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Encouragement AwardComment and Opinion

Kent Hovind
Kent's site disappeared in 2012

This site won an Encouragement Award in the 2009 Millenium Awards. The award citation read:

Poor Kent Hovind really needs some encouragement. While he rots in prison people are laughing at his PhD thesis. As if that isn't enough, the "university" that awarded him his PhD came out and admitted that degrees from there might be worth the paper they are printed on but not much more. In effect, they said that Kent can put "PhD" after his name if he wants to but he doesn't really have the qualification. But we all knew that, having chuckled, chortled, guffawed and giggled at the document over the last few years.

Mr Hovind attacks evolution and offers a reward of $250,000 to anyone who can prove that evolution has happened. He keeps changing the rules so that it is impossible to claim the prize. Also, he likes to be called "Dr" because he has a PhD degree, but there seems to be some doubt about the quality of his thesis. (You can see some commentary and a copy of his thesis here.)

Unbelievable as it may seem, Kent Hovind is regarded by other creationists such as Answers in Genesis to be somewhat rigid in his thinking.

The challenge is bogus, as the $250,000 will only be given to someone who can perform the intellectual miracle of proving that all imaginable ways except one to get to the current state of the universe are false. Little more needs to be done to convince thinking people of the vacuity of Hovind's "challenge" than to quote the words of it, although I can see why creationists might think it means something.

Prove beyond reasonable doubt that the process of evolution [the universe came into being by itself by purely natural processes (known as evolution) so that no appeal to the supernatural is needed] is the only possible way the observed phenomena could have come into existence. Only empirical evidence is acceptable. Persons wishing to collect the $250,000 may submit their evidence in writing or schedule time for a public presentation. A committee of trained scientists will provide peer review of the evidence offered and, to the best of their ability, will be fair and honest in their evaluation and judgment as to the validity of the evidence presented.

There is an anonymous committee to judge the arguments. It would be presumptuous to suggest that this committee might consist of people who, like Hovind, hold to the literal truth of the Biblical account of creation and therefore might be somewhat biased in their judgments, but this presumption has an almost infinitely greater possibility of matching reality than the assumption that the universe is only 6,000 years old. In probability terms, if the probability of the committee being biased and prejudicial is P1 and the probability of the age of the universe being anything like 6,000 years is P2, then P1=P2 + 1.

Some further information about Mr Hovind and the experiences people have had with his prize offer can be found at's_challenge.htm.

Update: A check of Mr Hovind's web site in December 2006 did not reveal any evidence of the challenge still being in effect. This could be because his new site is an internal mess and the challenge might be there somewhere but impossible to find easily, or he could have dropped the challenge. As Dr Hovind had recently been sentenced to 288 years in prison for various inconsequential legal oversights, it might just be something which had slipped his mind recently.

I think this email relates to Mr Hovind's challenge. I thought it better to hide the writer's details, even though permission was granted for publication.

From: "lazyjc"
Subject: evolution
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 00:16:19 -0600

First of all my email is [This was not the email address in the From: header. PB] You may post this, anyone may email me if they like. I don't understand evolution one bit. Now if evolution isn't the earth being a consequence of a big bang, then what? If it isn't bacteria turning into plant, and animal, then what? So why is his challenge bogus? You can prove microevolution, he believes in microevolution. You can not prove macroevolution, he doesn't believe in it. That is simply scientific. If another person told us milk came from a cow, I think we'd try it first before we believed him unless we saw it done. Now no one saw God make the earth and no one saw it evolve. A cow has never been born with a wing, it is not in her gene pool. What do you propose time does to a gene pool so that it might let a cow produce a wing or some such thing. Think about intelligent design. I don't know about you, but I can not create an animal in my mind without using parts of animals already in existence. Coincidence? Maybe. Get back with me.

Here is a picture (from about 2001) of the University which conferred Mr Hovind's doctorate.

Someone wrote to me about this page:

Date sent: Sun, 26 Aug 2001 11:05:28 EDT
Subject: (no subject)

Your comments on Dr. Hovind definitely smack of asshole theatrics. I do not know about the doctor's scentific credibiilty, but if he has a doctoral degree, he is a doctor, and is entitled to doctoral courtesy designation. Doctor is an educational status; a generic designation of what one is; not a job. For example, if Sterling Finemend has a Th.D. from Second Chicken Eaters Church School of Theology, then Dr. Finemind as is as much of a DOCTOR as Fungus Proctohead, M.D., Harvard, of Johns Hopkins, or D.O. from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Challenge the scientific validity of Dr. Hovind's claims if you wish; but leave off the dung splattering AS IF his doctoral status was improperly assumed. In fact, his own web cite shows exactly where he got his degree.


Date sent: Sun, 26 Aug 2001 11:05:59 EDT
Subject: (no subject)

NOt "likes to be called Dr.," is a doctor if he is a Ph.D.

Nobody disputes the fact that Kent Hovind has a PhD. What is in dispute is the quality of the degree and the quality of the institution that issued it. There is no shortage of places on the Internet where you can acquire impressive-looking qualifications. For example, I, like many other people, am an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church (you can see my ordination certificate here). The Church offers a PhD for a tuition fee of $US105. As a long-established organisation like ULC would have even more credibility that the Second Chicken Eaters Church School of Theology, a degree from ULC would certainly entitle me to be called "Doctor". Whether the title would mean much to anyone is what is at issue here.

It would be very unfair to use that old cliché and say that Kent Hovind's degree "is not worth the paper it is printed on". I believe it is definitely worth the paper it is printed on and not a penny less.

More about Mr Hovind's qualification can be found here.

Education update (9/12/2006)
Followers of fundamentalist fun may be aware that Dr Kent Hovind, the famous "Dr Dino", was recently sentenced to (almost) eternity in the slammer for various crimes against bureaucracy, such as not having bothered with the niceties of getting planning approval for his dinosaur museum (which was designed to demonstrate the fallacy of evolution) and not paying income taxes. One of his claims to fame was that he held a PhD from an institution named Patriot University. (Another was that he was offering a reward of $250,000 for anyone who could prove that evolution by natural selection was the only possible way that humans could have got from primeval slime to where we are today.) When I first came across Mr Hovind photographs of Patriot University indicated that the campus consisted of a modest private home. I have to thank reader Bill Butler for sending me some photographs of the way the place looks in 2006.

Patriot University in 2006

Patriot University in 2006

Schadenfreude corner (20/1/2007)
In more good news this week, creationist Kent Hovind (or "Dr Dino" as he likes to be known) has been sent to prison for 10 years for refusing to pay income tax. Perhaps Kent wasn't aware of it, but one of the things which is expressed in almost the same words in three of the Gospels is Jesus' admonition to "render … unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's". (Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25) If Hovind had been found guilty on all charges and sentenced to serve his sentences consecutively he would have been looking at 288 years in prison. I imagine that this would have worried him, as it is almost 5% of the age of the universe. Read about it in the local paper.

Hovind hysteria (12/12/2009)
Something old became new again this week when Wikileaks breathlessly reported that the PhD thesis of creationist Mr Kent Hovind had finally been made available to the world. When talking about UFOs back in June I mentioned the phenomenon of things being suddenly discovered after many years of existence simply because somebody had posted something about them to the web. This is a similar case, because the secret PhD thesis has been available and been commented on for a decade. Someone called Skip Evans acquired a copy in 1999 by the simple process of asking the awarding university for a copy, and academic Dr Karen Bartelt published a comprehensive analysis of it in about 2001 or 2002. You can see the analysis (and read the thesis) here.

None of this misplaced hysteria detracts from the wonder of the thesis, of course. I can only recommend that you read Dr Bartelt's comments while having a copy of the thesis open in another window for comparison. I must warn you, however, that if you suffer from asthma or a weak heart you should keep your medication handy while you are reading. You should also go to the toilet before starting. The sort of laughter that can be triggered by reading "Dr" Hovind's "thesis" can have results ranging from embarrassing to serious if you go in unprepared.

Hovind redux (16/1/2010)
Back in December I mentioned that the PhD of religious fruitcake Kent Hovind had suddenly been found, despite it being on the net and discussed and dissected for about ten years. Reading the "thesis" was always good for a laugh, and now the hilarity has been enhanced by a statement from the "university" that issued it. It seems that Patriot University doesn't do what other universities do when someone wants a PhD from the place, but just tells the candidate to submit some notes and then put the letters after his name. They are saying that the document which everyone thought was Hovind's hilarious thesis wasn't a thesis at all, and even though it was obtained from Patriot University that doesn't mean anything because they don't keep copies of theses. Put simply, Kent Hovind claims to have a PhD, people seeing what purports to be his thesis squeal with laughter but the university now says that it isn't a thesis and they don't keep copies anyway so who can check?

Patriot "University"

You can read the comedy script on Patriot University's own web site. In effect they are admitting that they are a diploma mill and degrees from there are worth nothing.


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