Friday, November 27, 2015

#1529: Harold Delaney, Michael Kent & David Keller

Delaney (not a very good picture)
Though rare, there exist creationists with real positions at real universitites, and who make real efforts to save their students from reality and science. Harold Delaney is a Professor of Psychology at the University of New Mexico and a signatory to A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism. Unlike many of those signatories, Delaney is a real scientist, but like almost all of them he has no background in the relevant fields. He did, however, receive a grant from the religious, anti-science Templeton Foundation in the 2000s, when the Foundation was still throwing money at creationists who also happened to be scientists (yes, the Templeton Foundation is anti-science; they have, at present, dropped the explicit anti-science part from their American projects in favor of just promoting religion, but look at what projects they are funding abroad!). Delaney is particularly notable for having taught an honors seminar in 2003 and 2004 on “Origins: Science, Faith and Philosophy” at his university, where he “presented both sides” of the evolution–creationism “debate”. Otherwise Delaney seems to think that creationism is an academic freedom issue, and that rejecting all the science should not be a matter given any weight when determining whether someone can get an academic position in biology. Oh, yes, academic freedom. Delaney’s course was originally classified as a science course, but when the university learned about its contents it was reclassified as a humanities course. Delaney claimed that this reclassification was a violation of his academic freedom.

The aforementioned course was co-taught with Michael Kent, a scientist affiliated with Sandia Laboratories. Kent is also a signatory to the Discovery Institute list. Kent’s PhD is in materials science, and he has accordingly no background in any relevant field. Funny that. Kent does, however, have a background in the New Mexico chapter of ID-net, and is on record trying to claim that the ID side has won the debate over the science standards in New Mexico public schools (absolutely, laughably false but effective as a PR stunt to make the creationist “strengths and weaknesses” strategy look reasonable).

Perhaps it was Delaney’s and Kent’s awareness of their lack of expertise in the fields in which they were misleading students that prompted them to invite David Keller to give a guest lecture. Keller is an associate professor of chemistry at the University of New Mexico. Why on earth would they invite a chemist rather than, you know, an expert in the field? You didn’t need to ask, did you? Keller is perhaps the most vocal creationist among the faculty at the University of New Mexico, and that, of course, was the qualification Delaney and Kent were looking for. Keller is on the editorial team of Bio-Complexity, the Discotute’s sad, creationist pseudojournal, and contributed an article (w. Jed Macosko) to the creationist anthology Darwin’s Nemesis: Phillip Johnson and the Intelligent Design Movement”.

Diagnosis: Oh, the creationists and their blatantly subversive tactics for, well, leading young people to Jesus by whatever means necessary, including lies and subversion. But though their efforts may look merely pathetic to the rest of us who know a bit about the science (and the workings of the denialists), these people are actually dangerous.

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