What do you mean by a lie?

Steven Shapin

  • BuyHaeckel’s Embryos: Images, Evolution and Fraud by Nick Hopwood
    Chicago, 388 pp, £31.50, May 2015, ISBN 978 0 226 04694 5

Some generalisations about the natural world are easy to recall because they are expressed in apothegms – concise, rhetorically marked-out sayings that stick in the mind and come easily to the tongue. Whatever goes up must come down; for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction; all life from pre-existing life; all cells from pre-existing cells; the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection; energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

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[*] Steven Shapin wrote about one such episode, the ‘Baltimore case’, in the LRB of 4 March 1999.