Of Moths and Men: Intrigue, Tragedy and the Peppered Moth

Judith Hooper

The tale of a flagrant scientific fraud and its cover-up, and scientific incompetence behind the most important paradigm in evolutionary biology: Charles Darwin’s ‘Theory of Evolution’.

Every schoolchild is familiar with the peppered moth experiment that ‘proves’ natural selection: in the early 1950s a black variety of the moth thrived in industrial areas because camouflage on blackened trees protected it from predatory birds. However, these findings, now immortalised in our biology textbooks, were botched and inaccurate. They came from a scientist who ignored the truth for the sake of fame and recognition. ‘Of Moths and Men’ is a fascinating story of hubris, delusion and heartbreak behind the most important paradigm in 20th-century evolutionary biology.

Reviews of Of Moths and Men: Intrigue, Tragedy and the Peppered Moth

    • ‘A riotous story of ambition and deceit.’ Dava Sobel, author of ‘Longitude’ and ‘Galileo’s Daughter’
    • ‘A salutary and fascinating tale in which the men get as muddled up as the moths.’ The Times
    • ‘Extraordinary, even-handed, highly entertaining and scrupulously researched.’ TLS
    • ‘An absorbing account of a flawed if not fraudulent experiment reveals an all-too human side to scientists that will annoy professionals and enthral laypeople in equal measure.’ Guardian
    • ‘Hooper gives a valuable reminder that even scientists can be underhand, incompetent and less than objective…She warns us that “lepidopterists can be crushing bores if you’re not one of them”. Thankfully, despite a large cast of those enthusiasts, the book is never dull.’ Scotland on Sunday