Pharyngula

This fellow Mike up around Toronto asked me for assistance a while back—he was planning to attend the Bible Skeptics Conference, an event put on by the Institute for Creation Research. I couldn’t say much, but I did suggest he get in touch with Larry Moran at the U Toronto.

Well, he attended and survived. It’s a good summary of the usual combination of drivel and lunacy that comes out of these events. He also attended a second talk by Bruce Malone. Malone, by the way, was the fellow who was speaking in the Twin Cities last week, to whose talk on Mt St Helens as evidence for a young earth I was invited by a creationist. This is the instance where I begged off by saying I wasn’t a geologist…and, amusingly, the creationist admitted that was OK, since the speaker wasn’t, either.

There’s going to be a third write-up soon. I’m pretty sure his sanity survived the harrowing, although I do have one concern. Mike told me in email that Larry Moran was a “nice guy”—I’m suspecting that there might have been some residual impairment of his mental facilities. Everyone knows that Larry is godless curmudgeon.

Comments

  1. #1 Nathan Park
    February 26, 2007

    I thought you were going to cut down on your articles since you were working on a book?

  2. #2 Ed Darrell
    February 26, 2007

    Nice guy, godless curmudgeon — same thing, really, isn’t it?

  3. #3 Fernando Magyar
    February 26, 2007

    Mike may still be sane but after reading this post and the comments I just finally gave up.

    http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=americans_more_science_literate_than_jap&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

    “But can we blame what have become essentially political or, to some folks, moral choices, on ignorance of science? In my experience, the folks who hold views opposed to mine on issues like teaching evolution in schools and the place of stem cells in treating human disease aren’t necessarily ignorant–they just, well, have different views than I do. Which is to say–I don’t think William Dembski and Michael Chrichton are stupid or even ignorant–they’re just willful.

    HUH???!!!

  4. #4 Corey Schlueter
    February 26, 2007

    Kent Hovind’s son, Eric, is supposed to be debating at the University Of Guelph, Ontario, on March 19. There is nothing about who he is debating against and on what subject the debate is on. I e-mailled the University’s press/media to see if they know anything about it. I hope to hear back from them soon.

  5. #5 Jeff
    February 26, 2007

    The conference was a few blocks from my house so I went and nearly tore my ears off listening to just one speaker. I found Jack Chick Tracts on each of the toilets in the washroom, which I found to be a pretty shady attempt to spread his bigoted, anti-science message to unwitting high school kids. Oh, and I heard a woman describe Stephen Hawking as “the one who was brought to life by machine”. All in all a boring night that couldn’t have ended sooner.

  6. #6 Dustin
    February 26, 2007

    Kent Hovind’s son, Eric, is supposed to be debating at the University Of Guelph, Ontario, on March 19. There is nothing about who he is debating against and on what subject the debate is on. I e-mailled the University’s press/media to see if they know anything about it. I hope to hear back from them soon.

    That’s so that whoever Eric is going to be calling names won’t know he’s walking into a setup. That’s how the Hovinds do things, and I’ll put dollars to Navy Beans that the Campus Crusade for Christ is in on it. The e-mail to Eric’s opponent inviting him/her to the debate says that he/she won’t be able to use slides or anything else. Then, when the debate rolls around, they change the rules about 10 minutes before it starts so that Eric can use slides, and plead ignorance.

    The opponent, who doesn’t have slides, now has to choose between walking away (and allowing Hovind to spew bullshit uncontested, and losing face in the process), or try to talk about the mountains of evidence supporting evolution without actually showing any evidence.

    Fortunately, when the Campus Crusade for Christ gets their grubby little fingers into the pie, the “questions” from the moderator always come out as “Margret Sanger says…” and “Evolution causes Eugenics, puppy kicking, and Nazism”, so the slides and evidence wouldn’t have been helpful anyway.

    The moral of the story is that Christians don’t have any.

  7. #7 Phoenix Woman
    February 26, 2007

    Hey, PZ! Guess what?

    Theodore “Vox Day” Beale was so freaked out that a woman dared to make a comment on one of your comments threads today (the one on “extremists”) that he not only spewed out a whole post on the topic, but dumped it into the comments section at my blog!

    I’ve put him in the spam filter, but not before copying his insane rantings for posterity and David Neiwert. Click here and experience the woman-hating wonder that is Teddy “my dad’s a tax-dodging wingnut loser” Beale without giving his blog any clicks (or giving him your IP address)!

  8. #8 Dustin
    February 26, 2007

    It sounds like that sawed-off Nazi-version clone of Eddie Munster needs a job. Or a hobby. I’d say “or a girlfriend”, but it’s pretty clear that we’d just be setting up a story for the evening news if we tried to fix him up with someone without a penis.

  9. #9 PZ Myers
    February 26, 2007

    If I were a woman who had attracted the attention of Vox Day, I’d be spending hours in the shower, scrubbing with steel wool and shuddering in horror. I hope you don’t live near Minneapolis, where he lurks.

  10. #10 Dustin
    February 26, 2007

    I’d really rather someone scrubbed Vox Day with steel wool for several hours. Now that would be comedy.

  11. #11 Flounder
    February 26, 2007

    I can tell you what the young Earth crackpot had to say about St. Helens.
    Some minerals brought up in the eruption date to a few million years old (can’t remember the specifics of the situation so forgive me, I could look them up but in this case it is the general idea that matters). Anyways creationist point to this and say–see the whole radiometric dating thing is screwed up!
    Well the dating method used involves the K-Ar decay chain and the ratio of a stable Argon isotope to one derived from Potassium breakdown. Argon is a gas, and when you pass a magma through older rocks they may pick up this older gas (especially if you consider that the magma has some fluid phase that circulates as well. The St. Helens magma passed through some tens-of-millions year old rocks. Thus the argon isotopic ratio is somewhere in the middle of the old rock and 1980 eruption end points. Notice that even with this messing up of the dating scheme you can’t get an age for the eruption that is spuriously older than the oldest rock it passes through, and if this was a billion year-old-rock you were trying to date the +/- few million years would be relatively unimportant.

  12. #12 JamesR
    February 26, 2007

    I’ve heard that these people aren’t too bad. I’ve heard too that joining them is pretty easy but that the worst part is when they drill the hole in your head and suck out half your brains.

  13. #13 Eric Davison
    February 27, 2007

    PZ – I was just curious if you knew anything about Haldane’s Dilemma. I was told by a young earth creationist that it “destroys” the theory of evolution. In and of itself, I think their description of it acts as a pretty good sign that it’s an irrelevant idea, but I was curious if you could direct me to any info on it.

  14. #14 Zeno
    February 27, 2007

    There’s an entire Wikipedia entry on Haldane’s Dilemma. Check it out here.

  15. #15 PZ Myers
    February 27, 2007

    Also see the Talk.Origins page.

    The ‘dilemma’ gets a lot of play because one loony creationist, Walter ReMine, plays it like a broken record.

  16. #16 Kyra
    February 27, 2007

    Huh. I coulda gone to the Mount St. Helens thing.

    Unfortunately, while it was undoubtedly on the same intellectual level to find young-earth creationism in a volcano as it is to have your movie characters find an ammonite fossil in one, I’m sure it was much less entertaining.

  17. #17 Derek
    February 27, 2007

    Eric, this might help you out.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB121.html

  18. #18 Kyra
    February 27, 2007

    “Evolution causes Eugenics, puppy kicking, and Nazism”

    And religion causes Inquisitions, stonings, and Crusades.

    If I were a woman who had attracted the attention of Vox Day, I’d be spending hours in the shower, scrubbing with steel wool and shuddering in horror. I hope you don’t live near Minneapolis, where he lurks.

    He lives in Minneapolis?! *shudders* I did not need to know that. Well, least now I’m prepared.

  19. #19 MarkG
    February 27, 2007

    And here’s the EvoWiki page for Haldane’s Dilemma.

  20. #20 Phoenix Woman
    February 27, 2007

    Kyra: Yeah, he’s from Minnesota, sad to say — at least that’s where his fellow wingnut daddy the WND bigwig and tax dodger had his multi-million-dollar home. His website was based out of Italy, but he seems to be posting from Calgary now, if his IP address on his comment to me (68.146.196.10) is to be believed.

  21. #21 BigHeathenMike
    February 27, 2007

    Hey there – thanks for the links and visits everyone. The last chapter is up now.

    I’m going to read some science books now.

  22. #22 Torbjörn Larsson
    February 27, 2007

    Theodore “Vox Day” Beale was so freaked out that a woman dared to make a comment

    At least he recognized a good comment. I noted it too at the time, it is a real possibility creationists fear that we will do as they once did since it is obvious that they project their own thinking on others (‘darwinism’, ‘dogma’, ‘belief’).

    Btw, Beale showed me that religious statistics are uncertain. He claims that “only 23 percent of Swedes believe that there is not “any sort of spirit, god, or life force”.” I got curious and took a very quick peek into sources.

    It turns out that atheism is much more prevalent than I thought. The swedish wikipedia pegs it as the 4th major world view, but the internet project Adherents put atheists as the 3d world view at 16 % of the world population. ( http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html )

    But there are several caveats. Adherents aggregates over many statistics, where for example the swedish statistic goes from polls which gets from 20 to 70 % atheists. ( http://www.ateism.se/faq.html ) So Adherents may have aggregation problems. Allegedly they sociologically group some atheists into religions. Yet about half of the quoted number is still of this type.

    Anyhow, the poll question Beale quoted (“any sort of spirit, god, or life force”) seems to come from European Value Studies. I found a swedish christian nut who obsessively looks at polls to track “political atheism”, and he quotes even smaller numbers for Sweden for the same study, down to 14 %. It is only that the same polls also asks about “not a religious person” and then gets 60-50 % indifferent swedes 1980-2000. (Professed atheists are stable at 7 %.)

    My (not very supported) feeling is that these statistics are next to worthless for atheists since they are specially treated and aggregated. But the number that should concern Beale here is the indifferent, who seems to be more than half the population and double his number.

  23. #23 Torbjörn Larsson
    February 27, 2007

    Theodore “Vox Day” Beale was so freaked out that a woman dared to make a comment

    At least he recognized a good comment. I noted it too at the time, it is a real possibility creationists fear that we will do as they once did since it is obvious that they project their own thinking on others (‘darwinism’, ‘dogma’, ‘belief’).

    Btw, Beale showed me that religious statistics are uncertain. He claims that “only 23 percent of Swedes believe that there is not “any sort of spirit, god, or life force”.” I got curious and took a very quick peek into sources.

    It turns out that atheism is much more prevalent than I thought. The swedish wikipedia pegs it as the 4th major world view, but the internet project Adherents put atheists as the 3d world view at 16 % of the world population. ( http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html )

    But there are several caveats. Adherents aggregates over many statistics, where for example the swedish statistic goes from polls which gets from 20 to 70 % atheists. ( http://www.ateism.se/faq.html ) So Adherents may have aggregation problems. Allegedly they sociologically group some atheists into religions. Yet about half of the quoted number is still of this type.

    Anyhow, the poll question Beale quoted (“any sort of spirit, god, or life force”) seems to come from European Value Studies. I found a swedish christian nut who obsessively looks at polls to track “political atheism”, and he quotes even smaller numbers for Sweden for the same study, down to 14 %. It is only that the same polls also asks about “not a religious person” and then gets 60-50 % indifferent swedes 1980-2000. (Professed atheists are stable at 7 %.)

    My (not very supported) feeling is that these statistics are next to worthless for atheists since they are specially treated and aggregated. But the number that should concern Beale here is the indifferent, who seems to be more than half the population and double his number.

  24. #24 Runolfr
    February 27, 2007

    OK, it’s simplistic and silly, but you’ll probably like this.

    Creationist Motivational Poster

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