Kent Hovind’s Dissertation

I think I just came a little in my mouth. But then again, I’m a glutton for punishment.

Kent Hovind’s “doctoral dissertation” at Patriot “University” has been released on Wikileaks. Grab it while it’s hot!

Those who lack the patience to read the whole thing may wish to read Karen Bartelt’s analysis.

(HT PZ.)

This entry was posted in Creationism, Evolution, News and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Kent Hovind’s Dissertation

  1. Flabberghasted says:

    You know what would be interesting…an article written by an atheist/evolutionist talking about the things Mr. Hovind does get right in his seminars. Regardless of his education. That would be worth a read. Maybe you could do it Andrew?

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  2. arensb says:

    Well, from a factual standpoint, if not a stylistic one, it starts out pretty well:

    Hello, my name is Kent Hovind.

    Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from there.

    If you have the stomach for it, it’s fun to read an FAQ on logical fallacies, then listen to one of Hovind’s seminars and see how many you can identify. I’ve found that the biggest problem is remembering what one fallacy is called before the next one crops up; he throws ’em out fast and furious.

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  3. Flabberghasted says:

    you know what I meant.😛

    Like

  4. Troublesome Frog says:

    You know what would be interesting…an article written by an atheist/evolutionist talking about the things Mr. Hovind does get right in his seminars. Regardless of his education.

    There’s a tendency to see all the pointing and laughing at Hovind’s fake PhD as nothing more than academic snobbery. I don’t think that’s really the case. If Hovind was a normal guy without a formal background in biology, I don’t think it would be an issue–at least not if he had cracked a book on his own time and had a working understanding of the topic. The problem is that Hovind went out and got a phony degree and now goes to great pains to use it as a cloak of authority. Once you do that, you make your credentials a target for scrutiny.

    As far as I’m concerned, a fake education is far worse than none at all. Even if it wasn’t an obvious sign of egomania and dishonesty, the unwarranted confidence that comes with it is usually not a good thing. I’m just glad that Patriot University doesn’t doesn’t have a cardiology or pharmacy program.

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  5. Fez says:

    Flabberghasted Says:

    You know what would be interesting…an article written by an atheist/evolutionist talking about the things Mr. Hovind does get right in his seminars. Regardless of his education. That would be worth a read. Maybe you could do it Andrew?”

    arensb has attended a Hovind dog-and-pony show previously. Give it a read – it’s rather a hoot.

    Like

  6. Flabberghasted says:

    I just wonder sometimes if it’s at all possible for the mainstream scientific community and its followers to actually say something positive about Hovind or other YEC groups and their efforts.

    Like

  7. Fez says:

    Flabberghasted Says:

    I just wonder sometimes if it’s at all possible for the mainstream scientific community and its followers to actually say something positive about Hovind or other YEC groups and their efforts.

    The flippant response: They are frequently saying something positive. You’re just not listening.

    The invitation to engage response: Hovind’s or other YEC’s efforts at what? Philanthropy? Philosophy? Podiatry? What particular efforts are you thinking of and why should should the specific subgroup of “the mainstream scientific community and it’s followers” have any interest in said efforts? Your comment offers no context, has no substance. I ask you then – why can’t Hovind and YEC followers accept that it’s proven fact?

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  8. Troublesome Frog says:

    I just wonder sometimes if it’s at all possible for the mainstream scientific community and its followers to actually say something positive about Hovind or other YEC groups and their efforts.

    I think it would be more likely if those efforts were a legitimate attempt at doing real science rather than simply a PR/propaganda exercise. It would be similar to asking why the IRS can’t find anything positive to say about Hovind’s hard work promoting tax evasion. I suppose that they could say that it was nice of him to try to save families some cash, but that would be a bit of a stretch. At that point, you’re just saying nice things for the sake of saying nice things.

    I’m not sure that I can say anything nice about Hovind’s efforts specifically, except perhaps that it’s possible that he holds his beliefs sincerely and that the opportunity to make some money was just a happy coincidence. He may really believe that he’s doing some good, which means that he’s not completely cynical in his exploitation of scientific illiteracy.

    If I were to look elsewhere in the creationist community for people to praise, I suppose I would have to say that Dembski appears to be trying hard to formulate a real mathematical framework, even if it is just an attempt to support his preconceived conclusions, and even if it is currently devoid of any real substance or results. It’s possible that he might arrive at something real that contributes in an interesting way if he keeps pounding away. I wouldn’t bet on it, but at least he has put pen to paper and seems to be trying to arrive at something real. He’s not a YEC, though.

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  9. Flabberghasted says:

    So who would like to pay for me to go to a university of their choosing to get a degree in Biological Evolution just so you guys could have someone to debate with? Any takers.😛 Seriously though I probably would do it.

    Like

  10. arensb says:

    Flabberghasted:
    Before embarking on a four-year college adventure, why not avail yourself of the many fine resources available for free on the Internet and at your local library?

    You said that you haven’t actually read any books on evolution by people who know about it, so let me throw out another recommendation: Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin, the guy who discovered Tiktaalik.

    I’ve also heard good things about Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

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  11. Flabberghasted says:

    Before embarking on a four-year college adventure, why not avail yourself of the many fine resources available for free on the Internet and at your local library?

    You said that you haven’t actually read any books on evolution by people who know about it, so let me throw out another recommendation: Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin, the guy who discovered Tiktaalik.

    I’ve also heard good things about Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

    So these are good books to get a fine handle on an objective view of Modern Evolutionary synthesis. Do they simply state the theories in support of the whole enchilada or are they like Dawkins books which serve to convert? How about you put together an evolution 101 course for me and I will do my best to stick it out and get “enlightened”.

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  12. Flabberghasted says:

    “…the question of whether life has a long history or not was answered in the affirmative at least two centuries ago.” ~Berkley website

    I want to go back to that answer this first question for me. What resources can I read on that statement?

    Like

  13. Troublesome Frog says:

    How about you put together an evolution 101 course for me and I will do my best to stick it out and get “enlightened”.

    I highly recommend starting with talkorigins.org, which does a good job of distilling and summarizing just about everything a curious amateur could want to learn about to get up to speed on the subject. You might also try UC Berkeley’s Understanding Evolution site. It’s a little more basic, but there’s some good stuff there.

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  14. Fez says:

    Flabberghasted Says:

    How about you put together an evolution 101 course for me and I will do my best to stick it out and get “enlightened”.

    You could start with http://conservapedia.com/Biological_evolution – it’s not currently terribly controversial and will take about a minute to read and digest🙂. Then perhaps move on to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_evolution or the “advertised as easier to digest” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduction_to_evolution . Check out some of the references in the latter.

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  15. arensb says:

    Well, that was weird. Apparently berkeley.edu got blacklisted (perhaps some machine there got pwned and started spamming me), and Flabberghasted’s last comment got flagged as spam for mentioning it.

    Like

  16. Fez says:

    Flabberghasted Says:

    “…the question of whether life has a long history or not was answered in the affirmative at least two centuries ago.” ~Berkley website

    I want to go back to that answer this first question for me. What resources can I read on that statement?

    Did you check the links just below that quote?

    The history of living things is documented through multiple lines of evidence that converge to tell the story of life through time. In this section, we will explore the lines of evidence that are used to reconstruct this story.
    These lines of evidence include:

    * Fossil evidence

    * Homologies

    * Distribution in time and space

    * Evidence by example

    [Apologies if this HTML block is messed up. It looks ok as a browser page but the preview feature seems to be getting confused]

    Like

  17. Fez says:

    arensb Says:

    Well, that was weird. Apparently berkeley.edu got blacklisted (perhaps some machine there got pwned and started spamming me), and Flabberghasted’s last comment got flagged as spam for mentioning it.

    Are you using just SpamKarma2 alone or do you have some of the other modules for it? Maybe one of the modules is being far too fascist.

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  18. arensb says:

    Fez: Just SK2. But it seems to have a mind of its own, sometimes.

    Like

  19. arensb says:

    Flabberghasted:

    So these are good books to get a fine handle on an objective view of Modern Evolutionary synthesis. Do they simply state the theories in support of the whole enchilada or are they like Dawkins books which serve to convert?

    Da fu’? I’ve read The Blind Watchmaker and Climbing Mount Improbable, but can’t remember a single instance of Dawkins trying to convert anyone to anything. So what are you talking about? Cite chapter and verse, please.

    Secondly, Shubin spends a lot of time explaining not just what we know, but how we know it, and how separate lines of evidence confirm each other by independently leading to the same conclusion.

    As I said, I haven’t read Coyne’s book, but I seem to remember from the reviews I’ve read that it does exactly what the title promises: explains how we know that evolution has happened, and continues to happen.

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  20. arensb says:

    Flabberghasted:
    You also pointed me at this piece of… typing. Why?

    Yes, I’m aware that there’s no evidence for any gods, and that people keep trying to come up with excuses to believe in them anyway.

    You’ll notice that he gives the game away when he says

    “Can science prove the existence of God?” It cannot, in the sense that the scientific method is helpless when applied to the Supernatural

    Even interpreting this as generously as possible, he’s saying that God has no detectable effect whatsoever on the universe. No miracles, no answered prayers, no apparitions, no conversions, no “Jesus cured my alcoholism”, no nothing. The god that this guy claims to believe in is indistinguishable from a nonexistent god.

    As for his confused claim that science is only possible if there’s a god, I’ll refer you to my earlier critique of Alvin Plantinga, Is This Really What Passes for Thinking Among Theologians? (specifically, the Is God Complex? section).

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  21. Eamon Knight says:

    Da fu’? I’ve read The Blind Watchmaker and Climbing Mount Improbable, but can’t remember a single instance of Dawkins trying to convert anyone to anything. So what are you talking about? Cite chapter and verse, please.

    I haven’t read the others, but I just finished Greatest Show and it’s definitely in the trying-to-convince category. I mean, I think that was the point of it. Of course, that hardly invalidates the arguments contained therein, which stand or fall on their merits, so I’m not sure what Flabber’s complaint is.

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  22. Chad (f.k.a. Flabberghasted) says:

    I haven’t read the others, but I just finished Greatest Show and it’s definitely in the trying-to-convince category. I mean, I think that was the point of it. Of course, that hardly invalidates the arguments contained therein, which stand or fall on their merits, so I’m not sure what Flabber’s complaint is.

    My complaint is that if I am going to even begin learning anything about the proper Modern Evolutionary synthesis I don’t think it would be good to start with something that instantly feels as though my current beliefs are being attacked. Especially since my main motivation is to more accurately portray the facts when discussing them with others. If there is one thing I have learned through Kent Hovind’s problems is that if you’re going to attack a theory…you better know it, inside and out. One problem I am having is, “Where do you start?” I mean seriously, the theories that comprise Evolution are so diverse in so many fields that if you became an expert in one or many, you will still be lacking serious information in many, many other fields. Like Dawkins. He has a degree in zoology and philosophy. How does make him qualified to be an expert on evolution and an expert in theology? If he speaks of anything outside of his field of expertise his claims cannot be believed any more than “Dr.” Hovind’s. I am not trying to start anything. I am just asking some questions that confuse the heck outt’a me.

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  23. arensb says:

    Flabberghasted:

    I don’t think it would be good to start with something that instantly feels as though my current beliefs are being attacked.

    I’m not sure what to say. If you fervently believed that the sky was yellow, and came across a book that said that if you look up on a clear day, you’ll see that the sky is blue, then wouldn’t you take that as an attack on your beliefs?

    Like Dawkins. He has a degree in zoology and philosophy. How does make him qualified to be an expert on evolution and an expert in theology? If he speaks of anything outside of his field of expertise his claims cannot be believed any more than “Dr.” Hovind’s.

    Let me approach this from another angle: why should you believe a physicist when he’s talking about physics? For that matter, why should you believe anyone when they’re talking about physics? (Or economics, or foreign policy, or plumbing, or whatever.)

    I don’t know about you, but I want to believe as many true things as possible, and as few false things as possible. On top of which, I think it’s important to believe things for the right reasons.

    The best way to find out whether something is true is to go out and check it for yourself. If you want to know how many legs dogs have, find some dogs and count their legs.

    Now, in a lot of cases it just isn’t practical or worthwhile to check everything out oneself. I’m not going to fly off to Australia to find out what the capital is. Nor am I going to fly out there again a year later just to make sure the capital hasn’t changed since the last time.

    The next best thing to checking for oneself is to listen to someone who has, and who (apparently) knows enough not to make simple mistakes. If I can’t find any dogs to count their legs, I can ask a dog breeder or veterinarian, someone who has seen a lot of dogs and has counted their legs (and knows how to recognize a dog; if you run across someone who can’t tell a dog from a chicken, they might tell you that some dogs have two legs, while others have four).

    So when someone tells you something, it’s important to ask yourself how they know that. If someone says “I know Barack Obama is president because I saw him being sworn in”, that seems like a good reason to believe them. But if someone says “I know Barack Obama is president because it came to me in a dream”, then that particular statement may be true, but the person believes it for bad reasons (dreams aren’t reliable indicators of truth), and so the next thing that that person says is suspect.

    So why do I usually believe physicists when they talk about physics? Because when I ask them how they know what they know, they usually have satisfactory answers (e.g., “How do we know that gravity affects time? Because we flew a clock in an airplane, and the time was different from an identical clock that stayed on the ground”). Ideally, I’d prefer not to have to trust them, but it’s a concession I make for the sake of being able to get on with my life instead of pursuing umpteen degrees. Basically, I trust that the fact that they have a degree means that they know what they’ve studied the subject, and that the chance that they might be wrong is low enough that I’m willing to take that risk.

    So to (finally) cycle back to your question, of why you should listen to Richard Dawkins on matters of theology: you shouldn’t trust him any more than any other layman.

    It depends on the question, really: if it’s “what did Aquinas have to say about the divinity of Jesus?”, then Plantinga is probably a more reliable source than Dawkins. But when it comes to basic questions like “what is the evidence for the existence of one or more gods?”, I have yet to run across a theologian who gives a satisfactory answer. Because of things like this, their entire field of study is suspect.

    That doesn’t mean theologians are automatically wrong; it just means I don’t give them the same benefit of the doubt as I do physicists. And, of course, Dawkins doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt on theological matters. So again, it comes down to “whose arguments are sound? Who has the best reasons for believing what they do?”

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  24. Fez says:

    arensb Says:

    Flabberghasted:

    I don’t think it would be good to start with something that instantly feels as though my current beliefs are being attacked.

    I’m not sure what to say. If you fervently believed that the sky was yellow, and came across a book that said that if you look up on a clear day, you’ll see that the sky is blue, then wouldn’t you take that as an attack on your beliefs?

    I’m inclined to concede Flabberghasted’s point on this one. If one’s honest intent is to self-educate in the scientific basis of something such as biological evolution and it is being approached from the perspective of an ideologically opposed student perhaps Dawkins is not the best starting point. Dawkins is a fine educational writer but in my opinion he writes with a bias intended to keep it entertaining for the layman reader who is already inclined to accept him as an authority on evolution and that entertainment comes at the expense of creationist beliefs. I can see how that would be distracting and counter-productive.

    The Berkeley site Troublesome Frog linked to above strikes me as a better resource for learning the lay of the land. There appears to have been a lot of effort expended to make it educational without denigration.

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  25. Chad (f.k.a. Flabberghasted) says:

    I’m inclined to concede Flabberghasted’s point on this one. If one’s honest intent is to self-educate in the scientific basis of something such as biological evolution and it is being approached from the perspective of an ideologically opposed student perhaps Dawkins is not the best starting point. Dawkins is a fine educational writer but in my opinion he writes with a bias intended to keep it entertaining for the layman reader who is already inclined to accept him as an authority on evolution and that entertainment comes at the expense of creationist beliefs. I can see how that would be distracting and counter-productive.

    The Berkeley site Troublesome Frog linked to above strikes me as a better resource for learning the lay of the land. There appears to have been a lot of effort expended to make it educational without denigration.

    I am at a loss for words. Thank you fez for better articulating the point which I seem incapable of doing at times. :*)

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  26. Troublesome Frog says:

    I recommend starting with the Berkeley site as it’s designed as a basic educational resource. When you hit something that strikes you as wrong, you might want to take your objection over to talkorigins.org, which is designed more as a detailed FAQ. Most likely, there’s a discussion of your objection there already. You may find that reading talkorigins.org directly feels a little bit like reading answers in a Q&A session than a lesson designed to bootstrap you from nothing. Even so, it’s really remarkable how thoroughly they’ve covered common objections and questions to basic evolution (not to mention cosmology and geology). It’s very hard to come up with a “Yeah, but…” that isn’t covered in there. For example, their discussion of isochron dating as it relates to the age of the Earth is really an excellent piece of work.

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  27. arensb says:

    Troublesome Frog:
    Yeah, isochrons are keww.
    I seem to recall that that page arose out of a discussion on talk.origins where a creationist was saying that radiometric dating is unreliable because it makes assumptions about the amount of starting material, that none of it has escaped, and so forth. When I saw how isochrons work, it struck me as a frightfully elegant solution to these problems.

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  28. Troublesome Frog says:

    arensb:
    I agree. It’s one of the cleverest ideas I know of. The level of internal error checking is extraordinary.

    I think that at some point in that t.o. conversation, somebody tried to redefine division by zero as a valid operation during slope calculation. I don’t remember the details, but there was much bewildered head shaking. Par for the course.

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  29. Eamon Knight says:

    Chris Stassen is one of the t.o very-old-timers (ie. before my advent there c. 1991). I think his rock-dating FAQs (see also his Steve Austin FAQ) first appeared around 1993, ie. shortly after the t.o FAQ began its web existence (which itself must be not very long after the Web started becoming generally accessible). I was most impressed to discover that Chris is not a professional geologist; just a guy who reads textbooks for fun. I recently had cause to cite his FAQs in a post on our local Humanist Association blog: http://humanistottawaweb.wordpress.com/2009/09/02/they%E2%80%99re-so-cute-when-they-play-%E2%80%9Cscience-museum%E2%80%9D-part-3/

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  30. arensb says:

    Troublesome Frog:
    Yes, that takes me back. That discussion lasted way longer than it should have, but I learned from it. I even managed to contribute my little crumb to the discussion: see here.

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