Quotes from The Mismeasure of Man

Stephen Jay Gould ·  448 pages

Rating: (6.9K votes)

“We pass through this world but once. Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within.”
― Stephen Jay Gould, quote from The Mismeasure of Man

“Errors of reductionism and biodeterminism take over in such silly statements as “Intelligence is 60 percent genetic and 40 percent environmental.” A 60 percent (or whatever) “heritability” for intelligence means no such thing. We shall not get this issue straight until we realize that the “interactionism” we all accept does not permit such statements as “Trait x is 29 percent environmental and 71 percent genetic.” When causative factors (more than two, by the way) interact so complexly, and throughout growth, to produce an intricate adult being, we cannot, in principle, parse that being’s behavior into quantitative percentages of remote root causes. The adult being is an emergent entity who must be understood at his own level and in his own totality. The truly salient issues are malleability and flexibility, not fallacious parsing by percentages. A trait may be 90 percent heritable, yet entirely malleable.”
― Stephen Jay Gould, quote from The Mismeasure of Man

“science must be understood as a social phenomenon, a gutsy, human enterprise, not the work of robots programed to collect pure information.”
― Stephen Jay Gould, quote from The Mismeasure of Man

“Duke est desipere in loco [it is pleasant to act foolishly from time to time—a line from Horace].”
― Stephen Jay Gould, quote from The Mismeasure of Man

“The Mismeasure of Man treats one particular form of quantified claim about the ranking of human groups: the argument that intelligence can be meaningfully abstracted as a single number capable of ranking all people on a linear scale of intrinsic and unalterable mental worth. Fortunately—and I made my decision on purpose—this limited subject embodies the deepest (and most common) philosophical error, with the most fundamental and far-ranging social impact, for the entire troubling subject of nature and nurture, or the genetic contribution to human social organization.”
― Stephen Jay Gould, quote from The Mismeasure of Man

“self-deception as the preliminary to public deception is almost automatic. —WALTER LIPPMANN,”
― Stephen Jay Gould, quote from The Mismeasure of Man

About the author

Stephen Jay Gould
Born place: in New York City, New York, The United States
Born date September 10, 1941
See more on GoodReads

Popular quotes

“And I suppose they have friends in other places, and that I'm only seeing a tiny sliver of their lives, but it seems to me if they're moving in the same direction, why not move in the same direction together? I'm not talking about undying love, but I wish they would at least become friends. That wouldn't be too hard.”
― Sandy Hall, quote from A Little Something Different

“And then he draws the lamb in one smooth strong stroke, and slaps and rakes its wet mosslike fur to make it breathe, feels the power of its fast heartbeat in the chicken-bone cage of its ribs, still wet in his hands from the grease of birth, all these things of life, from jissom to mucus slavered between thighs to the wet sack of birth and glistening oiled newborn thing—all of these things of life awatered.”
― Cynan Jones, quote from The Dig

“Sex appeal isn't a number on a scale, it's an attitude, a state of mind. Any woman can be sexy.”
― Alex Lux, quote from Call Me Cat

“And saying that you don’t have enough time to be silent on a regular basis is a lot like saying you are too busy driving to stop for gas — eventually it will catch up with you.”
― Robin S. Sharma, quote from Who Will Cry When You Die?

“Philosophers have said before that one of the fundamental requisites of science is that whenever you set up the same conditions, the same thing must happen. This is simply not true, it is not a fundamental condition of science.”
― Richard Feynman, quote from The Feynman Lectures on Physics Vol 1

Interesting books

The Madman’s Daughter
The Madman’s Daughte...
by Megan Shepherd
by Karin Slaughter
Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History
Isaac's Storm: A Man...
by Erik Larson
The Cellist of Sarajevo
The Cellist of Saraj...
by Steven Galloway
by Skyla Madi
Ever After
Ever After
by Kim Harrison

About BookQuoters

BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.

We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.

Founded in 2018, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.