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by Stephen Jay Gould

eBook Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin download ISBN: 0674061616
Author: Stephen Jay Gould
Publisher: Belknap Press; Reprint edition (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
Pages: 256
ePub: 1648 kb
Fb2: 1151 kb
Rating: 4.1
Other formats: lit txt mobi mbr
Category: Math Sciences
Subcategory: Biological Sciences

Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin is a 1996 book by evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould.

Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin is a 1996 book by evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould. It was released in the United Kingdom as Life's Grandeur, with the same subtitle and with an additional eight-page introduction entitled "A Baseball Primer for British Readers". Full House aims to explain to the general reader how misconceptions about statistics can lead people to misunderstand the role variation plays in driving trends in complex systems.

Stephen Jay Gould was an author of popular science addressing topics in evolution. His specific credentials included his status as a professor of zoology and geology and a specialty in invertebrate paleoclimatology. Despite those increasingly complex academic credentials he wrote very comfortable and deep essays and books.

Stephen Jay Gould is a superb science teacher, in full command of his subject and possessed of a rhetorical manner so delightfully . The subtitle of this book-The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin-epitomizes.

Stephen Jay Gould is a superb science teacher, in full command of his subject and possessed of a rhetorical manner so delightfully ebullient it’s irresistible. From baseball to biology, this book covers a lot of territory. Full House illuminates so many areas and offers such ample evidence that it has the feel of the definitive about i. -Atlanta Journal. the two approaches, and the importance of owning Darwin’s solution. Full House is a companion volume of sorts to my earlier book Wonderful Life (1989). His topics in Full House are several particular aspects of evolution.

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To avoid erroneous conclusions about a biological system –be it baseball, life on earth, or cancer-you must examine the total variation within a system, the full house of all cases, and not merely one narrow aspect of it. Gould challenges two widely accepted claims.

Stephen Jay Gould is a superb science teacher, in full command of his subject and possessed of a rhetorical manner so delightfully ebullient it’s . The subtitle of this book-The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin-ep. itomizes the two approaches, and the importance of owning Darwin’s solution.

In Full House, Gould shows why a more accurate way of understanding .

In Full House, Gould shows why a more accurate way of understanding our world (and the history of life) is to look at a given subject within its own context, to see it as a part of a spectrum of variation rather than as an isolated "thing" and then to reconceptualize trends as expansion or contraction of this "full house" of variation, and not as the progress or degeneration of an average value, or single thing. Few, that is, except Stephen Jay Gould who, in his new book Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin, proves that all of these intuitive truths are, in fact, wrong.

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Gould shows why a more accurate way of understanding our world is to look at a given subject within its own context, to see it as a part of a spectrum of variation and then to reconceptualize trends as expansion or contraction of this “full house” of variation, and not as the progress or degeneration of an average value, or single thing.
Comments: (7)
Oveley
Stephen Jay Gould was an author of popular science addressing topics in evolution. His specific credentials included his status as a professor of zoology and geology and a specialty in invertebrate paleoclimatology. Despite those increasingly complex academic credentials he wrote very comfortable and deep essays and books. His topics in Full House are several particular aspects of evolution. Fortunately he was writing in a time before this evolution had become as militarized as it appears to be today and despite reviewer comments otherwise he had religious values and as such tended to respect others with religious values. His books always include humor and self-deprecation.

Drawing examples from several of his favorite topics including baseball, Gould addresses the popular misconception that evolution necessarily moves in any direction or necessarily favors either the process that resulted in the human being or any singularly upward trend.

By making the argument that bacteria can rightfully claim to be the dominant life form across the history of Earth as a living planet Gould deliberately disorients those readers who had been taught that humans are dominant .

On a more abstract level he demonstrates a scientific model known as the drunkard's walk. This is a classic thought problem wherein it is shown that if you have an absolute minimum value like zero that all variation must exist at some higher number. The analogy is to a drunken person stumbling out of a bar where if there is a wall to the left of his intended path and therefore his stumbling root must favor the other direction.

The third leg of his argument allows him to use sports mostly baseball to demonstrate not only can there be a right wall where in the variations effectively exist between two values one absolute and the other less easily defined but relatively easy to demonstrate. He has his own argument for why the .4000 hitter has disappeared from professional baseball. There is no absolute reason why this number has become unobtainable but the evidence would suggest that some combination of factors effectively created a right-hand wall.

By combining arguments that are usually easy for a scientifically oriented reader to follow Stephen Gould's Full House walks the careful reader through a sequence of arguments that effectively address a number of problems in understanding the statistics of the evolutionary process.

This is a rereading by me of this particular book. As much as science is moved forward in the 20 years since publication of I believe this content is sufficiently general to still be consistent with more recent finds. More than this I've always found it a pleasure to follow Gould as he helps me to answer questions about evolution and to enjoy myself with his friendly and personal writing style.
Manesenci
Gould bets his ‘full house’ against our biased view of natural evolution. Watch out because he is a damn good player. He builds his arguments in such a convincing way making deep thinking not just palatable but exciting and, more importantly, reusable. The whole thing starts revisiting basic statistics concepts using baseball numbers. To ended up with an elegant argument that natural selection doesn’t mean increase in complexity. Well, it may feel like a punch in the face since we have been living the age of bacteria for ~3.5 billion years. Yeap, forget dinos and humans; we are just at the right tail of a skewed distribution.
Adrietius
If you are a Gould fan, this book is a must read. He shatters the common perception that the processes of natural selection and evolution have an intrinsic bias leading to a unidirectional trajectory from simple to complex life forms. Although I am a graduate level scientist who was well-schooled in the theory of evolution, I have to admit that I too was under the belief that life always progressed from simple to complex forms. However, using simple examples understandable by laypersons (e.g., the disappearance of the .400 hitter in baseball), Gould demonstrates how statistical distributions distorted by right and left "walls" or limitations can lead to major misperceptions about trends and the directionality of change. Gould was a brilliant scientist and a gifted, engaging writer whose work can be enjoyed by all. In my humble opinion, this is one of his best works.
Yananoc
There are already several excellent reviews below describing the contents of this book. My purpose for writing is to report that I continue to use it very successfully with high school honor students, and can strongly recommend it as a supplement for honors classes.
Particularly useful are the statistical modeling examples...experiments the students love doing ('hands-on'), such as the drunkard's walk (random deviation from a left wall). Using a coin-flip, the students can repeat the experiment several times and record some excellent data, especially when the entire class is compiled. Then, of course, simulate the data with Excel.
There are several lucid examples which are excellent for class discussion...although the baseball stats get a bit long for the typical HS student.
In 2000, I took a small group of students to the AAAS meeting in Washington DC to meet with SJ after we'd studied his book thoroughly in class. He met with us several times, and it seemed as though we already knew him. He was gracious and engaging, and the students were inspired.
The prose in this book is intimate, honest, and illuminating.
I miss this beautiful man.