Exposing PseudoAstronomy

November 11, 2011

Creation Research’s Education Person Shows Own Stupidity


Introduction

This is a short post in the wake of my 3200-word last post on Mike Bara. Yes, it’s an ad hominem, but it’s oh-so-juicy.

The Site

The Institute for Creation Research, a young-Earth creationist, um, institute, has news stories that I often use for fodder on my blog. They also have started up a “Science Essentials” website that has blog posts and resources for teaching students that modern science is false and young-Earth creationism is the only thing that works. Yes, that sounds harsh, but no, I am not exaggerating.

Peter over at Eye on the ICR blog has been posting a lot about them. I recommend reading any single one of his posts on it and you’ll see what I mean.

The site is mainly a blog in its content that is written by Dr. Rhonda Forlow. Her degree is a BS in psychology and special education, an M.Ed. in educational leadership and policy analysis, and an Ed.D. in educational leadership. Notice that no where in there does it include common sense nor actual science.

Spam

Blogs get spam comments. They are usually very obvious and they are caught by spam filters. My own blog currently has 39 spam in the filter since I last emptied it two days ago. An example message is by someone named “critical illness online quote” with a long URL for their web address and e-mail address and a message that contains the text, “Thanks for that awesome posting. It saved MUCH time :)” along with a link to their site.

Another example message in my spam filter is by a person named “best dogs for kids” with the message “Its like you read my thoughts! You appear to grasp a lot approximately this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I feel that you simply could do with some % to power the message house a little bit, however instead of that, this is magnificent blog. A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.”

As I said, these are really obvious and clear. And they should be to anyone with oh-so-many advanced degrees in education and psychology.

But Dr. Rhonda doesn’t seem to know this.

An Example

Again, I got this from Peter, but if you for example go to Rhonda’s first post, at the time of this writing there are 25 comments. When I first posted a comment on her blog, there were a few less. One of the comments is by someone named “download music to my phone” with the message, “I wanted to thank you for this great I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked your web site to look at the latest stuff you post.”

Another is by “MP3Million” with the text, “Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.” In both of these, the URL to the spam site was left by Dr. Forlow.

Even more amazing is that the message after that by MP3Million is by Dr. Forlow. She replies to MP3Million’s request with, “For now, the postings are scheduled for 3 times per week, with an occasional 4th or 5th post. However, please check out our website at http://www.icr.org for free access to over 12,000 science articles. You will find more specific information there.”

That’s right folks, she thinks these are real people.

Censorship

I actually tried to – fairly politely – post to her blog to let her know that these were spam and that her actual replies to them did not lend much credibility to what she writes. The comment went through automatically.

I checked back a few hours later and my comment was removed. The spam was still there. Her response to the spam was still there. I tried to post again, and this time nothing happened. The only reason I can figure is she blocked my IP address from posting.

Still Goin’!

I just checked back, a day later (I’m writing this early Friday morning) and there’s a post by a person named “Palo Alto disability rights attorney” with the spam URL still linked from the name and the comment “Good Article. You do a good job. Thanks again.”

Final Thoughts

I checked through a few of her other posts. I found a comment from “Cheap Flights,” “r c helicopter reviews,” and others.

As I said, I realize this is a total ad hominem. But at some point you just have to call crap when you see it. This is one of those times. The vast majority of the world – in fact the majority of Americans, despite our image among many and despite our Republican presidential candidates – do not take young-Earth creationists seriously. The creationists don’t need any help in looking foolish. Things like this help them look even more clueless.

And, deleting my comment trying to point out that she was letting spam through and responding to it but not deleting the spam further illustrates the “head in the sand” that creationists do when confronted by information they don’t like. I’m not really annoyed that she deleted my comment, nor am I upset. I’m more flabbergast than anything else. I don’t like stereotypes, I’ve tried to avoid being a stereotype for the last 10 years. But actively working to ignore someone pointing out some small stupid thing she’s doing just feeds more into that stereotype of creationists.

13 Comments »

  1. It’s getting pretty funny.😀
    I’m not sure that that’s actually an ad hominem. I was under the impression that you had to say that they’re wrong based on them being an idiot – merely constructing an argument calling them an idiot is a different thing entirely. But then I could be wrong…
    I was actually going to ask you if revealing you pseudonym was ok for a follow up article (I don’t have to do that now, do I?) – I take it that you’re ok with having it mentioned, but don’t want to reveal the name you use?

    Comment by eyeonicr — November 11, 2011 @ 11:15 pm | Reply

    • PS: I’d appreciate it if you always added rel="nofollow" to links to that site – there’s no need to give them more coverage on google now, is there?

      Comment by eyeonicr — November 11, 2011 @ 11:17 pm | Reply

      • Done.

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — November 12, 2011 @ 12:23 am

    • It may not be a direct ad hominem, but at the very least it’s poisoning the well, which in itself is a sub-type of the ad hominem. No, I’m not saying she’s wrong because she’s stupid to think these spammers are real people, but I am pointing out that she thinks these spammers are real people and it’s stupid. Ergo, if you had no prior opinion of her work, you’d now go in with this in the back of your mind – hence I poisoned the well.

      I’ve responded via e-mail about the pseudonym.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — November 12, 2011 @ 12:25 am | Reply

  2. This is somewhat off topic, but while looking at Forlow’s website I noticed an odd word that seems very popular among creationists but is (almost) never used by anyone else.

    The word: “evidences” (plural)

    I thought “evidence” was both singular and plural. E.g,. “the cartridge shell is evidence that the defendant shot the victim” and “members of the jury, please consider the evidence in this case”.

    Whenever I see “evidences” I can tell almost immediately that what I’m reading will soon turn into an blatant creationist screed. This can be a handy tip-off as some creationists are good at initially pretending to be open minded and “scientific” before they let loose with the usual bogus claims.

    Why is this? Could it be that the creationists spend so much time talking to each other, and so little time talking to anyone else, that they’ve already established the kind of isolation that results in diverging evolutionary paths? Here the divergence is in the English language rather than genetics, but the principles are the same.

    Much has been said in recent years about how the Internet has allowed people to isolate themselves with others like themselves, avoiding contact with those who they tend to disagree with. Perhaps these self-isolated groups could be detected through an analysis of their language. Seems to me that there’s a PhD for a psychologist or linguist in here somewhere…

    Comment by Phil — November 12, 2011 @ 1:47 am | Reply

    • I got through your next-to-last paragraph and was thinking, “This should be someone’s psych paper.”

      Anyway, I’ve noticed this, too, though I think it has to do with jargon “within the field.” Every field has its own lingo. When I was interviewed in the “Invisible Sky Monster” podcast, I couldn’t tell anyone in astronomy I was interviewed on the “ISM” podcast because that means “Interstellar Medium.” My undergrad degree was in astrophysics so when I finally started taking geophysics classes in grad school, it took me awhile to realize “CMB” was “Core-Mantle Boundary” to geologists but “Cosmic Microwave Background” for astrophysicists.

      I would expect something similar in creationism. “Evidences” seems slightly odd, but I’m sure you’re aware that if almost anyone starts to use the term “evolutionist,” you’re also dealing with a creationist (or IDer). So that’s another tip-off term.

      I think it would still make an interesting linguistic or psychology study especially because you could broaden it to other fields, as well, and do things like study whether or not the jargon helps or impedes understanding and conveying that information to the public. For example, I often find in writing this blog that I have to use more words to explain a term than just using the term because I’m afraid it’s too jargony. In my first podcast episode, I talked about Kepler’s Laws and didn’t realize until I got feedback that there were people who didn’t know what those were. I’ll be at conferences and sitting in a talk for a VERY related sub-field but be totally lost because of the jargon. I was in a seminar and I had to whisper to the people around me that the term “CAI” that this guy kept using was not a government agency, but it was “calcium-aluminum inclusion” (a kind of grain you see in meteorites) which completely changes how you viewed the guy’s talk.

      Anyway, I’m rambling. I was cleaning for 6 hours tonight and got half-way through one room. Basically, I agree with you.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — November 12, 2011 @ 2:43 am | Reply

  3. good day stuart,

    As far as I am concerned – Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware appears to be age old edict I need never to forget. The sounds like the cave is empty which is enough Latin for me. Perhaps that is the advertising department of caves with horrors insides luring people for Gods know what?

    And do you blame me? see

    http://news.yahoo.com/einsteins-laws-prove-ghosts-exist-144407090.html

    http://news.yahoo.com/strange-hyperactive-galaxies-spotted-hubble-telescope-134802219.html

    regards

    Comment by sleeping8 — November 12, 2011 @ 8:43 am | Reply

  4. good day stuart,

    And do you blame me still? see

    http://news.yahoo.com/astronomers-shed-light-early-stars-cosmos-190114667.html

    regards

    Comment by sleeping8 — November 12, 2011 @ 8:53 am | Reply

  5. Stuart,

    The comments from the spammers are very generic and designed that way so they sound like an authentic comment. Maybe she is knowingly allowing them to stay because they complement the blog entry. It’s possible they’re left there for readers.

    I don’t think you need to fret about this. The psychology of creationists is obvious.

    Comment by ND — November 12, 2011 @ 11:03 am | Reply

    • Yeah, that was my thought too. It’s possible she has so little traffic, that anything that doesn’t bring in the icky real science stuff gets to stay. It’s easier to let the spam in than admit no one really wants to read your blog.

      Comment by Chris L — November 12, 2011 @ 1:32 pm | Reply

  6. sleeping – For what am I supposed to be blaming you? Your second two links just show science being done. Your first link shows a stupid reporter. Einstein never “said” stuff about energy being created or destroyed, that’s the First Law of Thermodynamics (and Conservation of Energy) which was formalized around 1850. Spiritualists have been perverting it for over a century without knowing anything about thermodynamics or that “energy” has a very specific definition in physics as opposed to “consciousness of a person” or “soul.” The energy in the brain simply dissipates and is no longer maintained upon death – it doesn’t “go anywhere.”

    ND – As I said, I’m not annoyed (nor frustrated) by this, I’m just amazed that the pattern of ignoring something you don’t like is so blatant in this case.

    Comment by Stuart Robbins — November 12, 2011 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

    • Unshakable belief considered harmful. Leads to willful ignorance.

      Speaking of ignoring things, here’s something you may be interested in. Supposed evidence that gravitational lensing is not real.

      http://onpoint.wbur.org/2011/11/01/physics-on-the-fringe#comment-355198577

      This despite the body of diverse evidence that the phenomenon of GL is real and so far has not diverged from predictions.

      Comment by ND — November 12, 2011 @ 1:45 pm | Reply

  7. This reminds me of Richard Feynman when he worked on the Manhattan Project. He discovered that it was very easy to open the office safes if you knew a trick. On a trip to the Oak Ridge facility he advised an authority that the safes were not secure and demonstrated this by opening one. On his next visit to Oak Ridge this authority had certain areas off limits to Feynman because he was thought to be a security risk since he could open the safes.

    Probably better that Dr. Forlow leaves those messages there. More to laugh at.

    Comment by Jim Campbell — November 12, 2011 @ 6:33 pm | Reply


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