Friday, November 27, 2020

#2411: Jay Wile

Jay Wile is a young-earth creationist who holds a PhD in nuclear chemistry from the University of Rochester. Though his credentials have nothing to do with evolutionary biology, you may rest assured that he nevertheless uses them for all they’re worth, given the dearth of people with legitimate credentials in any field of science on the creationist clown circuit.

Wile is probably best known as an author of the Exploring Creation with … books published by Apologia Educational Ministries, a series of “science” textbooks aimed at junior high/high school-level home-school and private-school students that promote flood geology and creationism, but he also claims for instance that “environmentalists” are hysterical, lying alarmists because they listen to mainstream science rather than his own, Bible-based attempts to explain away the data (a core strategy is to claim that science, too, must engage in some speculation, and since young-earth creationists also speculate and base things on faith, creationism is genuinely scientific). Wile himself sold the Apologia textbook business in 2006 to homeschoolers affiliated with Focus on the Family, which offers online classes for homeschool students such as “Introductory and Advanced Sciences” and “Bible, Apologetics and Worldview”. The general idea behind the series can be summed up in a quote from Wile’s Exploring Creation with General Science (that one is thoroughly reviewed here): “… the Christian worldview is a perfect fit with science. Science is based on the notion that the world works according to rational laws that do not change. Since Christians believe in a rational Creator whose laws do not change, science and Christianity work very well together.” The observation is of course as relevant to the conclusion as the observation that the words “Christianity” and “science” share a number of letters.

Though Wile has stated that Ken Ham’s Creation Museum contained inaccuracies – apparently he disagreed over whether or not animals died at all before the fall of man – Wile nevertheless found the Creation Museum “to be significantly more scientifically accurate than most museums, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.” (Keep in mind that Wile defines “scientific” as “Biblical”.)

Here is Wile praising the work of Mark Armitage while unwittingly undermining the whole thing. (Here is a discussion of his response to critics.)

Diagnosis: Belligerently nonsensical, of course, but it is instructive to note how Wile is apparently willing to use any strategy accessible to dismiss the data he doesn’t like (particularly by overlooking them) – it really is an instructive case study of confirmation bias in action. Keep in mind, though, that as an author of popular instructional materials for fundamentalist-oriented home schools, Wile is actually strikingly influential.

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