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above: Tom Bethell (Discovery Institute)

In Memoriam

Tom Bethell (1936–2021)

With Tom Bethell’s death in February, those who refuse what Orwell called the “smelly little orthodoxies contending for our souls” have lost an eloquent and redoubtable champion. Over the course of Bethell’s five decades as a writer (consisting of seven books and hundreds of essays), the malodorous certitudes of political correctness have piled up to Augean proportions. Bethell waded into them one by one—from cultural relativism to Einsteinian relativity—hosed them down, and dressed them in motley for our sport.

Bethell’s doubts about the scientific rigor of Darwin’s theory of evolution began to germinate while he was studying philosophy, psychology, and physiology at Oxford in the 1960s. In his groundbreaking 1976 Harper’s Magazine article, “Darwin’s Mistake,” he was the first to confute that dogma root and branch; and having shattered the taboo, paved the way for the many critiques that would follow.

By far the most readable of these was his own book, Darwin’s House of Cards (2016). Bethell pointed out that the natural selection argument employs circular logic. “You can’t find...

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