Journalist Denyse O’Leary wrote an op-ed in the Calgary Herald defending “Albertans right to reject Darwinian evolution.” It really should have been called “Albertans right to be ignorant of modern biology and medicine and a small step back towards the Dark Ages.” She is attacking a column by Rob Breakenridge where he is disturbed by the lack of belief in evolution in Alberta, Canada. She says that he should not have written “about big topics without basic research.” O’Leary should take her own advice.
She starts by giving us her take on the 2005 Kitzmiller trial. This is the trial where it was ruled that Intelligent Design was essentially creationism and therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution.
The 2005 Judge Jones decision in Pennsylvania, to which Breakenridge devotes much of his column, has not crimped the worldwide growth of interest in intelligent design. That is no surprise. A judge is not a scientist, and Jones cannot plug gaping holes in Darwin’s theory of evolution.
O’Leary is using one of ID proponents newest arguments to deflate the impact of the Kitzmiller trial. They are fond of pointing out that Jones isn’t a scientist. Well guess who else isn’t a scientist? That is right, Denyse O’Leary. Instead, she is a “Toronto-based journalist; grandmother; Roman Catholic Christian.” Don’t you just love the hypocrisy?
O’Leary then makes some audacious comments:
Evolution is—contrary to its (largely) publicly funded zealots— in deep trouble, for a number of reasons….Textbook examples of evolution often evaporate when researchers actually study them
And who do you think brought us these results that contradict earlier findings? Yes, scientists. Scientists who supposedly are stuck in the dogma of Darwinian evolution. Challenges to what we thought we knew is what makes Science the best way we have of looking at the world. But lets look at a few of the examples that O’Leary gives that supposedly “evaporate.”
One example that O’leary points to is the disappearance of eyes in the blind cave fish. As PZ Myers pointed out, this adaptation to living in a lightless environment is actually due to an increase in the expression of a particular developmental gene, sonic hedgehog. This change leads to a stronger jaw with better sensory structures. Both these changes are quite advantagous for searching for food in dark caves where eyes are useless.
O’Leary even has the gall to make a reference to Michael Behe’s Edge of Evolution (2007) where he
notes that for decades scientists have observed many thousands of generations of bacteria in the lab. And how did they evolve? Well, they didn’t.
Apparently, O’Leary doesn’t mind lying here saying that no evolution has been observed. As many of you will recall, evolution was observed in one such experiment by Richard Lenski’s group. They observed the gain of the ability of E. coli to utilize a food source (citric acid) that it could not use before. This story was all over the evolution and intelligent design circles. We can forgive Behe here because his book was published before Lenski’s paper, but O’Leary is just being dishonest.
O’Leary goes on to quote polls that show that only 37% of Albertans accept evolution. She even says “Well, good, let’s drive the numbers lower still.” Not only does O’Leary ignore evidence contrary to her position, misconstrue scientific findings related to evolution, and outright lie about recent findings, but she wants people to be scientifically illiterate.