socail darwinism



This is a challenging essay/review to write. You are to write one essay/review using the three sources provided by your Professor. Please listen first to the audio of William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold Speech” and then watch the video on WWI, and finally read the article by Stephen J. Gould. Be sure to include information from all three sources in your essay/review and cite the information with reference notes and a bibliography and the body of the essay must be at least 3 pages long. This is the one required major writing assignment for the semester. A little background before you begin….first, listen to the actual Speech by William Jennings Bryan I provide as a primary source so that you can actually hear his voice and get an idea as to how good a speaker he was, this is his most famous speech which may seem a bit boring today, but back then it was very interesting since it affected every common person’s pocketbook, then, listen to the second video which gives a general overview of the effects of Social Darwinism on WWI and how it affected the German intellectuals, military leaders and colonial administrators prior and during World War I. Then, read Steven J. Gould’s article “William Jennings’ Bryan’s Last Campaign” Then, you are to write an essay/review in response to the questions below….First, the article is fascinating because it was written by a Harvard Professor, (now deceased), who was one of the world’s leading proponents of evolution, left-wing in his politics and an agnostic, (someone who does not believe there is enough evidence to prove there is or isn’t a God). He wrote about William Jennings Bryan, who was a major politician of a past generation, a fundamentalist Christian, and someone who fiercely opposed the teaching of evolution. At first glance, you would think there could be no possible agreement between these two on anything, and yet, it is very evident that Gould was quite impressed with Bryan and even sympatric with him on some issues. Ask yourself as you read the article if Gould made a few mistakes in his historical analysis of Bryan’s role opposing evolution. Also ask yourself why Gould simply chooses not to mention information that would better explain his topic. For example he doesn’t even discuss the terminology “Social Darwinism,” even though much of the article is about Bryan confusing the scientific theory of evolution with the unscientific social theory of Social Darwinism. {Social Darwinism is the racial theory which holds simply that some races are inherently superior to others and since the only law of the Social Darwinist is “Survival of the Fittest” then it is O.K. for the superior race to subjugate the inferior races}… Do you think perhaps, he is so embarrassed by this concept that he just could not bring himself to use the terminology? No where does Gould break down evolution into component parts. For example, some talk of Macro Evolution (which deals with the origin of life) and Micro Evolution (which deals with changes within living organisms). When Gould talks about evolution being a fact he is speaking of Micro-Evolution, and most lab work in the world today is working on Micro-Evolution experiments….for example, if you take fruit flies and bombard them with radiation, you are going to see changes that can be observed, measured and replicated in experiments. Macro-Evolution, however, presents many problems for Science ….how do you put the big bang in a test tube??? Who among us observed the beginnings of the universe, or of first life? Do you think Gould and many of his fellow scientist, perhaps, show a reluctance to even acknowledge that here we approach the realm of philosophy and even theology? Note at the beginning of Gould’s article, he clearly states his reason for writing the article, yet at the end of the article, he launches into a passionate tirade over something he read in “A Civic Biology”, the section on Parasitism…pay close attention to that section and then tell me if the following information I am going to give you indicates that Gould had another hidden agenda for writing the article….Gould had a son that he dearly loved and was severely autistic.

Another thing that I would like you to hold in the backs of your mind as you listen to the audio, watch the video and read the article, is that Gould discusses the gross misuse of evolution by the Germans and Scientists in WWI and how Bryan read about it and was very worried and upset .… Gould does not address, however, what happens after World War I, the rise of the Fascists in Italy and Spain, and Nazi Germany (All based on Social Darwinism) or of the rise of the USSR and Communist China (whose ideology of communism is based largely on a cooperative view of evolution for humanity…however, if you refuse to cooperate, then we can kill you!!!). When one considers that Hitler was credited with killing around 18 million people and Stalin for 20 million and Mao for killing 40 million, (and these are conservative estimates) do you think Gould gives Bryan enough credit for having reason to be worried even if he did not clearly understand everything. Finally, I have said little about Bryan, the subject of this article….I think Gould correctly credits him for his role in reforming American society and his steadfast support for progressive reform…however most modern students’ view of Bryan has been warped by the Movie entitled “Inherit the Wind” loosely based on the Scopes “Monkey Trial” which depicts Bryan as a bigoted yahoo who was trying to suppress academic freedom while his opponent, Clarence Darrow was portrayed as a champion of academic freedom….I would like to simply point out that Clarence Darrow was a lawyer who could argue any side of any argument. Bryan pointed this out in the actual Scopes trial…. When he point blank asked Darrow, if he had always supported academic freedom and the teaching of evolution, Darrow answered yes. Bryan then dramatically proved Darrow was lying when he read verbatim from a trial transcript that Darrow had previously served in as a defense attorney. In the case, Darrow claimed that two college students he was defending for a particularly hideous murder and that the students actually admitted to committing, should nevertheless be found innocent of that murder since the real blame, said Darrow should fall on their college professors who taught them the damnable doctrines of Nietzsche who supported evolution!


O.K. here’s the question which includes several side questions…..After listening to the audio of Bryan’s Speech, how would you compare that speech to a political speech today/ After watching the video, just how serious in your view was the problem of Social Darwinism and how was it affecting the Germans prior to and during WWI. After reading the article, in your own words, tell me what you think about Gould’s implying in his article that he thinks that the Arkansas State Supreme Court (some students make the mistake of thinking this was a Federal case since Gould just says ‘Supreme Court’ in the article) has finally ended the controversy over evolution vs. creation…do you think he was correct to say that there would have never been a legislative attempt to curb evolution without Bryan. To use his favorite word, how does Gould’s view of Bryan “evolve” in the article? What does Gould believe about Bryan? What does he believe Bryan got confused about evolution, and what does he believe Bryan got right? Why do you think Bryan got upset after reading Headquarters Nights and The Science of Power? If you had read these books, what would you think? How accurate were Kellogg’s predictions about Germany? Finally, what did you think about the section where Gould gets very upset about the book that John Scopes used to teach evolution at the school in Dayton Tenn. which touched off the Scopes Monkey Trial….did you get the impression that this leading proponent of teaching evolution would have agreed with Bryan, at least in regard to this book ,“A Civil Biology” that it should not be used in the classroom and why? Worth 100pts.

for the students to write an Historical Methods Paper in an essay/review format which should reveal the complexity of the topic under consideration. Requirements:

  1. 600-word (3pages) (minimum) (double spaced) written project that requires students to create a historical argument, analyze and interpret the assigned sources, and relate the “cause and effect” relationships revealed within the source material.
  2. A professional product – i.e., spelling, grammar, syntax, presentation, etc. count.
  3. Sources must be documented in an appropriate format. (MLA or Chicago Turabian Citation.)
  1. Use a common rubric (see below) for grading.

Students MAY post (under the CONTENT Tab of your E-campus D2L and then the Historical Methods Paper ASSIGNMENT: Folder) one TYPED (double spaced) Review/Essay (contrast and comparison) of the Article on Bryan by Gould, the U-Tube speech by Bryan and the U-tube vid. on the Origins of WWI… The essay will be due as stated in your syllabus. The review/essay should not be shorter than 3 pages. Each review should SUMMARIZE and ANAYLIZE the MAIN POINTS of the article and videos and (should read textbook for background) and give the student’s REACTION to them. (further Content directions below ) The review/essay can be simply cut and pasted into the Dropbox or attached as a single WORD document in the appropriate assignment drop box. A maximum of 100 points will be awarded for Papers that adequately covers the assigned rubric. Late reviews will not be accepted. (A student can earn up to 100 pts. by doing this assignment.)

Review/Essay Format:


Author/s or Producers: (tell me who is writing or producing the article or vid. and why)

Thesis: (what is the main point you believe the author or producer is trying to make)

Summary: (give a brief overall summary of the article and videos)

Author’s and Producers Conclusions: (what major points do the authors of the article or video believes to be true)

Your Reactions: (were they well written or produced, how do they compare, did you learn anything, would you recommend them to someone else etc…)

Include a bibliography and proper citations and footnotes

***One of the most important parts of your review/essay will be your ability to notice what was historically accurate about the article and videos and what was inaccurate. The review should be based on the article and videos provided by your Professor, and he will expect to see plenty of direct quotations taken from the reading or videos included in the review and many specific examples drawn from these sources as well….the Professor wants evidence that the student read the assignment and watched the videos. It is important that each student understands the materials and now can explain it to others.

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