Science & Education

, Volume 25, Issue 5–6, pp 705–715 | Cite as

Mott Greene’s Wegener–Not the Textbook Example

Mott T. Greene (2015) Alfred Wegener: Science, Exploration, and the Theory of Continental Drift. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, ISBN: 978-1-4214-1712-7, 675 pp, $44.95 USD (hardback)
  • Glenn R. Dolphin
Book Review

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...


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Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest in the publication of this book review.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeoscienceUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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