Monthly Archives: May 2013

Kent Hovind’s doctorate revealed

Oh the joy. Kent Hovind’s doctoral thesis has emerged courtesy of wikileaks.

Here it is. It’s joyous. I remember when Carl Baugh‘s doctorates turned out to be junk; this one’s at least as much fun.

For those who don’t know, Kent Hovind is a famous Creationist who is currently serving a ten year jail sentence.

I warn you: this post may contain snark.

"You know Homer, it's very easy to criticise." "Fun, too"

 

Read the rest of this entry

Bad Education

Those of you who are interested in my writing on education (nothing to do with religion, for once) might like a post I have written for Kylie Sturgess’s Token Skeptic. In it, I intemperately criticise Ben Goldacre’s advocacy of randomised controlled trials in education:

Ben Goldacre is a bit of a hero to me. Like a lot of people, I discovered Bad Science and skepticism at the same time and found something I wanted to be part of. But now Dr. Goldacre has stepped into my field – education – and, frankly, he’s made a total balls-up of it.

Since Ben Goldacre is perhaps Britain’s foremost scientific skeptic – a movement of which I consider myself a part – this may be an exercise in shooting myself in the foot.

Check it out here.

ACE takes over Reddit; survivor stories abound

For those of you that don’t know, Reddit is a link-sharing site which kind of doubles as a forum. One of the most popular forumy aspects is the AMA (Ask Me Anything). Users post a title such as: “I lived next door to Ian McKellan for twenty years. AMA.” Other redditors then post their questions, and the original poster (OP) replies. OPs have to supply proof of their identity to the moderators.

Reddit gets hundreds of thousands of hits per hour. The most popular posts make the front page, where they can be seen by millions.

On Monday, the following AMA hit the front page:

I am a person who from 9-15 years old attended a school that did not have any teachers, you were required to teach yourself every subject from books at your own pace, while sitting in cubicles all day with very little interaction with other students or extracurricular activities. AMA

Obviously, this was about Accelerated Christian Education. The original poster turned out to be far from the star of the show, however. She didn’t seem to have any strong opinions; she merely thought her education was an interesting oddity.

But other ACE survivors came out of the woodwork and it became packed with incredible stories. Interestingly, as I’ve found on this blog, there were very few people coming forward to defend ACE (admittedly, discussion on Reddit is dominated by liberals and atheists). You can obviously check out the entire AMA, but I’ll be posting highlights here over the next few weeks.

I’ll start with probably the most heartbreaking conversation of all.

Now before you read this: Please don’t contact the author. At the end of the conversation thread, he wrote (in response to a request that he write a book about his experience):

One day. It’s still a little too fresh. As it is I am seriously regretting what I wrote. Save your prayers for me Christians. I don’t need them. What I want is you to leave me alone.

So I’m not posting his username here with my quotes. Obviously, it would be extremely easy for you to find him and send him a message, but please respect his wishes.

Here’s the conversation:

[ACE survivor]: I went to an ACE school K-12. I’ve spent the last 15 years learning on my own what I should have learned as a child.

[Redditor]: My wife and I are in the same situation. ACE is NOT ACCEPTABLE PERIOD. It is a brainwashing tool to dumb kids down and teach them to be ignorant little Christians good for nothing except house wives and preacher boys. I’m 30 years old and I swear I still have nightmares from that school. The abuse those “teachers” (really just moms that didn’t want to be there) is unbelievable. I heard recently the school was being investigated by CFS but I don’t know if anything has come of it.

I need to write a book. It would probably help. Discapline with a paddle was the norm. Usually every Wednesday for me. 100% obedience was expected and enforced by crazy middle aged women that looking back straight up hated me. Any disobedience or even a sour look wound me up with a paddling. Read the rest of this entry

ACE in New Humanist magazine: A fundamental problem

My article on ACE schools for New Humanist magazine is now online. There won’t be a huge amount of news in it for long-term readers of Leaving Fundamentalism, but you should still go and leave positive comments there so that the Rationalist Association will let me write for them again. And then I promise I will write something new!

A fundamental problem

Examinations set at evangelical Christian schools in the UK equate evolution with Nazism and teach children that man co-existed with dinosaurs. Some of these schools receive government funding. Jonny Scaramanga, who was educated within this system, argues it must stop.

Read it all here.

Christians rock too!

There’s a simple reason why Christian rock music is never going to be convincing: rock n’ roll is about rebellion, and evangelical Christianity is about obedience.

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The initial fundamentalist response to rock music was to ban it entirely. In fact, that’s still the diehard fundamentalist position. One of the main differences between evangelicals and fundamentalists is that evangelicals allow Christian rock music, whereas fundamentalists say the whole style is inherently ungodly. After a while, when it became obvious that banning rock music was not going to work, some Christians started using it as a tool for evangelism.

There was a lot of fairly decent Christian rock that sounded like Journey and Bon Jovi. That makes sense because those bands are already inoffensive. It says a lot about evangelicals that there is even a market for Christianised versions of a band whose biggest hit is called “Don’t Stop Believing”.

Evangelical rock is for kids whose parents won’t let them listen normal music. It exists purely as a mechanism of control. The bands probably wouldn’t put it that way, but even the ones who claim to preach the Gospel to ‘the Lost’ actually play to Christian audiences. As a child in the early 90s, I was curious about Guns n’ Roses, Michael Jackson, and Def Leppard. Listening to them was out of the question, so instead I had Bride, Carman, and Petra. They weren’t as good, but because I almost never heard the real thing, I didn’t know that. If I listened to secular rock music, evil spirits in the music would lead me away from God and into a life of sin.

Eventually, that’s what happened, so maybe those fundy preachers knew their stuff after all.  Read the rest of this entry

I am now a good atheist

Check out the latest edition of Jacob Fortin’s podcast, The Good Atheist. I’m a guest… and if Jake gets good feedback, I’ll become a regular.

I was there to talk about ACE, but I actually ended up opening up and talking about what it was like to grow up as a fundamentalist. There’s a lot of stuff I haven’t said before in public, as well as some fun about dinosaurs. Check it out!