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A Partisan Affair (Part 2): False Attacks Upon Discovery Institute in Edward Humes’ Pseudo-History of Kitzmiller, “Monkey Girl

[Editor’s Note: For a full and comprehensive review and response to Edward Humes’ book, Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, and the Battle for America’s Soul, please see A Partisan Affair: A Response to Edward Humes’ Inaccurate History of Kitzmiller v. Dover and Intelligent Design, “Monkey Girl.]

Any book with an icon of evolution on its cover — in this case, the fanciful diagram of ape-like skeletons transitioning into a human skeleton — is bound to be unfriendly towards intelligent design (ID). When I received my copy of Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul, Edward Humes’ book about the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, I expected no less. Humes’ FAQ on evolution and ID on his website made the incredibly bold claim, “There is more scientific evidence … to support evolutionary theory than … gravitational theory.” What I did not expect to find in Humes’ book were dozens of inaccurate claims about the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial and extensive name-calling and ad hominem attacks against Discovery Institute, where he says we are “combativ[e], “running scared,” “angry,” “cocky,” “co[y],” “masters of anti-evolution spin,” “would-be giant killer[s],” and “sore loser[s].” This isn’t upsetting–just surprising given that it comes from a book that is being touted as a true and correct historical treatment of this trial. This second installment will discuss Humes’…

Attacks upon Discovery Institute:

  • Humes attacks Discovery Institute by selectively quoting from the “wedge document” and making no mention of its scientific goals: “To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of the theory,” and “To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.” Humes also fails to observe the document seeks to end misuses of science to promote philosophical claims, and that leading Darwinists in fact have expressed their own ideological motives for promoting evolution. For a response on the “Wedge Document,” see “The ‘Wedge Document’: ‘So What’?.” For details on why it is a fallacious argument for Darwinists to cite the alleged religious motives, beliefs, and affiliations of ID proponents in an effort to attack ID, see “Any larger philosophical implications of intelligent design, or any religious motives, beliefs, and affiliations of ID proponents, do not disqualify ID from having scientific merit.”
  • Humes relies extensively upon the arguments of Barbara Forrest in her book Creationism’s Trojan Horse, discussing the alleged religious motives and beliefs of ID-proponents. Humes fails to treat the issue fairly and he fails to recognize that Barbara Forrest’s fallacious “Trojan Horse” insinuations could apply equally to his own side. For more information, please see “Response to Barbara Forrest’s Kitzmiller Account Part III: Do Religious (or Anti-Religious) Beliefs Matter?,” “Response to Barbara Forrest’s Kitzmiller Account Part IV: The “Wedge Document,” and “Response to Barbara Forrest’s Kitzmiller Account Part V: Phillip Johnson and Of Pandas and People.”
  • Through more free-association arguments, Humes tries to link Discovery Institute to fellows to theocracy. While discussing various Discovery fellows, he mentions some unrelated senator who allegedly “believes America should be transformed into a Bible-based theocracy” (pg. 144). In another section, Humes mentions a preacher who defended Dover and allegedly looked forward to a day where “there will be no separation between church and state” and “[w]e will live in a theocracy” (pg. 20). Humes’ theocracy insinuations are flatly false conspiracy theories (for details, see “The Truth about Discovery Institute and Theoracy“), and his irrelevant discussion of the beliefs and motives of design-proponents reveals his usage of a double-standard: Humes never mentions the fact that many leading Darwinists have equal but opposite anti-religious beliefs and motives which would disqualify evolution from being science if his arguments were applied fairly. If Humes were to be fair, he would have to recognize that his side’s own philosophical and ideological affiliations would disqualify Darwinian evolution from being scientific. For more details, see “Any larger philosophical implications of intelligent design, or any religious motives, beliefs, and affiliations of ID proponents, do not disqualify ID from having scientific merit.”
  • Recapitulating Darwinist talking points and parroting Chris Mooney’s rhetoric in The Republican War on Science, Humes claims that Discovery Institute has “manufactured an evolutionary scientific controversy that previously did not exist” (pg. 71). There are some glaring problems with Humes’ conspiracy theory, namely that it’s impossible to “manufacture” 700+ Ph.D. scientists who are skeptical of neo-Darwinism’s central claims. Nor is it possible to simply “manufacture” books published by prestigious academic presses like Cambridge University Press, Michigan State University Press, or MIT Press, giving space to scientists and scholars to debate evolution and intelligent design. Nor is it possible to simply “manufacture” numerous peer-reviewed scientific articles challenging key aspects of modern evolutionary theory or supporting intelligent design. To give one of many examples, in 2004 pro-ID biochemist Michael Behe and physicist David Snoke published in the journal Protein Science the results of their evolution simulations showing certain protein-protein interactions could not evolve within normal eukaryotic population sizes. An evolutionary biologist then wrote a response to Behe and Snoke’s article. (See Michael Lynch, “Simple evolutionary pathways to complex proteins,” Protein Science, Vol. 14:2217-2225 (2005).) Behe and Snoke then responded to Lynch (see Protein Science, Vol. 14:2226-2227(2005).) If this isn’t evidence of a scientific debate and controversy over evolution, what is? For the list of scientists who doubt Darwinism, see “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism,” and for a partial list of peer-reviewed pro-ID scientific papers, see “Peer-Reviewed & Peer-Edited Scientific Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design (Annotated).” For a further response on the claim that Discovery Institute has somehow managed to “manufacture” a controversy over evolution, see “Whose “War” Is It, Anyway?: Exposing Chris Mooney’s Attack on Intelligent Design.”
  • Humes tries to paint Discovery Institute as having changed its science education policy since Dover, insinuating that prior to Dover, Discovery supported districts that would mandate ID. His example, however, is our support for an individual teacher who taught about ID — not a school district policy. This example does not challenge our policy, for Discovery’s clearly-stated science education policy supports individual teachers who teach ID at their own discretion in a safe environment, as it states, “Although Discovery Institute does not advocate requiring the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, it does believe there is nothing unconstitutional about voluntarily discussing the scientific theory of design in the classroom.” That’s all this teacher did: voluntarily discuss ID without any requirement from his district. But as far back as 2002, when Discovery Institute got involved in its first major public policy battle, in Ohio, Stephen Meyer wrote: “First, I suggested–speaking as an advocate of the theory of intelligent design–that Ohio not require students to know the scientific evidence and arguments for the theory of intelligent design…” For more information, see “Discovery Institute’s Science Education Policy.” For a discussion of Discovery Institute’s history of opposing attempts to mandate ID, see “Rebuttal to Irons,” and see Stephen C. Meyer’s “Teach the Controversy” (March 30, 2002).
  • Humes attempts to impugn the integrity of the Discovery Institute’s former staff attorney Seth Cooper, who had communication with the Dover School Board before they passed their ID-policy, by insinuating that Cooper actually tried to convince Dover to push ID into its curriculum. Humes is confused about the facts and relying upon inaccurate and untrustworthy sources. Cooper explained what really happened: “I also made clear to Buckingham that Discovery Institute does not support the mandating of the theory of intelligent design. … In the hopes of persuading Buckingham away from leading the Dover Board on any unconstitutional and unwise course of action concerning the teaching of evolution, I sent Buckingham a DVD titled Icons of Evolution, along with a companion study guide. Those materials do not include arguments for the theory of intelligent design, but instead contain critiques of textbook treatments of the contemporary version of Darwin’s theory and the chemical origin of the first life.” Humes also explains that Cooper sent Buckingham the Icons of Evolution DVD, but fails to acknowledge that the Icons of Evolution video is not about intelligent design. To contradict Cooper, Humes relies upon Bill Buckingham, a Dover school board member who alleges that Cooper told Dover to teach ID and claims that later Cooper became “a rat jumping from a sinking ship.” Humes tells the story so as to favor Buckingham’s account, but he has no evidence other than Buckingham’s inaccurate history. It should be noted that Humes is asking the reader to disregard the perspective of an attorney who has worked in this field for many years and instead trust a board member (Buckingham) whom Judge Jones said in his ruling “testified inconsistently, or lied outright under oath” and is therefore “not credible.” For more details, see “Statement by Seth L. Cooper Concerning Discovery Institute and the Decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board Intelligent Design Case.” Further discussion can be seen at “Intelligent Design will Survive Kitzmiller v. Dover” and “Rebuttal to Irons.”
  • Humes tries to paint Discovery Institute as having changed its tune in Dover over whether Dover should mandate ID. But statements issued by Discovery Institute — before Dover passed its ID-policy, before the ACLU filed its lawsuit, and at the time the lawsuit was filed — each consistently opposed the mandatory teaching of intelligent design. The Institute was consistent in its position in Dover, and the picture painted by Humes does not fit the facts. For details, see “Intelligent Design will Survive Kitzmiller v. Dover” and “Rebuttal to Irons.”

Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



Edward HumesKitzmiller v. Dover Area School DistrictMonkey Girl