September 10 in freethought history…

stephenjaygouldSeptember 10, 1941 – Paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and historian of science Stephen Jay Gould is born in New York City. Got info? Suggest a date in freethought history! A prolific writer, he produced over twenty books plus hundreds of essays and peer-reviewed articles. He is perhaps most famous for coining the terms “non-overlapping magisteria” (a still-controversial assertion that science and religion address separate issues and need not be in conflict) and (with colleague Niles Eldredge) “punctuated equilibrium” (the idea that speciation can be characterized as long periods of stasis interrupted by rapid periods of mutation). Raised Jewish, Gould doubted the existence of the conventional gods, saying that Huxley’s agnosticism toward a deity was “the only honorable position because we really cannot know.” Gould died of cancer in 2002, aged 60.

September 10, 1964 – British journalist, skeptic and science booster Simon Singh is born in Somerset, England. He has made many broadcast appearances, and written several books, including Fermat’s Last Theorem and (with Edzard Ernst) Trick or Treatment? He is probably best known for winning a libel lawsuit brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association. The lawsuit led to passage of Britain’s Defamation Act 2013, which strengthened protection of free speech and reformed the country’s libel laws, which were perceived as greatly favoring plaintiffs in flimsy lawsuits.

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