I admire Stephen Jay Gould for many reasons but his honesty ranks right up there near the top of the list.
Gould never pretended that individual scientists could be completely objective. He always said that they are no different than other people who have biases and prejudices. The special attributes of a scientist are that they recognize their biases and struggle to not let them influence their science.
He wrote a review of "Not in Our Genes: Biology, Idealogy and Human Nature" - a book by Richard Lewnotin, Steven Rose, and Leon J. Kamin, The review was later published in "An Urchin in the Storm."
In that review he acknowledged that he shared many of the opinions of the authors. He also wrote ...
... we scientists are no different from anyone else. We are passionate human beings, enmeshed in a web of personal and social circumstances. Our field does recognize canons of procedure designed to give nature the long shot of asserting herself in the face of such biases, but unless scientists understand their hopes and engage in vigorous self-scrutiny, they will not be able to sort out unacknowledged preference from nature's weak and imperfect message.The problem in scientific discourse is not the background of the scientist but the strength and logic of the scientific arguments. It may be useful to see *why* certain scientists adopt certain positions at a particular point in time but that explains the history of an idea and not its correctness.
Leftist scientists are more likely to combat biological determinism just as rightests tend to favor this quintessential justification of the statu quo as intractable biology; the correlations are not accidental. But let us not be so disrespectful of thought that we dismiss the logic of arguments as nothing but an inevitable reflection of biases—a confusion of context of discovery whith context of justification.Gould often laid his cards on the table when he confessed to his background. Whether it was baseball, a love of history, or a preference for New York, these were part of his personality and sometimes they crept into his science.
But honesty is not always the best policy. If you are honest enough to admit to prejudices and biases—even while you fight to suppress them—you aren't necessarily going to be admired. Especially if your opponents don't reveal their biases and pretend to be completely objective.
By drawing attention to the fact that scientists are no different than anyone else, Gould handed his enemies a weapon that could be used against him. How many of you have heard the charge that Gould is a Marxist, or (gasp!) a Liberal, and that's why he advocated Punctuated Equilibria? This is usually meant to discredit Gould because he revealed his background. Other scientists, who aren't so open, are given a free pass.
This is why you see a book about Gould and his politics but not a book about the politics of some of his opponents.