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 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 public policy has 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 powerful plea for the restoration of democratic accountability in an age of experts.