Friday, May 11, 2018

#2012: Forrest Mims

A somewhat central figure in the Intelligent Design creationist movement, Forrest Mims has no formal academic training in science but does teach electronics and atmospheric science at the University of the Nations, an unaccredited religious institution in Hawaii. He has also written quite a bit about science –his instructional electronics books are reasonably widely read – and his lack of academic training might actually be an advantage when the goal is to try to shoehorn existing science, through distortion, omission and strawmanning, into the service of promoting pseudoscience. Mims is also a global warming denialist.

He is perhaps most famous for his 1988 application to take over the Amateur Scientist column at Scientific American. Scientific American offered him the opportunity to write some sample columns, but he was ultimately not offered the position. Mims concluded that he didn’t get the job because he wasn’t qualified there were better qualified applicants of his religious and creationist views, which one would imagine would have been an entirely legitimate basis for rejecting his application even if it were true. Nonetheless, creationists still offer the case as an example of how Christian scientists are persecuted by mainstream science just because they have no formal qualifications and reject all the science, its methodology and evidence (not their formulation).

Mims also received some attention for his claim that ecologist Eric Pianka was advocating mass genocide by genetically enhanced Ebola virus with the goal of exterminating up to 90% of the human population. Pianka was not advocating this. When Mims’s misrepresentations of Pianka’s views were pointed out to him, Mims responded by trying to portray himself as the victim. There is a pattern here.

Despite his lack of formally recognized scientific credentials, Mims is nevertheless a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s laughable petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism. He is also a Fellow at the Discovery Institute and of the creationist organization The International Society for Complexity, Information and Design.

Diagnosis: Pseudoscientist and denialist. That people still listen to him about anything – to the extent they do – given his past story of distortions nad misrepresentations as well as his demonstrable lack of credentials and his equally demonstrable lack of understanding of science, is a disgrace.

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