Gould Festschrift

Skeptic (Altadena, CA), Summer 2000 | Go to article overview

Gould Festschrift


FESTSCHRIFT: THE SKEPTICS SOCIETY HONORS STEPHEN JAY GOULD

America's "Evolutionist Laureate' Stephen Jay Gould, was the honoree at Caltech's Beckman Auditorium on Saturday, October 7, as the Skeptics Society honored his 26 years and 300 consecutive essays in Natural History magazine. Gould's column, which comes to an end December 2000 (the other millennium ending, as Gould has so well noted), was entitled "This View of Life," taken from the final paragraph of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

A childhood friend of Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Milner is Senior Editor of Natural History magazine where he also edits Gould's essays and researches photos and illustrations for these and other articles. He is the author of the oft-cited The Encyclopedia of Evolution, and is famed as a light opera performer and lyricist. He has written wonderfully creative musical tributes to Darwin and Gould.

FESTSCHRIFT SPEAKERS

DR. STEPHEN JAY GOULD

Dr. Gould is one of the best known and most decorated scientists of our age. After an A.B. from Antioch College and a Ph.D. from Columbia, Gould began his teaching career at Harvard. He won the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Fellowship, was named "Scientist of the Year" by Discover magazine for the theory of punctuated equilibrium, was named Humanist Laureate by the Academy of Humanism, was awarded 41 honorary degrees, was voted a member of the National Academy of Science, and most recently served a term as President of the AAAS. He has written 22 books (receiving a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Phi Beta Kappa Book Award) and over 900 articles and essays. Given Gould's admiration for Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, perhaps Gould's most significant accomplishment is writing 300 consecutive monthly essays in Natural History magazine. He retires from his essay streak just in time to celebrate the second (and actual) end of the millennium which, according to Gould in his Questioning the Millenn ium, is a precisely arbitrary date. Our congratulations to Gould on his remarkable and DiMagical feat.

JAMES "THE AMAZING" RANDI

Winner of the 1975 Nobel Prize for his work in virology and the sixth president of the California Institute of Technology, Dr. Baltimore was co-chair of the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine's committee on a National Strategy for AIDS. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London, and most recently received the Presidential Medal of Science from President Clinton. Dr. Baltimore welcomed the audience to Caltech, and congratulated Gould for his remarkable accomplishment, noting the important role he played in explaining science to the public.

"The Amazing" Randi is arguably the world's foremost spokesman against pseudo-science and the paranormal. Through tens of thousands of media appearances, lectures, articles, essays, and books, including Flim Flam!, The Mask of Nostradamus, and The Faith Healers, he almost single-handedly generated the skeptical movement Sharing Gould's love of Gilbert and Sullivan, Randi began by having him hum a few operatic bars, then discussed how scientists like Gould "make the laws," but that skeptics like Randi himself "are the police that enforce the laws" through their tireless efforts of debunking nonsense. Randi finished with a flourish, wowing the audience with a spectacular magic trick he created that is so clever that it baffles even professionals.

DR. DAVID BALTIMORE

DR. LOUIS FRIEDMAN

Dr. Friedman is the founder, along with the late Carl Sagan, of the 100,000-strong Planetary Society, the world's largest space-interest organization. …

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