Talk:Ernst Haeckel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Former good article nominee Ernst Haeckel was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
October 28, 2006 Good article nominee Not listed

Possible Copyrighted Material[edit]

Why is this page identical to ?

Since Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU FDL, anyone may duplicate its contents. Many websites have copied Wikipedia material wholesale, often annoyingly stealing link precedence (since Wikipedia tends to be slower and less stable, because it is still being edited). Anyway, that page is one such - you can read the GNU FDL disclaimer (as required by the license) at the bottom, as well as an attribution to Wikipedia. Graft 16:10, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)

DoH! It didn't occur to me that maybe they had "borrowed" from here. Thanks. DavidR 16:17, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Indexing Problem[edit]

When I entered "Haeckel" in the Search box, WP could not find this entry. I had to locate it by searching for "ecology" and using the Haeckel link there. I have seen variant spellings of his name and wonder if the "correct" one, i.e., the one in use by WP, is not listed in the index dictionary (or whatever one calls it). -- WLH


Major POV problems with discussion of theory, much of this page is plagarized without legit. sources. --Goferwiki

From what source is it plagiarized? -Willmcw 04:55, Apr 28, 2005 (UTC)

I removed the old heading, I was confused, I thought the author lifted the text of this article from an article referenced on the above website. My humblest apologies to the author. However, the discussion of the theory is still no where near acceptable. I am changing the tag on the article to NPOV because of the slant in the disussion of the theory. Goferwiki 04:34, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Haeckel's observations on the link between ontogeny (development of form) and phylogeny (evolutionary descent) have been named the "recapitulation theory", summed up in the phrase, "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny". Haeckel's efforts to prove this hypothesis were probably misguided and inaccurate.
Haeckel was also known for his "biogenic theory", in which he suggested that the development of races paralleled the development of individuals. He advocated the idea that "primitive" races were in their infancies and needed the "supervision" and "protection" of more "mature" societies.
Haeckel was a flamboyant figure whose popularity with the public was substantially greater than it was with his scientific peers. Although Haeckel's ideas are important to the history of evolutionary theory, and he was a competent invertebrate anatomist most famous for his work on radiolaria, most of the speculative concepts that he championed are now seen as incorrect. For example, Haeckel described and named hypothetical ancestral micro-organisms that have not been found and almost certainly did not exist. His concept of recapitulation has been disproven. Haeckel did not support Darwin's "survival of the fittest", rather believing in a Lamarckian inheritance of acquired characteristics. On top of picking several wrong concepts to champion, he was actually caught using doctored data in some of his papers. Most notably his drawings of embryos were known, even by contemporaries, to deliberately misrepresent the similarities between embryos of different species.

How is this POV? Should it not acknowledge that his ideas are now seen as incorrect? Can you be more specific as to you concerns? Thanks, -Willmcw 05:17, Apr 30, 2005 (UTC)

Well, I assume Haeckel didn't feel his data was doctored. Sam Spade 16:54, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
So if we added "Haeckel presumably acted in good faith" would that take care of the POV issue? -Willmcw 18:46, Apr 30, 2005 (UTC)

He DID NOT act in good faith. His embryonic drawings were outright lies and fabrications. You show the deceit and dishonesty of evolutionists (if the facts don't match the claim, ignore the facts!) To claim a man "acted in good faith" when his drawing showed development THAT HAD NEVER OCCURRED AND NEVER BEEN SEEN shows a dishonesty in you that disqualifies you from contributing to encyclopedic writing! (talk) 23:20, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

"On top of picking several wrong concepts to champion, he was actually caught using doctored data in some of his papers. Most notably his drawings of embryos were known, even by contemporaries, to deliberately misrepresent the similarities between embryos of different species."

That seems to preculde good faith on Haeckel's part, and strikes me as opinionated. It would be good to cite a source on these criticisms. Sam Spade 20:13, 1 May 2005 (UTC)
So would deleting that statement remove the POV from the article? (Though if it were sourced, I suppose it owuld belong.) -Willmcw 20:30, May 1, 2005 (UTC)
Anti-Haeckel propaganda is part of the creationist playbook...discrediting him (and thus, the similarity in embryos) is part of the effort to "disprove" evolution. Obviously, that says nothing about whether things are true or false, but it does suggest that one should be on the lookout for hidden subtext and pov. Guettarda 20:52, 1 May 2005 (UTC)
So now that the offending sentence has been removed, can we remove the POV tag? Any other serious issues? -Willmcw 21:40, May 1, 2005 (UTC)

No, let me give you a few more examples of POV issues: "Haeckel's efforts to prove this hypothesis were probably misguided and inaccurate." This is not a fact, and furthermore relies on the premise that one thinks the recapitulation theory is innacurate. You should just state the theory, without any value-judgments imposed on that definition. Another POV: "For example, Haeckel described and named hypothetical ancestral micro-organisms that have not been found and almost certainly did not exist." You may be able to say that these microorganisms to date have not been found, but you can make no scientific/factual claim that they do not exist. There is no proof as yet of them, but there has been no evidence to scientifically rule them out either. This is a value-judgement and not encyclopedic in nature. Goferwiki 14:40, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

"For example, Haeckel described and named hypothetical ancestral micro-organisms that have not been found and almost certainly did not exist." You may be able to say that these microorganisms to date have not been found, but you can make no scientific/factual claim that they do not exist. -- Um, it's science. If he made them up and there's dick for evidence they most likely don't exist. You'll also note that the text doesn't say that they don't exist, just that they almost certainly did not exist. Any odd offchance that he managed to guess a microorganism right is governed by the word "almost". This statement is perfectly accurate and not POV. Tat 12:26, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
Please fix it or take down the POV tag. Thanks. -Willmcw 20:25, Jun 2, 2005 (UTC)

Seeking source[edit]

On top of picking several wrong concepts to champion, he was actually caught using doctored data in some of his papers. Most notably his drawings of embryos were known, even by contemporaries, to deliberately misrepresent the similarities between embryos of different species.

The above paragraph is seeking a source, so that it might be reworded and restored to the article. Sam Spade 20:56, 1 May 2005 (UTC)
Have a look at (His theory was invalid, some of his drawings were faked, and he willfully over-interpreted the data to prop up a false thesis. Furthermore, he was influential, both in the sciences and the popular press; his theory still gets echoed in the latter today) and (Though Haeckel defended the relative accuracy of his figures he nevertheless modified them in later editions of his book to make them more technically accurate, a fact even noted by Haeckel's modern critic Michael Richardson. (Richardson 1998, p.1289) While it might be true that in hindsight both Haeckel and His's figures were not always entirely accurate, none of the minor errors they may contain once corrected change the status of the evidence they illustrate for evolution.). Guettarda 21:09, 1 May 2005 (UTC)

I think if we can provide an objective source (not associated with supporting/not supporting the creationist movement, that provides clear evidence that his figues and data were doctored, we can remove POV. As of date, I can not find an academic source that does this. I have only found these statements echoed in pro-creationist propaganda. Goferwiki 14:31, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

That's why I quoted anti-creationist sites. Haeckel is a big issue for creationists; whatever the anti-creationists concede is likely to be uncontorvertial (and so a good starting point). They also include references. Guettarda 14:50, 2 May 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for finding those, User:Guettarda. What more do we need? Should we rewrite the paragraph so it says that the earliest drawings were inaccurate, but were later fixed? Would that be NPOV? -Willmcw 08:30, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
Yes. If someone has a source accusing him of wrongdoing citing it would be fine, but expressing certainty of intentional fraud in the narrative strikes me as unfair. Being that he was a reputable scientist, and considering the standards of the times, intentional fraud strikes me as unlikely anyhow. Can't the man just make mistakes, or be a crappy scetch artist, etc...? Sam Spade 20:04, 5 May 2005 (UTC)

Would it not make sense to locate the diagrams of embryonic development drawn by Haeckel and simply compare them with photographs of the real thing? Such a direct graphic comparison I think would be an invaluable resource for this entry. I think, if this comparison does not show willful fraud, at the very least it would highlight any innacuracies present, leaving interpretations of willful fraud up to the reader, or whatever source you eventually find on his intent. I would imagine the drawings themselves would not be difficult to locate, they are reproduced in many highschool biology textbooks, and I'm guessing are by now in the public domain. The difficult part I think may be in locating the photos of actual embryos of those various species suitable for comparison. Though a photo of a human embryo alone may be sufficient, simply to show that it does not have gills, as Haeckel's diagram of a human embryo seems to show. It seems to me this would strike right at the heart of the issue, allowing the reader to be less dependant on second hand accounts of such comparisons.

such a comparison is done on this site:

From what I know, it does not seem undisputed that Haeckel was aware that he was purposefully fudging the appearance of his drawings. Take a look at this website It is a site written by Dr. Kenneth Miller who is a strong pro-evolutionist and has written several biology text books. On this site he makes the follwing statement: "This (my note - that idea that Haeckel faked his drawings) idea has been pushed back into the news recently by the news that Haeckel's drawings of embryonic similarities were not correct. British embryologist Michael Richardson and his colleages published an important paper in the August 1997 issue of Anatomy & Embryology showing that Haeckel had fudged his drawings to make the early stages of embryos appear more alike than they actually are! As it turns out, Haeckel's contemporaries had spotted the fraud during his lifetime, and got him to admit it. However, his drawings nonetheless became the source material for diagrams of comparative embryology in nearly every biology textbook, including ours!" So more than 100 years later the evolutionary texts continue to use drawings that are knwon to be false but seem to be slowly changing over to the accurate representations. It seems academically disingenuous to refuse to accept what has been known for a hundred years. Does the fact that Haeckel faked the drawings change the fact that embryos do appear similar as they develop? No. But does the fact that they do appear to have similar appearances prove that evolution is true? No. This is not an issue of whether or not what Haeckel did supports the creationist viewpoint or not. Just because creationists use the fact that Haeckel was extremely inaccurate in his drawings does not change the fact that he was inaccurate. There seems to be adequate evidence from credible academic sources who are not creationists (and again the source of the information does not matter a hill of beans as long as the information is accurate) that Haeckel did what he did on purpose to try to advance the evolutionary thought of his time.

I have made a few edits which warrant removing NPOV so I am going to do that. I think the article is good how it is. Goferwiki 09:52, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I added the POV tag back June 6, 2006. The closing paragraphs of both major sections of this article reeks of creationist POV, character assignation and language. They don't give a lot of context for the fact that Haeckel was not a Nazi, Nazi's were not around until the very end of his life and I doubt he signed on with them. Haeckel was not a eugenicist, especially of the "exterminate" school. The Berkley article gives much better understanding and context while still dealing with the perhaps negative aspects of Haeckel. Not only that the Berkley article gives biographical information completely missing from the article like the fact Hinkle was an MD before being a zoologist -An Anon reader.

I added a couple of items today to at least make reference to the discredited drawings, as noted for example by Michael Richardson. DFH 13:33, 21 October 2006 (UTC)
28-October-2006 (5 months later): Today, I edited the Ernst Haeckel article to state he attained the M.D. before being a zoologist, and also added: the year of his marriage, children's birth years, and years of travels, as recorded in the German WP wiki: Ernst Haeckel (deutsch).

Removing Reference Section[edit]

I am removing this section because 1) the article the person posted is in German, 2) the person put their own opinion on it.Goferwiki 09:42, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Here is what was in the article "*Ernst Haeckel did forge. Many of his pictures of organisms simply are inventions to prove his theory... Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, (Source: German weekly DIE ZEIT 22/2003 Wir Deutschen sind nicht moralisch höher stehend [[1]])" Unacceptable Goferwiki 09:43, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Stephen Jay Goulds comments on Haeckel[edit]

I also have found some comments from arguably one of the more recent "poster child"s for Evolution, Stephen Jay Gould. He is a completely secular, non-creationist and credible source that casts a shadow on Haeckels famous diagrams of animal fetuses. Due to copyright issues, I'm playing it safe and not including the actual text, but you can go to the website below and confirm it. It is from the March 2000 issue of Natural History "Abscheulich! - Atrocious! - the precursor to the theory of natural selection" , and Gould in no uncertain terms makes it clear you cannot trust the embryo diagrams and that its unfortunate it found its way into scientific texts.

I think the Wikapedia article on Haeckel should be more clear that the embryo diagrams for which he is most famous, were and still are highly contested by the majority of scientists ( including thosse who are pro-Evolution)

I have not made any edits to the article, but I would like to make a comment on some of the disagreements being aired here in the Talk section about Haeckel's motivations and objectivity as a scientist. Some editors (like the one above) appear to think that if they can find an authority figure (such as Gould) who agrees with their particular interpretation of Haeckel's work or motives then they have 'won the argument'. But scholars disagree all the time about how best to interpret things, and much as I respected Gould and his popular writings on the history of science, I disagree with his negative characterizations of Haeckel's motives for his comparative embryology and his views on human racial diversity. Gould published Ontogeny and Phylogeny (1977) shortly after E.O. Wilson's Sociobiology (1975), and in my opinion was trying to distance evolutionary biology from any elements of racism or other controversial ideology. Gould had also been influenced by Daniel Gasman's very polemical book The Scientific Origins of National Socialism (1971), and the result was an unbalanced interpretation of Haeckel by Gould. Haeckel was undoubtedly a racist in the sense that he believed some 'races' to be intellectually superior to others (as did the majority of European and North American intellectuals of his day). But did Haeckel endorse violent treatment of non-Europeans? Not to my knowledge, and I have read nearly all of his popular writings and a good deal of his professional work too (not to mention having read through segments of his personal correspondence). As someone mentioned here, he wrote with great affection and respect for many of the non-European people he met in his travels in the Tropics. In any event, it should not be the objective of a scholarly article to definitively declare that person X was or was not a racist, was or was not guilty of 'doctoring' his illustrations etc. --these are normative statements involving value judgments and interpretation. Richardson and Miller, like Gould, are credible biologists, but like any scholar will make statements in publications that will be disputed by other credible scholar, and they may even eventually refine or rescind these statements in the light of new evidence or argument. So why not simply note that there is some disagreement among those with expertise in the relevant fields and allow readers to draw their own conclusions? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:44, 31 December 2013 (UTC)


"He extrapolated a new religion or philosophy called Monism from evolutionary science. In Monism, all economics, politics, and ethics are reduced to "applied biology." " - - "Monism" certainly predates Haeckel: From Monism: "Hinduism is monistic, as far back as the Rig Veda" "pre-Socratic philosophers" "Neoplatonism is Monistic." So we need to find a way to clarify or disambiguate this. - 14:57, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Monism has several definitions. One is a general term for a type of philosophy that includes neoplatonism and Hinduism. Another is the specific name of Haeckel's theory. If you think people will find this confusing, we can use "Haeckel's Monism" throughout. Uucp 17:45, 4 January 2006 (UTC)
26-October-2006: (10 months later) I have edited the "Ernst Haeckel" article to state "Haeckel's view of monism" to emphasize and contrast with any other views of monism, now or in the future. -Wikid77 10:36, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

Edit war on German article[edit]

Dear All, just to warn anyone who is editing this article that there was an edit war between users KarlV and DF on the German version of this article; I had intended to translate large sections, but am not so sure now. I also hope the controversy stays on "de"; although it might make for interesting reading for those interested in the subject - look at the German talk page! (Yes, at least they documented their warfare!) - Samsara contrib talk 02:35, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

  • Hi everybody, the dispute between me and the user DF on the German site had already an end several weeks ago. So if you want, you can translate the sections now. The controverse was concerning Haeckels importance as precursor of eugenics and race hygienics. The disputes about the role of racial hygienics for the Third Reich is still ongoing (see German articles about Wilhelm Schallmayer or Alfred PLoetz). I am still working on it. KInd regards from Munich to everybody --KarlV 11:28, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
    26-October-2006: (7 months later) I have edited the "Ernst Haeckel" article, adding new section "See also" which links to English article on Alfred Ploetz from 2005. -Wikid77 10:52, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

It looks like the translation is not yet complete because I see the DE WP being used as a reference. That's a no-no. You need to cite the source. --Adoniscik(t, c) 02:06, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Apparently plagiarised probably copyrighted material[edit]

The entire(!) biography section from "Ernst Haeckel, much like Herbert Spencer..." to "build his own unique world view." is apparently a verbatim quote from , which does not look like a site that would have copied Wikipedia without giving credit and displaying the Wikipedia license.

28-October-2006 (7 months later): Some old text had similar wording to that UCBerkeley webpage (UCB-EH), so I revised the "Ernst Haeckel" article to paraphrase old text, avoiding copy-appearance, at 5:44am. -Wikid77 05:57, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

If permission is obtained, the following could be added as a quote from the same site; otherwise the ideas could be rephrased:

The "law of recapitulation" has been discredited since the beginning of the twentieth century. Experimental morphologists and biologists have shown that there is not a one-to-one correspondence between phylogeny and ontogeny. Although a strong form of recapitulation is not correct, phylogeny and ontogeny are intertwined, and many biologists are beginning to both explore and understand the basis for this connection.

--Espoo 23:07, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

The copied section is redundant in many places with non-plagiarized text earlier in the article. I'd just remove the plagiarized text. Good catch. Uucp 23:32, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Unfortunately it's really the *entire* biography section including the next paragraph up to "and was considered a hero by his countrymen."; i accidentally quoted the end of the previous paragraph. Maybe we could get permission to quote this from Who added this? --Espoo 23:56, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
You can find out from the edit history. - Samsara (talkcontribs) 20:58, 13 June 2006 (UTC)


Mo mention of eugenics?! --Espoo 23:59, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Thank you for your suggestion! When you feel an article needs improvement, please feel free to make whatever changes you feel are needed. Wikipedia is a wiki, so anyone can edit almost any article by simply following the Edit this page link at the top. You don't even need to log in! (Although there are some reasons why you might like to…) The Wikipedia community encourages you to be bold. Don't worry too much about making honest mistakes—they're likely to be found and corrected quickly. If you're not sure how editing works, check out how to edit a page, or use the sandbox to try out your editing skills. New contributors are always welcome. —Pengo 14:37, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

Yes, this ecologist German was an eugenist. In fact, ecology is just eugenics under a new name.Agre22 (talk) 14:16, 18 November 2009 (UTC)agre22

From that statement, it seems that you don't understand ecology or eugenics. Remember, verification from a reliable source is needed for any additions to the article. . dave souza, talk 16:14, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Art of Hackel[edit]

Haeckel produced some beautiful, unique art, whatever its scientific (im)merit, and I'm surprised this is only barely, vaguely mentioned in the article. I think I'll add a thumbnail gallery of his works featured in Wikipedia (all of which enjoying the state of featured pictures, because he was that good), at the bottom of the article. He deserves more than being credited as a mad scientist -- KJK::Hyperion 12:30, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

26-October-2006: (3 months later) I have edited the "Ernst Haeckel" article to better emphasize his artwork, in text and References descriptions. Under References, I added Kunstformen der Natur ("Artforms of Nature") using the title "Artforms" which is 10 times more common than "Art Forms" in Google gHits for Haeckel. -Wikid77 12:31, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

Theory controversial[edit]

27-October-2006 (revised): Since evolution is tied to religion, the debate nevers ends. I have edited the "Ernst Haeckel" article to mention alternate viewpoints of the drawings/recapituation controversy, and to state, in the lede section, that Haeckel: developed the controversial "recapitulation theory" claiming that... By adding the term "controversial" the issue is still noted as debatable, without weighing the evidence there as pro or con; however, by having added the word controversial, the reader is warned not to believe the theory as "universally accepted" (or rejected), which could be the perception otherwise. Older encyclopedias had cited the "recapitulation" theory as a given, due to years of public acclaim for Haeckel, considering his tenure of 47 years as professor at Univ. of Jena, which took decades to publicize counter-evidence. The issue is analogous to perception about views of Bill Gates, since the general public has not yet experienced "computer software" 40 years after Windows 95, when viruses will be history and PCs might have multiple fold-out screens or "Rooms 2025" might display multiple data windows in each "room" of the future PC.

Debating any issue inside WP articles reaches a "point of diminishing returns" where the debate portion could exceed 10 times the size of the original article, so I deflected the debate by adding: "The controversy involves several different issues (see more details at: recapitulation theory)."

The plan has been:

  • noted controversy by stating: controversial "recapitulation theory";
  • mention some issues/sources on each side of the debate;
  • added substantial references that explore the debate;
  • deflected further debate by: "see more details at: recapitulation theory..." and,
  • removed expert-tag status, then notified tag originator "Samsara" of completion.

Those steps should resolve the most complex issues; however, feel free to re-insert tag "{expert}" if more analysis is needed for the "Ernst Haeckel" article. -Wikid77 10:56, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

GA review[edit]

1. Well-written? No. The constant use of a parenthetical (see below), dense, difficult-to-read-prose, and very poor organisation. The facts leap about throughout topics, without focus. Sentence structure is very awkward.

2. Factually accurate and verifiable? With the exception of "It has also been claimed (Richardson 1998) that Haeckel's drawings of 1874 were substantially fabricated" - it was claimed long before 1998, as you go on to say in the next few sentences: Haeckel couldn't very well deny it after he was dead - it seems to be accurate. There are numerous cites. Better-quality cites could be used, however: The German Wikipedia's sources ought to have been copied over, instead of referencing the German Wikipedia itself. (particularly as the German article is full of little banners, presumably warning about something wrong with the article). Stephen Jay Gould discussed Haeckel at length multiple times, but is not cited: He could be a useful source.

3. Broad in its coverage? The poor structure makes this difficult to judge. Possibly.

4. NPOV: Kind of. The only quote from Haeckel is his Social Darwinism. Now, certainly this is racist, but given you don't even comment on the inaccuracies, given it's not unusual for the time (not that this exonerates him, of course), and given you don't describe any of his scientific work in detail, it's awkward.

5. Stable: Pass.

6. Images: It's not a requirement, but surely showing one of Haeckel's controversial ontological plates would be appropriate? [N.B.: I added one] As well, the colour plates from his books should probably be given as a gallery at the bottom of the article (adding the additional ones found on the German wikipedia page and the Commons, if desired): They don't actually illustrate anything discussed in the article.

In short, this article clearly fails, and a lot more work seems needed. Sorry. Adam Cuerden talk 19:51, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

I think the above review is spot on. I plan on getting around to this article eventually (and maybe I'll get some scans of embryo drawings and images from History of Creation and Evolution of Man sooner rather than later), but in the mean time I can suggest some sources:
  • on Art and image: Visions of Nature: The Art and Science of Ernst Haeckel by Olaf Breidbach (2006)
  • on embryo drawings and the controversy over them: "Pictures of Evolution and Charges of Fraud: Ernst Haeckel's Embryological Illustrations" by Nick Hopwood, in Isis, June 2006, pp 260-301. (This is a much better source for placing the debate in historical context than the brief pieces from science magazines currently cited)
  • general biography: The most recent scholarly biography of Haeckel is From Here to Eternity: Ernst Haeckel and Scientific Faith by Mario A. Di Gregorio (2005). Alternatively, the Dictionary of Scientific Biography will be a good source for a balanced brief bio.
--ragesoss 21:15, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

Creationist Perspective[edit]

I don't get it. Why is this article so strongly from the Literal Creationist perspective? The pictures in textbooks haven't been from Haekel for a long time- and there's no mention here that they come from the creationist Van Baer's arguments for similarities between embryos.

I've removed the claim that his drawings are still in use; I agree with you that it is an absurd claim to make without evidence. However, what other problems do you have with the article? It is a little disorganized but otherwise doesn't seem bad to me. Uucp 12:12, 7 November 2006 (UTC)
Actually, there was a minor scandal about that two or three years ago; New Scientist reported it. Adam Cuerden talk 00:16, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
Care to provide a quotation and citation? Uucp 13:37, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

"Gould wrote an excellent scholarly book on the intertwined history of embryology and evolution, titled Ontogeny and Phylogeny. As might be guessed from the title, Haeckel is a prominent character in the book, and his theories and their consequences in the field are dissected in detail and without mercy. Gould also returned to this topic in his column in Natural History magazine in 2000, centering his commentary on the discovery of a scathing critique of Haeckel by one of his contemporaries, Louis Agassiz. Gould has also written other related articles, disparaging textbook authors for their deplorable habit of recycling text and figures well beyond reason"

I'e read most of Gould's books, but can't remember which one he discuses the images' use in textbooks in. However, c.f. also the section of the above link "are the textbooks really that bad?"

Now, this is not an ideal cite: I'd prefer a creationist-free Gould quote, say, to this debunking of a creationist, but it does show it seems to be accurate. Adam Cuerden talk 17:31, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

The creationist summary of the Gould article discusses Louis Agassiz's dislike of Haeckel's work over 100 years ago. What relevance does this have to the question of whether or not Haeckel's work still appears in textbooks today? I stand by my assertion that there is no evidence that Haeckel's drawings have appeared in biology textbooks for many, many years. Uucp 19:54, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
The article hints that some do. However, even if they haven't appeared for years, given the age of most public-school textbooks in the US.... Adam Cuerden talk 22:50, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
I encourage you, and anybody else who reads this, to try to find any textbook that includes the Haeckel drawings as fact. I think you will fail; Haeckel's work in this area has been discredited for a long, long time. Even his contemporaries knew that ontology did not recapitulate phylogeny. Absent the citation of specific textbooks that use his drawings, it would be incorrect for this article to state that they are still used.
The creationist reference that you provided is worthless; creationists believe that Haeckel's errors and distortions prove that the theory of evolution is wrong. As they hope to prevent the teaching of evolution, they have a strong bias to present his work as significant in modern science and science education. In reality, Haeckel probably shows up more in design textbooks today (for his etchings of radiolarans) than in biology textbooks, where he appears as a discredited figure if at all.
If you can find evidence that I am wrong about any of this, please let us know. Uucp 23:19, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
...That... wasn't a creationist reference, that was by P.Z. Myers, debunking a creationist. You know, this fellow? For God's sake, I'm a third-year biology student. Merely thinking it's accurate that Haeckel's drawings are used in textbooks does not make you creationist. Adam Cuerden talk 08:10, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
A creatard added a reference to Haeckel's drawings being "now accepted as thoroughly fraudulent", citing Michael Richardson's 1997 article in Anatomy & Embryology. The article cited apparently does not claim fraud, which is difficult to prove and a legal question. At any rate, the cited reference does not back up the fraud accusation inserted by creatard (surprise!) I have replaced the 1997 article by Michael Richardson & James Hanken (previously cited by creatard) with a 1998 publication BY TWO OF THE SAME AUTHORS, Richardson & Hanken again!, plus Robert J. Richards, who is a professional historian and author of a biography of Haeckel. This updated citation contradicts the creatards' accusations. Being a later article, updated, and published in Science, A HIGHER PROFILE JOURNAL, it should take precedence over the 1997 article. To be clear, I will include a small passage from the letter by Richardson, Hanken, Richards, et al. They clearly do not agree with accusations of fraud:
"When we compared his drawings with real embryos, we found that he showed many details incorrectly. He did not show significant differences between species, even though his theories allowed for embryonic variation. For example, we found variations in embryonic size, external form, and segment number which he did not show (1). This does not negate Darwinian evolution. On the contrary, the mixture of similarities and differences among vertebrate embryos reflects evolutionary change in developmental mechanisms inherited from a common ancestor...
...We are not the first to question the drawings. Haeckel's past accusers included His (Leipzig University), Rütimeyer (Basel University), and Brass (leader of the Keplerbund group of Protestant scientists). However, these critics did not give persuasive evidence in support of their arguments. We therefore show here a more accurate representation of vertebrate embryos at three arbitrary stages, including the approximate stage (Fig. 1, column three), which Haeckel showed to be identical. We suggest that Haeckel was right to show increasing difference between species as they develop. He was also right to show strong similarities between his earliest embryos of humans and other eutherian mammals (for example, the cat and the bat; Fig. 1, column three). <bold>However, he was wrong to imply that there is virtually no evolutionary change in early embryos in the vertebrates...
...This work indicates a strong correlation between embryonic developmental sequences in humans and other eutherian mammals, but weak correlation between humans and some "lower" vertebrates. Haeckel's inaccuracies damage his credibility, but they do not invalidate the mass of published evidence for Darwinian evolution. Ironically, had Haeckel drawn the embryos accurately, his first two valid points in favor of evolution would have been better demonstrated." [Richardson MJ, Hanken J, Selwood L, Wright GM, Richars RJ, et al. Letters. Science 15 May 1998, Vol. 280. no. 5366, p. 983] (talk) 19:27, 9 September 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for catching that and improving the caption, sorry it wasn't sorted out earlier. . dave souza, talk 19:39, 9 September 2010 (UTC)

Controversial image[edit]


I uploaded this, to illustrate some of the fallacies in Haeckel's work. I won't put it in the article since I know too little about the image and the circumstances, but if someone with more knowledge finds it appropriate, then you could write an explanatory text. Greetings, --Janke | Talk 14:12, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Is this not applicable? Is this confession a fraud?[edit]

In the January 9th 1909 publication of "Münchener Allegemeine Zeitung" which is/was a weekly science journal, Haeckel wrote a letter to them that was published in said weeks issue: (translated)
"a small portion of my embryo-pictures (possibly 6 or 8 in a hundred) are really (in Dr Brass’s sense of the word) “falsified” — all those, namely, in which the disclosed material for inspection is so incomplete or insufficient that one is compelled in a restoration of a connected development series to fill up the gaps through hypotheses, and to reconstruct the missing members through comparative syntheses. What difficulties this task encounters, and how easily the draughts- man may blunder in it, the embryologist alone can judge." 22:20, 7 February 2007 (UTC)Joshua.... February 07, 2007 4:20 (CST)

It's been almost 3 months, and no reply to my question above. I will add it to the mainpage, and it will quickly be removed and someone will cite a reason why, which is exactly what I was asking for in my question, above. 00:23, 30 April 2007 (UTC)Joshua April 29 2007

First of all you haven't shown that Haeckel said this, or even said who has claimed that Haeckel said this, so you need to do some more research to see if it is true. For all we know the multiple citings are all copying one another, without going back to the source. Assuming it is a correct quote, in answer to your question "Is this confession of fraud", I guess "only the embryolgist" can judge. The quote says that Haeckel admits not meeting Dr Brass's standards, but doesn't admit that that standard is fair. He leaves it to others to judge. E4mmacro 07:02, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

Theis artical mentions nothing of the fact that thsi theory was proven to be 1) seriously wrong in the last few years and secondly that Haeckel was teken to court by his own university about the fraudds in 1875. Please fix your mistakes. Attached is the link to the lastest artical on how deep his frauds were.

By David Hannah, at 7:45 am —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:46, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

Thank you for your thoughts, I regret to have to inform you that Answers in Genesis is not a reliable source for anything other than articles about itself, and verification is needed from experts on Häckel, not from experts on young Earth creationism. . . dave souza, talk 20:31, 25 May 2008 (UTC)


Isn't he most know for his embryo pictures. Should that be more towards the top?

And is there a way to get directed to this article more easliy when you mispell his name? Hignit (talk) 15:49, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Concerning "Politics"[edit]

The subsection "Politics" states that

Haeckel's writings and lectures were later used to provide scientific justifications for racism, nationalism, and social Darwinism.

Haeckel's statement that "politics is applied biology", has been quoted in support of various Nazi philosophies. The Nazi party used not only Haeckel's quotations, but also Haeckel's broader philosophy of "Monism," which they used as justification for racism, nationalism and social Darwinism.

Weird thing then that the Nazi party outlawed The Monist League formed by Haeckel.

Anyway the subsection gives this article as source, and all it says about Haeckel and Nazism is:

On the other hand, Haeckel also stated that "politics is applied biology", a quote used by Nazi propagandists. The Nazi party, rather unfortunately, used not only Haeckel's quotes, but also Haeckel's justifications for racism, nationalism and social darwinism.

Not a word about Haeckel's broader philosophy of "Monism"

--FreezBee (talk) 15:42, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Assertion added to infobox[edit]

An anon added "There is a serious error in failure to recognize Haeckel's comments on the finding of the Neandertal skull cap. It is the latter that is the earliest evidence of "Urmensch", not the subsequent discovery by Dubois in Indonesia." together with an email address Obviously verification is needed and it's in the wrong place, so I've undone the edit. Someone might care to email the author for more info. .. dave souza, talk 17:21, 30 April 2008 (UTC)


Why wouldnt this article mention that Haeckel was charged with fraud by five professors and convicted by a university court? --Lucius Sempronius Turpio (talk) 21:28, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

I don't know. Possibly because you haven't added this information, appropriately cited to a reliable source? Agathman (talk) 21:32, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps because it's a common creationist claim lacking any evidence.[2] . . dave souza, talk 22:40, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
The idea that his embryo drawings are "fraud" is one that has been distorted by creationists, but the accusations by his scientific rivals that he committed fraud definitely merit discussion in a fully-fledged Haeckel article. Standards of scientific illustration—and the concept of objectivity—were changing significantly in the late 19th and early 20th century, and I think it's fair to say that scientific practices that were considered not only acceptable but, often, actually considered the right thing to do in Haeckel's time would count as "fraud" (or at least be unacceptable) according to modern practices. See Nick Hopwood. "Pictures of Evolution and Charges of Fraud:: Ernst Haeckel's Embryological Illustrations", Isis 97 (2006), 260-301, which does a nice job explaining how complex the fraud issue is.--ragesoss (talk) 23:31, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

Ragesoss, That would apply to Haeckel had he been accused of fraud years later, but his own peers accused him, in his day. Dave, its not a claim it happened there was a trail, and my point is why isnt the trial mentioned, not weather or not he is guilty of fraud. And Agathman I didnt add the trail because i knew i would be accused of some creationalist agenda if I did. --Lucius Sempronius Turpio (talk) 02:02, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

How does the fact that Haeckel was accused of fraud by his some of peers (and he was defended by others) contradict anything I said? I said discussions of it belong in the article and I suggested an excellent source such material.--ragesoss (talk) 02:19, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Who said anything about you contradicting yourself? I didnt see in your second to last statement anything about you thinking discussions of it belong in the article. In anycase I am not touching this article. --Lucius Sempronius Turpio (talk) 02:27, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
    • From the my first sentence: "the accusations by his scientific rivals that he committed fraud definitely merit discussion in a fully-fledged Haeckel article". You shouldn't refrain from improving the article if you want to; it's got a long way to go, and really only scratches of the surface of Haeckel's life.--ragesoss (talk) 02:35, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Thanks for the link to the detailed paper, ragesoss. An interesting read. Regarding this particular aspect, p. 297 "With no new editions fueling controversy, the debate over Haeckel’s pictures died down in the 1880s, though without achieving closure: it is a myth that he was tried and convicted of fraud." It's also a useful source for other aspects of the article, including the relationship between Haeckel's ideas and von Baer's research, his support for Bismarck's Kulturkampf, and the way in which Haeckel's Darwinismus "raised Lamarck and Goethe into the pantheon along with Darwin." . . dave souza, talk 08:35, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Can anyone provide details about what is in these sources? --JWSchmidt (talk) 05:02, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

If this is up for debate (I have yet to see a source for the trial-assertion) why is it up there on the main page? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Thistlethorn (talkcontribs) 08:12, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

Bad PMID link[edit]

The posted PMID link to ref 14 is wrong - it leads to an article on burns induced by MRI on tattooed patients. The correct PMID is 9278154. (talk) 18:59, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Corrected. Wasell(T) 07:26, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

Darwin on the recent African origin of modern humans[edit]

Given that Recent African origin of modern humans#History of the theory gives substantial treatment of the early work by Darwin on the idea, this article is clearly relevant to "Charles Darwin, who argued for the monogenesis of the human species and the recent African origin of modern humans." HrafnTalkStalk(P) 05:49, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

It seems to me that the problem is with the word 'recent' in this context. Darwin certainly had the intuition of Africa as the point of origin for human evolution, but none of the paleontological evidence revealed subsequent to his time, much less the refinement in modern understanding, on that basis and on genetic analysis, as well, of successive waves of out-migrations, wherein the word 'recent' means a replacement/supplanting of archaics with modern HSS in 'recent' times (<125Ka). The phrase seems misapplied. The word -recent- is inappropriate, in short, because it is a modern understanding, very definitely not one with relevance to the mid-nineteenth century and is for this reason bad history.Jriley555 (talk) 05:35, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

Fair point, I've piped the link so that it shows the African origin of modern humans while referring to the same article. See Darwin's views. . . dave souza, talk 08:35, 22 March 2013 (UTC)


This is an article about Haeckel, not about Hitler. I've removed the addition "Haeckel's evolutionary theorizing profoundly influenced Adolf Hitler. ref>Webster, Richard (2005). Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science and Psychoanalysis. Oxford: The Orwell Press. p. 230. ISBN 0-9515922-5-4. " as at best it's questionable – Hitler was a creationist and opposed Heackel's ideas, and it certainly doesn't belong where it was placed. . dave souza, talk 09:57, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

If Haeckel influenced Hitler, that is an important fact that surely does deserve to be mentioned somewhere in the article (unless you wish to claim that no article about a writer should ever mention people that writer influenced?). I could provide other sources, in addition to the one you removed. You provide no sources for your claims about Hitler. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 20:59, 26 June 2013 (UTC)


Seems like it might be worthwhile mentioning Haeckel's ideas about the origins of life and the connection to Huxley's Bathybius haeckelii. 2601:644:2:B64B:B001:A54F:1EC1:C086 (talk) 11:25, 23 October 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified one external link on Ernst Haeckel. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 01:04, 26 December 2016 (UTC)

Asking for help in adding the Wikisource link template[edit]

For what it's worth, I think that this is an excellent article. There are a number of works from, and about Ernst Haeckl in Wikisource and would like to add the

template but don't know where to place it and want to mess up the article. I ask anyone in the know to please add this template where it belongs. Thanks. — Ineuw talk 09:32, 5 February 2017 (UTC)