history of science

The Big Bang Revolutionaries

Hubble and Einsten are often credited, but the real heroes of the Big Bang revolution are the Russian Alexander Friedmann and Belgian priest Georges Lemaître. The Big Bang Revolutionaries amends the record, telling the remarkable story of how these two men, joined by the mischievous George Gamow and in the face of conventional scientific wisdom, offered a compelling view of a singular creation of the universe in what Lemaître termed a “primeval atom.”

Darwin’s Bluff

In this fascinating piece of historical detective work, Robert Shedinger draws on Darwin’s letters, private notebooks, and an unfinished manuscript to piece together a puzzle and reveal an embarrassing truth: Darwin never finished his sequel to The Origin of Species because in the end he could not deliver the empirical evidence he promised would validate his theory.

Darwin Comes to Africa

Charles Darwin fathered not just a scientific theory, but a toxic social ideology that fueled racist colonial policies in Africa. In this sobering book, African scholar Olufemi Oluniyi traces the insidious impact of Darwinian ideas on British imperial policies in Northern Nigeria. Drawing on official documents, public statements, and well-attested historical events, Oluniyi documents how concepts such as evolutionary racism and survival of the fittest were systematically used to demean black Africans, consigning some people to a status of permanent inferiority. Rejecting Social Darwinism, Oluniyi makes a compelling argument for the equality of all human beings, and for recognizing Africa’s many seminal contributions to the history of human civilization. Praise Ideas rule the

Darwinian Racism

To hear some tell it, Adolf Hitler was a Christian creationist who rejected Darwinian evolution. Award-winning historian Richard Weikart shows otherwise. According to Weikart, Darwinian evolution crucially influenced Hitler and the Nazis, and the Nazis zealously propagated evolutionary theory during the Third Reich. Inspired by arguments from both Darwin and early Darwinists, the Nazis viewed the “Nordic race” as superior to other races and set about advancing human evolution by ridding the world of “inferior” races and individuals. As Weikart also shows, these ideas circulate today among white nationalists and neo-Nazis, who routinely use Darwinian theory in their propaganda to advance a racist agenda. Darwinian Racism is careful history. It is also a wake-up

Zombie Science

About the Book In 2000, biologist Jonathan Wells took the science world by storm with Icons of Evolution, a book showing how biology textbooks routinely promote Darwinism using bogus evidence — icons of evolution like Ernst Haeckel’s faked embryo drawings and peppered moths glued to tree trunks. Critics of the book complained that Wells had merely gathered up a handful of innocent textbook errors and blown them out of proportion. Now, in Zombie Science, Wells asks a simple question: If the icons of evolution were just innocent textbook errors, why do so many of them still persist? Science has enriched our lives and led to countless discoveries. But now, Wells argues, it’s being corrupted. Empirical science is devolving into zombie science, shuffling along unfazed by opposing

Darwin’s House of Cards

About the Book In this provocative history of contemporary debates over evolution, veteran journalist Tom Bethell depicts Darwin’s theory as a nineteenth-century idea past its prime, propped up by logical fallacies, bogus claims, and empirical evidence that is all but disintegrating under an onslaught of new scientific discoveries. Bethell presents a concise yet wide-ranging tour of the flash points of modern evolutionary theory, investigating controversies over common descent, natural selection, the fossil record, biogeography, information theory, evolutionary psychology, artificial intelligence, and the growing intelligent design movement. Bethell’s account is enriched by his own personal encounters with some of our era’s leading evolutionary thinkers, including Harvard

Alfred Russel Wallace

For years Alfred Russel Wallace was little more than an obscure adjunct to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Remembered only for prompting Darwin to write On the Origin of Species by sending Darwin his own letter proposing a theory of natural selection, Wallace was rightly dubbed by one biographer “the forgotten naturalist.” A decade of recent interest in Wallace has done much to bring him back from history’s crypt of forgotten figures, but there is still significant disagreement over his legacy. The provocative thesis of this new biography is that Wallace, in developing his unique brand of evolution, presaged the modern theory of intelligent design. This was Wallace’s ultimate heresy, a heresy that exposed the metaphysical underpinnings of the emerging Darwinian