Antivax, chemtrails, and creationism

hovindjail

Kent Hovind is getting divorced from Jo Hovind. I guess this isn’t surprising — maybe his former wife is smarter than he is (a hurdle easily cleared), and saw through all the BS and manipulation and realized it was time to get out.

He’s also remarrying, to an anti-vax crank named Mary Tocco. He’s made a video announcement of his engagement, and it’s another bit of obnoxious lunacy. He spends half of it blaming his ex-wife completely for the divorce — I guess he had absolutely nothing to do with it, despite getting the two of them arrested and imprisoned with demented legal advice — and the other half reassuring everyone that he checked with a whole bunch of fellow ministers, ranging in age from 60 to 85, and 15 out of 16 assured him that it was perfectly OK, and then he mumbles on about how this opens up whole new options for his ministry, allowing him to understand all those divorced people out there at last.

I predicted that there would be interesting times ahead for Hovind’s Creation Science Evangelism once he got out of jail — he’d left management of the creationist organization in the hands of his son, Eric, and I kind of figured it would not be an easy transition once he got out and tried to take back the ministry he’d run into the ground with his tax fraud. And it was so. Hovind is claiming that Jo and Eric conspired to steal all the assets of CSE out from under him. It’s gotten very ugly and confusing.

When Kent originally announced that his divorce, he claimed that Eric had stolen from him and would not let him have the web domain “drdino.com”. He claimed Eric sold himself over two-million dollars worth of equipment and supplies. He mentioned a couple of four-wheelers, a copy machine and a fork-lift. Deana Holmes, a non-practicing attorney, who has been following the Hovind story speculated that he was way off on his valuation and that a lot of the supplies were old T-Shirts, VHS tapes, DVD’s and CD’s of Kent’s old non-copyrighted videos which are all on YouTube. I don’t normally take Kent’s public word as fact, but assuming that we have a couple of old four-wheelers, a fork-lift, some office furniture, plus, the material that Deana mentioned, the price that Eric paid for this is probably about right. Deana pointed out that these accusations were pretty stupid in the light of his tax-liabilities and legal problems they could cause for his son. Kent said in court and in public that he took a vow of poverty and owned nothing. Then turned around and claimed publically that Eric and his mother conspired to take everything away from him. Which one is the truth Kent? Did you own nothing? Or did you own two-million dollars worth of items that Eric stole from you? Just like all of Kent’s statements that seem to change to fit the circumstance.

Eric has stuffed his ministry into a shiny new dumpster, called “God’s Quest”, while Kent seems to be trying to set up a place of his own in a gravel pit in Lenox, Alabama, where he’ll build a brand new Dinosaur Adventure Land. I’m sure this marriage with Mary Tocco will bring order out of chaos. After all, look at her credentials.

Mary is co-founder of the American Chiropractic Autism Board (ACAB) 2006, helped manage Hope For Autism, (HFA) a training program for physicians who want to help children with autism recover and is the Vice President of the Foundation for Pediatric Health. She is also the Director of Vaccine Research and Education for Michigan for Vaccine Choice, a non-profit (501c) watchdog group, insuring vaccine choice in Michigan. Mary Tocco is on the Board of Directors for WAVE, World Association for Vaccine Education (www.novaccine.com)

Wait. The American…Chiropractic…Autism…Board? Those words do not belong together.

Once again, the Hovinds — every one of them — set the standard for creationist inanity.

Weird creationist meme

This is apparently intended to be a criticism of evolution posted by a Jehovah’s Witness. I don’t quite get it.

Yes. Everything died. Every individual between the current extant cohort and the last common ancestor died. It’s what organisms do. Is this so hard to understand? But that does not imply that every possible intermediate form existed and died. They may also be confusing individuals with populations, but I find it very difficult to read the minds of creationists.

Here’s a tree branch.

branch

There is a twig at A (call it humans), and there is a twig at B (chimps), and there is an ancestral branch point 6 million years ago. A population of cells at the “ancestor” point divided multiple times and split into two extending meristems that produced the branch leading to A and the branch leading to B. I think our creationist is assuming that there had to have been a solid sheet of wood filling the space between A and B, that the space of all possible positions for twigs had to be filled, and that it was somehow pruned back selectively to create just the two twigs.

But that would make no sense, wouldn’t fit our understanding of how branches form, and would be really stupid. They can’t possibly think that, can they?

Any story of Kent Hovind needs more Nazi imagery

RationalWiki has an expanded front-page feature on Kent Hovind, and it’s pretty thorough — I learned a few new things. I hadn’t known that he claims to have four doctorates, and it has a good breakdown of several examples of his bad math. However…

Does it feature any apocalyptic imagery? No.

How many times does it mention Hitler? Only once.

Does it have a doom-laden industrial soundtrack? Nope.

Sorry, RationalWiki, but you are hampered by that “rational” thing. When you’re talking about Kent Hovind, you need to bring the gold-plated stupid to the fore. Kent knows this. Kent knows how best to summarize his life: with lies and screeching and threats of imminent destruction.

Like in his trailer for a possible “documentary” that Creation Science Evangelism is making (warning: grisly scenes of death and corpses, and truly over-the-top Godwining).

That is so metal.

I notice, though, that for all of his Hitler-howling, most of the trailer is somehow about how he was an innocent man thrown into prison for blamelessly preaching the Gospel, rather than mentioning that he was really imprisoned for blatant tax evasion. C’mon, Kent, own your badassery: you were arrested for defying those Satanic tax accountants. You can’t simultaneously claim to be be a brave rebel while hiding behind claims of pious innocence.

Also, the title needs work: An Atheist’s Worse Nightmare? Seriously, Kent, comparing yourself to a banana is so wimpy.

I do feel a lot of sympathy for the RationalWiki crew, though. Imagine if this Hovind “documentary” ever actually happens — the fact-checking will be exhausting. It’s going to be measured in errors/second, or lies/second.

Mike Pence, creationist

In 2001, a French anthropologist discovered some very interesting specimens in West Central Africa: the skulls of some 6-7 million year old apes that showed some chimpanzee-like features and some human-like features. He called it Sahelanthropus tchadensis.

In 2002, Mike Pence used the bully pulpit of the house of representatives to denounce Sahelanthropus and the entire theory of evolution, in a pointless exercise of flouting his ignorance. Why, I don’t know; perhaps he thought he could use a scientific discovery to somehow legislate against science? The performance has been caught on video.

It’s an extended riff on the “just a theory” argument, revealing that he doesn’t understand what a scientific theory means. He cites the 1925 Scope trial as the moment where this mere “theory” was legislated into the classroom and taught as fact; wrong. The Scopes trial was the result of a law that tried to prohibit teaching evolution, the side of science lost the case, and the theory has been taught in classrooms ever since because it is the best-supported explanation of the history of life. And evolution is a fact — life has not been static, but species change over time.

Then he claims that we all remember our classrooms illustrated with that linear portrayal of humans evolving from little monkeys to Mel Gibson. Well, I’ve been teaching for 30 years that that linear sequence is wrong, and that evolution is all about branching descent, which is also, as it happens, how Darwin thought about it (that popular Time-Life illustration is a true curse on evolution education).

darwinsdrawing

But I also challenge Pence on his claim that this portrayal was ubiquitous in classrooms. I had a public school education, in the liberal stronghold of King County, Washington, and never once heard the word “evolution” pass the lips of my teachers. What I learned about evolution before college I got from sneaking into the “Adult” section of the local public library, because this was a subject they didn’t even allow children to read about.

Pence reads about Sahelanthropus and claims to be surprised, that this represents a new theory that human evolution was taking place all across Africa and on the Earth. Uh, what? He also criticizes it because the textbooks will have to be changed, because the old theory of evolution…is suddenly replaced by a new theory.

I really want to play poker with Mike Pence. The astonishment on his face when the second hand dealt to him is different from the first will be something to behold. He will be aghast that the rules of poker get changed with every deal.

And then he gets to his point. Every theory is equivalent. We ought to also teach the theory that the signers of the declaration of independence believed — that humans were created by a creator. The Bible tells us that God created man in his own image, male and female he created them, and I believe that. He also thinks that scientists will come to see that only the theory of intelligent design provides even a remotely rational explanation for the known universe. Alas, scientists have scrutinized intelligent design explanations for a century or two now, and have generally found them to be useless crap.

It’s clear. Mike Pence is not only a babbling loon, but he’s a generic Biblical creationist who sees Intelligent Design creationism as a loophole to smuggle his religious ideas into the classroom. He’s wrong about virtually everything in that pompous little speech.

He’s lucky in one thing, though: he’s got Donald Trump boldly distracting most of the media from making any noise about Mike Pence’s incompetence and ignorance. Even without Trump, I don’t want this goober anywhere near high office.

Cruel and unusual punishment

Today is the day that Answers in Genesis begins their Renew-A-Thon. For a mere $299 (with additional expenses for hotel and meals, but hey, that includes free parking and admission to the Creation “Museum” and Ark Park!), or $459 for a family of 5, you can sit through two long miserable weeks of bullshit from a parade of liars. I took a look at their schedule, and I was tempted — not $300 tempted, but more like $1.99 for a couple of lectures tempted — because dear gog, this looks awful, like here’s a giant blob of jello and me with a chainsaw awful.

Here’s a piece of that schedule. It goes on for ten days beyond what I’ve cut and pasted here.

AiGSchedule

I’m just goggling at it all. Start with the first lecture: The eyes don’t have it, by Tommy Mitchell. The molecular and morphological history of the animal eye is one of those beautiful examples of the evidence coming together to support evolution; this bozo is going to tear at it with weaponized ignorance, and the audience is going to eat it up. The second talk is Big Bang: exploding the myth, by the ridiculous Terry Mortenson. Mortenson spoke here in Morris 5 years ago, and it was two nights of non-stop dishonesty and garbage. Ken Ham? Irrelevant. The Genetics of Adam and Eve by Georgia Purdom will be a total misrepresentation of what science says.

One of the biggest debates in Christianity today concerns the first two people: were Adam and Eve real or are they the product of myths? Those who claim we have evolved over millions of years believe that Adam and Eve, as the Bible teaches about them, have no place in human history. They argue that the science of genetics proves we cannot be descended from only two people. Many Christians have accepted this position and propose that their historical existence is irrelevant to Christianity and the gospel. In this session, I will show how current findings from scientists who study DNA actually support the biblical position that Adam and Eve were real people. More importantly, I will demonstrate how absolutely necessary Adam and Eve are to understanding original sin and the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. Come find out why there can be no Jesus without a real Adam and Eve.

That’s simply not true. The molecular evidence says we did not descend from just two people, that our species evolved over 100,000 years ago, and that the hypothesis that we evolved from only Adam and Eve a mere 6,000 years ago is completely untenable. But of course, her real argument is that the Bible requires this counterfactual BS.

My blood pressure is rising just reading the schedule. It’s probably for the best that I’m not going to be there, because I wouldn’t make it past the first day.

I wonder how many attendees they’ll have?

Have you been wondering about the Ark Park feasibility study?

The Lexington Herald-Leader has posted a copy of the executive summary. Just in case it goes away, here is a pdf of the 18-page executive summary; it’s a strangely fact-free document, relying on surveys and opinion polls to make estimates about economic impact. I’m serious: in the section that justifies the claim that it will bring in 1.2 million visitors a year, the sole source of information given is the results of a nationwide survey in which people were asked whether they’d take a family vacation to see Noah’s Ark, and 3 in 5 said they would.

I am reminded of surveys that evaluate how many Americans go to church — many more say they do than show up in church parking lots. This is not a reliable way to make attendance projections. A better way would be to make estimates from known, similar attractions in that part of the country, but they probably didn’t want to mention the bankrupt Heritage USA.

The most hilarious bit in their justification, though, is this:

CBS’ 60 Minutes news program, in conjunction with Vanity Fair magazine, recently conducted a survey asking which archaeological discovery would people want to be made next. The response: Noah’s Ark (43%), Atlantis (18%), Amelia Earhart’s plane (16%), Nixon’s lost tapes (13%), and Cleopatra’s barg (5%). Noah’s Ark continues to capture the imagination of the general public, and this interest spans all social, religious, and economic segments. The Ark and the Flood is one of the few historical events which are well known in the worldwide global circle.

That sort of says it all about the foundation of their “research”. A public opinion poll about what discovery ought to be made next (as if it’s a matter of choice) is irrelevant; the Ark Park is not going to be an archaeological discovery, and the most damning thing about the top two items is that they’re both mythological, and neither the Ark nor Atlantis ever existed. The claim that interest in the Ark spans all segments of society is clearly hyperbole — I don’t see much interest on the part of atheists or scientists, ever.

The ark and the flood are not historical events.

It’s a lot of fluff and wishful thinking. Sorry, Kentucky, you’re being taken for a ride.

Ken Ham makes it easy to be a lazy atheist

Ken Ham is not happy with the Pope. If the Pope claims that his god started the Big Bang, that is an acknowledgment that the Big Bang, which is not in the Bible, actually happened, and you know what that leads to? Madness!

Now, if the book of Genesis is an allegory, then sin is an allegory, the Fall is an allegory, the need for a Savior is an allegory, and Adam is an allegory—but if we are all descendants of an allegory, where does that leave us? It destroys the foundation of all Christian doctrine—it destroys the foundation of the gospel.

Yes! Exactly!

If Genesis is an allegory then the first marriage is just an allegory, so marriage can be anything one wants to define it as!

QED!

Yay! Ken Ham has demolished Christianity! I think I’ll go have some tea to celebrate. Maybe take a nap, or read a comic book.

The science vs. creationism debate exemplified on a facebook page

This brief exchange captures it all.

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Just to put it in text: creationist ignoramus posts amazing “fact” in his status:

** Fact- if the earth was 10 ft closer to the sun we would all burn up and if it was 10 ft further we would freeze to death… God is amazing!

Someone politely replies, stating the actual astronomical facts.

to anyone wondering, that’s not true. 1) Earth’s orbit is elliptical and the distance from the sun varies from around 147 million kilometers to 152 million kilometers on any given year. 2) Every star has a habitable zone that is affected by the size of the star and its intensity. The Sun’s habitable zone is about 0.95 AU to 1.37 AU. An AU is the Earth’s average distance from the sun, 93 million miles, so Earth’s orbit could decrease by 4,500,000 miles or increase by 34,000,000 mises and still be in the habitable zone. 3) If your claim was true any moderately sized earthquake could take us out of the habitable zone. sorry.

The facebook status was hilarious enough, but his reply is simply perfect.

Okay thats cool and alll but dont ever comment on my status telling me that i am wrong everrrr again. I didnt ask you did i? Answer: NO

LALALALALA — I CAN’T HEAR YOU!