The 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial: why did so many people hate evolution?

In 1925, an American school teacher was put on trial for teaching evolution.

This was global news and an important moment in the ever-changing relationship between science and religion.

The 2020 Innes Lecture told the story of the Scopes Monkey Trial and highlight key themes in the public reactions. Why have so many people – over two centuries and around the world – hated evolution?

The answer does not hinge on facts and evidence. There’s something deeper; something more fundamental; something much further reaching. The answer connects us more strongly to core ideas in public engagement with science and to science’s engagement with its many publics. Plus, as this talk focuses on America in the roaring ‘20s, there will be a bit of jazz.

Note – this was a live lecture. The Q&A is no longer available.

This year’s speaker was Professor Joe Cain.

A historian of science in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Professor Cain’s research focuses on evolution, both as a science and as a subject of public study.

Examples of his research include the creation of the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs in the 1850s, the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, and the history and legacy of eugenics. He currently leads the Legacies of Eugenics project at UCL.

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