Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Okay, so now that we're all agreed we don't play nice...

Via PZ and WikiLeaks, in case you hadn't seen this bit of timeless comedy gold, you can now download Kent Hovind's entire "doctoral dissertation" for "Patriot Bible University," a farcical Christian outfit housed in a doublewide offering correspondence courses. If the above is an example of what "Patriot Bible University" considers an acceptable lead-in to a dissertation, then let's just say the whole preposterous charade that is fundamentalist "education" is even more hilarious than you think.

While we're on Hovind (and it's worth noting that this remains one of our most trafficked posts ever), I'd like to add a rider to remarks that Kazim and several commenters made in the preceding post. I agree it's most important to attack ideas and not the people expressing them — but only to a point. Yes, the ad hominem attack is a fallacy, and is most commonly used simply to score cheap shots (and yes, I've been guilty of that one), or when the arguer has run out of intellectual steam and can't muster rebuttals to strong points made by his opponent.

But this is a very different thing from attacking people when they have demonstrated, by their statements or actions, that they are not merely wrong but bad and foolish people. Kent Hovind is a case in point. First off, I don't see anything unacceptable about calling a person who is convinced to the core of his being that dinosaurs walked the earth alongside humans an "idiot." This is not name calling, but merely descriptive, in the same way I have pointed out that Richard Dawkins' referring to Ray Comfort, the World's Stupidest Christian™, as an "ignorant fool" and my referring to him by his unofficial title of World's Stupidest Christian™ are not insults but descriptors*. Listen to Ray talk and read his writings, and his stupidity is on raw display. It cannot be denied any more than you could deny getting wet while standing in a thunderstorm. There is simply no way to refer to him other than to call him what he is: a stupid, ignorant fool.

Hovind is a man who is not merely ignorant but arrogant and entitled. He is convinced he is above the law, and remains unrepentant even when a ten-year jail sentence served to show him he was wrong on that point. Moreover, he has had an impact on a number of sycophantic followers, whom he has taught to lie and prevaricate just as he does. Read the comments from Hovind's defenders in that old post of ours, and you'll see them spouting the usual run of tortured, self-serving falsehoods to claim Hovind's conviction on rather blatant tax fraud was Christian persecution at the hands of a Satanic government. So, QED, Kent Hovind has significantly damaged not merely the intellectual but the moral development of hundreds if not thousands of people. He has caused demonstrable harm.

He is also, in his self absorption, utterly cold and heartless to those who really do care about him. Listen to the audio clip between Hovind and his wife Jo. Listen to her try to express her feelings to him, her concern over the rightness and wrongness of the situation they find themselves in, and then listen to him shut her down with icy finality. He's right, he's always right. Because he's God's wingman. He doesn't need to change, he's perfect. It's she who needs to "advance." You have to wonder if we witness, in that exchange, the entire dynamic of fundamentalist Christian marriage in microcosm. Is this really a world in which unfeeling, authoritarian men are simply deaf to any of their wives' emotional and moral concerns? Sure seems that way.

So, yes, I will always concentrate on attacking arguments first. But I will not refrain from condemning people worthy of condemnation. So go laugh at Kent Hovind's "dissertation," and then laugh at Kent. Because he's an ignorant, arrogant, entitled, cold-blooded, self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing, felonious piece of shit. Quote me.

*Speaking scientifically, I know I cannot prove that Ray is necessarily the world's stupidest Christian. There may well be many who are much much stupider. But if so, then they — unlike Ray, who proudly flies his stupid flag in public at every opportunity he gets, many of which he instigates himself for the attention — have the sense to stay out of the spotlight about it. Which, in turn, would make them smarter than Ray by just that much. So perhaps it can be proved that Ray's the stupidest after all.


  1. I've started writing a fan MST3King treatment of the document. So far I'm just past the dedication page.

  2. I am sure that Kent Hovind believes that his dissertation makes him the intellectual equivalent of people with real degrees. It is discouraging that he and his friend Ray are so effective in getting other ignorant people to share their worldview.

  3. "Patriot University inspired me the continue my education"

  4. Wow, I don't see how that could pass as a highschool research paper. For one it's laced with opinion that has nothing to do with anything: "He was a fat & immoral man".


  5. The interesting thing is that in one of Hovind's interviews on the Infidel Guy Show some years back, he basically said that his dissertation is a work in progress, and that he adds to it every year.

    ...of course, everyone ELSE knows that your dissertation is not something you continually edit after turning it in. But of course... over at Patriot University they don't do research like at those "secular" universities, following "academic" procedures and all that. The only regulations they follow are the 10 Commandments.

  6. My immediate thought was
    "And Taft got stuck in the bathtub but he was still a good president."

  7. Patriot Bible University is "accredited" by the Accrediting Commission International (ACI). If you'd like a bit of a chuckle, read this:

    about ACI and it's completely unconnected predecessor, the International Accrediting Commission.

  8. Any document that starts with "Hello, my name is ..." and ends with "I believe Jesus was right" cannot be of the highest quality. I also am appreciative of the fact there are zero references anywhere in the document. I know, I counted them twice.

    While I have not read the 101 pages document (the page number are handwritten on some of the pages) I have read enough to know it's a pile of crap. Extrapolating what I have read I can conclude what everyone already knows - if Kent had a clue in his brain it would be lonely.

    I would feel sorry for Kent, but he has been asking for this for years. No wonder he fought so hard to keep it hidden. Now every atheist and skeptic on the planet has a copy. Prepare to be judged, Kent.

  9. How is this a dissertation? Do the USA not have any kind of system in place to protect themselves against diploma mills? No institution that accepts such a waste of cellulose and ink as a dissertation should be allowed to masquerade as a university. It demeans the efforts of all those who have done real intellectual work to gain a degree.

  10. Any document that starts with "Hello, my name is ..." and ends with "I believe Jesus was right" cannot be of the highest quality.

    In fact, if he had limited himself to just writing "Hello, my name is Kent Hovind, and I believe Jesus was right", it still would have gotten the basic message across and it would have spared 100+ sheets of paper the indignity of having his 'dissertation' written on them.

  11. Ok BBerry, can you see the difference between saying "Hovind is clearly a moron for this paper" compared to "Darwin was wrong because he was fat" in terms of ad hominim? Cause you seem to have a problem with this.

  12. @Mintman:

    In the US there is an accreditation system for universities and other educational institutions. A degree which comes from an unaccredited institution is basically worthless and nothing more than a piece of paper. You can literally go online and buy a PhD in this country in whatever field you want for $20 and you don't have to do any of the work. This is how Christian "universities" get to stay in business, because the batshit crazy ones are not accredited. There are some Christian or Christian-affiliated universities that are accredited, but those aren't the ones that would except a piece of trash dissertation like this.

    So while in this country any "educational" body is free to call itself a university, only the government can grant credit to true universities.

  13. Tyler:

    Thanks for the explanation. I guess that means you always have to take a close look at the small print on the diploma or maybe even look up where exactly the university is accredited. More work for the employer, and unrealistic to expect from Mrs./Mr. Average Gal/Guy whom people like Hovind are trying to impress with their credentials.

  14. From chapter two:

    "What created the universe? Was it blind chance, evolution?"

    Why are you asking evolution?


  15. "Sir Arthur Keith, and avid evolutionist, said, 'Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it because the only alternative is special creation and that is unthinkable.'"

    From talkorigins:

    "The quote that is attributed to Sir Arthur Keith is a figment of the creationists imagination. I researched that quote a month or two ago and could not find a trace of it. No library in the Atlanta metro area has this particular edition and neither Amazon nor Barnes and Noble has this edition. I am in nine newsgroups and no one in these NGs had a copy or had ever seen one. A search of the internet showed many references for this quote but every one of them was from a creationist site. It is also amazing because that Sir Arthur died in 1955 and the 100th anniversary edition would not have been issued until 1959. Tell me, did 'God' write this for Sir Arthur from heaven?"

    There are many, many more despicable quote mines. It's too bad he did this in 1991; if he had waited a few more years, he could have just copied the whole thing from a creationist website!

  16. I'm a fool for thinking he was going to talk about Darwin when he said it was time for a "history of evolution"

  17. @ Aardvark,

    You sure are. We all know that evolutionary originated with Satan! Though Confucius and Lao Tse had their parts.

    Did anyone else notice that the introduction lays out sixteen chapters, but the dissertation ends with only five? Is Hovind the laziest dipshit ever, or what?

  18. soul_biscuit, an excellent point! I didn't notice. I've added it to my list:

  19. An ad hominem attack is only a rhetorical fallacy if the attacks against the person are used in lieu of comprehensive, cogent responses to the person's claims and assertions.

    If you address the assertions as thoroughly as has been done with Ray, Kent, and every other creationist out there, then it's perfectly acceptable to call them idiots, etc. As you say, it's descriptive and not libelous.

    I would personally even go so far as to say that it's perfectly permissible to call them morons first, provided you then proceed to dissect their assertions with valid arguments.

  20. Dude, do you really believe KH believes to anything of what he says?
    He's just a con artist, smart enought to understand how tha mind of a fundamentalist works: an irrational mind cannot be convinced by rational arguments, so why bothering making sense?

  21. One of my favourite podcasts did a disection of this dissertation and it is hilarious! Chuck & Leighton do a great job, it's a must listen:


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