Now this is the genetic fallacy

Hey Luskin. This is what a genetic fallacy actually looks like.

The Darwinists devoutly desire to avoid the true history of their creed, and usually the media assist in the cover up–unknowingly, I would like to think. The “Inherit the Wind” trope that is monotonously employed by journalists–not to mention Judge Jones of Dover, PA fame–derives from the play and movie of that name. But this cliché, which is the source of what many journalists think about the subject, was fiction and not even aimed at the evolution issue so much as the danger of McCarthyism in the 1950s. The real Scopes trial in 1925 was rather different. And so was the biology textbook that was at the heart of the Scopes trial.

Hunter’s A Civic Biology was racist. It advocated therapeutic eugenics–and it was widely used in schools around America, not just in Tennessee. John West’s forthcoming book, Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, includes an extensive examination of the subject as it relates to the popularity of eugenics in general.

Congratulations therefore go to Garin Hovanissian, who brings up the topic of the Hunter biology textbook in The Weekly Standard. We are coming up on the 100th anniversary of Darwin’s birth in 2009, so you can be sure that Inherit the Wind will be shown in thousands of high school and college classrooms, where it will be lovingly presented as an approximation of the truth. It might be useful before then to dig up all the speeches of William Hunter, the racist and eugenicist, and of his champion, the great H. L. Mencken. The fullness of the truth will be found there. How hard will the Darwinists fight to keep the students from learning about that?

Just thought he might like to know what one looked like. “Darwinism was once used in a racist textbook and racist people liked it – therefore there is something wrong with the science and you should believe ID”. He’s got some poisoning the well there too, going after H. L. Mencken and Hunter for being bigots. It has nothing to do with the validity of the science of course. And Mencken wasn’t just a racist and eugenicist, he was also sexist, anti-semitic, anti-woman, anti-child, anti-foreigner etc. Mencken pretty much hated on everybody. It’s not exactly a secret you know. It’s also totally irrelevant to the validity of the science.


  1. You should really see Theologians Under Hitler. Blaming atrocities on “Darwinism” is a disgusting slur. On the other hand, Protestant Christianity is complicit. Not only did Luther lay the framework, major Protestant theologians actually threw their weight behind the Nazi party and gave religious justification to the persecution (and eventual extermination) of Jews. For Protestants to blame the Holocaust on Darwin is a “remove the beam from your own eye” moment (and I say that as a Protestant).

  2. True.

    It was just great to see Luskin bitch about this fallacy given the amount of time they spend at Evolution News and Views talking about how Darwin was a bigot, people like evolution because they could use it to justify bigotry blah blah blah.

    It isn’t a perfect example of genetic fallacy – it’s mostly poisoning the well. But a big element of this is the idea that evolution was popularized by eugenicists, hence it is evil/wrong, so I think it still qualifies.

  3. minimalist

    Darwin was born in 1909?!? Curses, I could perhaps have met him while he was alive!

    You learn such fascinating things every day from Lyin’ Luskin.

  4. Matt Platte

    I hope someone *does* dig up all the speeches of Mencken — I’m sure I’ve missed many, and would like to remedy that lack.

  5. Oliver

    Sorry, but that’s now extremely one-sided and soils the memory of the likes of Martin Niemoeller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Not that I agree with the conclusions cited, but such a blatant attack against Protestantism when some of the most vocal opponents of Nazism among theologists were, in fact, protestants, is uncalled for.

  6. Since Luskin likes to talk about the alleged racist elements of evolution, perhaps we should consider the affiliation of the Discovery Institute with Howard Ahmanson, a disciple of R.J. Rushdooney. The bigotry of Mr. Rushdooney makes that of Mencken pale in comparison (e.g. he proclaimed that homosexuals should be executed).

  7. Oliver:
    The fact that some Protestant theologians resisted Hitler, and did so courageously doesn’t erase the fact that others did the opposite. I deeply admire Bonhoeffer. But his actions don’t erase the evil done by someone like Gerhard Kittel. Major Protestant theologians were deeply complicit in the rise of the Nazi party. It was consistent with Protestant theology. It was a “logical progression” from Luther, not Darwin.

    The idea that Bonhoeffer’s martyrdom atones for the sins of the church establishment makes no logical sense. It’s like saying that since some Germans resisted the Nazis, then blaming the German people for the evils of Naziism “soils the memory of [Germans like] Martin Niemoeller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer”. Most German Protestants were on Kittel’s side, not Bonhoeffer’s…even those who stood up against Deutsche Christen.

    If we, as Protestants, deny the role our denominations played (be in it the Holocaust, or slavery, or many other ills) we replace history with hagiography. If we deny that evil can come from our actions, we make easy for people to think that, because they are motivated by what they see as good, they can do no wrong. If simple intellectual honesty isn’t reason enough, then “learning from history lest we repeat it” should be.

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