Nick Matzke

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Nicholas J. Matzke is the former Public Information Project Director at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE)[1] and served an instrumental role in NCSE's preparation for the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial.[2] One of his chief contributions was discovering drafts of Of Pandas and People which demonstrated that the term "intelligent design" was later substituted for "creationism". This became a key component of Barbara Forrest's testimony.[3][4] After the trial he co-authored a commentary in Nature Immunology,[5][6] was interviewed on Talk of the Nation,[7] and was profiled in Seed magazine as one of nine "revolutionary minds".[8]

Training and career[edit]

Matzke earned a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from Valparaiso University, and a Master's degree by research in Geography from U.C. Santa Barbara.[1][9] He undertook Ph.D. studies in evolutionary biology at the University of California, Berkeley with John Huelsenbeck[1] earning his degree in 2013.[10] He was previously a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis. Matzke is currently a phylogeneticist at the School of Biological Scienes at the University of Auckland,[11] having previously been a Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) fellow at the Australian National University.

Work and publications[edit]

Matzke has written many in-depth pieces and has made frequent posts online, including regularly blogging at The Panda's Thumb. In 2003, he wrote a lengthy paper about the evolution of flagella[12] and has continued to challenge claims from intelligent design proponents that flagella are irreducibly complex.[13][14][15] He co-authored a critique of Stephen C. Meyer's paper that became important in the Sternberg peer review controversy.[16][17] He also wrote a chapter-by-chapter critique[18] of Jonathan Wells' book Icons of Evolution,[19] which he described as a "travesty of the notion of honest scholarship" that is "shot through with misrepresentations." In addition to "a bevy of its own errors," Matzke stated that the book contained "numerous instances of unfair distortions of scientific opinion, generated by the pseudoscientific tactics of selective citation of scientists and evidence, quote-mining, and 'argumentative sleight-of-hand,' [by which Matkze means] Wells's tactic of padding his topical discussions with incessant, biased editorializing."[18] While still with the NCSE, he collaborated with Paul R. Gross to contribute a chapter on the use of critical analysis by antievolutionists[20] to their 2006 book Not in Our Classrooms.[21] In less serious or formal work, he co-authored a research parody based on NCSE's Project Steve.[22] He first made a name for himself posting on as "Nic Tamzek".[citation needed] He has also written articles on such topics for the popular press.[11]

He is the author of the 2013 R package BioGeoBEARS,[23] which enables statistical comparison of probabilistic models of how the geographic ranges of species evolve on phylogenies, such as models that include or exclude founder-event speciation,[24] geographic distance,[25] or dispersal-influencing traits.[26] He also authored a 2015 paper in the journal Science conducting a dated, Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of antievolution legislation proposed or passed in the United States in the decade following Kitzmiller v. Dover.[27][28]


  1. ^ a b c "Nicholas J Matzke – Graduate Student". Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley. 2012. Archived from the original on May 24, 2012. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  2. ^ "Farewell, Nick". National Center for Science Education. August 20, 2007. Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  3. ^ testimony of Barbara Forrest, Kitzmiller v. Dover
  4. ^ I guess ID really was "Creationism's Trojan Horse" after all Archived 2008-06-24 at the Wayback Machine, Panda's Thumb
  5. ^ Bottaro, Andrea; Inlay, Matt; Matzke, Nick (2006). "Immunology in the spotlight at the Dover 'Intelligent Design' trial". Nature Immunology. 7 (5): 433–435. doi:10.1038/ni0506-433. PMID 16622425. S2CID 29396637.
  6. ^ PT posters in Nature Immunology, The Panda's Thumb
  7. ^ "Science, Intelligent Design and a 'Flock of Dodos'". Talk of the Nation. February 23, 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  8. ^ Seed Magazine — “Nick Matzke, Legal Beagle” The Panda's Thumb
  9. ^ Matzke, Nicholas Joseph (2003). Remote Sensing and Geostatistical Analysis of Anthropogenic Biomass Burning and Forest Degradation in Madagascar (MA). Santa Barbara, CA: University of California, Santa Barbara.
  10. ^ Matzke, Nicholas Joseph (2013). Probabilistic Historical Biogeography: New Models for Founder-Event Speciation, Imperfect Detection, and Fossils Allow Improved Accuracy and Model-Testing (PDF) (PhD). Berkeley, CA: University of California, Berkeley.
  11. ^ a b Baker, Matt A. B.; Matzke, Nicholas J. (November 7, 2019). "Evolution or Intelligent Design? The Story of the Bacterial Flagella Motor". ABC Science. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  12. ^ Matzke, Nick (2003). "Evolution in (Brownian) space: a model for the origin of the bacterial flagellum" (PDF). Retrieved November 7, 2019 – via Talk Reason.
  13. ^ Matzke, Nick (November 10, 2003). "BACKGROUND to 'Evolution in (Brownian) space: A model for the origin of the bacterial flagellum'". Talk Reason. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  14. ^ Flagellum evolution Archived 2006-09-27 at the Wayback Machine in Nature Reviews Microbiology, The Panda's Thumb.
  15. ^ Pallen, Mark J.; Matzke, Nicholas J. (2006). "From The Origin of Species to the origin of bacterial flagella" (PDF). Nature Reviews Microbiology. 4 (10): 784–790. doi:10.1038/nrmicro1493. PMID 16953248. S2CID 24057949.
  16. ^ Meyer's Hopeless Monster Archived 2009-02-10 at the Wayback Machine, The Panda's Thumb
  17. ^ Weitzel, Robert (August 28, 2005). "Creationism's Holy Grail: The Intelligent Design of a Peer-Reviewed Paper". Skeptic. 11 (4): 66–69. Retrieved November 7, 2019. available here at the Talk Reason website and archived at the Wayback Machine on May 6, 2019.
  18. ^ a b Matzke, Nick (January 23, 2004). "Icon of Obfuscation: Jonathan Wells' book Icons of Evolution and why most of what it teaches about evolution is wrong". The TalkOrigins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  19. ^ Wells, Jonathan (2002). Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? (paperback ed.). Regnery Publishing. ISBN 9780895262769.
  20. ^ Matzke, Nicholas J.; Gross, Paul R. (2006). "Analyzing Critical Analysis: The Fallback Antievolutionist Strategy". In Scott, Eugenie Carol; Branch, Glenn (eds.). Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design is Wrong for Our Schools. Beacon Press. ISBN 9780807032787.
  21. ^ "Not in Our Classrooms". National Center for Science Education. September 21, 2006. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  22. ^ Scott, Eugenie C.; Branch, Glenn; Matzke, Nicholas (2004). "The Morphology of Steve" (PDF). Annals of Improbable Research. 10 (4): 24–29. doi:10.3142/107951404781540554.
  23. ^ "BioGeoBEARS - PhyloWiki". 2017-11-14.
  24. ^ Matzke, Nicholas (2014). "Model Selection in Historical Biogeography Reveals that Founder-event Speciation is a Crucial Process in Island Clades". Systematic Biology. 63 (6): 951–970. doi:10.1093/sysbio/syu056. PMID 25123369.
  25. ^ Van Dam, Matthew; Matzke, Nicholas (2016). "Evaluating the influence of connectivity and distance on biogeographic patterns in the south-western deserts of North America". Journal of Biogeography. 43 (8): 1514–1532. doi:10.1111/jbi.12727.
  26. ^ Matzke, Nicholas (2016). "Trait-dependent dispersal models for phylogenetic biogeography, in the R package BioGeoBEARS". Integrative and Comparative Biology. 56 (suppl 1): e251–e400. doi:10.1093/icb/icw001.
  27. ^ Matzke, Nicholas (2015). "The Evolution of Antievolution Policies After Kitzmiller v. Dover". Science. 351 (6268): 10–12. doi:10.1126/science.aad4057. PMID 26678877.
  28. ^ Matzke, Nicholas J. (December 17, 2015). "Matzke 2015 Science Paper on the Evolution of Antievolution". PhyloWiki: Assisting Research and Education in Phylogenetics and Evolution ( Retrieved November 7, 2019.

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