Friday, March 24, 2017

#1812: Robert Kaita

Since he’s already been sufficiently neutralized and thoroughly covered elsewhere, we’ll skip Theodore Kaczynski – even though he is certainly more colorful than Robert Kaita. The latter is Principal Research Physicist in the Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton University, and a respectable scientist in his own field with a more than respectable publication record. But being an expert in one field is no guarantee of any deep understanding of science in general but apparently, for some, a source of arrogance. Kaita is also a Fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, and a proponent (or at least defender) of Intelligent design creationism; he is for instance a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism and contributed to the anthology Mere Creation: Science, Faith & Intelligent Design, edited by Bill Dembski. He was also involved in (unsuccessful) efforts to convince a textbook board in Alabama to adopt the creationist textbook Of Pandas and People – for which he was a reviewer – in 1993.

Diagnosis: Yes, he has genuine – and rather impressive – credentials, and when people with genuine credentials allow ideology to trump intellectual honesty, accuracy and meticulousness, the results are ugly. Kaita is a pseudoscientist more than he is a scientist.

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