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Of Moths And Men Hardcover – Aug 27 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton (Aug. 27 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393051218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393051216
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 16.8 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,964,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
To begin at the beginning, the Lepidoptera are divided into two orders: butterflies (Rhopalocera) and moths (Heterocera). Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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By Frank on Aug. 30 2002
Format: Hardcover
In this seamless narrative, veteran science journalist Judith Hooper reveals the startling truths behind a broadly held scientific fable. Of Moths and Men is at once a first rate scientific history and a thrilling detective story. A superb stylist, Hooper has created not only a riviting portrayal of scientific ambition gone terribly wrong, but a moving cautionary tale for the ages. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I've been reading Nature for over 30 years, primarily for articles of medical or chemical interest. Each week the News and Views section attempts to explain papers appearing in the more technical sections of the journal to the general scientific public. Usually these artricles discuss the findings of a given paper, its implications for past work and suggestions for future work. From time to time, News and Views items about evolution (and natural selection) would appear. They were quite different. The whole area was extremely contentious, and the articles were written in a semi-theological fashion with various princes of the church holding forth on the correct interpretation of Darwinian doctrine.
No one with a biochemical background can doubt the unity of life, and its likely common descent, as we are all built of basically the same DNA, RNA, amino acids, sugars and metabolites. So I passed the articles by without getting too involved. On retirement, I did buy Gould's book on the structure of evolutionary theory -- it certainly needed a vigorous editor, but reading the book cold is like coming into the middle of a debate. I gave up after 80 or so florid pages.
The only reason I bought the present book, is that we had moved to the Amherst area, and the book was in the local authors section. Scientific training tends to be very ahistorical, and I knew very little about the controversies which have embroiled evolutionary theory since (except for great debate between Bishop Wilberforce and TH Huxley described in the book). When Steve Jones' book came out updating "The Origin of Species" chapter for chaper (Darwin's Ghost), I read both (chapter for chapter). Although Jones is very clever and much easier to read, Darwin wins each round hands down.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very well done account of the peppered moth story, with a useful history of the emergence of the Synthesis in the background. Darwin's theory was always beset with the question of evidence, and this fact has distorted the thinking of all scientists in the field who act as if this situation is normal. The case of the peppered moth is especially telling. The one case of something like evidence turns out to be completely flawed, even as the entire science community seems almost paralyzed and incapable of dealing with the issue. The final unraveling of this claim for some sort of evidence should have led a major examination of the status of Darwinism, but no such luck. The whole system simply proceeds without it.
The author makes a revealing remark toward the end, that she was accused of giving aid to the enemy, creationists. But is that the point? In any case, we see that this regime of silence is in effect, even if one author is motivated to expose what's going on, up to a point. This dialectic of monotheism is getting pretty tiresome for the rest of the world, who don't buy into this duel of extremes. We need to know, and from reliable sources, the status of Darwin's theory, from _real_ scientists. We need to know, and can expect the truth, and not beating around the bush, as herein portrayed. Clearly such science does not exist in the field of evolution. Isn't this ridiculous. This is a reasonably simple case. If biologists can't get this straight, what of their ambitious claims (without a shred of evidence) to rewrite all the social sciences.
Frauds, not scientists.
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By A Customer on June 4 2003
Format: Hardcover
While the bulk of the book was interesting but had little actual bearing on the veracity of evolution, the scholarship aspect took a dive when I realized that Hoopper had relied on the rantings of a creationist electrical engineer as a source of information on "Haldane's Dilemma."
That alone told me that I should be very wary of any conclusions the author offers, and it should similarly make other readers wary.
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By A Customer on May 12 2003
Format: Hardcover
Forget evolution. Just for a second, OK?
This is as engaging a book as you will ever come across. Judith Hooper is a terrific writer who has something to say to anyone remomtely interested or associated not only in science, but in pride and belief and truth and faith.
There is a review below (from a reader in Paris, France!) that has it all bang-on. You're left with many questions after reading this book. Is an idea/theory only as good as the people behind it and the examples they proffer? Are all scientists misogynists or liars or manic-depressives?
Hooper humanizes this sordid tale, and even with the tragic bits we can celebrate the triumph of scientific review. Debunking and revisionism are loaded terms, but as long as they're driven by a pursuit for the truth we should all be on the same team.
Let's remember evolution now, OK?
Even if moths did have a propensity to rest on tree trunks where enterprising birds could pick them off, what does that have to do with the grand unifying theory of evolution? Yes, certain phenotypes have better chances of getting you killed than other phenotypes, but does that explain speciation? The peppered moths have nothing to do with speciation.
And Of Moths and Men have nothing to do, essentially, with evolution. It has every thing to do with the natural tendency of human beings to believe what they want to believe, and this desire will drive us to do just about anything, including play with moths.
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