# The Hovind Scale

This will be handy around here: The Hovind Scale. It’s a metric for calculating the craziness of a creationist’s comment from 0 (scientific and honest) to 100 (dishonest insanity). There’s even an online calculator to simplify it for you!

I did a quick spot check on a few of our local loony commenters, and found that 16s were pretty common, and a few of the egregious old trolls who’ve been banned got up into the 40s. Unfortunately, the scale is flawed by one subjective measure: you have to interpret whether the kook is knowingly lying or not. I tend to view most of them as stupid but sincere, which means they aren’t going to hit the highest scores.

1. says

Is there any way to disregard that metric?

Almost all kooks believe what they say. Can we have a separate scale for sincere kooks?

Or we could just take the scale to be 0-50. That’d work.

2. C Barr says

Hovind..!!.. The creationist science teacher at my high school showed one of this kook’s films. At least it was at a meeting of the student bible study club instead of in regular class. It was advertised with flyers stating, “Learn what the bible tells us about dinosaurs” Huh? Another Biology instructer and myself attended the showing. It was a kick. My favorite was about how Noah took baby dinosaurs onto the ark to save space. They were later driven to extinction by human predation as documented by the St. George and the dragon story. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to see the whole thing. What a laugh, except for the damage this crap inflicted upon the minds of the young people who trusted the judgement of the adults in charge.

3. stoat100 says

When you factor in the bizarre conspiracy theories, fondness for ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ and so on, Hovind goes way over 100 on his own scale…

4. stoat100 says

Looking at the calculator, it appears that we have a new scientific unit – the ‘comfort’ (named after our friend Ray), indicating the maximum possible state of being ‘extreme, moronic and puerile in all science categories’

5. says

Of course they’re all nuts. They all fail to acknowledge Norman Fell as the One True God. I have empirical proof that prayer to Norman Fell is effective. Norman Fell’s deity explains not only why we see the signs of design in life, but why the design is imperfect.

It all makes sense now.

6. mikespeir says

My personal favorite is Carl “There is no evidence for evolution” Baugh. I know he’d score high. Or low, as the case may be.

7. Tony Popple says

I still don’t buy this business of reducing creationism to a scalar quantity.

Their derangement can only be fairly represented in a vector space. I think stupidity and dishonesty can be considered orthogonal.

8. says

Did anyone else use the calculator on themselves? I got a “7” — (I was honest and told the calculator that I’m rather silly and don’t know as much as I should!) :-)

9. simmi says

Can we take the Hovind scale to be a confidence level the statement came out of Hovind’s mouth? (“That last post rated an HF=97 – there’s a significant probably they let Kent to a computer in prison”)

I’m also in favor of the use of “millihovinds” as a unit of stupidity/absurdity that traces its roots back to the good ol’ talk.origins days: http://groups.msn.com/EvolutionVCreation/dictionary.msnw

10. Hephaestus says

The honesty factor definitely invalidates this as a useful tool. Most of the total wackos genuinely believe their blather. As Tony points out, sincerity and sanity are orthogonal states.

11. tony (not a vegan) says

The scale should, of course, be a complex number scale… because their content is imaginary
[brrrrrrr crach!]

Thanks – I’ll be here all week. try the veal!

;)

12. Vernon Balbert says

I just evaluated one particular contributor of talk.origins and he scored 95 on the Hovind Scale. Holy guacamole! Boy, oh boy.

13. In case anyone wants some funnies, go visit Hovind’s blog. Methinks all that man attention in prison is affecting Hovind’s sanity.

Let me rephrase that, it’s enhancing Hovind’s insanity.

14. says

I don’t think such an accurate metric could have evolved naturally. It had to have been intelligently designed.

15. franz dibbler says

The problem with this scale is that it can generate large numbers. If final number was log transformed (“super-natural” log?) then ALL the stupidity is quantified.

16. HP says

I tend to view most of them as stupid but sincere

I think this is a mistake, PZ.

I agree that many of them may well be stupid but sincere, but I wonder whether, from a tactical standpoint, it wouldn’t be better to default to “intelligent but mendacious.”

Given the number of well-documented cases of creationist lying, I think you should always assume that a creationist is at least moderately intelligent and reasonably well educated, and knowingly spreads falsehoods.

I do think that most creationists, even the semiliterate yahoos, don’t really believe that it’s still lying if you’re lying for Jesus. That needs to change.

We have the moral high ground, and we should seize it. I’ve been saying for a while now that the “fr*me” some people are looking for is “scientists are honest.” Most people don’t care about science one way or the other, but honesty is something they can understand. And scientists are honest — sometimes to the point of shooting themselves in the foot.

As far as I’m concerned, the only creationists who aren’t lying are the ones suffering from mental illness.

17. Mike from Ottawa says

The Hovind scale is missing a slot in its mendacity factor for “truthiness”. A major omission considering it covers a large swath of creationist ‘thought’.

18. alex says

Rev. BDC:
In case anyone wants some funnies, go visit Hovind’s blog. Methinks all that man attention in prison is affecting Hovind’s sanity.

(from Hovind):
Are we back in 1973, Lord?

GOD: I see all time at the same time, Son. I’m eternal. Slip inside that closet and listen to the young man in there praying.

goodness.

19. Tom says

I agree with # 14 about Hovind’s blog. It’s amazing. I love the way he so modestly characterizes himself as “kh” and his interlocutor as “GOD”. I know that the omniscient, omnipotent Creator of the Universe has to be flattered at having his name in ALL-CAPS.

20. Ryan F Stello says

Maybe this is what that kooky book meant by being marked with ‘the number’!

Or maybe it was epidermal ID tags.
Or maybe it was the social security system.

Or not.

And then we have the measure of wrongness, the dembski:

CanuckRob on May 5th, 2006 at 9:37 pm

I posted this over at PZ’s but in light of Clifford suggestion for the name of this new nmeasure of wrongness. Thereference is to William Dembski, one of the bright lights (yeah I’m kidding) in the intelligent design creationist camp.

“I am not a physicist and cannot propose a new Pauli principle but I think we can come up with a new terminology. The unit of wrongness should be the dembski. One dembski reflects the situation where the number of wrongs equals the number of declarative statements. To calculate the dembski number you divide the number of wrongs by the number of declarative statment and square the answer. So Seans example of five wrongs in four statements would be the square of 5/4 or 1.5625 dembski. Something like Ken Hovinds presentations would have dembski numbers in the 9 to 25 range. I am currently trying to get time on a supercomputer to calulate the dembski number of the bible.” [My bold.]

22. Ryan F Stello says

And then we have the measure of wrongness, the dembski

I think what this would lead us to is a composite scale based on a given personality’s most defining trait. I might break it down as:

Hovind Index – Huxterism
Dembski Index – Vindictiveness
Behe Index – Cluelessness
Comfort Index – Insanity
Stein Index – Dishonesty
Cordova Index – Scumminess

23. simmi says

a few more supporting characters:

Luskin Index – Attack-poodle-ness
DaveScot Index – Overcompensation
O’Leary Index – What-the-fuck?-ery

… come to think of it, all of them deserve an O’Leary number

24. raven says

I tend to view most of them as stupid but sincere

That some of them are stupid sounds right. 50% of the US population has an IQ of less than 100, the median. They definitely are overrepresented in the fundie cultist segment of the population.

Many of them seem to be mentally ill. 1% of the population is psychotic, mostly the genetic form of schizophrenia. That is 3 million people. They all have a lot of time to rant and rave as they don’t seem to be working or getting out of the basement much.

The schiz’s all have a similar style. Rambling, paranoid, delusional, immune to reason or correction, incoherent, hostile.

Occam’s razor applies here. If they look like they are crazy, they are most likely….crazy.

25. says

Why should belief in the Bible put them any higher? Stein isn’t obviously a literalist, but I doubt that even Hovind is a bigger kook.

And honesty? Come on, most of them believe their nonsense, more or less, without really ever being honest either in doing so, or in their arguments.

Even when Stein complains that “Darwinism” doesn’t explain gravity, he’s probably being something of an honest chump, provided that one does not require him to honestly listen to the people he’s judging. Two things: Why does he get a pass for being too dishonest and close-minded to educate himelf? And, he’s quite dishonest in matters concerning his own positions, in that he’ll claim that his personal views weren’t an impetus to do the movie in one interview, while in an earlier interview he’s claimed that he’s virtually on a mission for God in opposing “Darwinism”.

So he’s both honest in a pig-ignorant and unwilling-to-learn sort of way, and completely dishonest about his motivations.

I don’t think I see much reason to use this metric, except for idle entertainment. Which no doubt is its principle goal, in fact.

26. Holy shit Hypatia. that is time cube points worthy.

27. A library patron left a copy of this graphic in the public printer this morning:
http://stantenen.org/Posters/LAH72-Spheres30jan8-90.GIF
Where would it lay on the scale?

My eyes!

The difficulty in using the Hovind Scale on this, however, is that we don’t know anything about who made the statement, so we can’t guess how honest it is. A provisional mendacity factor of 0 must be applied, so it would rate a 17%.

28. DLC says

Hmm. so we have a number like the Brinell or Rockwell hardness scales. Appropriate, as most of the people whose writings are being tested appear to have hard heads.
I didn’t know there was any calcium compound as dense as what must surround Hovind’s (err.. for lack of a better word) brain.
So, this guy is claiming to have conversations with god ?
Um… no offense to religious people, but if I went around claiming to have conversations with God they’d put me away.
Is Kent allowed to be around sharp implements ?

(/sarcasm)

29. says

@#12 tony not a vegan —

The scale should, of course, be a complex number scale… because their content is imaginary

Ah…so that’s what all that “irreducible complexity” nonsense is really about ;)

30. says

The website associated with Hypathia’s find is http://www.meru.org (it’s in the small text at the bottom), which claims on the front page:

The Meru Project has discovered an extraordinary and unexpected geometric metaphor in the letter-sequence of the Hebrew text of Genesis that underlies and is held in common by the spiritual traditions of the ancient world. This metaphor models embryonic growth and self-organization. It applies to all whole systems, including those as seemingly diverse as meditational practices and the mathematics fundamental to physics and cosmology…Meru Project findings demonstrate that the relationship between physical theory and consciousness, expressed in explicit geometric metaphor, was understood and developed several thousand years ago.

Wacky woos batman, here we come. The von Däniken Torah Code!

31. BMcP says

If I was that VenomFangX guy, I would be pretty proud, after all he is just another average run- of the mill Youtube video creator among millions yet he is placed up there with Answers In Genesis and Ray Comfort, the elites of the evangelical creationism movement. He would probably see that as a measure of pride and believe he is far more influential then is likely true.

32. says

The website associated with HypathiaHypatia’s find…

Er, sorry. Your know. Touch typing. Dangerous stuff. Stick to the quill pens.

33. says

Feck feck feck! And some more feck for fecking sake. Your know? Arrggghhhh!

34. says

The subjective measure (mendacity) is a flaw in some ways – it means we have to guess how honest we think the Creationist in question is being. In most circumstances, with no evidence of dishonesty, the upper scores will not be attainable.

However, for the epically Hovindian YECers, there will be court evidence available to help us make a reasoned assessment ;-)

35. says

Re mendacity: There’s a big terra incognita between “Honestly Mistaken”, “Sincerely Delusional” and “Cynical Lying Charlatan” that I’ve never quite been able to fathom the psychology of. All of us are Mistaken from time to time (in fact, all the time, on at least some subjects). And there’s a natural reluctance to abandon one’s opinions on presentation of contrary evidence (which is not entirely unhealthy or irrational — you can’t go changing your mind every day, and you should reserve the right to take time to think things through). So I can see how, if that reluctance is too strong and unyielding, one might slip towards “Delusional”. But I don’t understand how the “Charlatan” component slips in. Some of these people (eg. Hovind) strike me as a mixture of Delusional and Charlatan, and I’m not at all sure how that works. Do Charlatans start by lying for their own advantage, and then come to believe (ie. become Delusional) their own lies through shear repetition? Or can it go the other way?

36. me says

J gets a score of 21.
Anyone done Kenny yet?

I’m getting something in the 75 range for Kenny, rating him at the dishonest end of the scale due to his demonstrated refusal to correct known errors, along with parroting long-debunked slander.

38. grasshopper says

Why limit the scale to a maximum of 100?
Like the Richter scale for describing the force of an earthquake, I feel that an open-ended scale for expressing the Hovind number would have been better. A kook will surely appear one day, who will out-kook any who have gone before, and who will be a mere prophet for the Kook to come.
An open-ended scale would accomodate this.

39. Mike from Ottawa says

“Huxterism”

Is that anything like “hucksterism”? I suspect the genesis of the mistake is Darwin’s Bulldog being in mind, given the subject matter here.

40. AJ says

Hovind scale? You mean the Dr. Hovind Scale, right?

41. Calilasseia says

In answer to Paul Lundgren at #15:

Actually the scale wasn’t intelligently designed. If you check the thread over at the Richard Dawkins forums, you’ll see it evolved.

See for yourself.

42. If I was that VenomFangX guy, I would be pretty proud, after all he is just another average run- of the mill Youtube video creator among millions yet he is placed up there with Answers In Genesis and Ray Comfort, the elites of the evangelical creationism movement. He would probably see that as a measure of pride and believe he is far more influential then is likely true

Well he stole ALL of his material from them and the vomited it back up in front of his video camera. Sure he has a good grasp on that material, but the material is akin to the stuff that washes out of hog farms and into rivers causing red algae blooms. Or in other words, pigshit.

Plus he is an insufferable twit, and people like to see assholes run their mouth. In fact it’s pretty much what Youtube is built on.

43. Autumn says

To Tom in comment #21,
Did you notice that, after apparently giving due reverence for Dog by keeping his initials lower-case, he later has Dog address him as Son, with an upper-case “s” in all following transcriptions.
Most of these wackos wold be happy to be called “child” or “devotee” or “brother”.
Needing to be addressed in the same manner as your church addresses the supposed living son of a deity is quite. . .

Idolitrous.
/churchlady/ Could Kent be. . .

44. Chris Noble says

I don’t think one dimension is enough. Honesty and sanity aren’t necessarily correlated. Think of all the honest kooks out there! And the dishonest but completely sane!

Why not three dimensions: dishonesty, stupidity and insanity. Which corner is Kent Hovind in? Michael Behe?

45. Dan says

My crazy uncle was watching a Kent Hovind DVD at my grandparents house last Sunday. I tried debating with him but it seems to be futile. I had no idea Hovind was in prison. I can’t wait to see if my uncle knows that information. Although I’m sure to him it’s all part of God’s plan though or something. Whatever excuse fits…

46. John Kwok says

Hi all,

We seem to have a couple of influential deranged creationists posting at Amazon.com: Fritz Ward and David Marshall. Marshall is trying to lead a movement to have me banned at Amazon.com. Please stop by my review of Berlinski’s “The Devil’s Delusion” and help me deal with Marshall and other noxious ilk.

Appreciatively yours,

John

47. David Marjanović, OM says

Where would it lay [sic] on the scale?

At 0.9 Tc, at least. More context would be necessary for a precise determination, like how much violence the kook calls for.

(Yeeeeah… I could find that out by reading the website… but… not now, you understand.)

A kook will surely appear one day, who will out-kook any who have gone before, and who will be a mere prophet for the Kook to come.

LOL! My night is saved. :-D

Actually the scale wasn’t intelligently designed. If you check the thread over at the Richard Dawkins forums, you’ll see it evolved.

ROTFL!!!

Idolitrous.

Idolatrous.

/churchlady/ Could Kent be. . .