A Partisan Affair (Part 3): Biased Treatment of Ad Hominem Attacks 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.]
For someone who boasts a Pulitzer Prize (for a work other than Monkey Girl) and claims to be objective and neutral journalist, Edward Humes' book Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul is an incredibly partisan and inaccurate portrayal of the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial. At many points it simply parrots Darwinist talking points and retells many of their patently false urban legends about the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, leaving out crucial facts which contradict common Darwinist claims. Humes says in his book, "if the evolution wars are to continue, let the combatants be armed with facts, not fiction." (pg. viii.) That sounds good to me. But Humes' book comes off more like advocacy than an objective evaluation of the facts. Humes' intent to write Monkey Girl as a polemic against intelligent design (ID) and ID proponents is especially seen in...
Humes' One-Sided Attacks and Double-Standard Used against ID proponents Regarding Name-Calling:
Humes tries to paint the Darwinists as if they are the only ones who are victims of personal attacks in the debate over ID and evolution. Anyone who even remotely follows this issue on the internet realizes that namecalling can be a problem on both sides, but that Darwinists are the ones who overwhelmingly participate in personal attacks against ID proponents.
Humes quotes a couple ID proponents who apparently said nasty things about Darwinists, such as one legislator who apparently "offered a chilling comment likening anyone who thought differently to the murderous terrorists of 9/11." (pg. 207) While it is terrible, to be sure, when anyone engages in such personal attacks, Humes fails to observe the fact that ID proponents are subjected to personal attacks that vastly outweigh those received by Darwinists. In fact, ID proponents are also regularly compared to terrorists, or the "Taliban," by Darwinists who make such comparisons with a straight face. Such comparisons come not just from hyperbolic politicians with an agenda (like the example Humes gives) but from serious academics and journalists. Even a front page New York Times article in 2005 acknowledged that Discovery Institute "is also fending off attacks from the left, as critics liken it to... the Taliban." The article had good reason for making that claim, because many ID critics compare ID proponents to terrorists or the Taliban:
Many of these examples come from PandasThumb, and it should be noted that on his Monkey Girl website, Humes recommends PandasThumb as "The leading evolution (and Intelligent Design criticism) blog."
On a personal note, I am familiar with these kinds of attacks. In one single forum at Antievolution.org, created and owned by a former National Center for Science Education staff member, I have been called no less than "Bizarre ignoramus," "retarded," "suck-up," "Pathetic Loser," "attack mouse, gerbil, rat, or clockwork powered plush toy," "an orc," "Annoying," "a miserable loser with no life," "an idiot," "dishonest," "ignorant cheap poxied floozie," "fanatic and lunatic," "A proven liar," "incompetent," and many other far more colorful attacks which are probably best left unprinted here on Evolution News and Views.
I don't list this example to complain -- I happily forgive those who have attacked me, and in fact my main response to this behavior is sadness for how it brings the ID-evolution debate down into the gutter. Rather, I mention this example to point out that this example alone finds no counterpart anywhere in the ways that ID proponents have treated Darwinists. The internet Darwinist track record of name-calling against ID proponents speaks for itself, and Humes has portrayed the general nature of personal and ad hominem attacks in this issue exactly backwards from reality.
It is a travesty when anyone -- whether a supporter of evolution or ID -- is attacked in a mean-spirited fashion in this debate. Humes aims to shock his readers with how evolutionists are treated, while taking no interest in reporting how ID proponents are treated--which is dramatically worse than the treatment of Darwinists. This shows his partisan bias against ID proponents.
Hypocritically, Humes himself engages in much mud-slinging against ID proponents and Discovery Institute, calling them "combativ[e], "running scared," "angry," "cocky," "co[y]," and "masters of anti-evolution spin." In particular, Humes engages in name-calling in response to Traipsing Into Evolution, our rebuttal to the Kitzmiller v. Dover ruling, calling it the "rant of a sore loser" and claiming it was an "an adaptation of angry Internet postings" where we "just made [things] up" and engaged in "complete fabrication." (He never identifies the "angry Internet postings," so it's hard to take this attack seriously, and it seems that he makes this claim to gloss over Traipsing's scholarly nature, with 50+ citations to legal cases, 30+ citations to pro-ID scientific references, 25+ citations to non-ID scientific references, and about 30 citations to transcripts and briefs related to Kitzmiller.) Another false claim was Humes' statement that our book says that "[Judge] Jones has an oversize ego." Where did we say this in our book? We made no such claim. My next post in this series will further explore Humes' false attacks upon Traipsing Into Evolution.
For a very small sampling of just some of the attacks we at Discovery Institute received post-Kitzmiller, see "For Many Darwinists, It's Always Winter and Never Christmas."