West: Points to Racism in WUSTL's History

John West (one of Behe’s defenders) published an article today (Human Zoos and a Cruel Past: A Visit to Washington University | Evolution News). This article is about Human Zoos, race, and evolution, specifically mentioning WUSTL, my university. At Peaceful Science, we are reckoning with the legacy of racism we all inherit (Reckoning With Human Zoos), so I welcome all thoughtful conversation on this topic. West writes:

It should serve as a call to humility on the part of evolution proponents, whose science is marred by such a cruel past.

Lest we miss the reference to me, @NLENTS points us to this tweet by the @discovery_institute (This is some racist Bull$h!t from the DI):

It is common in the origins conversation for race to come up in conversation. Usually it is just as we are seeing here, to tar the ideas and people we oppose. Most groups in origins have done this, from Answers in Genesis to BioLogos to secular scientists. Discovery Institute is just following this pattern. At Peaceful Science, however, we want a better way forward.

I sent an email to @discovery_institute asking them what they really want from this. If it is a real conversation about racism and origins, perhaps we will have it. If it is an attempt to silence me, it will not work. If this is an attempt to encourage “humility”, I already am reckoning with the legacy of racism I inherited, both from science and from theology. It turns out, after all, polygenesis was an idea that started in theology, not science. At some point, we all need to deal with the racism in our camps, rather than merely using it as a tool for silencing dissent.

@discovery_institute I am registering my dissent. I agree with Behe (I Agree With Behe ) and I am giving him a fair hearing (A Fair Hearing for Behe ), but I disagree with Darwin Devolves. This has nothing to do with race. I will not be silent.

Speaking of WUSTL…I’m proud of their attitudes on race: How WUSTL Medical School Desegregated. That is a story for another time though.


Methinks West needs to be reminded that the heart and soul of eugenics is Intelligent Design. (This follows easily from the repeated assertions by ID proponents that results and conclusions from plant and animal breeding programs and experiments are not support for evolution, but rather for ID. Since eugenics is, explicitly, the breeding of humans, then …)

I believe ID proponents might consider much more introspection and humility when it comes to this subject.


Doesn’t make it wrong. This is very AIGish. They keep saying they aren’t creationists but they do and say everything they do.


It is not just creationists that do this. Atheists and scientists often say religion is racist. Everyone is an expert on racism in among opponents. Everyone is instantly a motivated historian, seeking to understand the history of racism amongst their enemies. Or so it seems.

It is strangest, though, when they try and make this move on me, one of the few non-white people in the conversation. What could they possibly be thinking?



From my experience, this tactic often comes up when people feel threatened. It is possible, likely even, they are seeing Darwin Devolves come crashing down. They are upset by this, and we should be empathetic to their disappointment.

Next time around, if they invite us to peer-review their book, perhaps this mess could be prevented. They need a place to pressure test their ideas, so fiasco’s like this can be avoided. We continue to encourage @discovery_institute into dialogue with us.

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This ENV post and tweet is both an attack on @swamidass and on PS, and an admission that @swamidass and PS are being more effective than DI likes.

We should take it as a plus.

As for WUSTL and racism – I would guess that there’s racism in the history of most universities in the USA. Our concern should be that there isn’t racism going forward.


Like mine. The University of Alabama. Just about as racist as it gets when it comes to school’s histories


Also, it seems to me that a lot of the racism that takes place in this country are in areas where most ppl are YECs and deny evolution. I.E. the south


Let us not repeat the mistake. There really is racism in all camps, and there also are people working against racism in all camps.


Absolutely agree

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And the “saga” continues @NLENTS: According to Nathan Lents, It’s “Racist” to Invite Condemnation of Racism | Evolution News.

Now, if I might say a couple of words.

This all truly is horrible. Putting innocent people and children in the cage in the name of anything is a horrifying practice and we should be glad it’s a practice that has disappeared in most of the world. And appalled that it didn’t disappear everywhere.

But the way mr. or dr. Klinghoffer worded it was completely counterproductive. It seemed like he was accusing you of somehow endorsing those practices just because you work at the WUSTL.

How you word things does matter.


If they showed even a whiff of concern for racial justice outside of their wish to link racism to evolutionary theory, I would take their interest in “human zoos” much more seriously. But all it is a very weak attempt to try to score points in what they see as a debate about evolution. It’s a swing and a miss. Further, the trotting out examples of the evil of white supremacy as a cheap ploy, rather than out of genuine concern for the suffering of the oppressed, is indeed racist. I stand by my comments. (In Klinghoffer speak, that somehow means I know my position is damaged. Don’t ask me how or why, something about Jussie Smollett I guess? Who knows.)


To be clear, we have taken Human Zoos seriously, and continue to do so (Reckoning With Human Zoos). I think @NLENTS merely means DI’s work on this area.


Classic trolling behavior. It’s pretty sad

In the basement of the university’s Cupples Hall, Africans were also subjected to what sound like Mengele-esque experiments, including testing their tolerance for pain.

My gut feeling here is that the writer doesn’t really know about Mengele’s experiments, or more likely doesn’t care. But how much is there to this? I looked around without finding more than a (less lurid) reference or two.


What I find hilarious about Klinghoffer is how easily baited he is. Yesterday when I was discussing the racist tweet with my friend Jason (one of the race scholars I mentioned), I told him, “Watch this. I’ll call him out and there’ll be a whole screed about me on the website by the end of the day.” He was skeptical because he’s not familiar with EN and their breathtaking ability to hurt their own cause. What does surprise me is that the DI continues to let Trollhoffer use EN as his personal blog for angry rants. Like I keep saying, they want so desperately to be taken seriously but they undermine themselves daily.



Meanwhile, perhaps I could play the same game by asking Mr. Klinghoffer to comment on the history of racism in Seattle:

Also, there is a large compilation of Seattle’s racist history in the archives at:

Obviously, my “challenge” to Mr. Klinghoffer is as pointless as his challenge to Dr. Swamidass.


Yes, race baiting is common. No one would bat an eye if we did the same. I want us to do better. Race is to real of an issue to use to score points. I hope that we could help DI come to more responsible engagement with questions of race. Baiting them will only encourage worse behavior. We need better behavior from everyone, even them.

I know it is frustrating when people race bait us. Do not return in kind. Let us find a better way.


I totally agree. And in case any reader misunderstood my hypothetical “challenge” to Klinghoffer, I was being facetious to make that very point—which is why I wrote:

As @swamidass said, we must all find a better way than continuing the tiresome use of tactics involving race and baiting.


Don’t go there now. File it away for us to look at later, and understand what really happened. Respect the dead. Let us not be guilty of dismissing the truth of what happened there because it came from an untrustworthy source. Let us wait and see, and learn as much as we can.

Thank you.

This is a public board. They read this. People watch us carefully. Treat this as if you were speaking on stage at a church. Race is too important to screw up with a clever offhand joke.

I say this knowing my strong instinct is to join in. I’m no better than Klinghoffer. I, nonetheless, want to do better. Help me find that way.