, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 147-154
Date: 05 Nov 2008

Haeckel’s embryos: fraud not proven

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Through the last half of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth, no scientist more vigorously defended Darwinian theory than the German Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919). More people learned of the new ideas through his voluminous publications, translated into numerous languages, than through any other source, including Darwin’s own writings. He enraged many of his contemporaries, especially among the religiously orthodox; and the enmity between evolutionary theory and religious fundamentalism that still burns brightly today may in large measure be attributed to Haeckel’s unremitting attacks on the ingressions of religion into science. Though he retained a life-long friendship with and the support of Darwin, some in the scientific community who were critical of evolutionary theory—Emil Du Bois-Reymond, Rudolf Virchow, and Louis Agassiz, for instance—accused him of deception. That charge has been renewed in our time based on seemingly incontrovertible evidence.

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