Mott Greene’s Wegener–Not the Textbook Example
Introduction: The “Myth” of Alfred Wegener
Back in early December 2015, when the editors of Science & Educationasked me to review Mott Greene’s biography of Alfred Wegener, I was very excited to accept. As a former Earth Science teacher in New York public schools, I became aware of Wegener and his struggles to promote the idea of the horizontal displacement of the continents to explain the origin of continents and oceans. This idea went against the conventional wisdom at the time: fixed continents on a thermally contracting Earth. This is how the textbook recounted it—and not just the textbook I was using—as almost any introductory geology textbook presents a similar depiction. Most texts portray Wegener, a meteorologist, as a “lone genius” proposing an idea of drifting continents that the rest of the geologic world dismissed as fancy, solely because his idea lacked a viable mechanism. To add insult to injury, these texts further portray Wegener as a martyr, emphasizing that he never...
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The author declares that he has no conflict of interest in the publication of this book review.