[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.]
In his book Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul, author Edwards Humes makes many inaccurate claims about science education policy. Humes’ partisanship comes through clearly in these discussions, as he contends that those who would not teach evolution in a one-sided pro-Darwin-only fashion are engaged in a “concerted attack … on the teaching of evolution and other bedrock principles of modern science.” (pg. 25.) Humes’ repetition of common Darwinist rhetoric is only the beginning of the problem, for he makes many…
Incorrect Claims about Science Standards and Education Policy:
- Humes claims that Americans are “divided” on evolution and how it should be taught, but polls consistently show that the vast majority of Americans reject neo-Darwinian evolution and over 75% are united in believing that ID should be taught in schools. For details, see “Americans Overwhelmingly Support Teaching Scientific Challenges to Darwinian Evolution, Zogby Poll Shows.”
- Humes goes after good science education formerly in the Ohio and Kansas science standards, calling them a “concerted attack” on “the teaching of evolution” which shook “bedrock principles of modern science.” (pg. 25.) But a close look at Ohio’s former policy shows that it yielded many pedagogical benefits to students, citing the National Research Council’s suggestion that students engage in “critical and logical thinking.” Does Humes oppose the use of “critical and logical thinking” when it comes to evolution? For more information about Ohio’s former science policy, see Ohio State Board of Education Repeals Critical Analysis Policy; Sends to Subcommittee for Further Review and Recommendation.”
- Humes fails to note that leading ID-proponents criticized the 1999 Kansas school board for removing some aspects of evolution from their state science standards in 1999. For example, when discussing Kansas, Phillip Johnson wrote: “Of course students should learn the orthodox Darwinian theory and the evidence that supports it, but they should also learn why so many are skeptical, and they should hear the skeptical arguments in their strongest form rather than in a caricature intended to make them look as silly as possible.” Michael Behe contends that schools should “[t]each Darwin’s elegant theory. But also discuss where it has real problems accounting for the data, where data are severely limited…” Finally, Jonathan Wells opines that “[s]tudents should be taught about Darwinian evolution because it is enormously influential in modern biology. But they should also be given the resources to evaluate the theory critically.” For more information, see Phillip Johnson, The Wedge of Truth, pg. 82 (Intervarsity Press, 1999); Michael Behe, “Teach Evolution and Ask Hard Questions,” New York Times, (August 13, 1999), and Jonathan Wells, “Give students the resources to critique Darwin,” Kansas City Star, (August 1 1999).
- Humes repeats false Darwinist rhetoric that the former 2005 Kansas Science Standards “opened the door to supernatural explanations … to miracles, to purpose and design in the universe, and to God” (pg. 148), and he reiterates the fear that local school boards would start teaching intelligent design. These are all blatantly false claims that recapitulate Darwinist talking points from the battle over the 2005 Kansas Science Standards. The truth is that Kansas’ 2005 definition of science was simply reset to how most states around the U.S. define science. For more details, see “Kansas Definition of Science Consistent With All Other States Contrary to Media Claims,” “Response To John Rennie at Scientific American,” “Kansas Citizens for Misrepresenting the Kansas Science Standards’ Misinformation Promoted by Scientific American,” “Kansas 101: Why the Kansas Science Standards Do NOT Cover Intelligent Design,” “Black and White: There’s no ID under the Kansas Science Standards,” and “Jack Krebs’ Approach to Statutory Interpretation.”
- Humes claims the 2005 Kansas Science Standards “denigrate evolution,” revealing his partisan assessment of the standards. For more details on the scientific validity of those standards, see “Kansas 102: Do the Kansas Science Standards Contain Claims Made Only by Intelligent Design Proponents?“
- Humes praises a Darwinist attorney, who opposed the good 2005 Kansas Science Standards, whose primary tactic was not to discuss science, but to attack the alleged religious beliefs and motives of experts who testified in favor of teaching scientific critique of evolution. That Humes spends time recounting the religious motives of Kansas Board of Education Members further exposes his support for this tactic. For details on the fallacy of this tactic, 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.”
When trying to convince me to do an interview for Monkey Girl, author Edwards Humes told me he was non-partisan. But we have seen that his book unilaterally takes the side of the Darwinists, constantly portrays ID-proponents in a negative light, and often recapitulates common Darwinist talking points. In fact, Humes’ repeated uncritical recapitulation and endorsement of nearly everything Judge Jones and the Darwinists said in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial makes Monkey Girl about as partisan as you can possibly get. But what would you expect from an author who said that evolution is better supported than gravity?
In his book Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul, Edwards Humes says that, “if the evolution wars are to continue, let the combatants be armed with facts, not fiction.” (pg. viii.) Unfortunately, one will not find a balanced treatment of the facts in Monkey Girl, for it offers a strikingly false and inaccurate account of ID and the Kitzmiller case. Monkey Girl is worth reading if you want to understand the popular Darwinist perspective this debate. But if Monkey Girl is any indication, it’s a very one-sided perspective that is betrayed by many facts and filled with false caricatures and stereotypes.