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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Coffee!! O'Leary is the next minor villain of the crazed Canadian left ...

Recently, a journalist friend phoned me to ask if I realized that I had been cast as a villain in Marci McDonald's, book that allegedly
... draws back the curtain on the mysterious world of the right-wing Christian nationalist movement in Canada and its many ties to the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.
Folks, this book is like drawing back the curtains only to discover so many muddy streaks on the window that you'd be far wiser to just go outside and have a look yourself, if you want to see what is going on.

Yes, I appear briefly in McDonald's book-length screed, even though I have never met Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, do not follow politics closely, and know (inconveniently) that there is no viable Christian nationalist* movement in Canada. Anyway, several pages are, unjustifiably, devoted to me. Some of what results is just sloppy writing.

For example, an unconsciously comical McDonald refers to my “omnipresent” hats (p. 198.) No hat is “omnipresent”; a hat sits on one person’s head at a time. It goes where the person goes, period. Or else it sits in a drawer. And I like hats. So?

But sometimes, statements are wrong in a way that must be countered.

The main vice of McDonald's book with respect to me is that - presumably to make its weak factual case - it grossly overstates my role in the intelligent design controversy.

P. 198 I am a “key figure ” Admittedly, on page 199, she downgrades me to a “minor luminary”. Neither is true, exactly. I am just a hack who reports on a growing beat others fear. Presumably, they couldn't stand the kind of stuff you will see if you Google my images on the Internet.

But I knew it was a story, and wouldn't let it go.

But then, McDonald also says, at p. 200, "O'Leary has become one of the most influential voices on intelligent design in the blogosphere, a key gatekeeper of news and opinion on the subject, ..."

Wow! Who knew? But who, except McDonald, believes that it is true?

Later, she says (p. 202) that I was identified by some writer somewhere in some publication somewhere as a "Christian leader".

News around here, let me tell you. So, let's see: With the entire materialist atheist blogo ranged against people like me, I still managed to ... ??!! My grandmas must be so pleased, watching me from heaven.

No, but seriously, just about everything McDonald writes about me is designed to denigrate my character, whereas I actually have a good rep in my industry. But that's a "marci" for you*.

*A "marci"? I have decided, as noted elsewhere, to coin the term "marci" to identify errors that could have been avoided by fact checking. McDonald can hate people as much as she wants, but that does not absolve her of the need for fact checking.

Anyway, here are a few marcis about me:

For example, I was never in the "employ" of the Foundation for Thought and Ethics - a Texas curriculum provider. I indexed one of their books, and provided content to their Web site for a while. (p. 200) These types of jobs are almost always freelance and immediate or short term, as anyone who wanted to ask could find out.

I do not, as claimed, get paid for contributing to what McDonald refers to as "Dembski's promotional blog" - she must mean our Uncommon Descent blog. . Uncommon Descent was founded by Bill Dembski, yes, but has long been an ID community blog. Dembski is not in charge of the blog. A Colorado lawyer named Barry Arrington is. Dembski and I are two of the four other co-ordinators. We have, in common, a strong dislike of trolls, not nationality or politics. Financial contributions are most welcome, and will be used to augment the services we provide.

This, above, gives you some sense of the screed on me. No one bothered to ask detailed questions that would have resulted in factual answers.

It is as if the universe is now fact free. Some woman's misplaced anger and fear is important now, and nothing else is.

Further boredom:

P. 199 Some statements are simply smears or falsehoods: “Although O’Leary insists that she was halfway through her research [for By Design or by Chance? ] before she first heard of ‘Disco,’ as she breezily refers to it, her book features glowing cover blurbs from institute fellows ....”:

As it happens, both statements are true. The early part of my book dealt mainly with cosmology (views on the universe) and early twentieth century religious conflicts. An American prof who evaluated my work, told me, halfway through, “If you don’t know about the Discovery Institute, you need to.” I followed through, and then my publisher wisely asked me to collect blurbs from people who might suggest that people buy the book. The easiest crowd was the Discos.

Some other claims could have easily been corrected by fact-checking, but that obviously was not wanted by the publisher or the author. For example,

P. 199 “ ... having spoken at Discovery Institute seminars ...” Only one seminar, actually, in 2007, the year my co-authored book, The Spiritual Brain, came out. Copies arrived at my home the day I came back. The publisher at Harper One, thought it a good idea to go speak there, even though I did not particularly want to at the time.

P. 199 “ ... and been hooked into its strategic conference calls ... ” Falsehood! I was never hooked into a strategic Disco conference call. I was sometimes hooked into media conference calls, though I can only recall one, something about Kansas, if memory serves me.

And it goes on. You get the flavour, and I really have no more time to waste on this stuff. People are really stooping when they stoop to this. People who think that design might play a role in the universe must be doing something right, or the opposition would not be stooping so low.

See also here and here for more "marcis" = errors of fact that fact-checking would have prevented, accompanied by the hostile tone that one has come to expect. Read the book if you want, but I would not recommend buying it, and certainly not quoting from it unless you yourself are a bigot with little regard for fact.

*Of course, McDonald can always get away with these smears by insisting that I affirm that I am both a Christian and a loyal Canadian. But that does not add up to being a "Christian nationalist", for the same reasons as a banana and an apple don't add up to a "banapple". Shame on her and shame on her publisher.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Coffee!! Canadian biophysicist is latest victim of local Canadian hatefest

Recently, I have noted Marci McDonald’s best-selling anti-Canadian Christian hatefest known as The Armageddon Factor. Read it if you want, but I would recommend that you do not rely on it for factual information. Here is a paragraph from p. 201, addressing my Post-Darwinist blog, that gives a sense of why: Nonsense about biophysics graduate Kirk Durston: She writes,
One of her most frequently quoted experts is Kirk Durston, a doctoral candidate in biophysics ath te University of Guelph, who has trumpeted the merits of intelligent design in seminars on more than thirty Canadian campuses as head of the New Scholars Society. What O'Leary fails to mention is that the New Scholars Society is a ministry of the U.S.-based evangelical powerhouse, Campus Crusade for Christ.
It is hard to cram this many errors into a couple of sentences, but let me address the key ones:

- Durston is not one of my most frequently quoted experts. Stephen Jay Gould gets a lot more ink from me, and so does Richard Dawkins. So do lots of people, as you will discover if you use the blog search tool.

- I spoke to Durston on Saturday, and he was not able to identify more than six campuses on which he spoke on ID, as opposed to "more than thirty Canadian campuses" (McDonald, p. 201). One of them was the adult night school course I taught years ago at University of Toronto's St. Michael's University.

- Durston's New Scholars Society is completely independent of U.S. Campus Crusade.

McDonald’s work belongs to a growing library of fact-free books featuring angst about people who are not really doing anything very unusual. This angst conveniently distracts attention from those who are really doing something unusual (like trying to blow up their underwear on airliners). It is a way of avoiding the need for a credible approach to issues of the day.

Here’s my theory: It is tough to combat people who will gladly kill themselves in order to kill you. It is much easier for a typical left wing journalist to identify as the enemy people who do not pose a social threat, whose reasons for disagreeing with some tax-funded consensus are reasonable, non-violent, and academically or scientifically based.

I have decided to coin the term "marci" to refer to an error that could have been avoided by fact checking, but no one bothered. I wish Marci McDonald a better legacy.

For a flat-out "marci"about ID "father" Phillip E. Johnson (that he became a Catholic), go here.

(Note: ) In Canada, where I live, this political correctness has gotten so crazy that feminists actually allied with Islamists to try to get the use of the term “honour killing” banned from media, on the grounds that domestic violence occurs in every culture.

Yes, true, but what follows? We use the term “assassination” to refer to the murder of a person who was elected, appointed, or born to an office in government. We use the term “infanticide” for the murder of babies, specifically. We do this because some murders have predictable ranges of causes and consequences. Assassination leads to civil disorder. A pattern of female infanticide leads to an absence of wives - sure, there are some situations where the guy wishes his wife weren’t around, but what happens if he cannot get married because there are no live girls ... ? Fortunately, and no surprise, the public is NOT buying this revision of the language.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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