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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2004
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Claim CB601.4:

In one of Bernard Kettlewell's peppered moth studies, his moth recapture rate increased greatly beginning on July 1. July 1 was also the date on which E. B. Ford sent Kettlewell a letter commiserating with him for the low recapture rates. This suggests that Kettlewell cheated to increase his recapture rates.


Hooper, Judith, 2002. Of Moths and Men: An Evolutionary Tale. New York: W.W. Norton.


  1. Kettlewell would not have received Ford's letter before the increase in his recapture rate had already begun. The collection of July 1 was completed by the early morning. Since Ford's letter would have arrived after, it could not have been a factor.

  2. Kettlewell recaptured more moths after July 1 because he was releasing more moths then. The number of moths he collected is not significantly different from the collections one would expect on the basis of the number of moths released in the two prior days (Young 2004). He probably released more moths because the moths he was rearing reached adulthood then.

  3. Much of the remaining variation in recapture rate might be explained by moonlight. The low recapture rates occurred when the moon was full, and for many species of moths, a full moon reduces the numbers caught in light traps.

  4. Kettlewell's conclusions were based not only on his recapture experiment but also on three other investigations. The same conclusions were found by many other experiments on peppered and other moths by other researchers (Grant 1999).


Young, Matt, 2004. Moonshine: Why the peppered moth remains an icon of evolution. or


  1. Grant, Bruce S., 1999. Fine tuning the peppered moth paradigm. Evolution 53(3): 980-984.
  2. Young, Matt, 2004. (see above)

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created 2004-1-28