Going Ape: Florida's Battles over Evolution in the Classroom

Overview

“William Jennings Bryan launched the creationist crusade from his home in Florida, and the state has been a battlefield in the evolution wars ever since. In Going Ape, Haught provides the definitive blow-by-blow account of the Sunshine State’s ninety-year struggle over the teaching of evolution.”—Glenn Branch, deputy director, National Center for Science Education
 
“A ...

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Going Ape: Florida's Battles over Evolution in the Classroom

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Overview

“William Jennings Bryan launched the creationist crusade from his home in Florida, and the state has been a battlefield in the evolution wars ever since. In Going Ape, Haught provides the definitive blow-by-blow account of the Sunshine State’s ninety-year struggle over the teaching of evolution.”—Glenn Branch, deputy director, National Center for Science Education
 
“A fascinating and important account of the battles over evolution in one of the nation's largest states.”—Michael Ruse, author of The Gaia Hypothesis
 
“A compelling read about key issues of our time that have stirred deep passions and fervent protests for over a century.”—Edgar Canter Brown Jr., coauthor of The Supreme Court of Florida, 1917–1972
 
 
For nearly a century, Florida has been a key battleground for the teaching of evolution in public schools. Before he successfully prosecuted Tennessee teacher John Scopes in the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial, William Jennings Bryan was a prominent anti-evolution agitator in Florida. More than ninety years later, tensions still run high on both sides of the issue, erupting regularly and sometimes spectacularly.

Florida is a bellwether in the creationism versus evolution debate because it reflects the makeup of the country as a whole. With its lively mix of young and old, liberal and conservative, rich and poor, Florida is an agglomeration of national opinions; more purple than red or blue. Brandon Haught tells the riveting story of the intense conflicts over teaching evolution in Florida, revealing how not just this state, but the entire country has been Going Ape over this hot-button issue.

These seemingly ceaseless battles feature some of the most colorful culture warriors imaginable: a real estate tycoon throwing his fortune into campaigns in Miami; lawmakers attempting to insert the mandatory teaching of creationism into bills; and pastors and school board members squabbling in front of the national media that invariably descends on their small towns. Yet the majority of participants have been average people, and Haught expertly portrays the sense of moral duty that drives their passions, regardless of their position on the issue.

Personally involved in the Florida evolution dispute since 2006 as a founding board member of Florida Citizens for Science, Haught is uniquely poised to present this dramatic conflict from an insider’s point-of-view. His eye for rich detail enlivens this engrossing saga as it stretches across the decades of the twentieth century and into the present. Given a social climate where the teaching of evolution continues to sharply divide neighbors and communities, Going Ape is a must-read for anyone concerned with the future of public education.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
03/15/2014
That Darwinism has been debated since the 1920s suggests that the issue goes beyond the realm of science. As Haught (public information officer, Volusia Cty. Sheriff's Office) points out, the acceptance of evolution—and particularly the teaching of evolution—is more of an emotional than an intellectual struggle. In what is essentially a "micro history," Haught shows how the tenor of the debate has shifted over time: from William Jennings Bryan's struggle against "monkey teaching" in the 1920s (Bryan moved to Florida at the conclusion of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial), up to the present. Each chapter surveys a different time period and examines the types of legislation that were proposed, how each bill sought to moderate evolution's influence in the classroom, and how the legislation fared. For this reviewer, it would have been helpful to hear more about how Haught, a nonacademic, researched the book, as he inadequately explains the differences among the various parts of Florida where these debates play out. Also, the author's claim that Florida deserves special scrutiny because it is "a reflection of the whole country" fails to convince. VERDICT This book will likely appeal to a narrow range of readers only.—Seth Kershner, Northwestern Connecticut Community Coll. Lib., Winsted
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813049434
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 4/29/2014
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 777,605
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Brandon Haught is a former Marine Corps combat correspondent and current public information officer with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. He is a founding board member and volunteer communications director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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