Rev. Jan Dzierżoń was a roman-catholic priest from Silesia, that did some important contributions to biology and beekeeping with his research. I.a. he is crediting with the discovery, that drones are a product of parthenogenesis.

Dzierżoń came into conflict with the Church and was excommunicated. The Wikipedia article lists two reasons for this: his rejections of papal infallibility and belief in parthenogenesis. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Dzierzon While the first thing seems credible to me, I am rather skeptical about the latter. The link from Wikipedia is dead, so I wonder if there are some sources that confirm that the work on parthenogenesis played a role in his excommunication.


1 Answer 1


The source Wikipedia is using says:

Long-standing conflicts with ... the ecclesiastical authorities (e.g. criticism of dogma concerning papal fallibility) resulted, ultimately, in his excommunication

No mention of his scientific work here.

An article about this in Polish says (via Google Translate):

When the curia demanded an explanation, the priest did not go to Wroclaw. He responded to Bishop Foerster in the "Schlesische Zeitung". The newspaper "Schlesische Volkszeitung" also had a cut response. Then he wrote to the bishop a letter: "There is no greater sin than to attribute the divine qualities to someone who is just mortal." In October 1873 he was excommunicated.

No mention of scientific work there either. In fact it sounds like bees were totally unrelated:

He opened [discussion with a] new pastor, Fr. Wiktor Scholtyskie, but he reserved that they would not talk about church matters. The pastor accepted the condition. They talked regularly, mostly about bees and business affairs. As Fr. Scholtyssek, Jan Dzierżon finally asked him - April 5, 1905 - for confession. A day later, for the first time after 36 years, he received the Holy Communion.

Polish Wikipedia does not mention parthenogenesis in relation with his excommunication.

I cannot find a citation for this anywhere. I think it is a pure fabrication that has been added to English Wikipedia.

  • 2
    Wikipedia has now removed this claim, but it was already cut-and-pasted into a print-on-demand "research" book called "The Search for Human Chromosomes: A History of Discovery" (Springer, 2016), which is held by 121 libraries. There's a moral to this story, and it's either about Wikipedia or about the academic publishing industry.
    – Avery
    Aug 5, 2017 at 12:53
  • 1
    Well, Randall Munroe had a take on this - Obligatory XKCD
    – T. Sar
    Aug 5, 2017 at 18:37

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