1.6 A Brief History of Creationism
Hunter’s Civic Biology—Vintage eugenics and the legacy of historical revisionism.
In a pattern that would be replayed half a century later, though, the salient effect of all the brouhaha over the Scopes Trial was to induce a severe chill among textbook publishers, chronicled by Grabiner & Miller (1974), Cole (1983, 22-23), Larson (1985, 84-88), Eve & Harrold (1991, 27) and Randy Moore (2001b). Nature study was a common pursuit in American education, town and country, Rudolph (2011), but pre-Scopes high school science books said very little about how evolution might relate to that anyway.
Moore (2001b, 791) noted how the 1907 Elements of Biology by George William Hunter (1873-1948) hadn’t used the word at all, and his 1911 Essentials of Biology skipped even Mendel’s discoveries as “too difficult to explain to high school students.” But as Bryan’s antievolution crusade heated up, textbook publishers felt the heat and had added incentive to revise whatever evolution-laced editions they already offered. Gruenberg (1919; 1925), for example. Benjamin Gruenberg (1875-1965) and the less politically minded George Hunter were both knee deep in the progressive education movement developing in New York City, Pauly (1991), to empower the new generation with biological knowledge seen as vital for furthering civil hygiene in a crowded urban environment—including matters of sex, a theme that would eventually lead to the research of Alfred Kinsey.
Gruenberg openly covered evolution (including humans) in his 1919 textbook Elementary Biology and was a scheduled evolution witness at the Scopes Trial to boot—neither attribute likely to endear the author to 1920s antievolutionists. Gruenberg’s 1919 textbook became contentious in Florida, spurred on by Boston businessman George Washburn (1959-1931), founder of the Bible Crusaders of America, Numbers (1992, 59-60). But by then Gruenberg’s more cautious 1925 Biology and Human Life was available, in which all signs of evolution were thoroughly under wraps, and Washburn spearheaded the move to take that up as the replacement volume, Haught (2014, 8-11).
The book Scopes had used for the Butler Act challenge (one of two specified by the state of Tennessee for public school use) was Hunter’s 1914 A Civic Biology, which had included only a few basic references to evolution (it hadn’t even got its own chapter, but appeared just as a heading over five pages in the chapter on “Division of Labor, the Various Forms of Plants and Animals”) and some biographical information on Darwin and Wallace was included later in the book, Hunter (1914, 192-196, 404-406)—the bulk of the volume was devoted to practical matters of plant identification and personal hygiene. But after the Scopes Trial, publishers either downplayed or removed altogether those fleeting references to evolution, including A Civic Biology.
The irony of removing the dreaded “evolution” word from later editions of Hunter was not lost on Gould (1991a, 428-429) who noted A Civic Biology still made the “egregious claim that science holds the moral answer to questions about mental retardation, or social poverty so misinterpreted.” The original section on evolution in Hunter (1914, 196) had matter-of-factly characterized Caucasians as “the highest type” of human, though with no claim that this purported condition was due to “Darwinism” or any other process, and so owed less to any overt derivation from evolutionary theory than it did to the pseudoscientific racism and eugenics being promoted in early 20th century American biology, Larson (1997, 23), Black (2003, 75-76) and Kazin (2006, 289). Both Bryan and Darrow opposed eugenics, Weiss (2007, 127-129), though Shapiro (2013b) cautioned that part of Bryan’s concern involved politics and time (where the heredity based eugenics would be operating at too slow a pace and so might discourage people from employing the much more rapid and accessible tool of progressive legislative reform).
Sadly it took a lot longer to expunge the faulty legacy of eugenics and racism from social science and popular culture generally than it did to exclude explicit references to technical Darwinian thinking. High school (1904-1963 period) and college (1907-1973) biology textbooks tended to accept the racial and cultural presumptions of eugenics until well after WWII, surveyed by Ladouceur (2008; 2011). The content of the college level Man and the Biological World, Rogers et al. (1942, 282-286), made it onto Ladouceur’s list for its “propagandistic and highly deterministic” coverage of the lower socioeconomic status of groups having more children—and one may spot among its trio of entomologist authors a certain C. Francis Byers (the Florida prof who downplayed “evolution” terminology at the behest of Albert Murphree in 1923),
By the later 20th century, though, evolutionary science was far removed from the popularized myths of Hunter’s era—a historical distinction that doesn’t always make it through to evolution skeptics. Sociologist Steve Fuller (2008, 34-35) offered Hunter’s book to illustrate how Darwin’s theory “not only denied our divine origins but also appeared to rationalise racial inequalities” (we’ll be returning to Fuller’s involvement in the Dover case in section 1.7) while Michael Egnor (2013d) at Evolution News & Views disingenuously plopped all the dated sins of A Civic Biology exclusively at contemporary evolution’s door. The effort to weld eugenics exclusively to “Darwinism” has been Discovery Institute trope for some time, such as John West (2007b, 128): “The eugenics movement drew direct inspiration from Darwinian biology. Yet today the Darwinian roots of eugenics tend to be downplayed by the popular media and by some scholars.”
This Kulturkampf tendency to ignore the fine details when rushing towards the desired target spun out of control after Jerry Coyne (2013w) posted a vacation picture of himself at the tombstone of John Scopes, which Klinghoffer (2013ar) deemed “somewhat ghoulish” and Egnor (2013f) tagged as “bizarre” in posts at Evolution News & Views while contending Scopes would have been teaching the objectionable racist eugenics of Hunter’s book and consequently was no one to admire. Coyne (2013z) responded that Scopes was not a racist by any means, and that it was unclear whether he had covered much of anything from the Hunter text (Scopes being a substitute teacher volunteering to enter the case in order to challenge its constitutionality), which argument Egnor (2013f) characterized as “a shambles, and not worth a detailed reply.” Instead, Egnor declared that, “Racism and eugenics were the hallmarks of the theory of human evolution in the early 20th century, representing a clear consensus of evolutionary biologists as well as other scientists and leaders in higher education and government. There were a few dissenters, but such skeptics were disdained in mainstream scientific circles,” though he declined to offer any examples.
By then, Adam Shapiro (2013d) had caught wind of the fracas, and as an historian of the Scopes trial and its textbook ramifications, criticized Coyne on one point: while the Hunter textbook was mandated for use by Tennessee, Coyne was wrong to think this was forcing teachers like Scopes to violate the law prohibiting the teaching of evolution, because the text had actually been so timidly worded that it wasn’t difficult to avoid tangling with the Butler Act—which criticism Coyne (2013ae) duly acknowledged, while understandably noticing also how Shapiro’s main guns were aimed squarely at Egnor’s treatment. Shapiro accused Egnor of “an extremely subtle—and dishonest—rhetorical strategy” that tripped up on three historical counts:
Egnor states without citation: “Eugenic racism in 1925 was consensus science in the field of human evolution.” This statement is wrong on several levels. It’s wrong that eugenics was primarily about race (in 1925). It’s wrong that eugenics was primarily considered an application of human evolution (as opposed to heredity). And it’s wrong to claim that it was a consensus.
Shapiro noted how racism could hardly have been so prominent a factor in rejecting evolutionary theory when the most likely people to have noticed it failed to mention it, such as the African-Americans following the Scopes trial Moran (2003) had studied (religious African-Americans who disliked evolution used scriptural grounds to justify their opposition, not any claim to racism). And, while the utterly objectionable involuntary eugenic sterilization programs in America would become increasingly skewed towards minorities after WWII, it didn’t start out that way: “In the 1910s and 20s, eugenics seems to have been less about race and more about class; specifically the class of people who were perceived as non-contributors to society: criminals, the ’feebleminded’ and the immoral.”
A check of Hunter (1914, 262-263) supported Shapiro’s point that the eugenics of A Civic Biology had made no identification of racial characteristics as factors. Hunter’s main example was a Revolutionary War era man who had seduced a “feeble-minded” girl, from which a “feeble-minded” son resulted, with 480 descendants of which 143 were similarly “feeble-minded,” 34 were “sexually immoral,” another 24 were drunkards, and 3 were epileptics. One can only imagine the treatments being afforded these people in the 19th century (including those three epileptics) once they got pigeonholed as “feeble-minded” by the discredited methodology of the era (the 58% of the man’s progeny who evidently escaped these terrible hereditary fates were not discussed). But Hunter did offer a contrast: “The man who started this terrible line of immorality and feeble-mindedness later married a normal Quaker girl. From this line of 496 descendants have come, with no cases of feeble-mindedness. The evidence and the moral speak for themselves!”
Shapiro further noted, “Eugenics was considered an application of a biological principle of heredity more so than evolution (inasmuch as those could be seen as distinct principles).” Though modern evolutionary theory has integrated genetics fully, this was not seen as an inevitable connection back when A Civic Biology was written (recalling from section 1.4 above how full blown Darwinian natural selection driven evolution was not the dominant perspective).
Indeed, this disconnect was still going on decades later (just as the Modern Synthesis was emerging). Xenophobic University of Vermont eugenicist Henry F. Perkins (1877-1956) was a peculiar case in point, Dann (1991). Perkins conducted problematic eugenics surveys in the state from 1925 to 1936 and thought to mitigate the influx of deficient migrants like “gypsies” and French-Canadians by promoting summer tourism to the state. “Despite Perkins’s training in genetics, he never employed its language to support the Eugenics Survey family studies; they were nonetheless strictly hereditarian,” Dann (1991, 14). Perkins also appears to have channeled a few racial prejudices from his father, George Henry Perkins (1844-1933), a professor of biology and geology for whom small stature signified inferiority and the Teutonic stock manifestly surpassed all the lame competition like those Celts or Chinese.
Henry Perkins’ legacy continued with Paul Amos Moody (1903-1986) at the University of Vermont into the 1970s, retooling eugenics to reflect modern genetics, Eugenics (2013b)—that would be the same Moody who’s 1962 Introduction to Evolution textbook was noted back in section 1.3 regarding the slow appreciation of the paleontological implications of allopatric speciation. Moody’s connection to eugenics gets a curious postscript via the few antievolutionists who have tumbled onto Moody’s book over the years (evidently without being aware of that aspect of his career). While Moody’s upfront theistic evolution was objectionable to Bert Thompson (2001), David Noebel (2009) snipped Moody (1962, 514) for The Schwarz Report: A Publication of the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade because this “superb scientist” had happened to use the “design” buzzword that by 2009 was evidently all it took to get you inducted into the ID club. Noebel’s redaction spooled down the daisy chain to the anonymous Creation Facts (2009) website, resolutely “Confronting the Lies of Evolution” to the limit of their ability to cut-and-paste.
Shapiro’s point about genetic heredity being thought distinct from evolution during this period was further affirmed by antievolutionists. British barrister Henry Kindersley (1864-1942) was sure genetics posed a problem for evolution, Kindersley (1932, 194), while American theologian Floyd E. Hamilton (1890-1969) insisted that the known laws of heredity so restricted natural variation that they ruled out evolution being true, Hamilton (1935, 24-27). Clearly, any eugenics program building off what scientists thought they knew about genetic recombination and heredity was by no means joined to the hip with the bigger picture of evolutionary presumptions.
Not that such details were slowing Egnor (2013h) down much, responding to Coyne and Shapiro with his own guns blazing: “Coyne hides behind the skirt of English historian Adam Shapiro, a self-styled expert on the trial who wrote a book about it.” That remark required some chutzpa, what with the parade of ID extra-disciplinary claim jumping represented by biochemist Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box invading a quintet of biological fields not his own, Jonathan Wells’ Icons of Evolution waxing bold on paleontology, or ex-philosophy professor Steve Meyer double dipping into genetics for Signature in the Cell and paleontology in Darwin’s Doubt.
Shapiro’s long-standing scholarly interest in the Scopes Trial, running from his dissertation and scholarly papers like Shapiro (2008) to the well-received Shapiro (2013a) book, counts for naught in Egnor’s lopsided scale of expertise, who widened his range of accusation: “Why I would want to quote Shapiro’s obscure book is unclear, when I quoted the actual text of Civic Biology. If I wanted to quote a water-carrier for eugenic historical revision, I had many other choices.” Egnor then insisted Scopes had lied in his memoir about his not recalling how much of the evolution material in the Hunter book he had taught back in 1925, jacking up Scopes’ sins to Nuremberg class: “Would you forget whether you gave a lecture endorsing eugenic genocide?” Probably not—but if Scopes never gave such a lecture, it would hardly be amazing if Scopes failed to remember this non-event decades later.
Egnor further advised Shapiro:
Shapiro, who brandishes his purported scholarship on eugenics and race, should read Lothrop Stoddard’s classic 1920 eugenic text The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy, published five years before the Scopes Trial, during which Shapiro claims that eugenics wasn’t racist. Harvard-trained Stoddard was perhaps the early 20th century’s most prominent scientific racist and a leading (and foaming) eugenicist.
In human evolutionary biology, race and class were joined at the eugenic hip, without a sliver of light between them.
Egnor might have chosen his ammo more carefully. So focused on his end game (“Eugenics was about hate, for which race was central”) Egnor left all documentary nuances behind. Shapiro (2013e) responded to Egnor’s “somewhat selective history of British and American eugenics in the 19th and early 20th centuries,” and Egnor (2013i) fired back with the same assertions, resolutely trying to attach the Darwin anchor to the sinking eugenic ship. Shapiro (2013f) finally noted that Stoddard’s academic background was in history, not science, and whatever racist eugenic slant his 1920 book might have had, it was irrelevant to the issue of what Scopes was accused of teaching from the 1914 A Civic Biology (Egnor’s original accusation remember).
Actually, Egnor’s labeling The Rising Tide of Color as a “eugenic text” was itself something of a stretch. While Stoddard (1883-1950) offered a long-winded historical diatribe about non-Nordic peoples (he would later embrace the “Aryan” term along with sidling up to the Nazis) being overwhelmed by everybody else, Stoddard (1920) did not actually recommend any explicit eugenic solutions to the problem. Eugenics didn’t appear in his index, and the term popped up exactly twice (pp. 117 & 137 of the Project Gutenberg outline edition). The first was generic: “Eugenics among individuals is encouraging the propagation of the fit, and limiting or preventing the multiplication of the unfit. World-eugenics is doing precisely the same thing as to races considered as whiles,” and then went on to discuss how immigration restrictions were part of this. The second mention was equally vague:
For race-betterment is such an intensely practical matter! When peoples come to realize that the quality of the population is the source of all their prosperity, progress, security, and even existence; when they realize that a single genius may be worth more in actual dollars than a dozen gold-mines, while, conversely, racial decline spells material impoverishment and decay; when such things are really believed, we shall see much-abused “eugenics” actually moulding social programmes and political policies.
As for what concrete policies Stoddard actually did recommend, this turned out to be that the imperialist ambitions of the superior Nordic race had to go, since contact with the colored hordes only risked contamination by assimilation or intermarriage (he characterized allowing Chinese immigration as “race-treason”), and to sustain this hunker down apartheid very stiff immigration laws needed to be enacted. Empirically problematic claptrap, to be sure—but this is still a long way from offering eugenics as a core policy (“foaming” or otherwise) to achieve the Nordic utopia. Stoddard’s book was far more concerned with the fallout from the Great War, which he saw as opening the floodgates by the arming of colonial troops as well as the decimation of European soldiers in the trenches. That Stoddard would eventually get very friendly with the Third Reich shouldn’t come as a surprise either (he was more “foaming” in The Rising Tide of Color when it came to the menace of Bolshevism and all too many conservatives would flip their anticommunism into blinkered enthusiasm for fascism) but few wading through the hundreds of pages of Stoddard (1920) could have seen how that grim alliance would play out decades later without using a well-focused crystal ball.
Interestingly, evolution didn’t play much of a role in Stoddard’s thinking either. He didn’t much like the “survival of the fittest” idea since he suspected the wrong sort of people might be all too capable of getting by (no mention of Darwin or Spencer here)—he wanted the “best” people to survive (which presumably would include his Harvard-educated self) rather than the merely fittest. Stoddard in turn had relied on Madison Grant (1865-1937) for the scientific side of things—another Nordic Race groupie, Grant was an avid nature conservationist who also advocated proactive eugenics to keep the human species similarly pruned and healthy, so here at least could be seen some of the deeper (and darker) links that Stoddard had begun to channel in 1920. Just how little of this derived from Darwin, though, was indicated by the introduction Grant wrote for Stoddard’s book, where evolution was mentioned only perfunctorily in relation to human origins. There was no attempt to identify what hereditary traits were desirable or if they existed in a sufficiently tight Mendelian manner to be amenable to selection (natural or artificial) in the first place, or at least direct the reader to someone who might have taken a stab at that—rather critical steps any eugenics argument claiming to be “scientific” would need to have taken if the idea was to apply the Darwinian model.
As for the idea that eugenics was an exclusively evolutionary hobby, creationist psychologist William Tinkle (1892-1981) sinks that idea, having embraced eugenics in its heyday without choking, as evidenced by Tinkle (1927; 1933). But if Egnor wanted further evidence that people can be attracted to a eugenical social policy without taking the Darwinian plunge, one need look no further than The Occidental Quarterly, a rare example of a journal devoted to defending eugenics today, long after the practice had shriveled up in evolutionary circles, in oeuvres like “The Case for Eugenics in a Nutshell” by Van Court (2004), McDaniel (2006) on “America’s Racialist Moment: Racism as Reform,” and Rosit (2007) defending that “Prescient Patrician,” Madison Grant.
And who is behind The Occidental Quarterly? No brigade of Darwinian hate mongers, but a very conservative band of Kulturkampf warriors who sound a lot like contemporary incarnations of Stoddard as they fret over immigration and threats to the white race, and whose connections to Republican and Congressional activities were reported by Blumenthal (2004). The journal’s publisher is William Regnery, while his brother Alfred fields the conservative Human Events magazine (after a newsletter begun by the publishing house’s conservative founder Henry Regnery) that often trumpets the findings of Intelligent Design, or extolling Wiker’s The Darwin Myth (as seen in section 1.5 above). Regnery Publishing gets an unsympathetic listing at RationalWiki (2011b) for being “a clearinghouse for the bullshit no other publisher would ever touch,” and just their titles in my own source list gives a flavor of how far reaching their vision has been, from Vallee’s funky UFO mythologizing and Duesberg’s lamentable AIDS denial to sectarian religious apologetics and prominent defenders of Intelligent Design:
Tom Bethell: The Politically Incorrect GuideTM to Science (2005).
Dinesh D’Souza: What’s So Great About Christianity (2007).
________. Life After Death (2009).
Peter Duesberg: Inventing the AIDS Virus (1996).
Bernard Goldberg: Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News (2002).
Guillermo Gonzalez & Jay W. Richards. The Privileged Planet (2004).
Robert J. Hutchinson: The Politically Incorrect GuideTM to the Bible (2007).
Phillip E. Johnson: Darwin on Trial. (1991).
Phyllis Schlafly & George Neumayr: No Higher Power (2012).
Robert Spencer: The Politically Incorrect GuideTM to Islam (and the Crusades) (2005).
Jacques Vallee: Anatomy of a Phenomenon (1965).
________. Passport to Magonia (1969).
Jonathan Wells: Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? (2000).
________. The Politically Incorrect GuideTM to Darwinism and Intelligent Design (2006).
Benjamin Wiker: The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin (2009).
Ian Wilson: The Bible Is History (1999).
The tendency for modern eugenics supporters to be rather weird racist xenophobes and not evolutionary scientists who study bones or DNA sequences for a living finds additional support in the case of James Hart, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2004 from Tennessee on a eugenics platform (where the GOP sprinted away from him in a hurry), Eugenics (2013a). J. Hart (1997) simultaneously distanced himself from the KKK and Nazi thinking on the eugenics issue while waving the free speech banner by defending Gary Lauck (“The children of the future thank you”), a neo-Nazi then serving a four-year sentence in Germany for his activity, Southern Poverty Law Center (2013b). J. Hart (2010) sounded like Stoddard (1920) déjÃ vu, advocating the impeachment of “Saddam Bush” for wanting to squander more American lives in the Iraq War and likewise relying on a questionable secondary resource for his supposedly Darwinian eugenics argument, John Glad (a retired professor of Russian Studies) on “Future Human Evolution: Eugenics in the Twenty-First Century.” John Glad (2006, 21-44) offered a slim chapter on what he thought constituted a scientific foundation, which consisted of a brief mention of human evolution, a less brief defense of IQ testing of intelligence, and a very general argument that social cohesion couldn’t survive too much diversity—all miles away from anything like a rigorous technical case. Unlike Grant in 1920 though, the level of biological understanding in the 21st century had grown so deep and vast that Glad’s effort to sound scientific could only be characterized as piffle.
It seems all sorts of people can dribble “scientific” concepts out in the course of riding their hobbyhorses, including evolution, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that regular scientists would buy into their views or that they derived reasonably from them. The “evolutionary” eugenics of Stoddard-Grant in the age of crystal set radios and biplanes or Hart-Glad in a time of laptops and remote drones remind me of the generalized appeals to evolution in other pseudoscience works, such as Pauwels & Bergier (1968, 136-138) in the course of their mystery mongering approach to the world. You can call a slab of granite a steak, but I wouldn’t recommend serving it for dinner, no matter how much spicy sauce you dump on it.
Interestingly, at the same time Egnor was engaging in daisy chain character assassination of Shapiro+Coyne+Scopes+Hunter+Darwin on the issue of 1920s American racism, a posting by Glenn Branch (2013j) for the National Center for Science Education’s Science League of America serendipitously illustrated how far removed nativist racism could be from a belief in evolution. In the wake of the Scopes Trial, in 1926 the Senate considered amending the rules of radio broadcasting to allow the potential censoring of evolution shows, but ultimately rejected the idea. Firmly on the antievolution side in this matter was populist Prohibitionist white supremacist “Cotton Tom” Heflin (1869-1951), an Alabama Democrat who had helped draft the state’s 1901 constitution that excluded blacks from voting (God had intended them to be the servants of white people, after all), and whose escapades are covered in assorted online venues, such as Watson (1982) and US Senate (2013).
Congressman Heflin took pride in having shot (with impunity) a black man Heflin had got in an argument with on a streetcar in 1908 for not sitting in the segregated section (and perhaps also having been drinking in public, a further unseemly affront to Heflin’s Prohibitionist convictions), and cosponsored legislation establishing Mother’s Day in the hopes voters wouldn’t notice he also didn’t approve of women voting either. Heflin’s sojourn in the Senate derailed when the party denied him renomination after his anti-Catholic prejudice spurred him to support the Quaker-born Republican nominee Herbert Hoover for President in 1928 over the Catholic Democrat Al Smith (1873-1944) who also favored repealing Prohibition. By that time this paragon of tempered reason was in the news again for his apoplectic reaction to the captain of the New York University track team (who happened to be African-American) being allowed to legally marry a white girl: “Where are the white men of self-respect, of race pride? The great white race is the climax and crowning glory of God’s creation,” quoted Time (1930).
In the back-and-forth debate on the 1926 radio regulation proposal excerpted by Branch, Heflin had got all folksy by recounting how “old Uncle Rufus” back home got an antievolution resolution affirmed by his scripture-reading Negro constituents that “Resolved, God Almighty made all the niggers and most of the white folks, [328/329] but all them white folks what thinks they sprung from monkeys is right about it.” There followed “Laughter in the Senate and galleries.” And just how many of them swore by Darwin?
A further indicator of where actual racists fell in the antievolution campaign also occurred in 1926 when a coalition of “the Ku Klux Klan, women of the Ku Klux Klan, Junior Order of the United American Mechanics, Sons and Daughters of Liberty, Patriotic Order Sons of America, Patriotic Order of Americans, Daughters of America and the Order of Fraternal Americans” tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Virginia General Assembly to join the antievolution crusade, recounted by Branch (2014g), drawing on the period coverage of Dabney (1926, 354) and the more recent scholarly hunting of Wolfe (2012). Local Baptists opposed the Methodist-led effort and the antievolutionary Bible Bill died in committee.
Although formal efforts like these to reign in evolution education faded in the post-Scopes era, the clumsy downplaying of the topic in science textbooks and classroom instruction extended into mid-century, as paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson reminded in his 1961 essay, “One hundred years without Darwin are enough,” excerpted in Mark Ridley (1997, 369-378)—a situation Stephen Jay Gould (1999a, 139) and Kenneth R. Miller (1999, 10-11) recalled from personal experience, and which persists in many venues to this day, where even teachers who do not approve of creationist criticisms of evolution may downplay the topic to avoid conflict or even incorporate antievolutionary material under community pressure, Cornelia Dean (2005), Branch & Scott (2008), Paz-y-Miño C. & Espinosa (2009b, 672) and Scott (2010c, 242).
Martin Mawyer (1987a, 67) reflected this situation in a piece on creationist legislation efforts for the Fundamentalist Journal: “There was a time when students were told little or nothing about the theories of evolution-science. Now students are told little or nothing about the theories of creation-science.” For this reason it was unnecessary to enforce any of the anti-evolution laws in the next decades after Scopes, for no human evolution was actually being taught—though Nardo (1997, 84) did note that some “enterprising” Tennessee teachers circumvented the Butler Act by talking about Darwin’s forbidden book in literature class.
This implying also the converse: that to the extent evolution was taught directly, antievolutionary efforts would react to that, as the NCSE has found over the years, Wycoff (2008a). But back in the mid-20th century this was not so obvious, as the Scopes trial seemed to have settled the issue, abetted by decades of popular media that buffed the trial into a mythic ode where antievolutionism lay safely slain like Grendel in Beowulf, Larson (2009). All this quiet lulled many in the scientific community into thinking that creationism had “gone away,” when it had only dozed off.