Haeckel's Embryos: Images, Evolution, And Fraud

Hardcover | May 11, 2015

byNick Hopwood

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Pictures from the past powerfully shape current views of the world. In books, television programs, and websites, new images appear alongside others that have survived from decades ago. Among the most famous are drawings of embryos by the Darwinist Ernst Haeckel in which humans and other vertebrates begin identical, then diverge toward their adult forms. But these icons of evolution are notorious, too: soon after their publication in 1868, a colleague alleged fraud, and Haeckel’s many enemies have repeated the charge ever since. His embryos nevertheless became a textbook staple until, in 1997, a biologist accused him again, and creationist advocates of intelligent design forced his figures out. How could the most controversial pictures in the history of science have become some of the most widely seen?
           
In Haeckel’s Embryos, Nick Hopwood tells this extraordinary story in full for the first time. He tracks the drawings and the charges against them from their genesis in the nineteenth century to their continuing involvement in innovation in the present day, and from Germany to Britain and the United States. Emphasizing the changes worked by circulation and copying, interpretation and debate, Hopwood uses the case to explore how pictures succeed and fail, gain acceptance and spark controversy. Along the way, he reveals how embryonic development was made a process that we can see, compare, and discuss, and how copying—usually dismissed as unoriginal—can be creative, contested, and consequential.
           
With a wealth of expertly contextualized illustrations, Haeckel’s Embryos recaptures the shocking novelty of pictures that enthralled schoolchildren and outraged priests, and highlights the remarkable ways these images kept on shaping knowledge as they aged.

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Pictures from the past powerfully shape current views of the world. In books, television programs, and websites, new images appear alongside others that have survived from decades ago. Among the most famous are drawings of embryos by the Darwinist Ernst Haeckel in which humans and other vertebrates begin identical, then diverge toward ...

Nick Hopwood is reader in history of science and medicine in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Embryos in Wax, coeditor of Models: The Third Dimension of Science, and cocurator of the online exhibition Making Visible Embryos.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:392 pages, 11 × 8.5 × 1.4 inPublished:May 11, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022604694X

ISBN - 13:9780226046945

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

1          Icons of Knowledge
2          Two Small Embryos in Spirits of Wine
3          Like Flies on the Parlor Ceiling
4          Drawing and Darwinism
5          Illustrating the Magic Word
6          Professors and Progress
7          Visual Strategies
8          Schematics, Forgery, and the So-Called Educated
9          Imperial Grids
10        Setting Standards
11        Forbidden Fruit
12        Creative Copying
13        Trials and Tributes
14        Scandal for the People
15        A Hundred Haeckels
16        The Textbook Illustration
17        Iconoclasm
18        The Shock of the Copy

Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Notes
Works Cited
Index
 

Editorial Reviews

"Certain images in science capture the imagination and take on a life of their own. In this excellent book, surely the definitive account of the afterlife of scientific images, Hopwood examines the most iconic pictures of vertebrate embryos, those first produced by German evolutionist Ernst Haeckel in 1868. These images have been repeatedly caught up in anti-Darwinist debates and to this day have been subject to charges of scientific fraud. In tracking Haeckel’s embryos, Hopwood restores the full sound and fury of history to the act of looking at what humans are and where we came from."