The role of The Scopes Trial in the history of the ..
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The fact is that most of us do not hold our ideas and beliefs for carefully thought through reasons. We hold them because in some way or other they "seem right." By the same token it is very difficult to anyone's ideas or beliefs simply by the use of rational arguments.
So whilst Darrow apparently imagined that questioning Bryan's historical knowledge would somehow undermine his credibility, he was in fact talking to two quite separate audiences - and having a different impact on each - even amongst those people who actually the trial, and especially the Darrow-Bryan confrontation, first hand.
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It has been interesting to note, whilst researching this subject, how seldom - if ever - Clarence Darrow is subjected to objective examination by his biographers, and how frequently he becomes lost in a smokescreen of misinformation and myth making. Even the most reputable of academics seem to go ("lose the plot") when it comes to reporting Darrow's supposed prowess as a lawyer, and especially in relation to the Scopes Trial.
I have recorded elsewhere on this site the way in which one professor of law has, in my opinion, seriously misrepresented certain details of the confrontation between Darrow and William Jennings Bryan in such a way as to inflate Darrow's supposed prowess and denigrate William Jennings Bryan (see for details). Sad to say, even Professor Edward Larson (Professor of History and Law at the University of Georgia), in his mainly excellent account of the trial - - has misrepresented details of that confrontation in a manner favourable to Darrow and unfavourable to Bryan:
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Fear was another factor. Any student of history was familiar with the harsh manner the British employed on Irish rebels. A revolution could bring mob rule, and no one, not even the potential mob, wanted that. Furthermore, despite taxes, times were good. Arguments can be made that average American was more prosperous than the average Briton.
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Eric Rothschild, an attorney for the families who challenged the policy, called the ruling “a real vindication for the parents who had the courage to stand up and say there was something wrong in their school district.” Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., which represented the school district and describes its mission as defending the religious freedom of Christians, said: “What this really looks like is an ad hominem attack on scientists who happen to believe in God.” It was the latest chapter in a debate over the teaching of evolution dating back to the Scopes trial, in which Tennessee biology teacher John T.