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The human mind has a trusty device for simplifying a complex world: reduce to averages and identify trends. Although valuable, the risk is that we ignore variations and end up with a skewed view of reality. In evolutionary terms, the result is a view in which humans are the inevitable pinnacle of evolutionary progress, instead of, as Stephen Jay Gould patiently argues, "a cosmic accident that would never arise again if the tree of life could be replanted." The implications of Gould's argument may threaten certain of our philosophical and religious foundations but will in the end provide us with a clearer view of, and a greater appreciation for, the complexities of our world. [via]