Public school staffer boasts to me on Facebook about proselytizing to students for 30 years

December 30, 2011

For reasons that are probably related to masochism, I follow Eric Hovind on Facebook. Hovind is the son of infamous creationist and convicted felon Kent Hovind, and has chosen the stupid life path of going into the family business.

Now I never really paid much attention to Eric Hovind’s Facebook page until last night. That’s when a video he posted got my attention. Initially, I just left a short, snarky comment and expected to not return to post another comment any time soon.

But that all changed when a woman claiming to be a public elementary school teacher named Mary Mattheiss confessed to the crime of violating her students’ first amendment rights for the last 30 years by regularly proselytizing to students. And in her boasting about her attempts to bring elementary school students to Jesus, she was also good enough to mention the name of the school she works for.

That’s when the shit hit the fan. After me and one other individual named Robert K. Gjerde started calling Mattheiss out on her behavior, she began digging herself even deeper, I started getting bombarded with non-sequitur attacks against science and atheism as the Hovind hoard desperately tried to change the subject to something other than the woman confessing to occupational misconduct that’s possibly even illegal.

That’s when I had the good sense to screen capture a particularly incriminating section of the conversation and started spreading the word on Facebook and to secular bloggers with large readerships.

The first and so far only one of those bloggers to run with the story was Hemant Mehta on his Friendly Atheist blog (here). Mehta also added more to the story. After I walked away from the discussion, Mattheiss seems to have realized she said a few things she shouldn’t have and started disappearing her incriminating comments.

If only someone had preserved her thoughtless statements by screen capturing them! Oh, that’s right:

You can find a screen capture of what this section looks like now over at the Friendly Atheist post linked to above and you can find the entire exchange (as it appears currently anyway) on Eric Hovind’s Facebook page here, where my comments seem to have become super popular since the Mehta story ran.

Mehta also posted an update to the story that reports that Mattheiss is actually a staff member at the school but is not a teacher there. Of course, that detail doesn’t get Mattheiss off the hook in the slightest.

Here’s her Florida school’s website: http://wes-ecsd-fl.schoolloop.com/and there is an email link under the ‘staff’ tab for the principal. Its an online email form.

Thanks Hemant, and you’re welcome.

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This Week In God 8.10.11

August 10, 2011

1. Three great blogs moving – PZ Myers’ blog, Pharyngula, has moved from Scienceblogs to freethoughtblogs. Though he still posts some of his material at the old site, I’m not crazy about this move because because freethoughtblogs seems more atheist-focused whereas scienceblogs at least gives the impression of Pharyngula being more science-focused, regardless of whether the actual emphasis changes or not. Hermant Mehta has also moved his Friendly Atheist blog to Patheos, a site hosting blogs from many different religious and spiritual perspectives. I think this one was a good move because it gives Mehta’s atheist blog a great opportunity to gain readers among the religious, and this could possibly change some people’s views about atheism. And lastly, blogger Greta Christina will be soon moving her blog to freethoughtblogs. I’m fairly neutral about this because she’s already got a strong atheist readership, so I don’t expect much change one way or the other in terms of her readership.

2. Speaking of PZ Myers, he too has now publicly taken a position on the American Atheists’ lawsuit over the “9/11 Cross.” It seems that even that nasty militant atheist that Jeff Wagg today (I think quite unfairly) called the “FoxNews of atheism” in a tweet agrees with me that it’s just not worth the effort and that we’ve got bigger fish to fry:

I can understand that in principle it’s promoting religion, and I look at that random chunk of steel that forms a crude cross and can see that it is abysmally stupid to consider it a holy relic, but man, if atheists have to police every single act of stupidity committed by the human race, we’re going to get very, very tired. We need to pick our battles better, and this one is just plain pointless.

3. Stephen Hawking’s Curiosity refutes god on Discover Channel – You can watch the whole first installment at the link above…at least for now.

4. Jonathan T. Pararajasingham follows up his videos of 100 academics explaining their atheism with a 25-minute video of 20 academics and theologians explaining why they believe in god. The former is a wonderful collection of brilliant thinkers making intelligent arguments in favor of atheism while the latter is a depressing example of how motivated reasoning can poison the minds of otherwise intelligent people, causing them to make the most asinine and incoherent arguments to defend their indefensible faith.

5. Evolution wins out in Texas – Okay, I’m very late on this story. So sue me. The Texas Board of Education has unanimously come down on the side of evolution in a 14-0 vote, approving scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements from established mainstream publishers, rejecting the creationist-backed supplements from International Databases, LLC.

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Miss USA contestants on teaching evolution

June 23, 2011

The Miss USA pageant was held this past weekend, and one of the questions put to the contestants was whether they thought evolution should be taught in schools:

Actually, there’s at least a fifty percent chance that that was a clip from a GOP presidential candidate Q&A. Regardless however, it demonstrates a mind-boggling poor education on the part of the young contestants as well as the pageant committee themselves, considering there’s no debate over whether scientific facts should be taught in science classrooms.

Now some bloggers have been overjoyed that one of the few contestants who could be said to have actually supported the teaching of evolution in her answer, Miss California Alyssa Campanella ended up winning the pageant. I find this position overly optimistic given how poor even her answer was:

Well, I was taught evolution in my high school growing up, and I do believe in it. I mean, I’m a huge science geek, so I like to believe in, like, the Big Bang Theory and, you know, the evolution of humans, you know, throughout, you know, time.

While certainly one of the better answers, that doesn’t say much. Even this answer is asinine. Evolution and the Big Bang aren’t ideas one just decides to believe; they’re facts. I don’t “like to believe” in gravity; I simply recognize that gravity is an undeniable fact.

And while nobody really takes the idea seriously that the women who win these pageants are “role models,” I resent any organization that would attempt to present such woefully uneducated as role models for anyone. Not a single woman in this pageant is intellectually qualified to be a role model for anyone. The one legitimately positive thing I’ll say about the winner, Alyssa Campanella , is that she endorses the No on Prop 8 campaign, a welcome change from two years ago when former Miss California Carrie Prejean made headlines when she expressed her disapproval of marriage equality:

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News From Around The Blogosphere 5.11.11

May 11, 2011

1. Indians pissed that Hindu goddess appears on skimpy swimsuit – And while I do enjoy me a good blasphemy story, the only real reason I’m posting this is for an excuse to post the pictures of the sexy model in the swimsuit. Now I know what their gods need with all those hands.

2. T-Minus ten shopping days till the Rapture! – Richard Dawkins has perhaps given the best public response in the news media yet to the completely idiotic Harold Camping prediction that the Rapture will occur on May 21, chastising the Washington Post within its own pages for even having the audacity to report on it as if it were real news. And perhaps on a related note, May is Zombie Awareness Month!

3. Simpsons’ actress Nancy Cartwright brings Scientology program to Springfield schools – Cartwright is the voice of Bart Simpson. She’s also a crazy as fuck Scientologist who’s now pushing a learning program based on the unsupported ideas of non-educator L. Ron Hubbard on the students of Springfield, Illinois.

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Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis expelled from home-schooling conference

March 22, 2011

A few days ago, Ken Ham was Tweeting the upcoming home-schooling conference. It’s not a surprise to hear a religious nut is a big fan of home-schooling. Over 90% of home-schooled children come from batshit insane religious families. Home-schooling is the favorite education system of those who deny reality because they hate the idea of their kids being talks actual facts that disagree with their kooky beliefs.

Unfortunately for the religiously deluded, the feeling isn’t mutual and the home-schooling industry is slightly less fond of Ham and Answers in Genesis, whom they’ve disinvited from attending their conference. Now you might think it’s because they’re trying to garner some margin of respectability but no. The Advisory Board proudly admits to being “100% young earth” and to [chuckling] sharing “AIG’s perspective from a scientific standpoint.” The only reason they disinvited AiG is because Ham publicly criticized the aspects of the convention and its other scheduled speakers, so they decided to take their ball back and go home to cry to their mommies:

Our Board believes Ken’s comments to be unnecessary, ungodly, and mean-spirited statements that are divisive at best and defamatory at worst.

Ooh, ungodly! That Ken Ham is a big meany, he is.

Ken has obviously felt led to publicly attack our conventions and a number of our speakers. We believe that what Ken has said and done is unChristian and sinful. A number of attendees are demanding explanations from our board and we must respond to them.

So it’s not so much that Ham is being “unChristian” so much as it’s a political tactic to quell the anger of their other speakers whom Ham offended. It’s like all those people Obama fired from his administration because they said things that were taken out of context by the Republicans to drum up controversy. It’s not so much that what they said was so bad in context but that Obama just wanted to quickly resolve a controversy that was making him look bad.

Oddly, I almost feel like defending Ham for once because the home-schooling industry is actually indoctrinating students under the guise of a legitimate education program and because they seem to be acting so childishly about a little criticism. It’s almost comical the way they argue that one of the core values is that we believe that good people can disagree and still be good people (except presumably for those evil, godless evil-utionists) while in the process of dis-inviting a speaker over a little criticism. When Sam Harris ruffled some feathers at the American Atheist Convention a few years ago, nobody struck him off the speakers list at future conferences. That’s because we don’t just pay lip service to alternative opinions; we actually show the courage of our conviction to listen to opinions we might not agree with. Ken Ham is still an ass though.

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Michelle Bachmann recalls the shot heard ’round the world in Concord…New Hampshire

March 13, 2011

Oh, c’mon! Everyone knows the shot heard round the world that sparked the American Revolution between the 17 Colonies and the Soviet troops happened when Major Enola Gay fired into the Oklahoma City exhaust poirt without using his targeting computer, which drove King Tut to declare war!

Yes, I hate to post another story about the stupid things that come out of politicians’ mouths so soon but I couldn’t pass this one up. Last time, I  justified because I was singling out Rand Paul’s illogical argument. In this one, I’m educating Ms. Bachmann’s historical myth.

As any American reader who has passed middle school almost certainly knows, Concord and Lexington are not in New Hampshire…and that the “shot heard ’round the world was in Massachusetts.

I don’t know what troubles me more, that a sitting U.S. public official doesn’t know the first thing about one of the most basic historical facts concerning the Revolutionary War that is taught to literally just about every middle school student in this country, that she thought Concord and Lexington were in New Hampshire instead of Massachusetts…for some reason, or that she somehow got to the point where she was delivering the speech without anyone correcting her…or that she repeated the same error later that very speech!

To hear such ignorance of our country’s history come out of the mouth of a sitting Congresswomen is just disgraceful. This has got to be up there as one of the stupidest things to come out of a Tea Party candidate yet (and that says a lot)…at least until someone suggests that New Hampshire has the proud history of being the home of Plymouth Rock or that George Washington retreated across the Atlantic Ocean.

Wait, what?! She said the Plymouth thing too?! Son of a bitch!

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New School University embraces woo with new ‘Creative Arts Therapy’ Program

March 11, 2011

Tragically, the school I received my Masters Degree from has now introduced a whole program devoted entirely to nonsense. They call it “Creative Arts Therapy”:

The field of creative arts therapy is now widely recognized as an essential component of healthcare in our society. Creative arts therapists integrate modalities of music, drama, the visual arts, and dance/movement into the practice of psychotherapy in a variety of clinical settings. These include psychiatric, rehabilitation, and general hospitals; nursing homes; group homes; outpatient psychotherapy clinics; special education; and private practice.

The New School’s certificate program in Creative Arts Therapy (CAT) curriculum is both didactic and experiential, grounded in the latest developments in psychology and mind-body healing. Our program is unique in encouraging students to work in more than one artistic modality in developing therapeutic insights and mastery. We integrate mind-body techniques such as creative visualization, guided imagery, mindfulness meditation, and therapeutic touch with more traditional arts therapy and psychodynamic approaches.

Recognized by who? Certainly not any reputable health organization in the world. Art therapy? Music therapy? Aroma therapy? Mind-body healing? Gimme a break! The placebo effect is not a healing modality and you certainly can’t be taught as one in a classroom.

Here’s the program’s FAQ page on Facebook:

How much does the program cost?

The cost of each course is $620.00.  Nine courses are required to graduate, so the total is approximately $5,580.00.

[Spit take] WHAT?!

Taking students’ money in exchange for providing them courses whose curriculum is based on pseudoscience and thus lack any legitimate practical application is not only an academic disgrace but is arguably fraud. Why not teach homeopathy or Scientology courses while you’re at it?

To give you an idea of what they’re selling, they’re hosting an upcoming event to be held on April 10 (Fuck! Same weekend as NECSS!) called “The Voice of Trauma: A Sound Approach to Healing the Wounds of Childhood Trauma,” which prescribes a whole bunch of touchy-feely, hippy pseudo-therapies for serious childhood trauma:

Trauma themes are explored through musical story telling, vocal improvisation and drumming.

Participants also learn to externalize and transform resistant sub-personalities commonly found in traumatized individuals through the vocal giving-and-receiving feedback loop. Clinical case examples are shared that document the effectiveness of voice-centered music therapy in transforming the ravages of early trauma. Special focus will be given to assessing strengths and weaknesses of the traumatized client, the effects of early trauma on the nervous system, and contraindications for uncovering/releasing techniques. No singing experience or musical background necessary.

I take it back. This IS fuckin’ Scientology!

For a more detailed account of what this program entails, here’s an incredibly long video presentation about it that attempts to sell it as some sort of legitimate curriculum:

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