Pharyngula

It’s getting to be about that time: science fair season. I’ll remind you all that we have an infamous local event, the Twin Cities Creation Science Fair, in which real live homeschooled creationist kids will present their experiments at the Har Mar Mall, on 16-17 February. I’m hoping to make it this year, but I’ve got a lot of other traveling to do that week, so I’m not sure that I’ll be able to make it…if I do, though, I’ll let you know.

Because I have to deal with this all the time, I’ll also remind everyone that the Objective: Ministries Creation Sciende Fair page is a satire, OK?

This, however, is real: Possummomma finds a lovely example of Christian “science”. A sixth-grader in her area decided to test the hypothesis that “unchristians” are less moral than Christians with a questionnaire — a badly done questionnaire. Some amusing bits: the student had his subjects report on their amoral behaviors, and didn’t keep their answers anonymous. Cool. That could add some fun to a community event.

The other amusing thing is the conclusion: everyone failed the morality test. The answer, then is that we are all sinners, so we’d better become Christians.

The kid ought to come on up to Minnesota — he’d fit right in.

Comments

  1. #1 Jon Voisey
    January 26, 2008

    I wish I could say this is original, but I’ve seen preachers come onto my campus under false pretenses, pretending to be psychology students looking to get survey data in order to ask people if they’ve committed these sins and then try to guilt trip them into believing.

    So not only is this bad science, it’s plagiarized.

  2. #2 freelunch
    January 26, 2008


    Please visit the following good Christian business:

    Priceless. [yes, the list was the empty set].

  3. #3 Mercurious
    January 26, 2008

    ” Randomly Selected Pictures Have Been Removed Because Some Sick Atheist Used Them To Demean Kids — Even Those Who Disagree With Creation Ought To Be Disgusted With Those Tactics!”
    Look on the page that says Random Pictures from 2007.

    It’s simple. If your going to twist science to match your inane beliefs, expect to be mocked.

  4. #4 Mena
    January 26, 2008

    Freelunch, your link is hilarious. I particularly like this one. I think that Jonathan Goode is going to not have much of an impact on the gene pool. He was born a century or so too late. Normal workers? Egads!:
    2nd Place: “Women Were Designed For Homemaking”

    Jonathan Goode (grade 7) applied findings from many fields of science to support his conclusion that God designed women for homemaking: physics shows that women have a lower center of gravity than men, making them more suited to carrying groceries and laundry baskets; biology shows that women were designed to carry un-born babies in their wombs and to feed born babies milk, making them the natural choice for child rearing; social sciences show that the wages for women workers are lower than for normal workers, meaning that they are unable to work as well and thus earn equal pay; and exegetics shows that God created Eve as a companion for Adam, not as a co-worker.

  5. #5 Mena
    January 26, 2008

    BTW, I am aware that the link was parody. I hit the post button instead of the preview button before I finished.

  6. #6 thalarctos
    January 26, 2008

    the student had his subjects report on their amoral behaviors, and didn’t keep their answers anonymous. Cool. That could add some fun to a community event.

    That made me laugh so hard I choked on my bagel!

    Ethics–you’re doing it wrong.

  7. #7 Mooser
    January 26, 2008

    Oh, what a well balanced adult that homeschooled Kinsey will make! The kind of person who asks your religion, first question after they get your name.
    Jeez, I hope that kid is mercifully released from this sinful coil before he (or she) discovers masturbation.
    And I hope heaven meets his expectations.

  8. #8 Mooser
    January 26, 2008

    Ah, she’s a girl, the little angel! “Always try to make people feel bad about their shortcomings, and never admit to your own, was the best advice my mother ever gave me.”

  9. #9 Steven Carr
    January 26, 2008

    Americans won’t be amoral much longer.

    Presidential candidates want to make the 10 commandments part of the Constitution.

    Soon it will be a federal offence to tell a lie.

    So no more saying that you think your girlfriend’s new hairstyle really suits her. You could wind up in jail for breaking the 10 commandments, soon to be renamed ‘The Constitution of the United States of America.’

    I quote ‘The Bible is the perfect guide to life that shows us how to be moral people.’

    Once Americans have learned to live by God’s word and not to lie, they will be much more honest with each other about their shortcomings.

    That will be fun to see!

  10. #10 Moses
    January 26, 2008

    <>Because I have to deal with this all the time, I’ll also remind everyone that the Objective: Ministries Creation Sciende Fair page is a satire, OK?

    Are you sure? Because it doesn’t look like satire.

  11. #11 Uber
    January 26, 2008

    Well give the kid credit, as a 6th grader he found out what Barna and such spend mucho money on- religious beliefs don’t matter and people behave the same regardless of supernatural leanings.

  12. #12 Quidam
    January 26, 2008

    There are some doozie projects suggested by the TCCSA
    There are a collection that would be appropriate for any science fair
    39. Why does hair turn gray when we age?
    Some which are not amenable to science
    35. Why does the Bible say there is one glory of the sun, one glory of the moon, and one glory of the stars?
    Some bizzare
    53. Were all the animals friendly to man before the Flood? Idea: raise several baby animals like snake and mouse together to see if they remain friends as they are older.
    Some provide a good example of petito principii
    58. Why did God create the moon to control the tides?,/i>
    Some show the creationist problems with spelling and grammar:
    #54, 68, 69, 93

    And my favorite for a science fair:
    114. What shape is outer space?

  13. #13 GDwarf
    January 26, 2008

    They didn’t even remove the 2007 pictures correctly, they’ve kept the page up but have it trying to load non-existent pictures.

  14. #14 horrobin
    January 26, 2008

    The other amusing thing is the conclusion: everyone failed the morality test. The answer, then is that we are all sinners, so we’d better become Christians

    Interesting that she didn’t come to the conclusion that Christians and “UnChristians” are equally moral. Still, some other kid could just package up her whole project, call it a study of confirmation bias and get an A.

  15. #15 jpf
    January 26, 2008

    I wish I could say this is original, but I’ve seen preachers come onto my campus under false pretenses, pretending to be psychology students looking to get survey data in order to ask people if they’ve committed these sins and then try to guilt trip them into believing.

    That is basically the entire recruitment technique of Scientology (only with tin cans instead of surveys). It also allows them to get dirt on their members so they can blackmail them should they speak out.

    I’ve always wondered if the Catholic confessional started out with similar intentions.

    Priceless. [yes, the list was the empty set].

    You must have an ad blocker. You are missing out on the banner ads.

  16. #16 Andres
    January 26, 2008

    That experiment would have been so much simpler. For example:

    Experiment: I will interview thirty people and ask them if they are Christian. I think they are immoral if their answer is NO.

    And the results would have been much more accurate, too.

  17. #17 Todd
    January 26, 2008

    I found the TCCSA description of the scientific method interesting:

    The Scientific Method and Home School Science Fair procedures.
    I. Purpose. Propose a question or problem for which you are seeking an answer.
    II. Hypothesis. Turn your question or problem into a statement that presents the solution in such a way that it can either be proved or disproved (falsified).
    III. Research. Gather information and plan your experiment that will prove or disprove your hypothesis.
    IV. Experiment. Get equipment and conduct your experiment.
    V. Conclusion. Present what you have discovered.
    VI. Display construction. Make your board and table display.
    VII. Science Fair Day. You as the presenter are the key to a great Science Fair Day.

    It should come as no surprise that data analysis is conspicuously absent. Then again, when you start with the conclusion I guess there’s no need for that.

  18. #18 Grumpy
    January 26, 2008

    As a prospective 6th grade teacher, I wonder how I would handle a student doing such a science project. The topic itself is controversial but certainly fair game. At what point would I intervene to help the student with a better experimental protocol? And what if, when I explain that the defintion of morality in terms of what Christians believe is a tautology, the parents cry foul?

  19. #19 Ric
    January 26, 2008

    Ooh, ooh, I want to take it!

    Questions I will ask. There are 20 points available.
    1. Have you ever spoke the name of our Lord in vain?
    A: Goddamn right I have, and I will again.

    2. Have you ever killed another human being? (Yeah! Ha! As if some one’s going to go, “Oh yeah. Quite a few…”)

    No.

    3. Have you every lied?

    A: No. Wait, that was a lie. So yes.

    4. Have you ever had relations before marriage?

    A:yes, but not as much as I would have liked. I mean, I do okay, but more is always better.

    5. Do you go to church every Sunday or once a week?

    A: Hell no.

    6. Do you wish you had more stuff?

    A: Depends what kind of stuff. Since the question is so general, I’m going to go with yes.

    7. Do you gossip?

    A: Sometimes.

    8. Do you give to charity?

    A: Yes. Planned Parenthood is one of them, through United Way.

    9. Do you listen to rap or heavy metal music?

    A: Both. In fact, that’s where I got much of my morality. ;)

    10. Have you ever had an abortion or been pro-choice?

    A: Abortion, no. Pro-choice, yes, and I still am.

    11. Have you ever read Harry Potter or Spiderwick Chronicles or the Golden Compass?

    A: Just the Golden Compass, but I’ve also been known to say (in order to shock my interlocutor) that god can fuck himself, so I don’t think the Golden Compass makes much difference.

    12. Do you see movies with unwholesome content?

    A: Those are the best kind.

    13. Do you pray every day?

    A: I talk to myself once in a while. Does that count?

    14. Do you believe that God is the creator of heaven and earth?

    A: Which one of the thousands of gods of history are we talking about? I guess I should just say no, since they are all imaginary.

    15. Are you overweight because you eat too much?

    A: No, I’m sort of ripped.

    16. Do you take pride in accomplishments other than service to God?

    A: Yes, and I don’t consider service to god an accomplishment any more than I consider service to Jay Gatsby an accomplishment.

    17. Do you put God and Jesus first?

    A: No, they’re pretty far down on the list. Scratch that. They aren’t even on the list.

    18. Do you view pornography?

    A: Rather often, actually.

    19. Do you practice temperance in every thing you do?

    A: Yes, I am even temperate in my temperance. In other words, I go hog wild sometimes.

    20. Are you quick to anger?

    A: Not particularly, but don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.

  20. #20 possummomma
    January 26, 2008

    I thought you’d enjoy that. :)

    I do have to give props to my friend (the teacher). She’s about as evangelical and fundamental as you can get (and still work outside the home), but…she was objective enough to know that she needed help grading this one. She couldn’t figure out if the project was valid. So, I broke it down like this for her:
    The question is fair.
    The hypothesis is even okay. Not great. But, it’s okay. You can test it.
    But, everything beyond that is fucked up beyond measure.
    With the most obvious example of FUBAR being the unethical decision to leave the names of the subjects on your data sheet. An IRB would have lots of fun with that one. Then there’s the completely abitrary point system (which he doesn’t explain, so you’re left guessing how it’s supposed to work) and the idiocy that’s evident from rating murder the same as listening to KidRock. Not to mention the total lack of understanding regarding basic principles like “variables”, “control”, and “accuracy”.
    His faith is really a non-issue – the project was poorly executed and reflects everything wrong with the lax science standards in our country.

    And, I love how I’m being lambasted on other sites for picking on him. I guess the people didn’t read back far enough to see that my son put his project on my site to get valuable feedback. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT SCIENTISTS DO! I was critical of my own sixth graders project. I’m not picking on this kid solely because he’s a theist. ;)

  21. #21 Mrs Tilton
    January 26, 2008

    Steven @9,

    Presidential candidates want to make the 10 commandments part of the Constitution.

    Soon it will be a federal offence to tell a lie.

    Actually, ?? ???? ???? ?? ??? is closer to “thou shalt not commit perjury” than “thou shalt not lie”; it’s a specific, technical sort of lie. But that to one side, a general prohibition on lying would certainly make it harder for clergymen to do business!

  22. #22 PalMD
    January 26, 2008

    Let’s not forget the definitions of moral,amoral, and immoral, please.
    Moral: adj. Congruent with a certain set of morals.
    Immoral: against a particular moral system
    Amoral: morals-neutral

  23. #23 Zarquon
    January 26, 2008

    Har Har Mall? How appropriate.

  24. #24 foxfire
    January 26, 2008

    The really sad thing is the 6th grade child had enough imagination and innate intelligence to at least try to conduct what he/she thought was a scientific experiment.

    Too bad none of the adults were willing and/or able to help the kid understand science.

    One more wasted opportunity…..one more wasted mind.

  25. #25 jpf
    January 26, 2008

    Re: question #11… Are we going to see Christians targeting the Spiderwick Chronicles like they did the Golden Compass? Was it written by an atheist too or is it just because it’s fantasy aimed at children without a messianic lion? Has Abunga blocked the books yet?

  26. #26 possummomma
    January 26, 2008

    @JPF – I was wondering the same thing. I wonder what the beef is with the Spiderwick Chronicles?

  27. #27 Aaron
    January 27, 2008

    Wow, I didn’t realize that the Twin Cities were located on the Turks and Caicos Islands.

  28. #28 Escuerd
    January 27, 2008

    On the “Random pictures from 2007″ page:
    “Randomly Selected Pictures Have Been Removed Because Some Sick Atheist Used Them To Demean Kids — Even Those Who Disagree With Creation Ought To Be Disgusted With Those Tactics!”

    We not be surprised that they still don’t know what the word “random” means. Either that or they’re silly enough to have thought that the best response for people abusing specific pictures is to remove random ones (Ironically the latter would be closely related to one of the more common creationist caricatures of the theory behind evolution).

  29. #29 Escuerd
    January 27, 2008

    Moses: “Are you sure? Because it doesn’t look like satire.”

    Objective Ministries is indeed a satire, and my favorite kind: one that appreciates subtlety (Landover Baptist wasn’t always quite as over the top as it is now). This makes it very convincing at first glance, but there is enough, if one looks around the site a little, to clearly belie its authenticity.

  30. #30 Moses
    January 27, 2008

    Objective Ministries is indeed a satire, and my favorite kind: one that appreciates subtlety (Landover Baptist wasn’t always quite as over the top as it is now). This makes it very convincing at first glance, but there is enough, if one looks around the site a little, to clearly belie its authenticity.

    Posted by: Escuerd | January 27, 2008 6:08 AM

    Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Larry Niven makes his corollary: “Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.”

    And that’s where I run into trouble. The closer the satire is to the faith, the more indistinguishable it becomes from the faith. Or, as I like to say, Christianity is its own satire.

  31. #31 Don
    January 27, 2008

    On the kid’s original question about whether religion makes you more moral, this study is probably familiar to many of you.

    http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html

    ‘In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies (Figures 1-9).’

    Anyone know if this is a reliable study?

  32. #32 raven
    January 27, 2008

    ‘In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies (Figures 1-9).’

    Yes this is true. Look at the economic poverty and social statistics for the area sometimes called Dumbfuckistan, the fundie heartlands. Their rates are usually much higher than the national average on poverty, child poverty, teen pregnancy, and any other QOL measures one wants to look at.

    The lowest rates tend to be the west and New England, the heartlands of godless liberals.

    The fundies apparently could care less as long as they can rant and rave about evolutionism.

  33. #33 Martian Buddy
    January 27, 2008

    Are we going to see Christians targeting the Spiderwick Chronicles like they did the Golden Compass? Was it written by an atheist too or is it just because it’s fantasy aimed at children without a messianic lion? Has Abunga blocked the books yet?

    At least from a cursory Google search, it doesn’t look like the books are all that controversial. For comparison’s sake, complaints about Harry Potter and The Golden Compass turn up on the first couple of pages of results for each. The criticism I saw of the books focused mainly on violence and scary passages, with magic getting only a cursory mention. Why it’s worth an immorality point is anyone’s guess – I’d suspect that the kid included it merely because the story involves faeries and magic without putting them in a Jesus-y context like Narnia does.

    Speaking of behavior that’s worth an immorality point, I wonder if the movie adaptation of Prince Caspian is going to include the part of the story involving Dionysus and the Maenads?

  34. #34 Leon
    January 28, 2008

    Wow…his survey gives an automatic -4 points (Q5, 14, 16, 17), and another 2 points off almost for sure (Q1, 13), to any atheists he may have interviewed. Isn’t it revealing that they came up with similar scores even with a 4+ point handicap?

    And what’s the deal with the “overweight because you eat too much” question?

    I agree, it’s disappointing that someone didn’t step in to help her with her methodology etc. The poor kid lost an opportunity to learn some important things.

  35. #35 Leon
    January 28, 2008

    20. Are you quick to anger?

    What kind of lame-a** question is that? Why, I oughtta…..!

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