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Summer reading in Natural History


Writing in the June 2007 issue of Natural History, Richard Milner reviews a batch of books centering on the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, explaining, "Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District was the first time anyone had challenged a public school district in the federal courts about the teaching of ["intelligent design"], which the parents argued was not a scientific theory at all." Among the books reviewed are Michael Shermer's Why Darwin Matters, John Brockman’s anthology Intelligent Thought, Matthew Chapman's 40 Days and 40 Nights, Edward Humes's Monkey Girl, and Gordy Slack's The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything, as well as Randy Olson's documentary Flock of Dodos.

NCSE makes its appearance, too. Milner is enthusiastic about Eugenie C. Scott and Glenn Branch's anthology Not in Our Classrooms, which he says "features essays by biologists, educators, philosophers, and theologians, each approaching the subject from a distinct perspective. Branch offers his own handbook for activists, and others attack ID not only as pseudoscience, but also as an exemplar of pandering politics, poor pedagogy, and tacky theology. The collection gives teachers plenty of ammunition for fighting verbal battles or answering students' questions."

Milner also writes, "Of all the witnesses to testify at the trial, the chroniclers agree, the hero was Barbara C. Forrest, a philosopher and historian from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond." He praises Creationism's Trojan Horse, in which Forrest and her coauthor Paul R. Gross "tracked the creationist movement's history -- through the group's own internal documents [i.e., the Discovery Institute's Wedge document] -- and revealed that its objective was never scientific, but had always been religious." Forrest is a member of NCSE's board of directors, and Creationism's Trojan Horse is now out in paperback, with a new chapter on Kitzmiller.