The truthiness of creationism.

Steven Colbert—formerly of the Daily Show, now with his own gig—lays into the reality-based community in a segment on "truthiness": saying that he doesn't trust books (they're elitist) "because they're all facts and no heart," he hilariously satirizes a country divided into "those who think with their heads and those who know with their hearts." Of course, he's talking about Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers and the rationale for war in Iraq, but he's pointing out a bigger issue that's exemplified by advocates of creationism (spun by the religious right as "intelligent design").

Consider Kent Hovind. He runs a nonprofit organization called Creation Science Evangelism. I should put Dr. in front of his name because he got his Ph.D. through Patriot Bible University, an unaccredited correspondence school (widely considered a diploma mill) that believes "in the historical accuracy of all Biblical accounts including: special creation as it occurred during six literal days, the existence of Adam and Eve as the progenitors of all people, the fall and resultant divine curse on creation, and the worldwide flood" and "in the bodily return of Christ to establish His literal eternal Kingdom." Not to be confused with the other fundamentalist Christian lizard guy, G. Thomas Sharp, Hovind's claim to fame of late—aside from founding Dinosaur Adventure Land and running an e-commerce site that has sold anti-Semitic books like Fourth Reich of the Rich and has recommended The Protocols of the Elders of Zion—is his $250,000 offer:
Formerly $10,000 offered since 1990

I have a standing offer of $250,000 to anyone who can give any empirical evidence (scientific proof) for evolution.* My $250,000 offer demonstrates that the hypothesis of evolution is nothing more than a religious belief...

How to collect the $250,000:

Prove beyond reasonable doubt that the process of evolution (option 3 above, under "known options") 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...
Of course, Hovind isn't offering a prize to anyone who can provide "empirical evidence" to "prove beyond reasonable doubt" concepts like the holy trinity or the divinity of Christ, the verifiability of the virgin birth or that God created the earth in six days (although his dinosaur theme park and videos make that claim). His contest, like the rest of his site, is couched in rationally presented, bullet-pointed outlines and faux scientific method, buttressed by replica dinosaur bones (for sale: a replica Tyrannosaurus Rex Tooth with Root has been marked down, from $25 to $18!), but his claims are utterly unsupported by scientists not working under the banner of Christianity.

There are plenty of other red flags with Hovind—he's evaded taxes repeatedly, the IRS reportedly raided his office last year to confiscate financial records, and his Ph.D. thesis was notoriously bad and largely unsourced—but what's most curious is his tactic, the same one used by his more mainstream cohorts in Washington: the least credible arguments are heralded, again and again, as truth, leaving those who have credibility to go on the defensive about things—WMDs, Miers' lack of qualifications, FEMA's blundering of hurricane relief, the scientific probability of evolution—that already have mountains of evidence to back them up. Maybe Colbert's fake-news guy is the perfect voice for this syndrome. He concluded his segment, "The truthiness is: anyone can read the news to you; I promise to feel the news at you."

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