John West: More Scopes Trial Revisionism

Buffoon Award

At the blog of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists), we find this article: New Film Exposes Bigotry and Junk Science of Early Twentieth-Century Darwinists.

It’s written by John West. Most of you know who he is (we affectionately call him “Westie”). It’s in his honor that we have adorned this post with our jolly Buffoon logo, because he’s a winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award. Westie is Associate Director of the Discoveroids’ creationist “think tank,” which consumes almost half of the Discovery Institute’s’ $4 million budget (see Their 2007 Tax Return). That makes him one of the chief Keepers of their wedge strategy.

Westie has previously revealed to us that he’s a fan of William Jennings Bryan — the Great Populist Blowhard. See: John West & William Jennings Bryan. In today’s Discoveroid blog article, Westie continues the Discoveroids’ campaign to rewrite the history and meaning of the Scopes Trial. That’s a difficult task, considering that the complete transcript of the trial is readily available. Here are some excerpts from Westie’s article, with bold font added by us and Westie’s links omitted:

The infamous Scopes “monkey” trial is typically remembered today as a battle royal between ignorant Bible thumpers and the enlightened defenders of evolution and scientific progress. Journalist H.L. Mencken framed his narrative of the trial this way, and the didactic play and film Inherit the Wind spread the caricature to future generations.

In truth, many defenders of evolution during the Scopes trial era were anything but enlightened.

Uh, Westie … are you suggesting that the creationists of that era were enlightened? Let’s find out:

As I explained in a previous article, Alleged accurately portrays how many scientists and doctors of the era embraced the junk science of eugenics on Darwinian grounds.

True, but the creationists had no objection to eugenics either, so that’s not a point for Westie. Let’s read on:

The film also deftly reveals that the biology textbook Scopes was expected to teach from (Hunter’s Civic Biology) dispensed a ravingly racist version of human evolution, with “the Ethiopian or negro type” placed at the bottom of the human evolutionary tree and “the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America” enshrined at the top as “the highest type of all.”

Yes, Westie. But that stuff wasn’t part of the Scopes trial, and there’s no evidence that Bryan (your hero, Westie) ever objected to any of that. In all of Dayton, Tennessee, there was probably no bigger racist than Bryan. See: Creationism and Racism. We continue:

As Alleged shows in some funny scenes, the defenders of Darwin of the time offered up such now-discredited icons of evolution as Haeckel’s embryos and “Nebraska Man.”

Lordy, lordy. Observe that Westie doesn’t claim that stuff was used at the Scopes trial (and it wasn’t). So why does he mention it? Here’s one more excerpt:

[A]s Alleged points out, the scientific community itself can be dominated by a dogmatism that subverts rational thought and an honest evaluation of the evidence.

But that never happens with creationists, does it? BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

To conclude, here’s an online copy of Bryan’s closing argument. Neither side made a closing argument to the jury, but Bryan had prepared one and he distributed it after the trial. It’s all about evolution, and none of the other issues Westie is talking about. Is anyone surprised?

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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3 responses to “John West: More Scopes Trial Revisionism

  1. Thanks Curmy, Bryan’s closing argument was good reading. I found the initial part of it (starting “Let us now separate…”) particularly ironic, given that the difference between individual freedom of conscious and what gets taught in schools is argued by secularists today and denied by modern creationists.

    I also found this bit amusing: “…the inability of science to trace any one of the millions of species to another species outweighs all the resemblances upon which evolutionists rely to establish man’s blood relationship with the brutes.” Bryan could not have known about DNA, of course. But it illustrates the complete whitewashing by modern creationists of one of the most powerful and succesful predictions of evolution ever made: a common mechanism for interitance. Creationists of Bryan’s time were well aware that evolution lacked evidence of such a thing. And they rightly identified the existence of such a mechanism as a predictive difference between creationism and evolution – evolution requires it, but it would serve no purpose under creation. Once the mechanism was found, of course, creationists were forced to revise their own history and forget that they have ever held the position Bryan obviously holds.

  2. Eric: “Once the mechanism was found, of course, creationists were forced to revise their own history…”

    A very good point that needs to be refreshed in our common memory. DNA is essentially the proof of evolution — or as close to “proof” as one can get in the natural sciences.

  3. I find it fascinating that the DI is mired in rehashing settled legal cases and warping quotes from dead people.

    If there is a Stage Four Dementia, the DI is in the middle of it.