Stephen Jay Gould (1941–2002), an evolutionary biologist, paleontologist, and one of the most widely read popular science writers of his generation, suggests that perhaps variety—not complexity—is our true measure of excellence. To illustrate his theme, he discusses seemingly disparate topics such as a drunkard’s walk, the absence of modern Mozarts, the evolution of the horse, the continuing dominance of bacterial life on the planet, and more.
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