The many historical inaccuracies of Inherit the Wind

@Agauger commenting on the Günter Bechly on Origins thread wrote as follows:

In the Dover case you could see it in the Judge’s behavior. He watched Inherit the Wind the night before the trial as background for the case. The trouble is, that is not an accurate account of that trial.

I had not heard that report concerning the Dover trial—but I have certainly known for many years what an appallingly inaccurate propaganda piece was that famous play (and, later, a popular film.)

I could wish that most people would realize that Inherit the Wind is fiction but I know from querying my students that most people think it is nearly a documentary. And whatever one may think of the politics of Williams Jennings Bryan, the play and film were horribly unfair to his legacy and totally misrepresented him.

Of course, people should also realize that local Dayton, Tennessee businessmen helped bring about that circus-like show trial for entirely economic reasons. And Bryan even paid the fine on behalf of the school teacher who was found “guilty” by the court. (By the way, I think all parties at the time, at least behind the scenes, agreed that Mr. Scopes, the substitute teacher, was so short on time in helping students prepare for their final exam that he entirely skipped the short portion of the textbook which dealt with evolution!)

The trouble is, that is not an accurate account of that trial.

Dr. Gauger, I dare say that that is a very “kind” sort of understatement! :wink:

I despise Inherit the Wind with great passion—especially the final scenes. Absolutely appalling!

[Just for the record, I tried to quote Dr. Gauger using the usual drag-and-drop but the software isn’t working for me today. So I had to do it manually.]


Having the ID crowd blame their epic face plant at Kitzmiller v. Dover on the judge watching ITW is like blaming the Titanic disaster on Captain Smith having a whisky over ice before leaving port. :grinning:

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I can appreciate what you are saying. Nevertheless, in fairness to @Agauger, I don’t think she is blaming the decision of a federal of what he watched on his TV or laptop the night before. I understood her to simply be pointing out that there are powerful and unjust forces in our culture which can’t help but impact how Americans process these issues. Moreover, even though I read the Dover decision in its entirety and generally agreed with the judge’s reasoning, the very fact that major Supreme Court decisions often split 5-4 on matters which are supposed to be rulings not on personal opinion but on the facts of the law and the legal precedents tells me that the law is not as cut-and-dried as our most honorable ideals would like to believe.


Which is exactly what Judge Jones’ ruling in Kitzmiller v. Dover was. The “Jones ruling was swayed by watching ITW” is one of the many lame excuses floated by ID proponents after their dumpster fire of a performance. It couldn’t possibly be because their case had zero scientific merit. :slightly_smiling_face:


Yes, I didn’t see any possible reason or way in which Jones could have ruled otherwise. Of course, it appears that the Discovery Institute saw that writing on the wall. As I understand it, they (or at least some of their affiliate scholars) advised the Dover school board not to even think of pursuing the policies they did. I don’t see how the case could have gone in any other direction than against the school board. (The fact that that one school board member basically perjured himself under oath about where the funds came from for buying the ID-friendly textbooks for the library was rather shocking.)


I just noticed that I misspelled Wm Jennings Bryan’s last name as “Bryant.” No idea why. No doubt it survived my proofreading due to my poor eyesight.


You are correct, DI advised them not to do it, in fact urged very strongly that they not do it. Not because they saw the case would be lost, but because it was bad policy. Having teachers mandated to teach something that is controversial, especially if they don’t agree is a very bad idea.


Blame autocorrect, that works for me. :slight_smile:

25 posts were merged into an existing topic: Side comments on Inherit The Wind --> Kitzmiller v. Dover reenactment

It’s interesting how quickly this thread went from “The many historical inaccuracies of Inherit the Wind” to The Discovery Institute’s involvement in Dover and the Wedge Document.

I’m not necessarily opposed to that drift—but I do find it interesting.


The tie point is of course the ID movement’s excuse (one of them anyway) for losing at Dover was Judge Jones seeing ITW. Apparently it biased him so badly he couldn’t properly process the ID horse hockey he was being fed.:slightly_smiling_face:

@Timothy_Horton that is over the top. It is not 100% political. You cannot possibly justify that claim. There is clearly some non political things they do. It is 100% certain they are political but they are not 100% political.


@AllenWitmerMiller, the @moderators should probably split this thread. Sorry for participating in derailing it.

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When a thread drifts so quickly and naturally, I don’t necessarily see it as a bad thing. On the other hand, I suppose that a visitor who is interested in a particular thread topic might be disappointed if that drift occurs before that thread topic is significantly addressed.

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I waited to see if the discussion might drift back, but no. Split comments moved here:

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