Catastrophism:Asteroids, Comets, and other Dynamic Events in Earth History

  • Paperback

One of the most dramatic intellectual events of the last decade has been the stunning re-emergence of the catastrophist paradigm in the biological and earth sciences From killer asteroids to emergent viruses, it has become evident that the history of life on earth has been shaped—far more than previous orthodoxies would allow ... by extreme events and non-linear processes. The old “uniformitarian” dogma of steady-rate evolution has been decisively challenged by the research of contemporary neo-catastrophists like Stephen Jay Gould, David Raup, Stuart Ross Taylor, Ursula Marvin and Kenneth Hsu. Whether debating the origin of the moon or the current human impact on the biosphere, they urge us to recognize the radically event- or chance-driven structure of natural history.

Surveying these various theories of uniformitarian and neo-catastrophist thought in a clear and accessible fashion, and seeking a path towards a new and workable synthesis, Richard Hugget provides a superb introduction to the ideas which have defined the way we look at the world.


  • Huggett enlarges our intellectual horizon with the first comprehensive account of Catastrophism as a theoretical tradition in natural science.

    Mike Davis, University of California at Los Angeles