Man is no more ‘responsible’ for becoming wilful and committing a
crime than the flower for becoming red and fragrant
Nathaniel Cantor, Crime: Criminals and Criminal Justice (1932)
Darwin Day in America tells the disturbing story of scientific expertise run amuck, exposing how an ideological interpretation of Darwinian biology and reductionist science have been used to degrade American culture over the past century through their impact on criminal justice, welfare, business, education, and bioethics.
At the dawn of the last century, leading scientists and politicians giddily predicted that science—especially Darwinian biology— would supply solutions to all the intractable problems of American society, from crime to poverty to sexual maladjustment.
Instead, politics and culture were dehumanized as scientific experts in thrall to the assumptions of philosophical materialism began treating human beings as little more than animals or machines. In criminal justice, these experts denied the existence of free will and proposed replacing punishment with invasive “cures” such as the lobotomy. In welfare, they proposed eliminating the poor by sterilizing those deemed biologically unfit. In business, they urged the selection of workers based on racist theories of human evolution and the development of advertising methods to more effectively manipulate consumer behavior. In sex education, they advocated creating a new sexual morality based on “normal mammalian behavior” without regard to longstanding ethical and religious imperatives.
Based on extensive research with primary sources and archival materials, John G. West’s captivating Darwin Day in America tells the story of how American politics and culture have been corrupted by scientistic ideology. Marshaling fascinating anecdotes and damning quotations, West’s narrative explores the far-reaching consequences for society when scientists and politicians deny the essential differences between human beings and the rest of nature. It also exposes the disastrous results that ensue when experts claiming to speak for science turn out to be wrong. West concludes with a plea for the restoration of democratic accountability in an age of experts.
John G. West is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and associate director of the institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the chairman of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West holds a Ph.D. in government from Claremont Graduate University and is the author or editor of several books, including Darwin’s Conservatives: The Misguided Quest and The Politics of Revelation and Reason. He has been interviewed frequently by the national media, including Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times, and has appeared on CNN, Fox News, and C-SPAN.