The late Stephen Jay Gould was both an evolutionary biologist and a popular essayist. In the book The Mismeasure of Man
he argued that scientists unconsciously manipulate their data to fit their preexisting prejudices. As evidence he cited the work of Samuel George Morton, a 19th century physical anthropologist who assembled a large collection of skulls from many parts of the world and measured their cranial capacity in an attempt to answer questions about racial differences. According to Gould, Morton skewed his data in various ways to fit his racial beliefs.
I have just read an article
by a group of modern anthropologists who went over Morton's data and remeasured many of the skulls that Morton measured—something Gould did not do. The authors concluded that most of Gould's criticisms were poorly supported or falsified. The errors that Gould reported in Morton's analysis resulted from errors by Gould, not by Morton. Morton did make some mistakes in his work, but they were in the opposite direction from his biases. Thus, for example:
Morton’s three most over-measured skulls are an Egyptian Copt that Morton considered "Negro" (+12%), a Seminole (+8%) and a "Native African Negro" (+7%).
The obvious conclusion, not stated by the authors of the article, is that Gould's central claim was correct. Scientists sometimes bias their work to fit their preconceptions. As Gould demonstrated by doing so.
The article fit a conclusion that I long ago reached about Gould on other evidence—that he misrepresented the work of people he disagreed with, taking advantage of the fact that since he was a widely read popular essayist and they were not, most of his readers would never read either the work he was attacking or any response that the authors might make. In this case he took further advantage of the fact that the man he was slandering was no longer alive to reply.
For evidence in another case, here is a response
to Gould by Tooby and Cosmides. And here is a perceptive comment
on Gould by someone with whom, on other subjects, I often disagree.