In his essay sex, drugs, disasters and extinction of dinosaurs, Stephen Jay Gould expounds on how to differentiate facts from opinions. According to Gould, a fact must have a hypothesis, which opens the doors for scrutiny by other researchers. On the other hand, an opinion is always restrictive in terms of further research. Therefore, for an assertion to be true, it must have many facts, which are not only debatable but also seems true in terms of science.
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Gould explores on three aspects, which were behind the extinction of dinosaurs. Analytically, sex, drugs and disasters are the elements, which contributed to the extinction of dinosaurs. However, Gould distinguishes them as either fallacies or facts by analyzing the evidence presented.
First, Gould proves the theory on sex as one of the element behind extinction of dinosaurs as an opinion. According to Cowles, prior to the Cretaceous period the global temperature were extremely high (Gould 438). Scientifically, the dinosaurs were large and therefore, they had small surface area to volume ratio.
Due to inability to control heat adequately, the testes, which are highly sensitivity to heat, became dysfunctional (sterilization), leading to the extinction of dinosaurs. On the contrary, according to Gould, Cowles statement lacks scientific evidence thus classifying it as an opinion.
Besides, lacking a testable hypothesis there are various ways, which the animals could have avoided the extreme heat either by resting in caves or in shades. Secondly, Cowles never studied the temperature tolerance of the testes because there are no fossils to assist in that. Thirdly, the assertion lacks an argumentative hypothesis, which is one of the aspects behind scientific research. Conclusively, the aspect on sex as an element, which contributed to the extinction of dinosaurs lacks enough support to qualify as a fact.
Similarly, the assertion that dinosaurs died due to poisoning from alkaloids found in plants is also an opinion. First, the researchers do not know which food/plants the dinosaurs depended on or ate. Secondly, the angiosperms existed before the dinosaurs thus; they cannot be the reason behind their extinction.
Thirdly, a liver is a mass tissue and therefore, there are no fossils to prove Sigel’s assertion. Therefore, due to the lack of tangible evidence and a testable hypothesis the issue on drugs is also an opinion. According to Gould, in scientific terms all opinions lack further research as it is the case with drugs and sex.
On the contrary, the assertion on disaster is a fact because the hypothesis has not only drawn more researches but also there are tangible evidence in terms of fossils and rocks to prove that. The Alvarezes constructed a testable hypothesis after conducting various studies on rocks like Iridium and platinum (Gould 449).
Consequently, his hypothesis has opened many doors for studies all over Europe an element that classifies his assertion as a fact. Therefore, a fact must provide room for further research, evidence through recordings, fossils or rocks and must draw worldwide attentions from other scientists.
In brief, through his essay Gould gives characteristic of facts and opinions. Opinions lack argumentative hypothesis thus people may not be able to conduct further research on them. Facts have tangible evidence; draw worldwide attention through giving room for further research. Therefore, Gould groups sex and drugs as opinions, which lacked any proposal or hypothesis. Finally, disaster is the only fact, which may have contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs mainly because of the geochemical evidence provided by the scientists.
Gould, Stephen. “The Cosmic Dance of Siva.”The Flamingo’s Smile. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1985. 438-450. Print.