If you’re in the mood for some Darwin-related reading, have a look at these four offerings from the website of the NCSE. They are reviews of four recent books about Charles Darwin. I recommend especially the eloquent smackdown of The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin by Discovery Institute flak Benjamin Wiker. Reviewer Sander Gliboff puts his finger on precisely why this was such a poor choice of title:
Using that “life and lies” formula in the subtitle of this anti-Darwin book was not a wise move by Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Benjamin Wiker. It invites unfavorable comparison to a similarly titled book about a similarly celebrated white-bearded English sage with an ugly nose. I mean, of course, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, by Rita Skeeter, a book within a book in the Harry Potter series.
For the uninitiated: Skeeter is an unscrupulous witch of an investigative reporter. She takes Dumbledore’s own remarks and other peoples’ recollections out of context and makes him seem guilty of everything from racial prejudice, elitism, claiming credit for the accomplishments of others, and manipulating friends, family, and the public, to valuing the greater good over individual rights, inspiring a militaristic and eugenical ideology, and fomenting world war.
In a spooky case of life imitating art, Wiker makes essentially the same accusations against Darwin, using Skeeter’s exact methods. Those methods do not require “facts” to be conjured out of thin air, although both authors are quite capable of doing it. The real trick is to select, isolate, and exaggerate the facts you like, while making the ones you don’t like vanish. Wiker’s favorite way to get rid of them is to wave his hands and pass them off as lies.
Zing! The other reviews treat works of actual scholarship, and are consequently less amusing. Very informative though. It seems my “To Read” list just got a bit longer.