Cyberguy's Blog

Encouraging religion to "beget" off!

The Hovind Factor – the definitive measure of religious lunacy!

I want to remind people of a scale that I helped develop in 2008 as a semi-serious joke to measure religious lunacy. With the U.S. presidential election closing rapidly, it is even more appropriate – even essential – today!

It is called the Hovind Factor, and it is named after the American young earth creationist, evangelist and Christian theme park operator Kent E. Hovind who is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence for tax offenses, obstructing federal agents, and structuring cash transactions. In short, honesty is not his strong suit.

The Hovind Factor includes in its calculation measures for Belief in Scripture, Scientific Illiteracy, Idiocy, Paradox, and Mendacity.

The scales runs from 0 to 100, where a completely honest statement of scientific merit would score a Hovind Factor of zero, whereas a silly religious statement which violates science but adheres to doctrine, contradicts itself and which the claimant knows to be untrue, would score the maximum Hovind Factor of 100.

Here is the formular:

Hovind Factor = (X + s + i + p) x (m + 1)

where:

Belief in scripture – “X”
0 – No doctrinal belief required
1 – Metaphorical use of Biblical/Qu’ranic quotation
2 – Belief in scripture as the infallible word of God. Timeless, inerrant and absolute. (AiG/The flud etc.)

Scientific Illiteracy – “s”
0 – Full understanding of detailed, advanced scientific principles
1 – Overall grasp of principles with some understanding of specific area being discussed
2 – Vague understanding of general principle but with poor grasp of many details
3 – No understanding or knowledge of area being discussed
4 – Rejection of basic scientific facts/laws/robust theories and/or denial of any evidence that contradicts scripture
5 – Robert Byers (Extreme, moronic and puerile level of 4 above)

The idiocy scale – “i”
0 – no discernible stupidity
1 – slightly silly, but understandable
2 – foolish
3 – daft
4 – rather funny in a slightly worrying sort of way
5 – very funny in a very worrying way
6 – scary stuff
7 – very scary
8 – unlikely to be accepted by anyone with more than two functioning neurons
9 – Moronic. Stark-bollock-naked, off-the-wall, wing-nut
10 – Kirk Cameron or VenomFangX

Paradox – “p”
0 = Statement is logical and self-consistent
1 = Statement acknowledges slight flaw in internal logic but glosses over it with babble.
2 = Statement relies on an assumed divine intervention to explain self contradiction.
3 = Self contradiction invalidates statement completely, and is left unaddressed.

and

Mendacity – “m”
0 – Total honesty
1 – Statement maker knows they are telling enough of a porkie to try to mislead a generally credulous audience
2 – Statement maker knows they are lying enough to try to mislead an educated audience, or they are repeating a lie that they have previously been corrected on.
3 – Whopper! (including plagiarism)
4 – Complete, burn-in-Hell, perjury grade, super-lie – for example, one that is strategically designed to mislead authorities or the general public (e.g. as witnessed in the Dover trial and Expelled).

Using this formula, a completely honest statement of scientific merit would score a Hovind Factor of zero.

The maximum Hovind Factor, HFmax, is a completely insane statement which contradicts all scientific evidence but adheres totally to religious doctrine and which the person making the claim knows to be untrue – while at the same time the statement also completely contradicts itself – would score (2 + 5 + 10 + 3) x (4 + 1) = 100.

To save you time and effort, there is a Hovind Factor Calculator here. It also includes a “True Believer Rating” (TBR) that removes the mendacity component, as that can sometimes be hard to figure out.

Send me examples of high Hovind Factors or TBRs from some of the Presidential hopefuls, or any other recent religious nonsense. Post the quote, and the resulting HF or TBR based on how you set the parameters.

Enjoy.

Resource for NZ parents – What is wrong with Bible Class in school?

Religion has hit the headlines on Auckland’s North Shore. First there was this article on the front page of the North Shore Times on April 20, 2012 – Bible classes get a bash – which highlighted how parents of public school children say they are effectively being punished for opting out of religious classes.

Then there was a follow-up story on May 3, also front page – Religion or nothing – which describes how parents are questioning the legality of religious classes in public primary schools.

Of course this has prompted howls of outrage from the religious lobby about how it is intolerant of the non-religious to criticise religion. They use the time-worn kludge of conflating criticism of an idea with intolerance of any person holding that idea. They even throw up the “Christian nation” argument.

Letters to the editor (free registration required for these links) had comments like:

“As our nation was founded historically on the Bible in our negotiations with Maori and we have come forth from a Christian European background, it is a suitable reference for the children whose parents agree to the programme and a gift to those parents who want to show tolerance to other beliefs.” – Kaye Gilbert – Letters, April 26 2012

“Funny how religion is so often accused of intolerance and yet so often the victim of it.” – Martyn Pearson – Letters, May 1 2012

“…to ditch our Judeo-Christian heritage because we are living in a multi-cultural society is not the way forward. We do not expect the many immigrants who enter this country to renounce their beliefs. Instead we protect their right to religious freedom.” – Ann Bailey – Letters, May 1 2012

To counter these sort of silly arguments I have created a resource to parents – What is wrong with Bible Class in school? 

It is in a pamphlet format in case anyone wants to distribute it to others in a convenient way. As I always mention – when printing, print double-sided and if your printer can do it for you set it to flip on the short edge. Then fold in the traditional way.

It is a companion to my earlier resource, 10 Easy Things You Can Do To Keep Religion Out Of NZ Schools.

Call to support Alexander Aan, facing 5-years for atheism

Remember Alexander Aan, a man who was beaten and is now facing 5-years in an Indonesian prison for stating “God does not exist” on his Facebook page?

A group called Support Alex Aan’s Human Rights has been set up on Facebook, and they recently posted a comment in the Jakarta Globe calling for support.

Kafirclub – 5:02am Jan 22, 2012
We are a group of international people supporting Alex Aan in regard to his recent arrest and charges under indonesian law for blasphemy. We are please asking for your help in spreading the word about our Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-Alex-Aans-Human-Rights/194025204028128?sk=info

We are very concerned about Alex Aan and his family’s safety and hope that international pressure and outrage at this violation of his basic human rights will result in him being freed as soon as possible. Thank you for your help in support of Alex Aan.

The comment followed this article: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/dismay-after-indonesian-atheist-charged-with-blasphemy/492622

Indonesia officially recognizes six religions, and by law every Indonesian citizen must carry an identity card that identifies that person with one of these. Any discussion of atheism is considered blasphemy and is illegal.

Help spread the word about this support group.

EDIT:
Recent Developments:
AAI launches appeal to support Alex Aan

Friendly Atheist – Alexander Aan, Under Attack for Blasphemy, Suddenly Converts to Islam

Offensive religious salesmanship

My dad died in August this year after a long illness, and as a result I was off work that day. By chance (?) some JW’s came to my door to evangelise.

Normally I would see them off with a well considered “Fuck Off!”, or engage them in strong argument. But I was not in the mood, and told them that they had picked a bad day, that my dad had just died, and I was not interested in talking to them.

Quick as anything, one of them asked me if I wanted to hear how I could be with him forever later on in heaven! The sheer offensive arrogance of the guy still has me shaking my head. I told him I was an atheist, did not believe in any of that stuff, and shut the door.

He was so lucky. If he had called on me any other day I would have torn his whole belief system to pieces. And I would likely have found out his home address so I could “atheise” him on his own doorstep!!!!

Bastards.

Keep Religion out of New Zealand Schools

Recently Peter Harrison created a new Facebook group called Keep Religion out of School (NZ). This push is long overdue.

Far better than allowing christian religious indoctrination as is the case now, it would be preferable to have an primary ethics course, as is run in New South Wales. Take a look at their curriculum – it’s very well designed to engage students. Topics include Fairness; Lying and Telling the Truth; Children’s Rights; and Thinking about Animals. In Australia, this course has proven to be very popular.

The time has come for some push-back, to get change happening to New Zealand school RI. To support the effort I created a list of 10 Easy Things You Can Do To Keep Religion Out Of NZ Schools. As usual, when printing, print double-sided and if your printer can do it for you set it to flip on the short edge. Then fold in the traditional way.

It is relatively easy to get up to speed on this topic. For more information see the following:

 

My atheist bus advertisement

PZ Myers – teacher and poet

I have to admit it. PZ Myers is my favourite web atheist.

His direct spade-is-a-spade style of writing is balanced by a profound sense of humour – a barely suppressed belly-laugh at the preposterousness of the opposition’s point of view.

He is a excellent teacher not only because of his respect for truth, but also because, unlike the accommodationists, he respects people enough to speak it to them.

Although he once assumed the mantle of a poet and then denied that he was one it was all done in good April humour. But in truth PZ is a prose poet of the highest order.

Here are three of the best:

Pamphlet 04 – Planet of the Hats
Pamphlet 05 – The Wall – A Sunday Morning Story
Pamphlet 06 – Dear Emma

My third pamphlet – Scientific Method and the Burden of Proof

In the long lost heyday of the forums on Richard Dawkins’ website, there were often intense debates about science and its impact on various religious ideas. Apologists would turn up and argue that atheists first had to prove that god did not exist before atheism could be taken seriously.

Where exactly the “burden of proof” lay was at the heart of multiple threads. This was such a repetitive topic and area of misunderstanding that I saw a need to create the following pamphlet to address it.

It was translated into French by our humanist friends in Québec.

Pamphlet 03 – Scientific Method and the Burden of Proof
Pamphlet 03 – Méthode scientifique et fardeau

Standard Note: All my pamphlets are A4 format, not US Letter. Leave me a message or comment if you want another format.

When printing, print double-sided, and if your printer can do it for you, set it to flip on the short edge. Then fold in the traditional way.

My second pamphlet – Evolution in a Nutshell

My second pamphlet attempts to make evolution understandable in plain language.

I personally consider that evolution is a very simple and elegant concept. I cannot see how people could find it anything other than self-evident, as long as it is explained clearly.

I suspect that part of the problem, at least in the U.S., is that evolution is often explained by people who either don’t understand it properly, or are actively hostile to it and put forward a caricature.

This pamphlet is intended to show how easy evolution is to grasp. The Association humaniste du Québec thought so too, and created a French version which is included below.

Pamphlet 02 – Evolution in a Nutshell
Pamphlet 02 – L’Évolution en bref

Note: All my pamphlets are A4 format, not US Letter. Leave me a message or comment if you want another format.

When printing, print double-sided, and if your printer can do it for you, set it to flip on the short edge. Then fold in the traditional way.

My first atheist pamphlet – “What is Atheism?”

My first atheist pamphlet that I created a few years ago now was called “What is Atheism?”

It was well received and got translated into French and German (and now Spanish) by people who found it useful.

I re-publish them here simply because this is a better website than my earlier one, and I want to move my stuff over.

Pamphlet 01 – What is atheism?
Pamphlet 01 – Qu’est ce que l’Atheisme?
Pamphlet 01 – Was ist Atheismus.pdf?
Triptico 01 – Qué es el ateísmo – NEW! Thanks to Miguel for the translation.

Please note, it is not intended to be handed out on street corners, but is an information resource meant to support a face-to-face conversation when you perhaps don’t have the time to do the subject justice, or the other person is becoming entrenched, illogical, aggressive, etc. Then you can move the discussion to the brochure, to let it do some of the arguing for you. Or you might want to put a few in the local library (or school library!)

Basically it is an atheist resource to copy and use however you wish, but is not really intended to be handed out ‘cold’.

When printing, print double-sided, and if your printer can do it for you, set it to flip on the short edge. Then fold in the traditional way.

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