Tuesday, October 31, 2017

#1917: Jed Macosko

Another intelligent design creationist (his relationship, if any, to last entry’s Christopher Macosko is unclear), Jed Macosko is an assistant professor (of biophysics) at Wake Forest University who, unlike most ID proponents, appears to publish peer-reviewed scientific research. None of the serious publiscations seems to touch on Intelligent Design, of course, but it gives him credentials, which can be used for marketing ID regardless of whether they actually help establish intelligent design creationism research as a scientific enterprise. Macosko is also a Fellow of William Dembski’s International Society for Complexity, Information and Design, and a Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture between 2001 and 2003. Unsurprisingly, Macosko is also a signatory to their ridiculous petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, which – to put it simply – does not reflect scientific dissent from Darwinism.

In addition to peer reviewed research that does not concern Intelligent Design, Macosko produces
non-peer-reviewed material that does, indeed, purport to support ID, and is perhaps best known for co-editing, with Dembski, “A Man For This Season: The Phillip Johnson Celebration Volume” (information about the volume here); Macosko himself contributed a chapter on “how Johnson has influenced [the authors] approach to biology and what implications such an ID-fiendly approach would have for biology” coauthored with David Keller, a University of New Mexico chemist who is not a biologist either. Funny that.

He is also on the editorial board of the pseudojournal Bio-Complexity, and was involved – giving biological guidance – in the subversive creationist game CellCraft; subversive, since it was not marketed as promoting ID and those using it might not notice that the biology was deliberately skewed creationistwise. That game is not his only outreach effort. There is a reasonably thorough discussion of some of his 2002 public lectures on “Darwinism and cell complexity” (marketed as “Free scientific lectures offered”) here. One of these lectures, at UC Davis, is titled “Life’s Molecular Machines: By Chance or by Design?” (sponsored by a Christian Bible-study group called Grace Alive and opened with a plenary prayer) and yes – as you’d expect, it predictably and misleadingly suggests that evolution is “by chance”, which it is certainly not. The other “scientific” lecture, “If Darwinism is Unfounded, Why Do so Many Smart People Believe It?” was to be given at the Grace Valley Christian Center. Apparently anti-science is science, only more comprehensive since it includes the “anti” part as well.

Diagnosis: One of the slicker, more professional-seeming anti-scientists in the creationist enterprise, and as such probably one of the more dangerous. No, it isn’t more scientific or rational, or less anti-science, than green-ink rants in weird font combinations about how the Bible disproves that the Earth is round, but it sounds more professional and is deliberately targeted toward those who aren’t really well-versed enough in evolutionary biology to tell the difference.

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