It's a 30 minute presentation by Stephen J. Gould on the fossil record. The event took place in February 2001, just a year before he died. You should watch it for many reasons—too many to mention them all here but here are some of the most important ones.
Genie Scott says in the introduction ...
[Francisco] Ayala and Gould were nice complements for the first is an ardent Darwinian and the second has led the attack on conventional Darwinism. By putting the two together, the ACLU neatly diffused a major Creationist misrepresentation; namely, the differences between evolutionists over mechanisms imply that evolution itself is in doubt. Both men stood strongly for one of the strongest, greatest, of all ideas.This is remarkable because the current crop of creationists—Intelligent Design Creationism—has adopted pretty much the same stance as the Young Earth Creationists did back in 1980.1 They still think that by highlighting disagreement among evolutionary biologists they can discredit evolution.2
Many of you don't like Gould and this video will confirm all of your prejudices. He's all over the map with references to history, books, philosophy, evolutionary theory, American society etc. etc. (His very first sentences refer to "fiat lux." Do you get it?) That's what "polymaths" do and it's frustrating for a lot of people who don't like to think in that way. I understand.
Gould's intended audience is smart people. He has a low tolerance for fools. ID proponents shouldn't bother to watch the video. It's not for you.
Gould is also very fond of anecdotes and he uses them effectively to support his main point. However, this often makes it difficult to follow his argument unless you pay close attention. It's true that the anecdotes often get in the way of clarity.
And if you think that Gould is arrogant, you are correct. He is. Some people are justified in being a little bit arrogant.
Gould explains the three meanings of "transitional" when talking about the fossil record. This is another one of his strengths. In contrast with other evolutionary biologists (e.g. Richard Dawkins) Gould emphasizes how complex and difficult it is to understand evolution. He then tries to explain this complexity to a general (intelligent) audience and I think he does a pretty good job. However, many evolution supporters don't want to admit that the subject is hard because they, themselves, prefer the simple Dawkins' version that doesn't make your brain hurt. ID proponents, on the other hand, are often incapable of understanding complexity.3
Gould points out that Judge Overton really had no choice. He had to decide against the Arkansas Board of Education because the legal issue was so clear. Nevertheless, the trial was important, according to Gould. But he cautions his audience that the real issue is not keeping religion out of the schools by winning court cases. The real issue is keeping evolution in the schools and America isn't winning that fight. Listen to the last two minutes of his presentation.
I don't think things have changed very much.
Gould is one of my heros.4 I still miss him.
1. (sarcasm) This is, of course, just an amazing coincidence since Intelligent Design Creationism is a "scientific theory" that has nothing to do with the religious foundations of Young Earth Creationism. (/sarcasm)
2. If this were a viable strategy then Intelligent Design Creationism could not exist because there are barely two ID proponents who agree completely on what their movement stands for.
3. Double entendre intended.
4. Note to creationists: this does not mean I agree with everything he said. Don't bother trying to tie me to every Gould quotation you can dredge up.