Of Moths and Men

Of Moths and Men

An Evolutionary Tale : the Untold Story of Science and the Peppered Moth

Book - 2002
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Baker & Taylor
A portrait of H. B. D. Kettlewell debunks his work as the discoverer of "Darwin's missing evidence," profiling him as a deluded scientist who distorted and suppressed evidence who committed suicide after being tyrannized by his zealous mentor, E. B. Ford. 15,000 first printing.

Norton Pub
Mutant moths and feuding scientiststhe 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 missionto 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. Fordan imperious misogynist and eccentric Oxford don who was a Darwinian zealot determined to crush all enemies in his pathKettlewell 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.

Book News
Legions of high school biology students have seen pictures of the pepper moths of England as illustrations of the processes of evolution, with the moths developing differing colorations as a camouflage adaptation to changing levels of soot. The author explores the back-story behind their elevation as proof of evolution, discussing the power rivalries between the evolutionary scientists of Oxford and the deceptions behind the experiments. Annotation (c) Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Blackwell North Amer
As almost every high school biology student once learned, the peppered moths of England were the most renowned insects in the world. Featured in nearly every science textbook, they acquired their fame through the pioneering work of H. B. D. Kettlewell, a British physician and amateur lepidopterist who went into the woods in the 1950s to use this population of moths to capture "evolution in action." He wanted - needed - to prove that the moths were evolving to a darker color in response to industrial pollution, for this would put the finishing touches on Darwin's theory. As Judith Hooper reveals in this groundbreaking work, Kettlewell's ambitions would exceed the strength of his science, and the story of the "peppered moth" would become one of the most pervasive myths in the history of evolutionary biology.
About a century earlier, when a dark ("melanic") form of the peppered moth appeared in the smoky industrial towns of the British Isles, some people proposed that evolutionary theory might explain why. Resting against the sooty backgrounds, these melanic moths were nearly invisible to birds, and so escaped being preyed upon. Thus more of them survived to reproduce. In rural areas, it was just the opposite. In Darwinian language, natural selection favored the black moths in the grimy mill towns and light moths in rural, unpolluted woodlands. For many decades, this was only a theory, until Kettlewell arrived. He succeeded beyond anyone's expectations, becoming the hero of natural selection, a celebrated figure in a rarefied pantheon of world-class scientists, for his proof of "industrial melanism."
Behind the success story, however, lay a darker tale. Based on original documents and interviews with scientists on both sides of the Atlantic as well as friends and relatives of the principal characters, Of Moths and Men chronicles the bitter rivalries, academic jealousies, botched science, and emotional heartbreak of the scientists involved. Kettlewell had been lured into the inner circles of Oxford by the celebrated geneticist Edmund Brisco Ford - a fabulous raconteur, a wildly eccentric don, and an often ruthless zealot bent on establishing his theories of how evolution worked and vanquishing all rivals. Although Kettlewell's experiment became the jewel in the crown of Ford's Oxford fiefdom - and evolution's prize experiment - the relationship between the two men would become troubled. At the very moment that the peppered moth experiments were establishing the Oxford biologists as masters of their world, their personal and professional relationships were disintegrating in a miasma of recriminations, intrigue, backbiting, and shattered dreams.

& Taylor

A search for Darwin's "missing evidence" chronicles the jealousies, rivalries, and emotional turmoil behind the twentieth-century's most famous evolutionary biology experiment.

Publisher: New York : Norton, 2002
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9780393051216
Branch Call Number: 576.82 HOO
Characteristics: xx, 377 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 22 cm


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