Recently Kent Hovind’s International House of Lunacy offered to send out free DVDs to anyone who asked. So naturally, I had to take them up. Yesterday, it was delivered to my… let’s say “imaginary roommate”, with the oh-so-subtle name “Sevil Natas” (thanks to Fez for suggesting that).
I haven’t watched the DVD yet. But it came with bunch of ads for God and related products, including a CSE Ministries catalog. And that’s what I want to talk about. But I need to preface that with a bit of non-snark:
The insidious thing about HIV is that it doesn’t kill you. At least, not directly, by dissolving your cell walls or anything like that. Rather, it weakens your immune system. This makes your body less able to fight off HIV itself, and also leaves you vulnerable to other diseases. So what kills you is not AIDS per se, but something unrelated, that you normally would have been able to fight off easily.
I suspect that something similar goes on with woo: if you’re prone to hold one kind of irrational belief, then you’re probably prone to believing other kinds of irrational beliefs. If you don’t have the mental toolkit to recognize why astrology is bogus, then you might not recognize that dowsing or feng shui are also bogus.
But the thing about religion — certainly Christianity as it is widely practiced in the US and Europe — is that, like HIV, it actively attacks people’s mental defenses against bullshit, by teaching people that believing things without evidence is a virtue, or that religious ideas should be immune from criticism.
And now, on to the woo!
First of all, here’s the “About Us” page from the catalog. And I want to emphasize the the first sentence of the “Sharing” section: “We allow anyone to copy and free [sic] distribute CSE materials.” I believe that gives me permission to reproduce their catalog here. Not that the Hovinds are known for their legal acumen.
But at least they’re open about how CSE is all about indoctrinating people and infecting them with their brand of wackaloonery, as opposed to other ministries that try to pretend like they give a shit about things like science and facts and such.
This is actually the first thing that fell out of the envelope, but I wanted to get the legal disclaimer out of the way. This is an ad for Godonomics, an outfit run by Kent’s other son Chad (not to be confused with Eric, who took over CSE itself while his dad’s in prison for not rendering unto Caesar).
Did you know that Jesus — who told people to give all their possessions to the poor, who told people not to invest in the future, who whipped moneychangers, and whose disciples shared everything in common — was a hard-line capitalist? It’s true! As far as I can tell from a quick glance, this is the ultra-religious version of Ayn Rand’s I-got-mine-now-fuck-you-ism.
Remember what I said above about one flavor of woo inviting other flavors? Well, Kent Hovind is known for his creationism, but he’s always been into cryptozoology as well. And CSE proudly carries on this tradition with two pages in their catalog about living dinosaurs (no, not birds. I’m talking Lost Continent style dinosaurs).
I like the disclaimer next to Shipwrecks and Sea Monsters: “Not a young-earth creationist author.” They’re not saying to burn the heretic, since they’re selling his book, but you may not want to stand too close, lest you get non-YEC cooties on you.
And I’m not sure whether Beowulf is being sold as fiction and nonfiction. I’ve had enough experience with Poe’s Law, and heard enough of Kent Hovind’s lectures, that this isn’t as cut and tried as you might think.
Whenever you ask Intelligent Design proponents whether they’re creationists, they always cough nervously, look over their shoulders at people like Hovind, and loudly announce “We’re not with them.” So it’s always amusing to see YECs embracing the less-disreputable variety of creationism, as with this page flogging Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box.
Oh, and remember the “Warning: not a young-earth creationist” disclaimer on that book about the Abominable ChupaNessie, or whatever it was? For some reason, there’s no such disclaimer here, even though Behe accepts the age of the earth, large amounts of evolution, and common descent.
As for the debate DVD, I believe you can download that from RichardDawkins.net for free. Compare and save! But, of course, Dawkins is an atheist, so he’s probably only giving the video away for free as a way of getting his foot in the door and infecting your children’s cereal with atheism while they’re asleep.
Okay, there’s innocuous woo, and then there’s dangerous woo. This page definitely falls into the latter category. I’m not even going to waste snark on this antivax shit. Just read the descriptions.
But something about that image at the top strikes me as odd. Hm. I’d like to see the full cover of World Without Cancer, but there’s a vitamin bottle, a soap dispenser, and a faucet knob in the way. Pity, that.
Thankfully, you can get an unobstructed view at the author’s web page. Ah, that’s much better. What’s this? It’s subtitled “The Story of Vitamin B17“? And the picture is captioned “Actual Laetrile crystal”?
You know, if I didn’t know that CSE was run by godly and upstanding men (and who knows, maybe even women), I might almost think that they had set up that shot deliberately, to con people into thinking that this isn’t dangerous quackery that was debunked decades ago.
But they are upstanding folks who love God, hate lies, and taste like candy. So I’m sure there’s an innocent explanation.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a religious mailing if it didn’t beg for money like a never-ending PBS fundraiser. Yes, God is all-powerful. Yes, he created the entire vastness of the universe all on his lonesome just by speaking it into existence. But somehow he just can’t manage to spread the gospel message without your hard-earned cash, and he always needs more. And yes, it says “make checks payable to Creation Science Evangelism” rather than to God directly, but that’s just an accounting technicality for tax purposes. Don’t worry your pretty little head about it, and pay no attention to the preacher behind the curtain.
Phew. After that, I’m not sure I’ll have the energy or patience to fisk the DVD itself. You’re on your own for that.