The monkey business of "Monkey Girl"
Myth: the modern Intelligent Design movement was conceived by scientists to further human knowledge and understanding.
Fact: The modern Intelligent Design movement was conceived by a lawyer in order to overthrow evolutionary theory and bring God “back” to public school classrooms.
That is just a blatant smear of the intelligent design movement. Many prominent proponents of ID have been scientists and technologists with no religious ax to grind.
Another example from the Monkey Girl FAQ:
Myth: Evolutionary theory states that man evolved from monkeys.
Fact: Evolutionary theory states that man and monkeys share a common ancestor that was neither man nor monkey, but possessed qualities passed on to each.
Even humans are now considered to be apes. Some of the extinct alleged ancestors of humans are non-human apes. Wikipedia says of apes,
Until a handful of decades ago, humans were thought to be distinctly set apart from the other apes (even from the other great apes), so much so that many people still don't think of the term "apes" to include humans at all. However, it is not considered accurate by many biologists to think of apes in a biological sense without considering humans to be included. The terms "non-human apes" or "non-human great apes" is used with increasing frequency to show the relationship of humans to the other apes while yet talking only about the non-human species.
Also, the prologue of the book says about the Dover Area school board's ID policy,
As the board majority saw it, all this would do was improve science education in Dover -- an inclusion of new and exciting theories, a commitment to accuracy and fairness by referencing “both sides” of the evolution question, and a lesson in critical thought added to all that tired, materialistic Darwinian dogma. Who, the board majority maintained, could argue with that?
They might have had a point, too, but for two big problems: Their own in-house experts – the entire science faculty – informed them that Intelligent Design was hooey in their considered opinion, that it was creationism in all but name, and that they adamantly opposed its introduction into the curriculum. And then there were the official discussions leading up to the new policy that seemed to belie the board’s bland insistence that it had no religious agenda . . .
The fact that the teachers disapproved of the ID policy does not mean or imply that the policy was an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. Also, the religious motives of the some of the school board members arguably should not have been a factor in the Dover case but because of the infamous Lemon test unfortunately were.
Also, the prologue says of former school board member David Napierski,
Like other members of the school board, he says his support for “balance” is not based on any extensive knowledge of what Intelligent Design is all about, or evolution for that matter. Indeed, he clearly fails to grasp that evolutionary theory in no way claims that man descended from apes, but only that today’s men and today’s apes share a common ancestor in the distant, prehistoric past.
As noted above, the extinct alleged ancestors of humans are non-human apes.
The Monkey Girl homepage also lists the following unreliable sources of information:
Panda's Thumb (a group Darwinist blog)
Uncommon Descent (a group anti-Darwinist blog)
Pharyngula (personal blog of PZ Myers, who also blogs on Panda's Thumb)
The above blogs are unreliable because they arbitrarily censor comments and commenters, and as a result many of the discussion threads on these blogs are very one-sided. The same is true of the personal blogs of Panda's Thumb bloggers Ed Brayton (Dispatches from the Culture Wars) and Esley Welsberry (Austringer).
The Monkey Girl homepage also cites another unreliable source, the Fordham Foundation's report on state evolution education standards. The Fordham Foundation once threatened to drop Ohio's overall science education grade from a B to an F because of the state's former critical analysis lesson plan for evolution education (see letter posted on Jan. 21, 2006 on this webpage), even though evolution education is worth only 3 points out of a maximum possible score of 69 for overall state science education ratings in the Fordham Foundation's 2005 report on state science standards. Also, the Fordham Foundation's criteria for determining states' overall science education ratings -- e.g., "seriousness" and "quality" -- have been criticized as being arbitrary, vague, and subjective, and the ratings have been criticized as having no correlation with actual student performance (BTW, the Fordham Foundation has no connection with Fordham University).
An article in the York Dispatch, a local newspaper in Dover, says about the book,
"The central element is the (Dover) case, but it's placed in a larger context," Humes said earlier this month.
The book looks at similar controversies in Kansas and other states, as well as the history of evolution-versus-religion cases, such as the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee.
Though Dover's trial was billed as the "second coming" of the Scopes trial, Humes said the Dover case "went far beyond Scopes" because the scientific experts weren't allowed to testify in the Scopes case.
The Dover trial was considered to be "Scopes II" in terms of publicity and fame. However, so far as the content and nature of the Dover case are concerned, the true predecessors of the case are: (1) the relatively unknown McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education (1982), where there was also a lot of expert scientific testimony; and (2) Selman v. Cobb County(2005-2006) and the almost unknown but nonetheless significant Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish(2000) cases, which like the Dover case were evolution disclaimer cases.
The York Dispatch article also says,
" . . . I think that is very common. ... People doubt or outright reject the theory of evolution but they don't even know what it is they've rejected," Humes said. "They just know they don't like it."
I don't think that is true. I think that people in general are not as ignorant about evolution as Humes wants to believe.
Ultimately, the fallout for such thinking could be a national crisis; fewer young Americans are getting science degrees, and that doesn't bode well for the United States' progress against foreign competitors, Humes said.
That's hogwash -- the public's beliefs about evolution have nothing to do with technological competitiveness. No commercial product is based on macroevolution theory, and scientists can use evolution theory (as they do in cladistic taxonomy) even while believing that only part of it or none of it is true. And there is a surplus -- not a shortage -- of Americans with advanced training in science and technology.
An article in the York Daily Record, another local newspaper in the Dover, says,
For "Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion and the Battle for America's Soul," Humes interviewed several key players in the trial, such as Bill Buckingham, Judge John E. Jones III and Jeff and Casey Brown.
If Judge Jones' interview included direct comments about the case, then this is another example showing that Jones lied when he said -- through a spokesperson -- that he "has always avoided speaking about the case directly."
The York Daily Record article continues,
"When people talk about the theory of evolution, they really don't know what it is," he [Humes] said. "It's evident of how poor of a job are we doing educating kids in science."
Does the statement "[w]hen people talk about the theory of evolution, they really don't know what it is" apply to those who support evolution theory as well as those who do not? And evolution theory is only a small part of science, so how can this alleged ignorance of evolution theory be evidence that we are allegedly doing a poor job of educating kids in science? Also, as someone astutely pointed out, if there is anything wrong with American science education, then the Darwinists are to blame because they have had complete, absolute monopoly control of American science education for the last several decades.
Humes said he encourages the public to read his book with an open mind. He said he made his best effort to present all perspectives fairly.
I disagree. From what I have seen of Humes' writings about the case, he does not present all perspectives fairly.
"But it's pretty hard to find fault with the judge's findings," he said.
Ahem. Many people including myself have found plenty of fault with the judge's findings.
Also, the York Daily Record article included the following statement from Judge Jones, taken from the book's official website:
"Ed Humes' remarkable and balanced narrative has captured the essence of this complex and emotional dispute. When discussing the trial I have frequently found myself saying that to truly understand it, you had to be there. Humes' compelling book accomplishes just that, in that it explains this controversy to the reader in detail. In the face of the many inaccuracies and distortions promulgated by the punditry and others, we happily now have a definitive and thorough account of what really happened both before and during the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial."
For starters, IMO Jones' commenting about a book about the trial is -- strictly speaking -- contrary to his statement that he has always avoided speaking about the case directly.
As for his statement, "When discussing the trial I have frequently found myself saying that to truly understand it, you had to be there," that's BS. I never came anywhere near Dover or the courtroom and I did not participate in the trial in any way, but I challenge anyone to read this blog's dozens of articles connected to the case and say that I don't truly understand it. And a lot of important things connected with the case -- such as Judge Jones' infamous "true religion" speech at Dickinson College -- were not even part of the trial. Practically all that I know about the case I learned through the Internet -- some people simply don't understand the great power of the Internet as a means of gathering information and ideas.
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The Discovery Institute's charge that the Dover opinion's ID-as-science section was virtually copied in its entirety from the plantiffs' opening post-trial brief probably came too late to be included in Monkey Girl. However, I feel that no book about the Dover case may be considered to be definitive without considering this charge.
I have often been criticized for posting reviews of books that I have not actually read in their entirety. However, though it has been often said that a book cannot be judged by its cover, I believe that it is possible to judge a book by means of such things as the book's introduction (or a "prologue" in the case of Monkey Girl), the book's website, and the comments of others.