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.
1. Mark Geier is stripped of his medical license – For those who don’t know, Mark Geier and his son David have been “treating” autistic children with chemical castration for several years now. As far as I’m concerned, that puts them pretty much write behind Osama bin Laden on the list of worst human beings alive. Oh, that’s right. Osama’s dead. That might possibly bump father and son Geier up to worst people on Earth. So I’m delighted to hear that the Maryland medical board decided to strip Mark Geier of his medical license. You can see the official 48-page decision in .pdf format here. Also, Orac chimes in on the news here.
2. Robots learn to share -This article is deceptively more about the evolution of altruism than robots, but still pretty interesting and worth the read:
Using simple robots to simulate genetic evolution over hundreds of generations, Swiss scientists provide quantitative proof of kin selection and shed light on one of the most enduring puzzles in biology: Why do most social animals, including humans, go out of their way to help each other? In the online, open access journal PLoS Biology, EPFL robotics professor Dario Floreano teams up with University of Lausanne biologist Laurent Keller to weigh in on the oft-debated question of the evolution of altruism genes.
Former South Korean president Roh Tae-woo was admitted to hospital with a bad cough and ended up on the operating table to remove an acupuncture needle from his right lung.
So let’s look at the cost/benefit ratio. Acupuncture has no benefit, and it can possibly kill you.
“I can’t figure out how the needle got into there,” Dr Sung Myung-whun was quoted as telling reporters at the hospital after the operation. “It is a mystery for me, too.”
Call me crazy, but I suspect the needle “got into there” while you were callously jabbing them into the man’s body. Just a thought. How appropriate that “woo” is in the ex-president’s name. I think comedian Dmitri Martin had the best response to acupuncture.
4. The illusion of being watched can make you a better person – We’re already well past the final nail in the coffin of the Christian view of morality, but here’s just another interesting incite into human behavior. Not only do we tend to act more morally when being watched, but we even do so when we see posters of staring eyes.
5. Facebook finally answers age-old question of who’d win in a fight: Jesus or Batman?
4. Skeptics in India launch their own paranormal challenge – Inspired by the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge, skeptics in India are offering 50 Lakh rupees (about $112,000) to anyone who can definitively prove under proper scientific conditions that ghosts exist.
5. American Atheists puts up their first billboard and it’s going to be in NYC – The billboard is going up near the Lincoln Tunnel on the NYC side on November 23rd and will remain there for one month. I’m not all that crazy about it as I’d rather we dropped the whole holiday season schtick and addressed something of more substance, but I don’t hate it either. Here’s what it will look like:
1. Buddhist monk caught for filming naked women – Net Khai, a Cambodian Buddhist monk was arrested for filming naked women. Not just a few naked women but over 600 naked women bathing in holy water at a temple. The article doesn’t make it clear whether it was with the knowledge and consent of the women or not, which is kinda an important detail. But what’s interesting is that he’s been stripped of his monk status for this, while Catholic priests weren’t even defrocked for raping children.
2. Finally an easier way to become a vampire – Want to become a vampire but having trouble finding a vampire willing to turn you into one? Well now there’s an easier way. You can buy a vampire transformation spell.
3. David Silverman to be president of American Atheists – I’ve briefly met Silverman twice. Once last year at a Jolly 13 Club gathering and again a few months again at another big gathering of many skeptically themed groups at the same location that also happened to be on Silverman’s birthday. I have no idea how well he’ll do, but I wish him the best of luck. He takes over from Ed Buckner next week.
4. Burqas and niqabs banned from public spaces in France in 246-1 decision – To be fair, the Senate did have about 100 abstentions but still, it’s quite clear the French no likey the burqa. I remain still very undecided on this issue because on the one hand, I support free expression and oppose government telling people what they can’t wear but on the other hand, the burqa is an evil tool that’s been used to oppress Islamic women for a very long time. And as much as they claim to want to wear it, it’s only because they’ve been so indoctrinated as to embrace their own servitude. Now it can be argued that our culture is just the opposite, where women are pressured to wear less clothing. However, the cultural pressures are entirely different in the Western world and not nearly as dominant. As Richard Dawkins said when an imam commented about how we dress our women, “They dress themselves!”
5. IHOP sues religious fruitcakes – The Internation House of Pancakes (IHOP) is suing a Christian group calling themselves the International House of Prayer (IHOP) over illegal appropriating the brands famous acronym. After that trial is over, then maybe they can sue Steve Jobs.
6. Woody Allen comes out as an atheist…again – I don’t know why it came to a surprise to the NY Times that Allen was an atheist since this is hardly news but it was great to read Allen criticize both religion and psychics are nonsense.
1. Bachmann military prayer amendment defeated – The National Defense Authorization Act, proposed by Rep. Michele Bachmann, would have given military chaplains the new freedom to push their own religion’s specific prayers on soldiers. But fortunately, House leaders rejected it. I guess Bachmann didn’t pray enough.
Drew McAdam’s act includes reading thoughts, duplicating drawings done in secret and bending cutlery Uri Geller-style.
. . .
But the 54-yearold was sent home after officials recognised him as the human lie detector on Five’s Trisha chatshow.
He revealed: “The clerk had seen me doing body language and mindreading.
“Then he told me he was surprised that they had even let somebody like me on a jury in the first place.”
Best excuse to get out of jury duty EVER! I’m stealin’ it. At least one of the participants in the courtroom is bound to know someone named Charles.
3. Baptists fighting Catholic child rape monopoly – When Tina Anderson was 15, she was raped by a Trinity Baptist Church member named Ernest Willis, who got her pregnant. But when she accused Willis in the church, here’s how the pastor at the church responded:
When the pastor heard Anderson’s allegations, he told her that if she had “lived in the Old Testament,” she would have been stoned to death for not reporting the attack sooner.
“He also said I had ‘allowed myself to be put in a compromising situation,’ Anderson said. The pastor decided she needed to be “church-disciplined.”
“I was completely humiliated,” Anderson said, her voice quavering at the memory. “I hoped it was a nightmare I’d wake up from, and it wouldn’t be true anymore.”
Yesterday I reported about the high school in Itawamba County, Mississippi that canceled its prom in retaliation for 18-year-old McMillen getting the ACLU to explain that the school can’t keep her out of the prom just because she’s gay and her prom date is a woman. Well now there’s been a flood of support for her.
On Feb. 8, researchers at the Rockefeller University in New York reported the results of a study in mice that suggested that a particular gene may be involved. Between 20 and 30 percent of women carry a variation of this gene, called “brain-derived neurotropic factor Met,” which past research has shown is a risk factor for mood disorders. T
Amy Bishop was charged in the murder of several people recently. Now, there are some very fine Darwinists like Francis Collins, and I don’t mean to say Amy Bishop is representative of all Darwinists. But I’d recommend that if the Clergy Letter Project wishes to put on a good face for Darwinism, they might consider disassociating themselves from Amy Bishop.
They may not want to promote “survival of the fittest” in their sermons today. That would be kind of poor taste in light of the fact a presumed societal degenerate (Bishop) is the “fittest” survivor while 3 (possibly 4) innocent victims are the “unfit” dead.
First of all, nobody who knows anything about evolution would “promote ‘survival of the fittest,” you jackass. Second of all, save the religious language for church, not reality. But it is great to see you hold “sermons” in such little regard. And third of all, your attempts to suggest scientific facts drove Ms. Bishop to murder people qualifies you for a gold metal in the Douchebag Olympics.
But the absence of a singular “25 Things” creator reveals something much more interesting: Facebook organisms are not created by intelligent design. They evolve.
The idea that culture spreads in biological ways has been around for a while. Richard Dawkins coined the term meme in 1976’s The Selfish Gene to describe how ideas propagate according to evolutionary principles of mutation and selection. A quantitative study of the “25 Things” letter seems to ratify that.
Slate Magazine isn’t the first to draw the evolution connection. When I was originally tagged about 3 weeks ago, it was called the “25 Random Things About Me ‘Meme’.”
Slate also tracked some of the various mutations of the meme as it evolved from 16 random facts to 15, 17, 22, 35, and even 100. Those other mutations didn’t survive but 25 proved to be the magic number.