Monkey girl : evolution, education, religion, and the battle for America's soul

by Edward Humes

Paper Book, 2007


What should we teach our children about where we come from? Is evolution good science? Is it a lie? Is it incompatible with faith? Did Charles Darwin really say man came from monkeys? Have scientists really detected "intelligent design"--evidence of a creator--in nature? Inside our DNA? Inside amazing molecular "machines" within our very cells? Or are those concepts nothing more than scientific fool's gold, tricks designed to sneak religious ideas into public school classrooms? What happens when a town school board decides to confront such questions head-on, thrusting its students, then an entire community, onto the front lines of America's culture wars? This book takes you behind the scenes of the recent war on evolution in Dover, Pennsylvania, the epic court case on teaching "intelligent design" it spawned, and the national struggle over what Americans believe about human origins--told from the perspectives of all sides of the battle.--From publisher description.… (more)


Checked out
Due September 17, 2018

Call number



New York : Ecco, c2007.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Atomicmutant
wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. Five wows up.

I know, not very eloquent. This is just a marvelous work of journalism covering the intelligent design movement, and the Dover, Pennsylvania trial. It's a gripping courtroom drama, a great science lesson, and exploration of cultural divisions in America.

If you
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want to know about that, read this. Plain and simple.
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LibraryThing member Devil_llama
An interesting, fact-filled exploration of the 21st century "monkey trial", in Dover, Pennsylvania. Humes presents a factual exploration of the events as they unfolded, but also goes deeper to explore the emotional responses of the local citizens. If you only want to read one book about this
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landmark case, this should be the one.
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LibraryThing member CBrachyrhynchos
Good coverage of one of the most important trials of the decade. Does a good job at challenging some of the myths of the case and puts the case in context of a larger political conflict. Flawed due to some obvious editorial errors and background chapters are sometimes tedious.
LibraryThing member girlsgonereading
Monkey Girl is about evolution, but mostly it is about the people involved in the Dover, Pennsylvania case. Edward Humes does a good job of explaining all of the different people involved in the case and how it came about. He does pick a side however: he clearly believes that evolution should be
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taught in American schools.

Several of the people involved in the case were described as stereotypical villains, and this dismissal distracted from the original story. Humes does describe the other side a little-by explaining their movement, their museum, and then discrediting them. Where Humes shines in his historical background. He explains the former cases against evolution, and I was fascinated when he explained the irony of several key finds near Dover itself.

Monkey Girl does an excellent job of describing the machine that drives this movement, getting behind the money that drives both sides.
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LibraryThing member Maggie_Rum
An excellent portrayal of how creationism is taking hold on science classrooms, and why this is leading to science illiteracy
LibraryThing member TheAmpersand
An interesting, readable account of the Dover, Pennsylvania "intelligent design" trial that led to ID being barred from America's science classrooms. Since I'm not particularly science-literate, I felt pretty well-served by this book. Humes walks the reader though the basics of evolutionary theory
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and evolution-related jurisprudence, as well as the often-strange origins of the intelligent design "movement" itself. Humes's style is pretty straightforward, sometimes verging on newspaperly, but he also knows how to build tension. The pages of "Monkey Girl" fly by as we approach Judge Jones's final ruling. As might be expected, Humes is not a "teach the controversy" kind of guy: he's not afraid to call ID ridiculous and to describe its proponents in terms that are less than kind. Still, to his credit, he takes care to humanize one of the main proponents of the Dover school board's intelligent design policy, William Buckingham, who suffered from a string of personal troubles that is likely to seem sadly familiar to many residents of rural Pennsylvania. His portraits of the teachers, parents, and lawyers on the anti-ID side of the aisle are much kinder, but they also suggest that the author is particularly adept at making people come alive on the page.

It's not a knock on "Monkey Girl" to say that it's more interested in the people and ideas surrounding Darwin's theory than it is in the nuts and bolts of evolutionary theory. It probably shouldn't be the only book you read about evolution or the difficulties facing science educators. Still, it's well-constructed and concise, and I couldn't help thinking that Humes was largely right about what most of the protagonists in this story felt was at stake in the case. He convincingly places the Kitzmiller case in a larger cultural and political context that hasn't changed all that much since the events described here took place fifteen years ago.
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0060885483 / 9780060885489
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