"Dumbing down evolution to kill it"


Writing in the Los Angeles Times (February 12, 2007), Edward Humes commemorated Darwin Day by addressing the pervasive misunderstanding of evolution by the public. "There are really two theories of evolution," he explains. "There is the genuine scientific theory, and there is the talk-radio pretend version, designed not to enlighten but to deceive and enrage. ... The evidence against Darwin is overwhelming, the purveyors of talk-radio evolution rail, yet scientists embrace his ideas because they want to promote atheism." But in fact, "[t]hose claims are made up by critics to get people riled up -- paving the way for pleasing alternatives like intelligent design."

The purveyors of "the awful and pervasive straw-man image of evolution" are all too effective, Humes laments. Not only did Judge Jones, who presided over the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, receive death threats after his decision, but also "teachers across the nation tell me they feel compelled to downplay or skip evolution lessons to avoid controversy; one L.A.-area high school instructor said she is the only one of five science teachers on her faculty to even mention evolution in class, notwithstanding a clear state mandate to teach it." (Compare the results of NSTA's March 2005 informal survey.)

Humes is the author of Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul (Ecco, 2006), which centers on the Kitzmiller v. Dover case; the reviewer for the Chicago Tribune (February 4, 2007), wrote, "Clearly based on exhaustive reporting that takes the reader from the hard benches of a Harrisburg, Pa., federal district courtroom to the kitchen tables of Dover families whose children were taunted as 'monkey girls,' Humes' fast-moving, richly detailed book reads like a suspense novel. ... Humes may be the most successful so far in making a complicated issue accessible and in putting human faces on both sides of the evolution divide."