Wait, what?

Intelligent Design creationist Denyse O’Leary, in the midst of rationalizing (over at Uncommon Descent) why ID creationists spend all their time attacking science rather than doing science, has provided yet another example of how antievolutionists are pretty much pathologically unable to portray evolutionary theory (or its supporting evidence) accurately:

O’Leary: To me, Darwinism is like bad money. It becomes an intellectual vice. People are always looking for natural selection to generate random mutation, the way they are always trying to pass on the likely-bogus G-bill (when they are not out looking for the lucky strike). [Emphasis mine]

Yeah, right Denyse, it’s scientists engaging in an “intellectual vice” not creationists like yourself who spend all their time confidently bashing something they clearly don’t understand.

Newsflash: natural selection does not “generate” mutation; mutation is an independently occurring  source of variation from which natural selection “selects” after the fact.

For heaven’s sake, Google it Denyse! Here, I’ll do it for you; the top two hits for “natural selection” are:

Wikipedia – Natural Selection

U.C. Berkley – Natural Selection

That took mere seconds and after mere minutes of reading you won’t find anything on either of those two pages about natural selection “generating” mutations, random or otherwise. Here’s a bonus one on genetic variation from Wikipedia.

Is it really so much to ask for them to have a basic understanding of the science they put so much energy into repudiating?

[Hat tip to Larry Moran over at Sandwalk. Larry took the time to address O’Leary’s aforementioned rationalizations, have a look-see.]


7 thoughts on “Wait, what?

  1. Yes I saw this on Uncommon Descent and sent in the comment below. I’m waiting to see if the moderator allows it to appear (but I’m not holdng my breath) :

    O’Leary writes that: “a legitimate question raised by thoughtful people is, why don’t ID-friendly researchers do positive research? ……Because, just as bad money drives out good, bad ideas drive out good.”

    But it isn’t true that “bad ideas drive out good”. Natural Science has accepted better models of how the world works throughout its history, as any educated person must acknowledge. Of course to be adopted, a new model must explain previous observations AND must explain those that have resisted explanation via the previous model, in a way that makes predictions that can be tested by observation or experiment. Many hypotheses don’t make it because they can’t do so. ID must show it is not one of these.

    O’ Leary is arguing there’s no point in doing research, because it will be swamped by evolutionary research. But how else does he think ID could win through and gain acceptance? So long as ID remains stuck at the stage of merely alleging difficulties with certain bits of evolutionary biology it will stay at the starting gate. To enter the race, it needs to offer explanations with testable, predictive power, backed by results that show it works. I am sure the Discovery Institute (for example) has ample resources to do such work.

    Of course first, you do need a theory that makes some testable predictions, in order to design your research.


  2. O’Leary sounds like so many other self-identified oppressed groups who wonder why they aren’t succeeding. They blame anyone but themselves. The same thing is happening with creationism. Rather than criticize creationists for coming up with nothing “positive,” they whine about how evolutionists crowd them out.

    Indeed. It’s alarming how testable research tends to crowd out rubbish in refereed journals.


  3. Yes. I’ve now learned 2 more things about O’Leary: one that she’s a she – oops, sorry, I must admit I’d taken her for a man, from the rather pointlessly aggressive tone of some of her contributions; two, she seems to be a journalist rather than a scientist of any kind. My comment has not appeared, but I gather that is par for the course at Uncommon Descent. Maybe fear of challenge is another reason why ID can’t seem to get itself off the ground??

    Actually I suspect the whole ID obsession is from fundamentalists whose real problem is a theology of the Fall (and hence Redemption) that depends on reading Genesis literally. I think it is very much a US thing. Over here in Europe, most Christians belong to major denominations that have always seen Genesis as allegorical, which avoids any clash with science and hence any need for all this desperate posturing.


  4. I know, my age is showing.

    Back to Uncommon Descent, there’s a new item of spectacular idiocy, about cancers that appear suddenly. Having made the penetrating observation that a cancer mutation confers no survival advantage, it triumphantly signs off with “so much for life and growth without design”.

    So, let me get this straight: the existence of mutations that decrease fitness for survival is proof that no mutation can increase it, right? These people are just not serious – intellectually at least.

    But their politics is another matter: I see a bill is now proposed, in Texas this time, to make it illegal to “discriminate” against science teachers who are IDers, presumably as, legally speaking (cf. Kitzmiller), ID is now a religious belief. Well that should prevent it being taught, but what of employing a teacher who doesn’t believe in what he or she is teaching, when it comes to evolution? I’d say that would be a valid ground not to employ them.


  5. Re my original post, in the interests of integrity, I have to report my post HAS appeared (after 2 days delay) on Uncommon Descent, as have some polite but challenging comments from someone called Yossarian. So for now I’ll give them credit for at least giving some airtime to non-ID views.


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