- Term Papers and Free Essays

Sex, Drugs, Disasters and the Extinction of Dinosaurs – Stephen Jay Gould and on Alchemy – Lewis Thomas

Essay by   •  January 19, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  1,784 Words (8 Pages)  •  701 Views

Essay Preview: Sex, Drugs, Disasters and the Extinction of Dinosaurs – Stephen Jay Gould and on Alchemy – Lewis Thomas

Report this essay
Page 1 of 8

Nguyen Minh Quan

Instructor Steven Dunham


15th October 2017

Science and Its Definitions

“Sex, Drugs, Disasters and the Extinction of Dinosaurs” – Stephen Jay Gould

and “On Alchemy” – Lewis Thomas

It is true to say that Science has changed the world and human history since ancient periods. So, what is Science? In the modern life like today, it is very disappointed to aware that most people do not have a clear definition of science. For them, Science is something very ambiguous, some people think that it can be something so very scientific and subliminal that the normal human could not understand correctly or even do not need to know whether the science conclusions that scientists suggest are real or not, they just easily accept and use it as the natural facts. If this situation continues to happen, one day in the future, the world will stop developing and stagnant. The concept of “real science” will disappear completely. In order to answer the question posed at the beginning, there are many writers and scientists who have researched and written articles about this. However, among them, “On Alchemy” by Lewis Thomas and “Sex, Drugs, Disaster and the Extinction of Dinosaurs” by Stephen Jay Gould are the most outstanding articles which give the closest answer of this question. Although both articles have same similar viewpoints and ideas in showing a clear definition of science and giving opinions to expand, they are presented in different ways to express authors’ explanations. This essay will show both similarities and differences of both articles and also point out their strengths and weaknesses for the reader to understand more about these articles. In my opinion, it appears that the definition of science understandably is not just a product or a machine, but it is the extensive process of research, renovations and developments.

Compare and Contrast

To begin with, although both articles aim to help the reader get a better view of science, each author represents them in a peculiar way to show their ideas. Because both authors are the well-known scientific writers: zoologist Gould and doctor Thomas, hence, of course, they have a greater and more exact perspective of science. In “On Alchemy”, Thomas states that science is to explore about human behaviors, to discover that the world make sense, involve to social activities, while in the first line, Gould states that “Science, in its most fundamental definition, is a fruitful mode of inquiry, not a list of enticing conclusions. The conclusions are the consequences, not the essence” (Gould, 449). One is a social view, the other focuses on the process of discovery. Despite it is only a small aspect, both exploit deeply in different convincing ways and make the reader have a deep insight about the science world. Moreover, it is fascinating that both articles are organized and easy to read. If in “What is Science?”, Orwell is loyal to the PIE writing tradition, these articles bring to us two very novel creative writing styles. “On Alchemy” is written in the form of IPE. Thomas gives the information first then inserts the main point in the middle paragraph and lastly he explains his point so easy that the reader can understand what he was writing. In contrast, Gould expresses his ideas in “Sex, Drugs, Disaster and the Extinction of Dinosaurs” in a specific style in a cycle: Questions -> Hypothesis -> Testable -> Results -> Conclusions and repeats again. Compared to the “What is Science?”, both articles have better explanations and give more understandable definitions as well as authors’ opinions to attract the viewer perfectly. In Orwell’s article, he uses one historical event to support his idea. On the other hand, Thomas uses both a clear historical figure and a historical event to illuminate his points (Thomas, 35). Gould proves his definition by explaining a puzzle – the extinction of dinosaurs by giving three hypothesizes, the detail of each research and lastly, proving there is only one real science and the rest are uncertain speculations (Gould, 449). In my viewpoint, though Gould’s article is longer and make the reader feel a little tiring to read, I am more interested in it than “On Alchemy” because of its interesting scientific details. Both papers all have an argument and claim to attract the reader to follow and pose questions. They all are given the authors’ opinions to expand their theories and encourage the reader to think deeply. Last but not least, in “On Alchemy”, it shows the reader the comparison between hard science and social science and similarly, in “Sex, Drugs, Disaster and the Extinction of Dinosaurs”, it compares the real science and speculations. However, in short, both writers aim to show the reader what the real science is and their views of science. The next section will discuss the both articles’ strengths and weaknesses:


Firstly, we will consider the strong points of Gould’s article. According to British Science Council, “Science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence”. It is clearly seen that Gould agrees with this concept and shows us some strong evidence to prove his definition by giving detail of three researches including Sex, Drugs and Disaster to illustrate the differences between real science and speculations (Gould, 449). He concludes the good science is fruitful, can “generate tests, provides us with things to do, and expand outward” (455). He explains who developed each of these hypothesizes and interpreted in depth the reason behind them. It makes the article more interesting and help the reader understand better about science. Moreover, the title of this article is also a highlight because it grabs the attention of the reader who do not know much about Dinosaurs. It leaves in people mind that they need to think deeper into meaning of problems and let them expand their horizons to imagine beyond what they thought it was possible. On the other hand, with “On Alchemy”, there are two good instances to show how science affects to our society. Initially, Thomas mentions to the Third – century Roman Emperor Dioletians who ruined all of manuscript and science documents because of anxieties about science effects (Thomas, 35). In addition, a physician named Paracelsus grasped the method of combining the traditional medicine with therapeutic use of all kinds of metals. He became famous for curing the diseases of many patients (35). Through these examples, we can understand more how important science is. Furthermore, in the last two paragraphs, there are a reference about the future and a lesson for the young generations. Thomas predicts that in the future the social scientists will change too much compared to the old chemists. The future that people should be taught a strong discipline of mankind science will come to existence. He asserts that keep the people working, challenge and motivate them more and then as a result, “something like knowledge, new to them, new and surprising to all the rest of us” (35).



Download as:   txt (10.8 Kb)   pdf (163.5 Kb)   docx (12.4 Kb)  
Continue for 7 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2018, 01). Sex, Drugs, Disasters and the Extinction of Dinosaurs – Stephen Jay Gould and on Alchemy – Lewis Thomas. Retrieved 01, 2018, from

"Sex, Drugs, Disasters and the Extinction of Dinosaurs – Stephen Jay Gould and on Alchemy – Lewis Thomas" 01 2018. 2018. 01 2018 <>.

"Sex, Drugs, Disasters and the Extinction of Dinosaurs – Stephen Jay Gould and on Alchemy – Lewis Thomas.", 01 2018. Web. 01 2018. <>.

"Sex, Drugs, Disasters and the Extinction of Dinosaurs – Stephen Jay Gould and on Alchemy – Lewis Thomas." 01, 2018. Accessed 01, 2018.