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May 9, 2017

Not. My. Peers. (Part Two)

Does Competency in Theoretical Biology Require Superior Intelligence?

If one were to ask members of the public whether or not a particular profession demanded high intelligence most would answer "Yes" to "Evolutionary Biology." Ask Americans to name a fellow countryman, living or dead, who they associate with "evolution" and many would name Stephen Jay Gould. Many of his admirers would even claim he had been a "great" theorist. 

Now consider what Gould wrote in the March 29, 1984 issue of The New York Review of Books: "I am hopeless at deductive sequencing...I never scored particularly well on so-called objective tests of intelligence because they stress logical reasoning ..."  Having scored in the ninety-ninth percentile on more than one of those tests, I do not consider persons with intellectual inadequacies similar to Gould's to be my peers.  

Perhaps Gould was an exception, a masterful self-promoter and a skillful writer who managed to hide his "hopeless" inability to engage in logical thinking. Well, in light of my first encounter with him and the weird popularity of his co-written paper inspired by Gothic architecture, I suspect that the field is over-populated with his intellectual equals. His peers. Not mine.

Not. My. Peers. (Part One)

peer (noun)

"  ... a person who is equal to another in abilities ... "

As the author of a paper submitted to a journal I expected that anyone asked by editors to evaluate it would at least be my intellectual equal. Unfortunately, experience with two biology journals convinced me that, judged solely by their written comments, the evaluators of my submission were not my peers. They were my intellectual inferiors.