Friday, March 2, 2012

#305: Denyse O’Leary

A.k.a. Denyse “buy my book” O’Leary

Ok – I’ll admit that this is a violation of our policy. Denyse O’Leary is Canadian through and through. But she needs to be covered, and we’ll justify including her by pointing out that the main outlet for her delusional rants is Bill Dembski’s blog ‘Uncommon Descent’ (no link!). In fact, O’Leary, who is a staunch evangelical Catholic, runs several blogs where she proposes intelligent design creationism, metaphysical dualism and non-material neuro-science (she has absolutely no idea, though), and attacks the multiverse theory in physics because it is perceived as a real threat to her religion (she doesn’t even begin to comprehend it, however). She rarely allows comments on her blogs.

As for the non-materialist neuroscience, one of her blogs is actually devoted to trying to show that the ghost in the machine really abides in the pineal gland.

Among her contributions to the creationism/evolution manufactroversy – she was even invited to teach a course on Intelligent Design at the University of Toronto (religious studies department, not for credit) – is her critique of evolution in light of the “Travis incident” (see if you can make sense of it). Apparently the assumption is that the closer a being is to humans in the “tree of life”, the more acceptable is it to keep that being as a pet. A rather illuminating assumption. She was also skeptical of the veracity of Lucy because Lucy didn’t fit her preconceptions. She has also argued (by quote-mining) that Stephen Jay Gould rejected evolution because there are things in his writings O’Leary thinks don’t support evolution (because Gould understood evolution and O’Leary doesn’t). In fact almost everything disproves evolution in O’Leary’s mind, even everything that supports it (besides, evolutionary theory is racism). She’s honed the skill of quote-mining and misreading articles to perfection, and – to repeat – she has absolutely no clue about how science works.

Lots of her writings are concerned with showing how religious people are persecuted. This is shown by the fact that those evil secularists sometimes go as far as disagreeing with her. It is to be expected since “[e]ssentially, modern American culture is biased toward atheism, and nothing suits atheism better than Darwinism, its creation story,” biology and science are really religions because scientists write books and their ideas are taught to children and all Christians are apparently martyrs. In a wonderfully paranoid and deluded projection, O’Leary even asserted that “[atheists] can't help it. It is part of the natural authoritarian bent of athiests. They can't win the battle of ideas so their only hope is to silence opposing ideas by legal action”. The comment was made when she worked herself into the idea that Dawkins et al. were planning to sue the Expelled producers to prevent the release of the Expelled movie. In a similar vein, O’Leary has extensively criticized the peer-review system (an atheist conspiracy) because the fact that journals require publications to be based on evidence and sound methodology prevents creationist screeds from being published in top journals.

Her “nine predictions if ID is true” shows that she has no idea what “prediction” means in science. On the other hand, she said this concerning numbers: ”No numbers are evil or unlucky. All numbers are – in my view – created by God to march in a strict series or else a discoverable series, and that is what makes mathematics possible. And mathematics is evidence for design, not superstition.” So we actually did get a prediction out of ID from O’Leary: Partially ordered sets do not exist. [hat-tip ”Jason”, at GoodMath/BadMath].

O’Leary has written several books and is relatively immodest about promoting them in her blogposts (hence her nickname), such as “Faith@Science: Why Science Needs Faith in the Twenty-First Century” (discussing issues such as stem cell research and claiming that only Christians can offer moral guidance on this topic since only Christians say that it is immoral), “By Design Or By Chance?: The Growing Controversy On The Origins Of Life In The Universe”, and “The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul” (with neurotheology expert Mario Beauregard; her case for dualism is based not on science and evidence but garbled, shallow theology).

Diagnosis: That O’Leary is one of the central intelligent design creationists, and shows that the movement rewards persistent scientific illiteracy, stupidity and lack of concern for evidence, methodology and reality. That was hardly shocking news, I suppose.