Effects of the Scopes Trial

Science  06 Sep 1974:
Vol. 185, Issue 4154, pp. 832-837
DOI: 10.1126/science.185.4154.832


Readers may choose their own villain in the story we have told. Like us, some will find the greatest culpability in the scientific community itself, for the large-scale failure to pay attention to the teaching of science in the high schools. Others will blame the textbook authors and publishers for pursuing sales rather than quality. Some will attach blame to the politicians who exploited antievolution sentiment to get into, or remain, in office. Others will blame the conservative Protestant clergy. Some may blame the whole educational system for failing to teach Americans how to evaluate evidence. And many will blame the evolutionists for bringing the matter up in the first place. But whatever the lesson one wishes to draw from the history of biology textbooks since the Scopes trial, we think the story itself is worth knowing. That the textbooks could have downgraded their treatment of evolution with almost nobody noticing is the greatest tragedy of all.