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…show more content…
Large amounts of iridium – a chemical element that is not a part of the Earth’s crust composition – were originally found in rocks of Europe and United States, and have been found everywhere ever since. Iridium, common in meteorites, is a testable evidence of the disaster hypothesis. Gould continues that the Cretaceous debacle, which is one of five episodes of mass dying, occurred at the same time as the large comet might have smashed into the Earth. The author believes this is not merely a coincidence, rather, it is a proof of the cause-effect relationship. The demise of a wide range of habitats along with the extinction of dinosaurs gives an inestimable advantage to the disaster theory over other claims, the author adds. The comet struck the Earth, and habitats, from terrestrial to marine, died with geological suddenness. Finally, this hypothesis has had an impact on the study of an atomic war and its consequences. A nuclear war, Gould says, may cause a huge drop in temperatures and result in the extinction of humanity. Testable evidence, study, development, contribution – all this makes good science. The drug theory is a useless speculation and an example of bad science. Dinosaurs, it says, either couldn’t taste the bitterness of plants that contained psychoactive substances or had livers ineffective to detoxify psychedelic agents. The author of the theory suggested that the overdose had been a factor of the dinosaurs’ extinction.

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