Re: Gould, Science, Mistakes and Fraud - Mistake by Bryant

Bryant (
16 Aug 1996 11:14:02 -0600

Joel said:

>Two things to note: First, Gould has enough integrity to admit when he
>is wrong.

Fair enough.

>Second, if not fraud, then there is some sloppiness in the paragraph above.
>Gould does not link the male nipple to the female orgasm. His point, in fact,
>at least in the version I read is that the reason why females have a
>clitoris is that males have a penis. Males have nipples, he argues, because
>females do.

The latter is obvious. The former is the point of his essay: female
orgasms [and the clitori which he sees as solely responsible for them] are
like male nipples (present due to developmental constraint).

You can drop the "if not fraud" crap, by the way. That's not going to
help our interactions procede smoothly. I'm not going to lie to make a

>The main point of Gould's article is to challenge functionalist interpretations
>of every feature on the body. Female orgasm may have a function (or, at least,
>a pleasureable side effect -- why does it have to be described as a function? --
>that's the point here).

You are right that he challenged a straw man adaptationism that "sees
function in all".

>As for evidence, while Gould does not do any scientific work himself, there is
>enough of a documentary basis for embryology to make some of the conclusions
>he has made above.

Gould does plenty of scientific work. I didn't mean to convey
otherwise. Only that in his attacks on adaptationism, he often simply
presents "the real answer" without testable predictions or evidence.
He derides adaptationists for supposedly doing that, in the very essay
we're discussing. It's hypocritical.