Denyse O’Leary — Bright New Discoveroid Star

The Discoveroids have just posted another anti-science rant by their newest blogger, Denyse O’Leary. She’s a co-author of something titled The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul (Amazon listing).

We find her posts to be too incoherent — even with our Curmudgeonly talent of finding humor in creationist rants — so we’ve mostly ignored her. We mentioned her Discoveroid writings only twice before, when she first began to appear at their creationist blog: Discovery Institute: Science is Worthless, and a week before that The Copernican Principle. Then we gave up on her. However, long before she joined the Discoveroids, her name popped up in the first year of our humble blog when she was mentioned (favorably) by a creationist in: Mind-Body Dualism: It’s Back!

We’re breaking our self-imposed rule of Denyse avoidance to call your attention to her latest offering, titled Human Origins: The War of Trivial Explanations. As you can guess from her title, Denyse is adamant that she ain’t no kin to no monkey.

We won’t give you many excerpts. It’s too painful. Here’s how she starts, with bold font added by us:

The overarching theory in biology has been, for over a century, Darwinian evolution: Natural selection acting on random mutation is the cause of all or most variation in life forms. As anyone who has monitored what the media says over the years will know, all evidence is either interpreted on its terms or ignored. Thus, humans are evolved primates, an unexceptional twig on the tree of life, though like other twigs, we are accidental outliers.

Oh dear — those nasty Darwinists don’t think there’s anything special — divinely special — about our glorious species! She also says:

For example, the 11,500-year-old religious complex Gobekli Tepe, described by one source as like “a 747 built in the basement with an X-Acto knife,” must be a subset or outgrowth of the activities of primates like chimpanzees and bonobos.

Wikipedia says that Göbekli Tepe is “an archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, northeast of the town of Şanlıurfa.” It was discovered in 1963, and has been seriously investigated since the 1990s. It appears to have had an impressive arrangement of heavy stone pillars, and it’s tentatively dated back to the 10th millennium BCE, which is earlier than other such sites. Denyse imagines the “Darwinists” claim that humans were chimps and bonobos back then. Really, that’s what she thinks. This is her next sentence:

Other primates never built such a thing, or built anything. But it must nonetheless somehow be accounted for by our kinship with them.

Uh … primates built Stonehenge, the Pyramids, and the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens. Anyway, right after that she says:

The fact that such claims explain nothing about the world around us and fly in the face of evidence and common sense is not treated as a serious objection. That is what it means when we say that Darwinian evolution is an overarching explanation: It can explain everything and anything — and in the end nothing — and still be the accepted and defended explanation. To doubt is to invite intellectual rejection.

The amazing thing is that with all the Discoveroids’ claims about increasing numbers of leading scientists who are abandoning “Darwinism” and flocking to intelligent design, Denyse has risen to become one of their respected contributors. She must be among the best of their new converts.

Then she romps through (her description of) a large collection of various evolutionary ideas, and airily dismisses them all with an indignant waive wave of the hand. Denyse has no patience for such foolishness.

Now we come to the good part. It’s the thundering climax of her post, and the reason we decided to blog about it. Get this:

The obvious problems with all of these disunited and discordant theses can be summed up for convenience as: 1) If some aspect of chimpanzee behavior explains matters, why didn’t it produce the same result in chimpanzees? 2) If mere advantage (which every primate seeks) explains a development like the human mind, why did only humans experience it?

That’s right, dear reader. Denyse’s post boils down to the most mind-numbingly stupid question ever uttered by a creationist: If we evolved from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys? M’god! As we wrote in If We Evolved From Monkeys, Then Why …?, even AIG has abandoned that one.

Well, let’s look on the bright side. Not even Denyse can exceed the ridiculousness of what she’s just written, so we can now return to our policy of Denyse avoidance. But bear in mind that the Discoveroids think she’s a great new addition to their “think tank.” Considered in that specialized context, perhaps they’re right.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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27 responses to “Denyse O’Leary — Bright New Discoveroid Star

  1. I think her background is English literature. Just the sort of major to make one an expert on biology. Perhaps she should read an Englishman’s (Darwin) books before she comments about evolution.

  2. …such claims explain nothing about the world around us and fly in the face of evidence and common sense…

    That’s a very good and concise summary of ID.

    She might not be a biologist, but scientific credentials do not appear to be necessary to work on ID. The most important credential for the ID field is that of attorney. However, Denise’s ability to make-up anti-science screeds on subjects she has little or no knowledge of must make her something of a useful IDiot, so to speak.

  3. Unintentional anonymity there….

  4. waldteufel

    Denyse’s entry into the pantheon of IDiots shuffling through the halls of the Disco Toot marks a new low in the ID slide in intellectual respectability. The confused granny from Toronto has yet to demonstrate the ability to construct and present a cogent thought, so she makes a perfect fit with the Attack Gerbil and Klingklepuffer.

  5. Denyse O’Leary is 63, if I recall, and has no science degree. She is pig ignorant of all sciences; every one of her articles is intended to teach anti-scientists how to adopt a tone of contemptuous superiority toward all the world’s scientists. Now compare this reality to Stephen Meyer’s advertising copy:

    Stephen Meyer: “Right, you want to know whether anyone actually agrees with us. Here’s what’s happening. I’m actually very optimistic because Thomas Kuhn, the famous historian of science, said scientific revolutions don’t happen when the old guard suddenly changes their mind. They happen one funeral at a time. And what we have found is we’re attracting an awful lot of young talent.”
    [Stephen Meyer 2014, cited here]

    Meyer is lying. O’Leary is 63 and dumb as dogfood. She is not young and not a talent. And she’s the best they have: angry, contemptuous, sexagenarian cranks who never discovered anything.

    One funeral at a time, Meyer. One funeral at a time.

  6. “Uh … primates built Stonehenge, the Pyramids, and the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens.”

    Not to mention London, New York City, Saturn V rockets, computers, and the ball-point pen.

    She certainly has a knack for making a fool of herself, exposing her complete ignorance of prehistoric homo sapiens. Someone at the DI should have a heart and point out to her that human beings 11,500 ago were human beings. I can just picture her doing a perfect imitation of Emily Litella — “Never mind”.

  7. I’m not convinced that “Denyse O’Leary” is anything other than a rather unconvincing ELIZA phrase-generator chat-bot, but loaded up with a sprinkling of Creationist vocabulary.

    It isn’t actually possible to disagree with anything she says, as nothing she says is sufficient intelligible to evaluate in any meaningful sense. A weird waste of space–but as our Curmudgeon has pointed out, if there is space that is ripe for wasting, it’s on the Discoveroids’ blog.

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    Megalonyx, if her posts are just (intentional) filler, maybe we should call them the Distractoids instead.

  9. Diogenes directs us to a quote from the redoubtable Stephen Meyer, to wit:

    I’m actually very optimistic because Thomas Kuhn, the famous historian of science, said scientific revolutions don’t happen when the old guard suddenly changes their mind. They happen one funeral at a time.

    Creationists seem to invoke Kuhn in the same way they invoke Galileo, as validation of some sort of syllogism along the lines of

    [Major Premise] Everyone said Galileo was a kook, but he turned out to be right; as Kuhn notes, this sort of thing has recurred in the history of science

    [Minor Premise] Everyone says that advocacy of my pet notion — that there is a causal relationship between annual consumption of mayonnaise and the rate of divorces–makes me a kook.

    [Conclusion] Kuhn predicts that I will soon be shown to be a bold and revered pioneer, just like Galileo.

    Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions is indeed a seminal and important work, but it just doesn’t say what the Creationists think it does. Yep, science is often ‘wrong’–or rather, scientific knowledge has always been incomplete, and thus always to some degree provisional.

    But science is pursued with full recognition of the provisional nature of current knowledge, and is powerful for precisely the reason that it has that recognition and has developed the means for in-flight correction to our state of knowledge.

    The Creationists overlook the fact that for every scientific Galileo there must be some thousands of non-scientific kooks whose weird ideas never got anywhere for want of any supporting data.

    And they also overlook the fact that, in the entire history of the advancement of human knowledge, which has indeed (as Kuhn illustrates) meant abandoning earlier theories when new data falsifies them, there is not a single example of a naturalistic explanation having to be abandoned in favour of a supernatural one. Not once. Not ever.

  10. Let’s re-examine just exactly how stupid Denyse O’Leary really is. Let’s examine this statement:

    “The overarching theory in biology has been, for over a century, Darwinian evolution: Natural selection acting on random mutation is the cause of all or most variation in life forms.”

    Now, virtually all geneticists and most molecular biologists would say this statement is scientifically false. Since the 1960’s or 1970’s at least, since the work of geniuses like Motoo Kimura and Tomoko Ohta, that most evolution at the genetic level (DNA, protein sequences) is neutral. Thus most variation at the genetic level is caused by neutral evolution. Thus geneticists have shown clearly that in fact, neutral evolution– genetic drift, not natural selection — is the cause of all or most variation in life forms.

    (To this two caveats might be added: some biologists would claim that most anatomical (not molecular) variation is caused by NS, but they haven’t demonstrated that; and everyone would agree that adaptation (as opposed to variation) is caused by NS– if you have two parts, A and B, well adapted to each other, then either A, or B, or maybe both, were produced by NS.)

    Anyway O’Leary’s characterization would be recognized by real scientists as false, out of touch and irrelevant since at least the 1970’s. So the sexagenarian cranks is at least 40 years out of date; but she presents her ID argument as cuttin’ edge science.

    But here’s the kicker. Here’s what makes it insufferable.

    What makes her stupidity insufferable is the fact that for the last couple of months, the geneticist Larry Moran, on his blog Sandwalk, has been attempting to “educate” the ID creationists on this very topic– neutral evolution vs. natural selection as the cause of most variation. Moran read and directly addressed the stupid posts at Uncommon Descent, and some UDites (VJ Torley, Sal Cordova) posted what were claimed to be responses, so UDites admit that they read Larry’s blog. The back-and-forth went on and on, blog post after blog post, and each time Larry clarified a point, the UDites either misunderstood it completely, or came up with really stupid arguments claiming they’d falsified population genetics!

    Larry began by simply computing how much genetic variation we should expect between humans and chimps if they diverged when the fossil record suggests they did– 5 or 6 million years ago– if current mutation rate has held true for that time (about ~130 new mutations per primate individual, relative to its parents), and if the generation time is about 25 years, as observed. He also assumes that most variation is due to neutral evolution, which was shown in the 1960’s and 70’s. A simple multiplication leads to a prediction of a chimp-human genetic difference of about 1.3%, and the actual observed number is 1.3%.

    The IDiots cannot compute a competing number under the “God did it” hypothesis, so the IDiots present stupid counter-arguments such as the following:

    1. The math of population genetics says that the number of new mutations per individual (about ~130 for apes and us) is equal to the rate of fixation of mutations in the population. But that can’t possibly be true because it’s against common sense! (Because this is a mathematical computation, they’re arguing that 2+2 can’t equal 4 because that’s against common sense. Larry had to argue and argue until they gave in on that point.

    2. Since population genetics assumes that most evolution at the molecular level is neutral, therefore natural selection doesn’t exist and doesn’t do anything. Since Larry never said any such thing, he responded to this argument by accusing the IDiots of deliberately lying.

    Sal Cordova had a bunch of other stupid YEC arguments.

    This went on at UD and Sandwalk for two months. Now IDiot Denyse O’Leary acts as if the whole argument never happened. Larry tried to educate the IDiots, but it can’t be done. She’s back at square zero. And it’s not that complicated a subject. Multi-frickin-plication and she can’t or won’t understand it.

  11. Oopsie! Let us pray:

    “Our Curmy, who art in blogsphere, [edited out]. I heartily repent of my errant ways, and humbly call upon thy divine and healing powers to correct them. Amen.”

    [*Voice from above*] So many transgressions, so much to correct.

  12. Dense O’Leary makes a typographical error: “That is what it means when we say that Darwinian evolution is an overarching explanation: It can explain everything and anything — and in the end nothing…”

    Let me correct that — “That is what it means when we say that Darwinian evolution God is an overarching explanation: It can explain everything and anything — and in the end nothing…”

    There. My Bachelor’s Degree in Technical Writing finally pays off.

  13. SC, I have a similar favor to ask, as well, concerning my first post above. I left the first “a” out of the sentence, “She certainly has a knack for making a fool of herself…”

    Thanks! “Has knack” just sounds weird.

    [*Voice from above*] It is done!

  14. I might add, “So much for my degree in Tech Writing.”

  15. Charles James

    I believe that she is a Canadian, possibly based in the Vancouver area. A few years ago while searching my television for some comedy, I came upon this wacko trading barbs with another wacko by the name of Bill O’Reilly. Now that was comedy. Bill seemed to imply that she was the greatest thing since rolled salami.

  16. O’Leary on TV? Now that I’d like to see.

  17. Ken Phelps

    @Charles James – O’Leary from Vancouver? I think not! We can be blamed for many things out here, but that festering bit of Toronto culture is not one of them.

  18. “why did only humans experience it?”
    I’d like to read Dear Denyses’ views on swarm intelligence. One ant is dumber than Dear Denyse, a million of them together sure make smarter decisions.

  19. I hope to see more from her so she can be tagged “Dense O’Leary”.

  20. lanceleuven

    Ah rubbish, I was going to joke that there was a superflous ‘y’ in her first name, but Mary L beat me to it. Foiled again!

  21. Megalonyx reveals—

    “The Creationists overlook the fact that for every scientific Galileo there must be some thousands of non-scientific kooks whose weird ideas never got anywhere for want of any supporting data.”

    But don’t you see!? Cretinists like Dunce O’Bleary have limitless faith that they are the unrecognised Galileos of the modern age, having their faith tested through suffering the slings and arrows of such mundane issues like evidence and reason. (They might have to wait a bit longer than Galileo for recognition, though. As Derren Brown wrote, “If you think there’s a kind of eccentric dignity in [being written off as a lunatic], you’re wrong. Heresy does not make you right. The fact that they ‘laughed at Galileo’ isn’t what made him a genius.”)

    Curmy, “[Dunce O’Bleary] airily dismisses [a large collection of various evolutionary ideas] with an indignant waive of the hand.” A more accurate rendition would be “… an indignant waive of the mind.” 😉

  22. docbill1351

    Dense has been around a long, long time. She popped up here and there at The Swamp (Uncommon Descent into Madness) writing the most idiotic and downright difficult to read stuff that I thought was Poe. Srsly, nobody could be that stupid. Alas, Dense fooled me!

    She had her own blog for a while and I seem to recall she was the only commenter. Yes, she talked with herself on her own blog. She’s not so much a YEC as a YECCCCCCCH! Mind-brain dualist and a huge fan of Egnor.

    Later, she started posting anonymously at UD as “News” and recently she was given posting privileges at the DI’s flagship, er, “flagship” blog. That was freaking amazing, Dense posting for the DI! I thought Luskin’s sloppy, tedious prose was bad enough. Or Klingleberry’s slimy, purile screeds the bottom of the DI barrel. But, no! There are new depths to plumb! Not only random people but Dense herself!

    Why, oh, why, even if you’re running a scam, would you give someone as abjectly stupid as Dense posting privileges?

  23. You may be right, Con-Tester. Perhaps it was a wave of the hand. I’m still having trouble with the languages on this planet.

  24. They’re not scraping the bottom of the barrel, they’re under that. Recall that Dawkins once said that when creationists trot out their “scientists”, he could hear the sound of bottoms of barrels being scraped. But “the bottom of the barrel” would mean the dumbest Ph.D.s you can found.

    O’Leary has no science degree, and was never in the barrel to begin with. The Discovery Institute found the barrel empty; they turned the barrel over, dug down in the dirt under it and found an isopod, then gave it posting privileges.

  25. DocBill: “Dense has been around a long, long time.”

    Were you there?

  26. Diogenes notes

    O’Leary has no science degree, and was never in the barrel to begin with.

    I believe Diogenes is correct here–on the grounds that, if there is one thing he is certain to know about, it’s barrels. IOW, he was there. 🙂

  27. I remember tangling with Denyse when her first ID book came out, called By Chance or Design. She may be a new contributor to DI blogs, but she is far from a new convert. Her professional background is journalism but she has sure not done any research on evolution.