Friday, July 25, 2014

#1129: Ralph Seelke

Creationism is littered with fake experts and people with expertise in fields irrelevant to the study of evolution. Ralph Seelke is one of few exceptions. Seelke is Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Wisconsin, Superior, and has even published in relevant fields (though nothing, of course, that challenges evolution). He is nevertheless a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, on the board of the pseudoscientific think tank known as the Biologic Institute, and on the board of editors of their pseudojournal Bio-Complexity. Indeed, given the scarcity of people with a comparable background among creationists, Seelke is quite a bit of a celebrity among his fellow denialists, and frequently called upon as an expert. He testified for instance in the Kansas Evolution Hearings and was, with Stephen Meyer and Charles Garner, selected by the Texas Board of Education for their review panel for educational materials in 2008 (also here and here).

Seelke is perhaps most famous for being the coauthor of Explore Evolution, a 2007 piece of propaganda put out by the Discovery Institute to replace Of Pandas and People as part of their wedge strategy, in which the idea was to push the concept of teaching the “strengths and weaknesses” when teaching evolution in public schools. (The Wikipedia page for the book is here; the valuable Explore Evolution Exposed website is here; a brief, succinct review can be found here). The book is not to be confused with the NSF educational program of the same name, and the creationist book title is likely to have been chosen to engender confusion. There is a good review of the books and the Discotute agenda here.

Diagnosis: He has the formal training, but evidently lacks the expertise. Seelke may not be the loudest of the pseudoscientists employed by the Discotute, but given his formal credentials he is, in fact, one of the more dangerous.

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