John M. Lynch posted Entry 1175 on June 26, 2005 05:39 PM.
Trackback URL: http://degas.fdisk.net/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/1173

In this post Denyse O'Leary "comments" on a session I am organizing and chairing at the forthcoming International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology meeting. The session is the second of a two-parter on the Darwinian Revolution, and specifically deals with the following:
Many faculty members teach “Darwinian Revolution” courses. What do they teach, and how and why? And what difference does the discussion about whether there was such a revolution and what it involved make pedagogically? Should the latest scholarship matter to the teaching, or are there different and overriding pedagogical values?

Over at Stranger Fruit I deal with O'Leary's claims about the nature of the "Darwinian Revolution" and question her knowledge of history and philosophy of science.

Update: 21:30 - O'Leary has tried to defend herself against my post, so I've replied here

Comment #36495

Posted by steve on June 26, 2005 05:56 PM (e) (s)

And no judge can order people to believe something that they really know is not true, and get serious compliance. That is true by definition.

this is the silliest thing a creationist has said all day. True by the definition of what?

Comment #36498

Posted by snaxalotl on June 26, 2005 07:59 PM (e) (s)

true by definition of believe. If you believe something, it might not be true as far as anyone else is concerned, but it is as far as you are concerned. Not to be confused with provable.

Comment #36499

Posted by Dave Carlson on June 26, 2005 08:02 PM (e) (s)

*delurks*

John,

I believe the link to Denyse O’leary’s post may be non-functional. I, for one, am getting an error message saying that the url your gave was not found.

Comment #36500

Posted by john m. lynch on June 26, 2005 08:11 PM (e) (s)

Dave:

It was gone for a while and has now re-appeared DOL made some additions to her original piece in response to my comments. I will reply to those as time permits.

Comment #36501

Posted by steve on June 26, 2005 08:12 PM (e) (s)

It was up just a few hours ago. I know, because I left a very critical comment on it. Perhaps the blog is down while she Dembskifies comments.

Comment #36502

Posted by steve on June 26, 2005 08:28 PM (e) (s)

Yeah, she just Dembskied the crap out of some of my comments. Total obliteration. I think that proves she’s qualified to run an ID blog.

Comment #36503

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on June 26, 2005 08:53 PM (e) (s)

O’Leary defends her knowledge:

Not only do I understand Darwinism pretty well (I was raised on it, and believed it implicitly until I started to examine it critically), but so do most people: From goo to zoo to you, in a zillion easy steps.

In the process she simply confirms the criticisms of her.

Comment #36505

Posted by PZ Myers on June 26, 2005 09:42 PM (e) (s)

Whoa. She didn’t even get Sarfati’s cliche right: it’s “From goo to you via the zoo.”

Comment #36506

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on June 26, 2005 09:51 PM (e) (s)

But wait, there is more!

How about this: Is anyone who is speaking at the conference prepared to say that they disagree with Darwinian evolution in a substantive way?

For example:

- “I think that the human being has a spiritual nature that is not simply the result of random mutations acted on by natural selection. I believe that science evidence for this can be made available.”

or

- “I think that the universe and life forms show SCIENTIFIC evidence of a purpose that is not simply an illusion generated by ranhdom electrons in the human brain.”

Am I mistaken, or is O’Leary really claiming that there is “science evidence” for the soul? And if there was, what would that have to do with Darwinism? Any Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Jewish or Muslim Darwinist would certainly agree that “the human being has a spiritual nature that is not simply the result of random mutations acted on by natural selection” (whether they think they have scientific proof of this or not) and that doesn’t affect their agreement with evolutionary theory one bit. She should just ask, for instance, Ken Miller, Francis Collins, or Wes Elsberry (or, since O’Leary thinks there is scientific proof of the soul, she may also ask deceased Darwinists like Fisher or Dobzhansky).

As for the second statement, I don’t think there is any scientific evidence of a purpose for the universe and life forms (or, for that matter, against it) but I am ready to say that any “illusion of a purpose” (assuming it is an illusion) is most definitely not “generated by ranhdom [sic] electrons in the human brain”.

Really, if one just needs evidence that O’Leary does not know what she is talking about whenever the subject turns to science, this should close the deal.

Comment #36507

Posted by Steven Laskoske on June 26, 2005 10:06 PM (e) (s)

It seems that Ms. O’Leary still doesn’t get it. Her update not only doesn’t address Dr. Lynch’s point, it shows clearly that she has no idea what she is writing about.

Denyse O'Leary wrote:

Essentially, I do not know why Dr. Lynch feels he needs to insult my ability to understand what Darwinism meant in the 20th century, or this one.

Hmmmm… perhaps because that is what his conference is about! It is a look at the historical impact of Darwin’s work on science and the philosophy of science. It is not a validation of Darwin’s theory.

Denyse O'Leary wrote:

I certainly cannot imagine why he thinks that gentle readers will not suspect that his conference largely features people who assume that Darwin was right. But let me test that. See below.

Who attends the conference has no bearing on the content. This is simply an irrelevancy. The talk is about the historical impact of Darwin’s work. If the talk was given by anti-evolutionists, then it contain the same major points (just a different slant in the conclusion).

Denyse O'Leary wrote:

Not only do I understand Darwinism pretty well (I was raised on it, and believed it implicitly until I started to examine it critically), but so do most people: From goo to zoo to you, in a zillion easy steps.

How I love the irony of expressing how well she knows the theory of evolution and following it with such a misstatement. Can’t she just say “common descent with modification” (which is still an oversimplification, but a usable one) instead of throwing out a meaningless soundbite simply for the alliteration?

Denyse O'Leary wrote:

It was never widely accepted because most people find it inherently unbelievable, despite huge amounts of state-funded propaganda by any number of bloviating boffins.

Of course, evolutionary theory doesn’t depend on the acceptance of the laymen. It depends on how well (and accurately) it explains the evidence on observation in the labs and in the wild. In that respect, evolution has been a great sucess.

Denyse O'Leary wrote:

If Darwinism is not the biggest public relations disaster in history, it is certainly in the running.

Ms. O’Leary seems to be under the belief that the scientific method is a popularity contest instead of a method defining the formulation and testing of hypotheses. (Yes, I know I over-simplified. It must be catching.)

Denyse O'Leary wrote:

How about this: Is anyone who is speaking at the conference prepared to say that they disagree with Darwinian evolution in a substantive way?

How about this: Does it matter one way or the other? Again, the conference is about historical fact, not the validity of a scientific theory. If the conference was made up of anti-evolutionists, the same points would be made. The only difference is that the evolutionists would be happy about the changes and the anti-evolutionists would not. (After all, Darwin’s theory did force a more empirical look at the evidence without letting religious preconceptions in.)

Comment #36508

Posted by DrJohn on June 26, 2005 10:41 PM (e) (s)

She’s an idiot. Had stupidity been a fatal disease, she’d be dead by now.

For her, little respect I have.

Comment #36512

Posted by Hops on June 27, 2005 07:52 AM (e) (s)

Why are reporters these days so bloody clueless? I blame the J-schools.

Comment #36513

Posted by Liz Tracey on June 27, 2005 08:00 AM (e) (s)

I’ve never seen Ms. O’Leary mention j-school attendance, so I would attribute her cluelessness to other factors.

Comment #36514

Posted by Flint on June 27, 2005 08:04 AM (e) (s)

Can’t she just say “common descent with modification” (which is still an oversimplification, but a usable one) instead of throwing out a meaningless soundbite simply for the alliteration?

Nope, alliteration means stringing together words starting with the same letter (more accurately, the same initial consonent sounds). The word you are looking for is “rhyme”.

Comment #36515

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on June 27, 2005 08:07 AM (e) (s)

Hops wrote:

Why are reporters these days so bloody clueless? I blame the J-schools.

Do you have any evidence that O’Leary is a graduate or even a former student of one? I’d be interested in seeing that.

Comment #36516

Posted by Flint on June 27, 2005 08:45 AM (e) (s)

By all indications, O’Leary is witnessing to her faith using the outlets available to her. I doubt if journalism school would influence her presentation anymore than a Ph.D. in biology influences Jonathan Wells.

Comment #36521

Posted by Raven on June 27, 2005 11:27 AM (e) (s)

The word you are looking for is “rhyme”.

[pedant]Well, I think he was specifically going for “assonance”, but “rhyme” is good here, too.[/pedant]

Damn, I need some caffeine to rein in the pedantry. Excuse me for a while.

Comment #36523

Posted by Raven on June 27, 2005 11:39 AM (e) (s)

On the subject of witnessing—I wonder whether under certain conditions, witnessing can be non-monotonic?

Non-monotonicity in databases means that you can put in information that contradicts other information in the database, for a net decrease in information.

Non-monotonicity in reasoning means that you can revise or contradict previous conclusions (unlike in deductive reasoning, where valid conclusions remain valid), resulting in a net loss of conclusions.

So if your attempts to witness turn off more people to Christianity than they attract, resulting in a net loss of souls, would that be considered non-monotonic witnessing?

Just wondering….

Comment #36526

Posted by Arden Chatfield on June 27, 2005 12:07 PM (e) (s)

Am I mistaken, or is O’Leary really claiming that there is “science evidence” for the soul?  And if there was, what would that have to do with Darwinism? 

Sure it’s a nonsensical statement, but it’s meant to appeal to her core audience, not to convince any outsiders. She’s trying to set up a bogus dichotomy whereby if you accept that there’s a soul you have to reject evolution, and if you accept evolution you reject the soul. Easier to demonize the opposition that way. It shows that O’Leary’s agenda is social/political, not scientific.

This is why, when you ask creationists what their position is on religious people who accept evolution, they always immediately change the subject.

Comment #36537

Posted by Rupert Goodwins on June 27, 2005 02:31 PM (e) (s)

I assume O’Leary’s not a communist. Does that mean she doesn’t believe in the historical fact of the Russian Revolution?

R

Comment #36540

Posted by steve on June 27, 2005 02:37 PM (e) (s)

Possibly. Read her site for a few minutes. There’s a lot which confuses her.

Comment #36547

Posted by Craig T on June 27, 2005 03:26 PM (e) (s)

It’s just as well that O’Leary didn’t get it. She would have wanted Tom DeLay to come and explain how Columbine happened because kids are told they are “glorified apes who are evolutionized out of some primordial soup.”

Comment #36549

Posted by Arden Chatfield on June 27, 2005 03:38 PM (e) (s)

It’s just as well that O’Leary didn’t get it. She would have wanted Tom DeLay to come and explain how Columbine happened because kids are told they are “glorified apes who are evolutionized out of some primordial soup.”

I’ve never understood why being ‘glorified apes evolutionized out of some primordial soup’ offends people so deeply. Quite honestly, it’s never bothered me. If anything, it’s kind of cool to be able to view oneself as part of an ancient, ongoing historical process. :-)

(And for the record, it’s never made me commit any felonies…)

Comment #36551

Posted by EmmaPeel on June 27, 2005 03:53 PM (e) (s)

I’ve never understood why being ‘glorified apes evolutionized out of some primordial soup’ offends people so deeply. Quite honestly, it’s never bothered me. If anything, it’s kind of cool to be able to view oneself as part of an ancient, ongoing historical process. :-)

In fact, if one were to accept a scientific theory on the basis of how it made them feel, you’d think that evolution, with its theme of progress (at least for us humans), would be preferred to the creationist storyline of us having fallen from perfection. I mean, how demoralizing is that?

Comment #36564

Posted by Harq al-Ada on June 27, 2005 04:57 PM (e) (s)

Last I checked she just deleted postss that were anonymous or used naughty words. Are you sure you didn’t do either of those, Steve? The trouble is, she deletes a few posts and THEN tells you her rules. I don’t think she has any rules posted all the time, though I could be wrong.

Comment #36569

Posted by steve on June 27, 2005 05:44 PM (e) (s)

I don’t remember if they were anonymous or not, but she could always block anonymous comments. i’m sure it was the content.

Comment #36579

Posted by Steven Laskoske on June 27, 2005 08:27 PM (e) (s)

Flint wrote:

Nope, alliteration means stringing together words starting with the same letter (more accurately, the same initial consonent sounds). The word you are looking for is “rhyme”.

Sorry, but I started looking at alliteration through the Old English verse (in which alliteration was also done using the vowels).

Comment #36590

Posted by Lee on June 27, 2005 09:51 PM (e) (s)

Anyone have a cached version of the first page?

Doing a google search did not return it.

Comment #36596

Posted by Michael Roberts on June 28, 2005 01:52 AM (e) (s)

O’Leary’s blog is still missing, so I cant comment, but applying her beloved uniformitarianism to it, she will have got it wrong again!

Comment #36597

Posted by john m. lynch on June 28, 2005 02:44 AM (e) (s)

The original version read:

The International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology wants to talk about “Teaching the Darwinian Revolution.”

Blog Service Note 1: Came here looking for a different story? See the Blog Service Note below. Don’t mistake it for the Blog Policy Note, which merely points out that I plan to borf all completely anonymous comments.

Well … there are uproars in around 20 states in the United States AGAINST the “Darwinian Revolution” and in many other countries as well.

Part II. Co-sponsored by the Education Committee and organized by John Lynch: a companion workshop session specifically looking at the impact for teaching. Many faculty members teach “Darwinian Revolution” courses. What do they teach, and how and why? And what difference does the discussion about whether there was such a revolution and what it involved make pedagogically? Should the latest scholarship matter to the teaching, or are there different and overriding pedagogical values?

Panelists: John M. Lynch, Gar Allen, Sandra Herbert, Mark Largent, Mark Borello, Kim Kleinman, and Betty Smocovitis

I wonder if they ever ask themselves why almost no one participates in the “Darwinian Revolution” except them?

I have a few other questions as well: Do some Darwinists really think they will win all the court cases and that winning those cases will settle the issue? If so, they lack a sense of history. The Darwinists in fact WON all the court cases decades ago. Still, polls show that few people participate in the Darwinian Revolution.

Most human beings have good reasons for believing that they are not just meat puppets or monkeys with big brains.

And no judge can order people to believe something that they really know is not true, and get serious compliance. That is true by definition.

Prediction: Court orders to teach Darwinism as an immutable truth - for which there can be no questions, cautions, qualifiers, or honest doubt - in publicly funded school systems will simply diminish the perceived authority of the court and the school system.

Comment #36600

Posted by Bob Maurus on June 28, 2005 05:42 AM (e) (s)

Arden,

Along the same lines, I’ve always thought it would be cool to have had our ancestors genetically created by planet-hopping tinkering little green men scientists.

Comment #36609

Posted by JAllen on June 28, 2005 09:53 AM (e) (s)

Sorry, but I started looking at alliteration through the Old English verse (in which alliteration was also done using the vowels).

See also assonance for the repetition of vowel sounds and consonance for consonants.

Comment #36610

Posted by Flint on June 28, 2005 10:24 AM (e) (s)

Here is a pretty good discussion of these techniques.

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Trackback: Denyse O’Leary and the Darwinian Revolution, Part II

Posted by stranger fruit on June 26, 2005 09:34 PM

O'Leary has attempted to repond to my original post on her take on the ISHPSSB session on "Teaching the Revolution". Readers may remember that I made a number of points, but central is the claim that O'Leary doesn't show any understanding of what the "...