Sex, Drugs, Disasters, and the Extinction of Dinosaurs by Stephen Jay Gould

Sex, Drugs, Disasters, and the Extinction of Dinosaurs by Stephen Jay Gould

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“Sex, Drugs, Disasters, and the Extinction of Dinosaurs” is written by Stephen Jay Gould, professor of geology and zoology at Harvard. This essay is one of more than a hundred articles on evolution, zoology, and paleontology published by Gould in national magazines and journals. It tells about scientific proposals for the extinction of dinosaurs – a confusing but an exciting problem that humanity tries to solve. By analyzing and describing each of the claims for the reptiles’ demise – sex, drugs, and disasters – Gould differentiates bad science from good science and explains what makes some theories silly speculations, while the other, a testable hypothesis.
Any hypothesis, Gould says, begins with the collection of facts. In this early stage of a theory development bad science leads nowhere, since it contains either little or contradicting evidence. On the other hand, Gould suggests, testable proposals are accepted temporarily, furthermore, new collected facts confirm a hypothesis. That is how good science works. It is self-correcting and self-developing with the flow of time: new information improves a good theory and makes it more precise. Finally, good hypotheses create logical relations to other subjects and contribute to their expansion.
The disaster theory, Gould claims, is an example of good science. It has testable evidence and has an impact on studies in other fields of science, it develops further and explains why the extinction of dinosaurs occurred simultaneously with other events. This theory suggests that a large comet hit the Earth sixty five million years ago, causing the cloud of dust to rise into the sky and to block sunlight. As a result, world temperatures went down significantly, the ice age bega...


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...r optimum temperatures, hot climate caused the dinosaurs to heat up beyond their optimum. However, the heat didn’t kill them, but sterilized the males, because their testes functioned at certain temperatures. Gould argues that this theory is untestable, and the experiments with the influence of extreme temperatures on modern alligators do not necessarily explain the extinction of dinosaurs. Furthermore, many questions are not answered because of the absence of evidence. Gould states that this theory is another example of bad science.
Sex, drugs, and disasters are both popular topics that grab public attention and scientific theories of the extinction of dinosaurs. While sex and drug hypotheses represent silly speculations, the disaster claim is good science: it provides testable evidence, has an impact on other scientific fields, and generates continuous research.

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