Of Moths and Men by Judith Hooper
An Evolutionary Tale

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Synopsis

Mutant moths and feuding scientists—the real story behind the most famous experiment in twentieth-century evolutionary biology. H. B. D. Kettlewell was a British doctor who caught butterflies and moths as an all-consuming hobby. He went into the English woods with a mission—to catch "evolution in action" among the now-famous peppered moths. His work became "Darwin's missing evidence," a fixture in biology textbooks for half a century. Only recently has new research brought a different story to light. Compellingly told, Of Moths and Men reveals Kettlewell as a deluded scientist who distorted facts and suppressed evidence he didn't like. Tyrannized by his mentor, the powerful E. B. Ford—an imperious misogynist and eccentric Oxford don who was a Darwinian zealot determined to crush all enemies in his path—Kettlewell ended his life a suicide. A story of hubris and heartbreak, Of Moths and Men reveals as much about the internecine battles of science as it does about the mysteries of evolution. 16 pages of b/w photographs.
 

About Judith Hooper

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Judith Hooper lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
 
Published August 15, 2002 by W. W. Norton & Company. 320 pages
Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Of Moths and Men

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Kettlewell, who laid out marked numbers of moths in both forms on tree trunks, set traps to recapture the moths, and counted which ones survived.

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The Guardian

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Of Moths and Men: Intrigue, Tragedy & the Peppered Moth Judith Hooper 377pp, Fourth Estate, £15.99 Before he became famous, Albert Einstein remarked that "the foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth".

May 11 2002 | Read Full Review of Of Moths and Men: An Evolutio...

Publishers Weekly

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Kettlewell's famous field experiments on the peppered moth, which were widely known as "Darwin's missing evidence," proof of natural selection in action—until 1998, that is, when biologist Michael Majerus showed Kettlewell's findings to be falsified and wrong.

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