleton lives within its own vertebrae lives inside its vertebrae and walks on its ribs now that comparison is wrong and because it's wrong people just threw aside that notion that there could be similarity in a genetic homological sense and segmentation until all the discoveries based initially on so-called homeotic mutants of drosophila very quickly the ordinary antennae of Drosophila the fruit fly consists of two parts the antennae and so called Arista at the end there are a set of odd mutations which have been known for a long time called the whole let this flow over you don't if you don't try to get every little detail and you're not gonna be no quiz on it afterwards you'll probably get it as I go through it because it's a beautifully simple store there's only a couple key points we're after is this remarkable class of mutations called homeotic mutations which place a body structure in an utterly wrong part so to speak this is antenna pedia in which a leg appears where an antenna ought to be that's not as weird as it sounds because evolutionarily legs and antennae are based on the same initial structures now about 20 years ago ed Lewis at Caltech made a brilliant and confirmed genetic model that explained how these homeotic mutations work this is an ordinary insect as it develops the larva is on the left the adult fly on the right it's a series of segments H at top is head t1 t2 and t3 are the three segments of the thorax that's all we have to be concerned with in insects each thoracic segment bears a leg that's why insects have six legs because there are three thoracic segments and each bears a leg the second thoracic segment bears a pair of wings most insects have two pairs of wings and the third thoracic segment also bears wings in flies which have only two wings unlike most insects the third thoracic segment bears a vestigial set of wings called halt ears shown in the next slide and then you get a bunch of abdominal segments behind alright what ed Lewis figured out is that there's a wonderfully simple model for how the differentiation proceeds in the right order that is there are series of genes Kesava has only four chromosomes these genes are on one arm of the third chromosome and they're lined up in a row there are products of a single ancestral gene that's duplicated and put it's duplicate copies right next to each other along a line what happens is the following the genes that produce the correct ordering of the segments and differentiating of segments turn on in sequence the first gene turns on if number 0 along the bottom line turns on in the second thoracic segment the orange is where it's working and then is expressed all the way back T 2 T 3 all the abdominal segments say 1 to 8 the second gene turns on further back it turns on an a.1 and then is expressed all the way further back the third gene number 2 starts in a 2 and is expressed all the way back the whole point of this the only thing after grasp so this produces a gradient where the maximum gene product is at the back of the organism because all the genes are expressed in a 8 you see they're all orange and a minimum amount of the gene product is up front there t1 has 92 as a half what that means that's the signal you differentiate according to how much of the gene product you have simple prediction which is the the affirmation of which broke the dike in understanding this simple prediction mutations that intensify the gradient that give you more gene product than you ought to have make posterior structures the ones in the back at the bottom move forward because you're getting more gene products and so that happens most mutations are so-called deletion or loss of function mutations you get less of the gradient what that means is in structures that ought to be upfront appear further back because there's less gene product further back in there oughta be and less gene product means you're differentiating as though you're up in front of the body now that simple theme explains all the really weird homeotic mutations of the back end of Drosophila the most famous of all is by thorax which is the fore wing Drosophila it's as though it recovered its evolutionary path and has four wings again but it isn't it's just a loss of function mutation in which because there's less gene product the third thoracic segment which ought to develop these vestigial halt ears there isn't enough gene product there so it thinks it ought to be a second it thinks it ought to be another second thoracic segment because less gene product and so it just grows its third as though it were another second so you have two seconds and since seconds grow wings you have a four wing fly it's not really recreating its ancestry and then an even weirder one called by thorax oeid the eight-legged fly insects have six legs here's one that seems to violate the definition of its class but it's the same thing it's a loss-of-function mutation there isn't enough gene product in the first abdominals abdominals segment therefore it thinks you see we use back reading intent language all the time but that segment things that ought to differentiate as a supernumerary thoracic segment and so it does instead of being a first abdominal differentiates as another third thoracic the third thoracic has legs so now have eight legs instead of six well okay so far it's just an insect story here's the great discovery over the last ten years the same genes exist in vertebrates in fact they exist in fourfold repetitions as the whole sequence exists four times inverted they were mapped by tracing these so-called homeo boxes if you know that word homeobox that's work it's not the homeobox is build this stuff the homie box of common elements it allows you identify and map these genes that's probably why we don't have weird homeotic mutations in vertebrates cuz there are four copies of all these genes so if one of them mutates the other three is still presumably expressing the normal state and can overwhelm it whereas an insect's the only one copy so if it mutates it expresses but it's not stunning Jeff I was right after all there is a four-fold repetition of clearly homologous at ninety to ninety five percent similar at the five hundred fifty million years of separation from the insect case and you might say yeah but but so what if it's not doing anything that's making segments or it's differentiating segments and insects what's it doing and invertebrate is doing something totally different than so what well it isn't that's the fascinating thing turns out look in vertebrate backbone segments are not the same thing as insect body savings that's where Jeff was wrong but what people had forgotten is something that all the great 19th century embryologists knew and that is at the brain the mid and hind brain as it differentiates in embryology develops as a set of segments and people just forgotten that bit of descriptive anatomy now you might say well but it's all erased in the adult brain they're called rhombomere by the way these segments but but it's not because the tongue structures the cranial nerve divisions are largely reflective of the segmentation and what you see here is the Drosophila sequence the fruit fly sequence at the top the mouse sequence one of the format's sequins Hawks to and at the bottom the our one through our eight are the Rumba mears that is the segments of the developing brain and you can see four of the Hox genes that is the mammalian homologue of the invertebrate genes and they are expressing not in the spinal column but in the rhombomere so clearly they're determining the Rambam is which are the homologs of the insect segments it's just fascinating and this is a mouse embryo showing that most of these genes you can see them along the top are expressing in the rhombomere x' and here are the rhombomere themselves the initial vertebrates by the way had very small backbones that is the part that isn't homologous and very large Gill baskets which are the homologs which do come out of the rhombomere so the initial vertebrates in the fossil record are mostly expressing the system of segmentation that is the homologue of the insect case it's just a fantastic story couldn't not say one last point about homology and we'll just look at the next slide this is one of the most poignant pictures I was ever said this is the gravestone of baby faith you may remember her story at Loma Linda University baboon's heart was engrafted into her and she died something so touching call it vernacular art but the two hearts on a tombstone her own that failed and the baboon heart that failed or isn't her mother and father who loves her I don't know but the point is I don't want to make a big point and I don't know whether she could have been saved under any circumstances but it was I don't want to be too strong as it might be suable for all I know in this society let us just say it was foolish in the extreme and not understanding of evolutionary principles if the experiment was to be done at all to use a baboon heart and not a chimpanzee you heart baboons are 30 million years evolutionarily distant from humans immuno logical acceptance of rejection is a question of overall genetic similarity which is homology chimpanzees are six to eight million years different if you look at dr. Bailey's justification but why he did he said well it was all functional given in functional terms well baboon hearts about the right size chimpanzee hearts are hard to get but then we come to the key point dr. Bailey is the seventh-day adventists he doesn't believe in evolution sometimes you don't get what it's all about you can make some tragic errors leave it at that okay let's have the lights fallacies however though homology is legitimate theme indeed there are many fallacies based on false usages and takings of evolution the one I've written about most of my own career is gradualism progression ISM continuity theories not everything is homology chimp language debate will hear some and I don't want to insert myself as I don't know a great deal about but I think everyone would agree that many errors were made and assuming that there could be a kind of strict continuity between basically gestural systems of organisms that are close to our ancestry and this language faculty which is uniquely human many people even miss read Chomsky is a quasi creationist because he says there is no continuity doesn't mean that God put it in there it means that what we call the language organ may have been co-opted from some other mental function and certainly that is the evolution does not mean adaptive gradual estate continuity that is one of its modes and then we have other fallacies of which of course the main one is the supremacists of the progressionist fallacy the paradox of seeing animals as both lesser than us but also defined by us or even by our arbitrary words in the examples I gave oh I can't apropos really of nothing just one comment in the introduction this morning Sir Edmund leach who I also knew as a crusty character was mentioned on the subject of animal curses my colleague Jack bate told me something really interesting the other day great nineteenth-century linguistic scholar Johnson and others apparently the phrase son of a bitch one of their curse words today began as a euphemism I never knew that that's the one thing you couldn't call anyone in the 18th century you're really risk to do literally was a dog you are dog sir that was cause for fighting son of a bitch that was sufficiently euphemistic interesting I propose absolutely nothing had to share that with you now what I want to show in the next part I started very late right designed go for a biscuit what I want to show in the next part is that this fallacy this paradox of you will if they are lesser than us but defined by us through the supremacists of progressionist reading goes through all ideologies it's a constant you would have thought maybe that evolution would have made it better would have shown a kinship and a partnership and the argument could be used that way but historically that has not been its primary weight the notion of vac reading of lesser than but defined by goes right through evolution is not the watershed that one might be led to assume it ought to have been by Freud's famous observation that all great revolutions in the history of science kicking human arrogance off on pedestal after another of our claims for cosmic self-importance first the Copernican revolution that made our place in the universe of peripheral and the Darwinian revolution that relegated us to descend from an animal world quoting Freud and then what I'd like to call the least modest statement of intellectual history his own that taught us we didn't have rational minds by discovering the unconscious but it doesn't work you see we can spin doctor the story that is we can accept the Darwinian revolution and descent relegation to descend from an animal world but we spin doctorate the revolution is not complete in Freud's very prescient sense until we accept the pedestal smashing consequences and that's what we're not willing to do I'll come back to that I think we are not willing to do that we want to still read animals and our terms as lesser than and although defined by we want to see ourselves at the top of the heap we want to see evolution as predictably progressive complexify and sensibly leading towards us in a predictable manner and then we can spin doctor the Darwinian revolution to avoid the Freudian implications and so let me just very quickly talk about two pre evolutionary versions I call them pinnacle theories and embodiment theories both both of which point to the same direction first pinnacle theories in which we see ourselves at the top of a progressive sequence you don't need evolutionary theory for that progressive sequence can be the creative chain of being the next slide Charles white regular gradation and man 1799 was mentioned by previous speaker this is his main chart in which you see this motley collection of a so-called progressive sequence from birds at the lower left dogs to primates and then up the conventional racist ladder of human groups from African blacks to American Indians to Greek statuary on the right so this also clearly has social implications and then we have embodiment theories the notion that not so much of we're at the pinnacle but all the lower creatures are imperfect embodiments of us now the most wonderful example of that Oh as many examples occur among the German not to offer those often of the early 19th century I did a study of Laura and spoken in my book ontogeny and phylogeny published his lab book there not to a philosophy between 89 and 1811 that his theory has this marvelous notion with full of the whole book this very thick book the lab book is nothing but a series of 4,000 or Acula pronouncements and the basic notion is that all development begins with a primal zero and progresses to complexity by the successive addition of organs in a determined sequence the sequence of additions follows Atkins ordering of the four Greek elements earth processes or nutritive organs first water processes of digestion second air processes respirations and ether of fire processes motion forth man his words contain all the organs within himself thus he represents the entire world with all all the organs are in humans quoting now in the profoundest truest sense a microcosm man is the summit the crown of nature's development must comprehend everything that has preceded him in a word man must represent the whole world in miniature not quoting anymore all lower animals is imperfect or incomplete humans contain fewer than the total set of organs quoting again the animal kingdom this is the most famous pronouncement in the lab or the animal kingdom is only a dismemberment of the highest animal that is of man and then just as white uses the racial implications let me read you the closing or racula pronouncements now poor of–can was just a romantic liberal but you can see how notions like this can be used for other german social philosophies that came after him he talks about the sequential ordering of human skills the first science is the science of language the architecture of science the earth remember the Greek I'm not saying any of this makes sense I'm just quoting the second science is the art of rhetoric the sculpture of science the river in other words water remember the sequence earth water air fire the third science is philosophy the painting of science the breath air the fourth science is the art of war creaks constant the art of motion dance music the poetry of signs the light fire as all arts are united in poetry so are all arts and sciences United in the art of war the art of war is the highest the most exalted the most godly directly art the hero the health is the highest man the hero is the god of mankind through the heroes mankind free the hero is the Prince the hero is God that's out of book is and then of course we have the myth of miliar ism namely that we can turn that off again namely that once you get the evolutionary reading or you get towards it things ought to be better right because now we're getting closer to a truthful biological theory so let's they come to Linnaeus is not yet an evolutionist but at least is trying to place humans into nature this is the 12th and last edition of the sistema not today of 1766 and it's really quite wonderful because he's on that crux he is including humans I'll get to the origin of Mammalia in just a moment but you read his definitions of the order pretty mouth ace which includes for general homo for us Samiha for monkeys Lemire for the prosimians PI's etc and he includes bats sabesp Attilio the bats and when you read his Latin descriptions he gives the standard differential as was explained I think by Juliet Clutton brach so for Vespa Tilly oh he writes Manas pal motto volatilities hands are palmated flying wings for me because I think lives again let me know one other thing about Linnaeus this wonderful story of the coining of the term mammal this is not my argument this comes from Londa she Binger wrote an article and a book on it which impressed me greatly you see I knew before I read her work that Linnaeus had invented the term Amelia for our vertebrate class in the system and not that I love 1758 but I thought that he'd simply promoted an old vernacular word to a new technical meaning however what Londa showed is that Linnaeus truly invented the word that no language it ever before referred to the group of warm-blooded hair sporting live bearing vertebrates as mammals all previous systems had treated and named our relatives differently Aristotle had established a vertebrate group called quadruped edia with the primary subdivision those four legs with the primary subdivision into OVA Perea scaly and egg-laying including reptiles and some amphibians and viper Perea that is hairy and live baring thus including most mammals but please remember excluding such creatures as bats wails and most importantly humans who could remain separate by Linnaeus's time our group had a better definition but no recognized name John Rey for example Englishman the greatest of Linnaeus's predecessors had suggested pilosa meaning harry as a way of an xing obviously related animals that did not exhibit Aristotle's defining feature forelegs so why did Linnaeus choose a new name and why particularly did he choose such a peculiar term as Mammalia referring obviously to the female breast we must grasp the extreme unconventionality of Linnaeus's decision most generally and for the usual sexist reasons we tend to personify active phenomena as male and organisms judged most complex should ordinarily fall under this sad convention by the way in contemporary English we still invariably refer to an unsexed animal is he right as in isn't he cute or look at him go if Linnaeus had been an explicit egalitarian out to sink a bad habit by example he might have chosen Mammalia for this overt political reason but Linnaeus was a social conservative and a conventional sexist more particularly zoologists have long translated this general cultural convention into technical practice do you realize that in taxonomy x' it is still stated that the so called type specimen that is the defining name bearer for species has to be male that is still a rule of biological naming why then did Linnaeus choose a female trait to define the highest group apparently adding insult to male injury by selecting a feature that males also possess but in a rudimentary and useless state now even go argues cogently that Linnaeus made this decision for an ideological reason one very distant from any notion of sexual equality Linnaeus has been deeply engaged in a different and equally important battle this time or so most of us would judge today on the right side namely is campaign to classify humans into nature this is Amelia as part of it classify humans into nature with other animals at a time when many natural still insists on a separate human Kingdom for beings with the sole and created in God's image a propagandists have always recognized that an adroit choice of name can convey great power of persuasion nature's almost invariably been personified as female it's the cultural linguistic tradition the dates at least a Chaucer if one wishes to gain some rhetorical advantage in a struggle to place humans within nature then choose a female feature to define our larger group thereby emphasizing our closeness to Mother Earth and her other animate productions interestingly in the same work that defined a larger group as within nature Linnaeus sought to separate us as a species for our mental prowess and here he chose a male designation Homo sapiens although the Latin homo I realize may be taken more generally in the old sense of humankind while veer is more specifically a male person from which we obtain by the way and for sexist reasons the notions of virtue although it's feminine and most European languages of virtue and virility alright so Linnaeus is melius Darwin is the next step in melioration we finally get evolutionary theory but it doesn't work and it doesn't work in the small and it doesn't work in the grand I want to give two examples then I move on to the second part talk which is meant to be much short or not only my overstay my welcome here and a small example of the errors we still make just in a particular case and then a large one in how we look at the whole history of life so we keep the slides back this is a study done by a colleague of mine in the sociobiological research tradition it's not what I want to criticize about it right here I want to criticize the back reading of characteristics let me just tell you what he did this is meant to be a study of the adaptive meaning of a behavior in eastern bluebirds I pardon me I think is Western Bluebird than anybody know sorry I wasn't meant to be a joke I should have this accurately in mountain bluebirds which our Western species here's what he did took two nests and the females tend to sit at the nest the male's go out foraging for food while the males were out foraging he took a stuffed male and placed it by the nest and saw what the returning male who belonged in the nest so to speak would do would the male be aggressive to this presumed potential imposter and would he be aggressive to the female now on the vertical axis of the number of aggressive encounters towards the male stuffed bird the model and the female while he did this ad he did this at various time he did it for the first time that has exposed the stuffed bird after the next one's begun before the eggs had been laid pleaded and there were a lot of aggressive encounters to nest the black drop at the top of the number of aggressive encounters towards the white circles show aggressive encounters towards the female back in one case then after the eggs were laid you see he did it again and he found many the party you were aggressive approaches towards the stock bird and then he did one last time after hatching of the eggs had found even fewer aggressive encounters towards the supposin intruder I want to read you his interpretation derive them the results are consistent with the expectations of evolutionary theory thus aggression toward an intruding male the model would clearly be especially advantageous early in the breeding season when territories and nests and normally defended the initial aggressive response to the mated female is also adaptive in that given a situation suggesting a high probability of adultery the human word that is he defines it in this context the presence of the model near the female and assuming that replacement females are available obtaining a new mate would enhance the fitness of males you see the point if you're gonna help this female raise someone else's genes you don't want to do that so however after the eggs are laid it doesn't matter because you know your genes are in there you've been watching carefully before so he goes on the decline in male look that could be right it's just the language I'm talking about the decline in male female aggressiveness during incubation and fledgling stages could be attributed to the impossibility of being cuckolded that was that one because that's a word that of course comes from animals cuckoos but is then using a human sense is now being reimpose Donne other versions the impossibility being cuckolded after the eggs have been laid I mean it's a particularly wonderful example because it is so obviously subject to a different interpretation I simply point out to you namely the model that is the stuffed bird is exposed the male comes back exit the stuffed bird gets mad at the female too then a few days later the same stuffed bird and the same male so he comes back pecks at the stuffed bird a few times and says that goddamn stuffed bird again I'm back reading – you think and doesn't bother the female they didn't have to have anything to do with genetic adaptive behaviors oh well now the example in the large you're going to have to race through these do it second half short the whole history of life we view as a grand back reading we see the whole history of life is predictably prepareth Ori we see all previous creatures as precursors or avatars of the eventual appearance of humans now I've got almost made a speaking profession of showing iconographies of this particular pervasive bias I usually show ladder of progress humorous scenes I'll show you just four or five because I want something else I want to show you which is even more profoundly illustrative of the bias surf trunks through history the California version clearly this is a parody but it's a parody that everybody understands because that's how we tend to see evolution is predictably progressive not so determined the next one we're all new york is here right it's the new yorker version don't think it's distinctively American I bought this in the bazaar of Agra India years ago this is the British version this is a Pepsi ad as those of you can read the language you'll recognize why we're talking about I canna graphic bias this is an Israeli one obviously it's the only sequence ever saw that goes right to left and then this is what is education in the bush Reagan years let them but this one is particularly wonderful because it's just four monkeys with dunce caps right unless you know what it's a parody of it doesn't make any sense but everybody gets it immediately all right that's not what I want to show the so-called high culture version if you will namely the attempts in museum murals and coffee table books to paint the history of life this is a genre that has been with us only since the mid 19th century because only then we had a geological time scale we could actually do a sequential series of paintings I want to first show you the two major iconographies of life's history in the 20th century and then I'll show you something about the origin of this tendency and show you how pervasive this reading of the whole history of animals as avatars and precursors less of that on the way to pervades that standard interpretation the first is a series from National Geographic 1942 by Charles R Knight the great artist who owned this genre from the 20s until he died in the 50s he did all the great mural paintings in American museums go up and see the restored mammal hall of the Museum of Natural History go to Chicago and the Field Museum go to the Tar Pits Museum in Los Angeles first bias the multicellular history of animal life is about half the history of invertebrates but you almost you get very few pictures of invertebrates here's one of the burgess shale he is the only other one he has of these large ship turrets horseshoe crab relatives as in that first slide I showed and then you never see another invertebrate again never we've got twenty or thirty other pictures they're all vertebrates there are no invertebrates in there look in vertebrates didn't go away they didn't stop evolving but you never see them again this is supposed to be the parade of life through the ages it's not supposed to be the path to man which would be parochially bad enough in the old gender-biased language it's supposed to be a representation of life's history it isn't we have never depicted life's history in this high culture genre is anything other than a parochial sequence of those forms we thought were most advanced at their moments and leading towards us that's all we've ever done it's so egregiously biased and we never think about it I've seen these all my life I never caught and on to this till last year then fit as soon as fishes evolved you never see another invertebrate as soon as one lineage of fishes gets out on land you never see another fish does that make sense 60% of vertebrate species are fishes 90% of fishes are teleosts higher bony fishes teal eos did not evolve until the Cretaceous or did not spread until the Cretaceous which is the dinosaur period therefore since dinosaurs had already evolved you never see a TV host fish in other words the process that produced more than half of all the species of vertebrates is wiped out of the record of life by this iconography is that the history of life ah an exception no you are allowed to show a marine scene once the dinosaurs evolve but you can't put any fishes there it's not a fish it's a Moses or a marine lizard you can show members of a high groups that have returned to an old environment that you can show the permanent inhabitants thereof than mammals than humans and then we got the second great sequence these this is interesting this is the the series of coffee table books done by Augusto and Burien Czech team in the 1950s you read the text it's Marxist claptrap couldn't be more different from the quasi Christian rationalizations of Charles R night but the sequence of pictures is exactly the same this is the Cambrian scene there what a vision scene this aisle Orion seems we have three invertebrates but then it's the same story never an invertebrate after fishes evolved never a fish after vertebrates evolved on land a marine scene yes but no fish only the seagoing lizards and the terrorists those teeny little fish that one of the pterosaurs is caught but not as an actor unto itself and then mammals there has never been any deviation if you look in the first great representation of this genre which Martin Rudd Wieck has shown is the work of Louis VGA the great French popular to the mid 19th century you see exactly the same sequence these are lithographs by Ed watts Leo who is also Juve M lithographer so first we have the Cambrian scene by the way another wonderful old convention that you show animals in the water thrown up and desiccating on land that is the standard depiction up until the aquarium craze of the 1840s and 1850s interesting another example of I can do graphic vice that I got a write of ed something more invertebrates thrown up on the land now here is the aquarium view but that's from a later addition that was interpolated later after the Aquarian aquarium craze had made that mode of viewing canonical and then same same sequence vertebrates on land dinosaurs fighting older representation marine scenes show only reptiles thereafter mammals humans in this identic scene where does it all come from it doesn't just come from studies the history of life Sweden have the data until 1850 Martin Robert makes the excellent argument that if you've got to look back in the graphic cursors for this swap again not that I mind I can show but it's all that a lot of it comes from history biblical illustration the key work here is this magnificent for volume tax of shots the great Swiss serve onto the early 18th century called physica Sakura in which he basically in 750 full-page plates in five volumes done by a team of eighteen engravers it's the cosmos of his days you have to see it though it's that kind of project shows everything in the Bible that has natural history implications and it's the same iconography so it's the Opus you see the title on the bottom left the Opus pre-made da the work of the first day chaos wonderful baroque frames were done by one let one engraver who did just the frames of the 750 diagrams and then the creation of invertebrate life on the fifth day opus Quincy da thrown up on the land following that convention and then the creation of insects later that day in sequence the creation of fishes you see it goes up the standard sequence the creation of birds the creation of beasts the creation of humans with a wonderful Latin pond Omo ex-mo man from the earth and serpent said look two are the serpent attempts even Adam in the garden and FICO's Foley under the thathe Stegman they take a fig leaf to cover their nudity around the border we have the taxonomy of the genus ficus the figs the scientific content and oh that's it would turn that off so so much for that second part of the talk very no more than 15 minutes guaranteed probably less we as Pythagoras said are so much the measure of all things so that even the most abstract and universal issues of science and philosophy are often back read from desires to assert our primacy so that many of the great timeless abstractions really arise in the contingent history of us there is this dichotomy I talk about in the sciences as popularly understood I don't mean it's this simple in more decent analyses whereas this one kind of science which represents the stereotype we all learned sizes experimental predictive quantitative you bring and simplify into the internal laboratory you make predictive statements you find out the laws of nature this is good or hard science and then however there are those Sciences which are in a sense relegated to explaining those uniquenesses that can occur but once and all the detailed glory of history much of cosmology evolution geology paleontology and these are the lesser of the soft science it's a hierarchy that goes from out of mankind physics at top to Squishy subjects like psychology at the bottom I feel some affinity there because paleontology was pretty squishy too at Harvard we actually set up our science curriculum in the general education program the core curriculum in a somewhat in inventory way as we didn't just make the standard division into natural and physical sciences or physical and social sciences we actually recognized these two styles of the a historical predictive and the historical explanatory but we call them a and B and guess which one was a well as a member and proud of it of one of the B Sciences of paleontology I've tried to institute original with something of a campaign to get people to recognize the virtues the excitement's the power the equal explanatory role of the sciences of contingency that is the sciences that are not trying to explain things by subtraction from nature's laws but by the actual nature of the antecedent states that happened to occur but could have unfolded in a totally different sequence which little would have led to an entirely different outcome very different mode of explanation when you have enough evidence about antecedent States just as powerful just as good the point I want to make and this is a quick summary of the arguments in my book wonderful life is that humans that we have tried to see our origin under the predictive models of the a Sciences hence all this iconography as something that was if not bound to occur in exactly this form is at least expectable and understandable under nature's laws of evolution is complexification that it is not that at all but we are products of a contingent history makes sense is explainable but rewind the tape of life to the early history of multicellular forms you get a whole different set of solutions every time most of which equally explainable equally powerful do not include the origin of any self-conscious creature to have conferences like this now the interesting point is this will be the last sequence of slides is that we are quite comfortable with contingent to sexplanations for human history we know they apply this is the angle of Gettysburg towards which robert e lee directed towards those trees his men in Pickett's Charge this is the Cyclorama crane ting of Pickett's Charge of Gettysburg now in a sense the power of Gettysburg for us is that we know the war could have gone the other way it was not for ordained by the strength of human Union armies that our side up here was gonna win July 4th 1863 was a very crucial time though Vicksburg fell the Grands on the same day draft riots were about to break out in this fast city in my fair city of Boston the 54th regiment of black volunteers was being armed not for any abstract sense of racial justice but for a desperate need for men her body's northern victory was not assured had it been his McPherson argues a war of conquest the South could not have conquered the north but it wasn't as far as the south was concerned it was hold on long enough to induce sufficient war weariness to get the north to recognize boundaries and it almost happened McPherson argues powerfully that least up until the re-election of Lincoln in 1864 it could easily have gone the other way and we have that sense we know why the South lost the whole set of air is not taking the high ground at the beginning Chamberlain in the 18th Maine held a Little Round Top and Lee thought the northern battery had gone silent because they'd knocked it out but it hadn't so he knew he made a mistake the minute he heard the cannon firing on the men and we know why it happened but the explanations are in the laws of nature their particulars of history the battle could have gone the away and all of American history might have been different we are comfortable with that mode of explanation for human history we should be just as comfortable for life's history and for the origin of us as human beings you see but unfortunately the other viewpoint is encoded into our iconography we see the history of life as the cone of increasing diversity from a common point of origin which is a correct view on evolutionary theory things move up and out they're very narrow at the base so the base you can just have a few lineages predictably preparatory to the ones that must come later op is only supposed to mean geologically younger but it's so easy to conflate with higher on the ladder of being and so things move up and out towards necessary progress in diversification these are Stan that was a step army that was a standard textbook picture this is the first grade tree of life and Steckle 1866 let me show you why it is a biased iconography in case you never recognized it problem is that you're forced to put on the top where there's most space the group that you think is maximally advanced but what if that group is not very diverse as in this case HECO has a conventional view that mammals are most advanced folks there are only 4,000 species of mammals that's not very many there are a million described species of insects heckle spreads mammals across the entire top of the tree which goes from vial fishing hoofed iya whales and undulates on the left who people in the middle through may the Moi's of route tierra bats and carnivores but all of insects all of those million species are on one little branch the room we had while we're down there's a logical status that promotes the predictable list familiar to view that's why the replacement by another iconography is so vital I suggested this alternate iconography and wonderful life at the bottom in which you still have a common point of ancestry but then a maximal spread of lineages that you could say that and then only a few of the initial possibilities survive though those few may be enormous ly successful as you end up with more species than you ever had but restricted to a few groups now that's subject to a conventional predictable list reading native there was a grand struggle for cause during this early period and the good guys won but it's also subject as the conventional iconography is not through a radically different contingent based explanation in which all you get is a grant as a lottery ticket and the greatest lottery ever held on the history of this planet and that survivors are effectively those who were fortunate and I think the evidence of the Burgess Shale the great soft-bodied fauna of the early days of life's history supports that point of view I don't have time to give you the rationale but only to show you some of the organisms in this one fauna from the early history of multicellular life 530 million years ago in Western Canada we have look author pods of 80% of animal species there are three major groups of author pods today insect group spider scorpion group and the marine group crustaceans lobster shrimp barnacles etc in the Burgess Shale there there are 12 to 20 additional author fought groups that didn't make it including Marella here including this most complex of all Cambrian author Bosley and colio which left no descendants and then you get a whole series of creatures which is so bizarre we don't know how to classify them this is opa binya with five eyes and this vacuum cleaner like nozzle which folds around to bring food to a central mouth this is next to Karis looks like a chordate behind in an author pod up front is though danta Griffis a flat gelatinous an you lated creature with a row of soft tentacles around a central mouth this is Dyna miss kiss a rooted creature and this the greatest of all is anomalocaris up to 2 meters long the largest of Cambrian organisms a pair of feeding appendages that look like arthropod bodies but nothing else about the creature spells arthropod up front bringing food around to a lower mouth which works on the camera constriction rather than they hid in the hinged jaw principle uniquely among animals fantastic set of alternate possibilities and we don't know why they didn't make it I recognize the limits of negative evidence but we have no argument that the ones who made it made it because in the conventional sense of predictable superiority in the burgess shale was this very insignificant creature named pacaya as i like to say the one name you might want to remember Pik AI a because pacaya is the first cordate the first member of our phylum I don't say it's the only cordate then in the world I don't say it's our direct ancestor but boy if you'd gone back 530 million years I don't think you would have dubbed the chordates as a group with enormous probability for success if like most groups in this lottery they had died all of vertebrate history's wiped out of the fossil record all of us from droughts to hippopotamuses to all of us the theme of contingency is fractal it's not only at this grandest lean turn that all that's it for the slides it's not only at this grandest level it works down every sequence of scales the asteroid wipes out the dinosaurs 65 million isn't hit it's still a world of dinosaurs and mammals are still little creatures in the interstices of their world why not that's what had been like for a hundred million years before it's only been 65 million years since so why do we do this old back reading I did I'm really coming to ya now it's a view from fear I think primarily we're so afraid that maybe we are insignificant that we have to spend doctors I said the greatest document by the way is Psalm eights not Genesis 1 Psalm 8 the expression of fear first of all when I consider thy heavens the work of thy fingers the moon and the stars which thou has two attained what is man that thou art mindful of him could we meet anything in the face of the heavens the answer but thou has made him a little lower than the Angels and has crowned him with glory and honour thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands thou has put all things under his feet all sheep and oxen yay and the beasts of the field the fowl of the air and the fish of the sea and whatsoever passive through the paths of the sea Oh Lord our Lord how excellent is thy name in all the earth now contrast that with Darwin's answer to the same question what is man a great letter to ASA gray in 1860 where gray writes and says look darlin I can accept the principle of natural section makes sense but I cannot avoid the conclusion there must be some deep god-given meaning to the totality Darwin writes back you may be right science can't adjudicate big issues like that anyway but he says even if that cell says with the details whether good or bad this is a quote being left to the workings out of what we may call chance by which he does not mean chance randomness technical sense he means contingency as I use the term because that's clear from the rest of the argument he then goes on like a brilliant set of points to try and lead gray towards the position that where an accident or a contingent prior to history says look right if a man is caught in a thunderstorm on top of a mountain is hit by lightning and dies he died for cause there was a reason based in the physics of lightning but no one would say that it was meant to be in some cosmic sense it was an accident that he was there that's for the death of an of an individual out of the birth of an individual a child is born with terrible mental retardation there was undoubtedly some reason that we do not yet know in the mechanics of development no one if God be just who would claim that this was meant to be it happened it was an accident that's individual life and death how about the death of a species death of a species is accident species become extinct well the death of a species is an accident then the birth of a species is an accident too and humans are species like anything else so from the death of a man by lightning on a mountain which is clearly contingency thawing is subtly led gray towards an accept of humans as one of the contingent d-does everybody said with the details whether good or bad being left to the workings out of what we may call chance the realm of details is enormous and it includes the birth of us I suggest to you it also includes most of these grand questions of philosophy politics etc so I want to end with my favorite little sonnet from frost one I've used before if I can find it but it's just a brilliant sonnet on the issue of how can we deal with the issue that human life or the design of nature might be designed because everything there are so many horrible things is it's like Gray's point there's so many horrible things out there in nature if we have to say they're a result of design how can we honor anything for us answer is they're not their details they're in the realm of contingency or at least he suggested what he talks about he's taking a walk and he notices a scene which is quite remarkable that is there's a heel all of flour which is usually blue but this one's right that's rare and honored he sees the wings of a moth that's been eaten and they're white that's been eaten by a white spider there aren't many white spiders and the spider is still there so you have these three white objects with different geometries the starbursts of the flower the solidity of the spider the two-dimensional structure of the moth wings they must have some meaning three white things of different geometries altogether and yet if it has meaning what meaning could it be the moth has been eaten it's a horrible scene so he writes I found a dimpled spider fat and white on a white heel all holding up a moth like a white piece of rigid satin cloth assorted characters of death and blight mixed ready to begin the morning right like the ingredients of a witch's broth a snowdrop spider a flower like a froth and dead wings carried like a paper kite what had the fat flower to do with being white the wayside blue an innocent heel all what brought the Kindred's spider to that height then steered the white moth thither in the night what but design of darkness to appalled design govern in a thing so small you see the point is that Homo sapiens that goes like the Darwin on gray is also a thing so small in a vast universe a wildly improbable evolutionary event well within the realm of contingency make of such a conclusion what you will some find the prospect depressing I've always regarded it as exhilarating and a source of both freedom and consequent moral responsibility also towards animals thank you

9 thoughts on “1995 | In the Company of Animals conference, Keynote Address by Stephen Jay Gould | The New School

  1. I love all the pens lol just in case he needs to write an essay on stage?? 😉

  2. It's interesting that the comments section of Creationist videos are a war-zone of evo-crevo squabbling. Whereas, Evolutionary videos (like this one) are simply silent homogeneity. They do not do their homework. They only watch their own point of view. They are not here.

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