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Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin | [Stephen Jay Gould]

Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin

We have always identified trends as bad (loosening of the moral fiber) or good (better ethnic eating in urban areas). But Stephen Jay Gould argues that this mode of interpretation is a bias that needs correcting. In Full House, Gould presents the truth about progress, evolution, and excellence, as well as a different way to understand trends other than as entities moving in a definite direction.
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Publisher's Summary

We have always identified trends as bad (loosening of the moral fiber) or good (better ethnic eating in urban areas). But Stephen Jay Gould argues that this mode of interpretation is a bias that needs correcting. In Full House, Gould presents the truth about progress, evolution, and excellence, as well as a different way to understand trends other than as entities moving in a definite direction. Gould examines how the misinterpretation of data and statistics can result in bad science and social policy, while focusing on the nature of excellence from Plato to Darwin and the misconception that progress is inevitable.

Copyright ©1996 by Stephen Jay Gould; Copyright (P)1996 by Dove Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

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3.9 (62 )
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  •  
    Erik Palo Alto, CA, United States 04-28-04
    Erik Palo Alto, CA, United States 04-28-04 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of my favoritess"

    Stephen J Gould requires a little getting used to, but once you do you may really love his work.

    This collection is largely focused around a single point, understanding "excellence" from a system point of view. The various topics seem at first unrelated, but he weaves them into a net so tight that you will be completely convinced of his conclusion be the time he is finished.

    This book is not for everyone, but I would reccomend it strongly for those interested in Paleontology or evolution. I have listened to it three times now, since I fist downloaded it 2 years ago. Each time I enjoy it.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Deerfield, IL, United States 10-03-11
    Steve Deerfield, IL, United States 10-03-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Love the book, love the reading, bad recording"

    This is a classic ... I read it years ago and loved it again now that I listened to it. Efrem Zimbalist reads it very well, but the recording quality it pretty bad. Worth listening to because the book is so good, but annoying. Still highly recommended ... Gould's lessons in this book are life lessons that go beyond biology. His teaching about our reflexive beliefs about central tendencies helped me see, even more deeply, the fallacies of demographics in marketing, even though Gould never talked about this. And yes, I believe there will never be another .400 hitter in baseball after reading this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Len Frankfort, IL, United States 10-11-10
    Len Frankfort, IL, United States 10-11-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Very Poor Audio Quality"

    The book is well written, it's just a shame that the audio quality is so poor. It sounds as if the recording was transferred from a bad cassette recording.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Los Osos, CA, United States 09-07-10
    Richard Los Osos, CA, United States 09-07-10 Listener Since 2010
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    "Classic Gould"

    A landmark thinker, the late Stephen Jay Gould doesn't let us down in this excellent narrative exploration of probability. Who else could shed some light on statistical analysis and the development of human thinking about natural systems and still make it a fun read? He does so by sprinkling his well-structured chapters with biological and paleontological evidence, departing now and then into anecdote and well-timed chat to keep the pace interesting.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Huntsville, Albania 06-11-12
    John Huntsville, Albania 06-11-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent, especially for baseball fans"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Only if my friend were a baseball fan, or interested in statistics


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The meaning of excellence


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. M. Henry Munster, IN USA 03-07-09
    D. M. Henry Munster, IN USA 03-07-09 Member Since 2008
    ratings
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    137
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    "Not Typical"

    While I agree with the criticisms expressed above, I would urge readers to check out one of Gould's other books of essay collections from his column "This View of Life", which are more to the point. Many are not yet available with Audible--The Panda's Thumb, Ever Since Darwin, The Flamingo's Smile.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Hoppe Ontario, CA USA 06-03-05
    P. Hoppe Ontario, CA USA 06-03-05 Member Since 2004

    science nut

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    "Words, Words, and more Words"

    As a member of the Skeptic Society, I had heard much about the accomplishments of S. J. Gould. This was my first attempt to acquaint myself directly with his work, and it will be my last. While he may have been a fine scientist, his writing leaves much to be desired. He can't merely make a statement just once. Rather, he seems to need to repeat himself ad nauseum. The section devoted to the demise of the 0.400 hitter in baseball could have been expressed in about 15 minutes. He manages to consume something close to 60 minutes (maybe more) to make his point. Frankly, this book (which, to my irritation, was constantly described as an 'audiocassette') is simply boring. His goal in writing it was to disprove the idea that the process of evolution involves progression. He does not truly begin his discussion of his principle focus until more than half of the book is done. He spends an inordinate amount of time describing the appropriate statistical methods necessary to prove his assertion. Long-winded speakers have often been described as 'in love with their own voice'. I truly believe that Mr. Gould was enamoured with his word-processing program. Why else would he have filled his pages with so many unnecessary words?

    4 of 15 people found this review helpful
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