Tom Bethell
BornJuly 17, 1936
DiedFebruary 12, 2021(2021-02-12) (aged 84)
Occupation(s)Journalist, writer

Tom Bethell (/bəˈθɛl/; July 17, 1936 – February 12, 2021)[1] was an American journalist who wrote mainly on economic and scientific issues.

Life and career

Bethell was born and raised in London,[2] England. He was educated at Downside School and Trinity College, Oxford. A resident of the District of Columbia, he lived in Virginia, Louisiana, and California. From 1962 to 1965 he taught math at Woodberry Forest School, Virginia. He was married to Donna R. Fitzpatrick of Washington, D.C.[3][4][5] He was a senior editor of The American Spectator and was for 25 years a media fellow of the Hoover Institution. He was Washington editor of Harper's, and an editor of the Washington Monthly.[6]

In 1980, he received a Gerald Loeb Award Honorable Mention for Columns/Editorial for "Fooling With the Budget."[7][8][9]

Jim Garrison investigation

Bethell was hired as a researcher by New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison to assist with his prosecution of Clay Shaw for conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy.[10] Bethell gave no credence to Garrison's charges that Shaw was involved.[11] Shaw was acquitted after the jury deliberated for about an hour.


In 1976, Bethell wrote a controversial article for Harper’s Magazine titled "Darwin's Mistake". According to Bethell there is no independent criterion of fitness and natural selection is a tautology.[12] Bethell also stated that Darwin's theory was on "the verge of collapse" and natural selection had been "quietly abandoned" by his supporters.[13] These claims were disputed by biologists.[12][13] The paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould wrote a rebuttal to Bethell's arguments.[13]

Bethell was a member of the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis,[14] which denies that HIV causes AIDS. In The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science (2005), he promoted denial of the existence of man-made global warming, AIDS denialism, and denial of evolution (which Bethell denied was "real science").[15] Bethell endorsed the intelligent design documentary-style film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.[16]

Bethell died from complications of Parkinson's disease at his home in Washington, D.C. in February 2021, aged 84.[17]

Selected publications



Book contributions


  1. ^ "Remembering Tom Bethell: Wordsmith of Courage and Controversy" Archived February 14, 2021, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  2. ^ See: Jerry P. Shinley Archive: Thomas Bethell: Biographical Sketch from CA
  3. ^ Trinity College, Oxford – missing members Archived 2008-04-21 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Tom Bethell explains why property matters
  5. ^ Tom Bethell, Beliefnet Columnist Accessed July 20, 2008
  6. ^ Biography at Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc.
  7. ^ "2 California Papers Lead Loeb Awards". The Washington Post. May 30, 1980. p. D3.
  8. ^ "Loeb Award winners 1958–1996". Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. April 2013. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  9. ^ "Historical Winners List". UCLA Anderson School of Management. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  10. ^ Tom Bethell, "Reality Check for Another Movie Myth," Los Angeles Times, December 1, 1991.
  11. ^ Tom Bethell, "Was Sirhan Sirhan on the Grassy Knoll?", The Washington Monthly, March 1975.
  12. ^ a b Ruse, Michael. Philosophy of Biology. Prometheus Books, 2007, p. 22, 133-141. ISBN 978-1591025276.
  13. ^ a b c Gould, Stephen Jay. "Darwin’s Untimely Burial." Natural History, Vol. 85, 1976, pp. 24-30. Republished in Gould, Stephen Jay. Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History. W. W. Norton & Company, 2007, pp. 39-45. ISBN 978-0393340419.
  14. ^ Baumann, E.; Bethell, T.; Bialy, H.; Duesberg, P. H.; Farber, C.; Geshekter, C. L.; Johnson, P. E.; Maver, R. W.; Schoch, R.; Stewart, G. T. (1995). "AIDS proposal. Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis". Science. 267 (5200): 945–946. doi:10.1126/science.7863334. PMID 7863335. S2CID 45222215.
  15. ^ Bethell, Tom."Don’t Fear the Designer." National Review.
  16. ^ Branch, Glenn. "Expelled and the Reviewers." National Center for Science Education, Vol. 28, Nos. 5-6, 2008, pp. 24–25.
  17. ^ "Tom Bethell". Retrieved July 13, 2021.