Secular Hungary

Secular Hungary

Tag Archives: creationism-id-pseudo_science

Naming

Hungary has celebrated the revolution of 1848/49 last Friday, and as always, this is the occasion to distribute medals. Let’s have a look at who got one.
Of course, there are again a good dozen of church employees from parish priests and administrative workers to national heads of Catholic convents who have received various crosses of the Hungarian Order of Merit. Among them, János Kothencz, director-general for children and youth issues of the Catholic diocese of Szeged-Csanád, whose name you have read only a few weeks ago in an other context: he is the founder and guru of methodology of the Ágota Foundation, which was entrusted with 25 million forint (85 thousand Euros) to recycle last year’s anti abortion campaign initiated by Christian Democrat (KDNP)’s Mr Miklós Soltész, state secretary for health issues. Both Ágota Foundation and Kothencz’ method, KÁSPEM are registered brands, the latter is a method to deal with children who have to be taken out of their families, while the former is an NGO dealing with foster children and foster parents, which prides itself to have a wide network of church sponsors, including the NGO Renovabis, which was established by the German Catholic bishops’ conference in order to give aid to central and Eastern European Catholics. Their aim is the evangelisation of children who had to be taken out of their families by showing them that God and providence love them, too.
There are quite a number of other interesting winners, too: first of all the guitar player of the far-right wing band Kárpátia, then Mr Tamás Fricz, the organiser of the „Peace March” and its NGO, the Civil Unity Forum (Civil Összefogás Fórum, CÖF), i.e. demonstrations in favour of the government, strengthened by Polish conservatives who are transported by special train from Poland; Mr Vilmos Lázár, who is not only a renown horse-cart driver but also the owner of the grocery franchise CBA and who is a vocal supporter of the government; Mrs Tamás Adamik (maiden name Anna Jászó), who supported Fidesz against the former government and whose husband, the classical philologist Tamás Adamik, works for Kráter Műhely, the publisher who edits the books of the late nazi Albert Wass; Ms Emőke Bagdy, a psychologist who established the Society for Family Research I wrote about earlier. Bagdy’s co-founders were Ms Mónika Keresztes Rónaszékiné, a Fidesz MP, and Mr Imre Téglásy. The latter is the president of the Alfa Association which became notorious in 1998 when it tried to force by legal stratagems a 13 year-old-girl to carry her unwanted pregnancy to term (the local parish priest who assisted in the manoeuvre was awarded a medal for this by pope John Paul II).
Hungary can also pride itself with some real crackpot awardees: Mr Ajándok Eőry, a medical practitioner is know for his „alternative” approaches like chi massage, but he has also stated that he is able to predict the likelihood of certain illnesses by applying a pentagram and using the patient’s birth date. He provides medical services for the Hungarian charity of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, whose head, Catholic priest Imre Kozma stated that Africans are not yet fit for becoming pope. Finally, we have Mr Kornél Bakay who left the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to head a „chair” at the never accredited Humanities Association of Miskolc (Miskolci Bölcsész Egyesület) founded by another crackpot, the late Mr Ferenc Badinyi-Jós. He also ran twice for MP for the far-right MIÉP of the late Mr István Csurka and gave a speech at the funeral of the far-right bishop of the reformed Chruch, Mr Loránt Hegedűs (whose daughter-in-law, Mrs Loránt Hegedűs is an MP for the far-rigth Jobbik). His views are summarised by the linguistic portal Nyest as follows (I couldn’t be more concise): He doubts Darwinian evolutionary theory and sees Hungarian runic script in cave paintings, which he connects to the Sumerian writing system, he denies the existence of the ancient Jewish reign of David and Solomon, he links Hungarians to Huns and Scythians and even Celtic, Etruscan and Greek culture descends from the Magyars. He ascribes medieval slave trade to the Jews, and of course according to him, Jesus was not a Jew, but a Parthian.
Which brings us to the last item for today: the journalist Mr Ferenc Szaniszló was given a Táncsics award by minister (and pastor of the reformed church) Mr Zoltán Balog. During the last few years, Mr Szaniszló has professed quite, well, innovative statements such as the following: gypsies (roma) are primates („emberszabású majom”); as soon as it exhausts its oil occurrences, Israel will populate Hungary with Jews; the Austrian right-wing politician Jörg Haider was killed by a drone because of his success; and the accident at Kolontár (where a basin of an aluminium factory broke and inundated two villages) was not an accident due to natural geological processes (which could have been foreseen) at all but caused by the IMF which ordered NATO to bomb the dam of the artificial lake where residues were stored. After journalists and the Hungarian Journalists’ Association (MÚOSZ) protested and demanded an explanation, Mr Balog said he was sorry and didn’t know who he was giving a medal (several journalists who were honoured earlier have decided to give their medals back in protest). Which is maybe even worse, if it’s true (I mean, is a person who does not tell his staff to do a quick google search prudent enough to act as minister?).

http://www.nol.hu/archivum/archiv-489919
http://index.hu/video/2013/03/14/szaniszlo/
http://hvg.hu/itthon/20130314_Tisztikereszt_Szaniszlo_kituntetett
http://nol.hu/belfold/fricz_tamas_es_a_tobbi_tiszti-_es_erdemkeresztes
http://www.nyest.hu/renhirek/kituntettek-bakay-kornelt

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“Researchers” on the defense

The Society for Family Research (one of whose founding members Imre Téglásy, president of the Alfa Union – an NGO that has become notorious ca. 10 years ago when they tried to force a 13-year old girl who was inexperienced enough to confess her pregnancy to a catholic priest to carry her pregnancy to term) has been widely criticised because of its prejudice against anyone not living in a heterosexual procreation-oriented church-sanctioned marriage (for more details about the group, read the Contrarian Hungarian’s account of them: http://thecontrarianhungarian.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/hungarian-govt-to-fund-scientific-society-against-premarital-sex/). The Society argued that they were not discriminating against unmarried people and homosexuals, which is of course not quite the case, considering that they are promoting their preferred lifestyle as the only right and healthy one. Criticism has also come from the scientific corner, as the society’s approach is not scientific after all,  – they „know” their results before they do their research.

Meanwhile the motivation has also become clear: the new law on education rules that school has to provide education on family life (’családi nevelés’), and, as one of their supporters, Mrs Mónika Keresztes Rónaszékiné, Fidesz MP working in family policies, it is the intention of the government to ask for the society’s input regarding the content of the curriculum. Her husband, however, a Mr Rónaszéki seems to be interested also in other women, judging from his Facebook account showing deep insights into a young woman’s decolleté.

Anyway, the group realised that their views do not enjoy the support of the people, deleted the sources from their homepage and accused the daily Népszabadság of lying about the group’s aims. Unfortunately for them, some people were fast enough and published screenshots proving the contrary…

http://index.hu/belfold/2012/02/28/senki_nem_fog_senki_haloszobajaba_bemenni/

http://www.hir24.hu/belfold/2012/02/27/dugaba-dolt-az-antiszex-projekt/

http://egyenlito.blog.hu/2012/02/28/hazudik_a_szex_ellenes_erkolcsvedo_egyesulet

“Family science”

If you ever happen to come across a paper by someone of the Hungarian Society for Family Research (Magyar Családtudományi Társaság), be aware that they already know the outcomes of their studies before they do their research. They are convinced that the only „healthy” way to live is within a marriage with children, while sex before marriage is detrimental for your health.
The society was established with the financial support of the Hungarian Ministry of National Resources (which incorporates the areas of health, education and science, culture, sports and social, youth and family issues) and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

http://index.hu/belfold/2012/02/25/karos_a_hazassag_elotti_szex/
http://nol.hu/belfold/20120225-kuldetesnyilatkozat_allami_hatszellel

How to hand over state schools to churches easily

The Hungarian Teachers’ Union wrote a letter to the constitutional court protesting against a new bill (No. LI of 2010) modifíng the law on public education. According to the bill, local authorities may hand over their schools to a church institution on the spot, without delay. According to the union, this step violates teachers’ and pupils’ religious freedom, as this would mean that anyone may suddenly find themselves in a religious institution, and in some places, there may not be any secular alternative.
Though schools are mainly state financed, they are maintained by the local government, and as the state subsidies are not enough, the schools budget is usually supplemented from the (also rather tight) local budget. Church schools, on the contrary, receive an avarage of the supplements provided by the local government in addition to the regular state subsidies. Therefore handing over a local school to a church is financially rewarding for local goverments,
as it means they don’t have to use their own funds for topping up schools budgets.
As I mentioned earlier, the new governing party tends to mix religion into state affairs quite openly. The new person responsible for education, state secretary Mrs Rózsa Hoffmann, favours a “traditional” education with a very fixed curriculum (leaving just 10% of teaching time for the teacher to adjust classes to pupils needs and preferences), focusing on the strengthening of national identity, and is in favour of introducing compulsory religious education (it is not quite clear which of them – only half of Hungarians are catholic, even by the most church-biased countings). She also believes that socially deprived kids (mostly gypsies/roma) should get not the “best possible” education, but one that is “adequate as compared to their skills”, which is on of the reasons why she was considered unchristian by an American Hungarian commentor (http://www.galamus.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3142:hoffmann-rozsa-keresztenyellenes-rasszizmusa&catid=65:az-olvasok-irasai&Itemid=101).
The new state secretary for culture, Mr Géza Szőcs has some unusual ideas, too. He seems to think that decisions in the framework of state progammes to subsidise cultural events are made by desk officers (in fact, desk officers are only managing the programmes, but decisions on how to fund what are made by external committes composed of artists themselves…) In an interview last week, he told journalists he wanted to set up an experts group to research the genetic origin of Hungarians, in order to settle the (non-existing) question whether Hngarians are Finno-Ugric (I wrote earlier about this). The problem is, of course, that the relation is not a genetic but a linguistic one – our genes are not related to other Finno-Ugric people, but the structure of our language and around 1000 of our words are. Practically the Hungarian language has long ago changed its people.

http://www.galamus.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=15047:alkotmanybirosaghoz-fordul-a-psz-az-egyhazi-iskolakat-erint-toerveny-miatt&catid=76:hazai-vonatkozasu-hirek&Itemid=113
http://www.pedagogusok.hu/index.php?cikk=030216_a_psz_az_alkotmanybirosaghoz_fordul_a_kozoktatasi_torveny_modositasa_miatt
http://www.nepszava.hu/articles/article.php?id=311394
http://szekularisfigyelo.blog.hu/2010/06/11/oktataspolitika
http://index.hu/kultur/pol/2010/06/11/felulvizsgalna_a_finnugor-elmeletet_a_kulturalis_vezetes/

Creationist methods against linguistics

In Hungary, it’s not only creationists and ID-people who try to use the law and the media as a stage for their issues instead of scientific debates. The relatively new Jobbik, a political party on the far right (which is sometimes called fascist) has launched a petition against something they call “Finno-Ugrian theory of origin”, in order to force “the heritage of Hunor and Magor” into the schoolbooks.

Of course the “Finno-Ugric theory of origin” refers only to the origin of the Hungarian language, not the people, as its opponents suggest. On the contrary, scholars make clear that Finno-Ugrian family tree is confined to lingustics only. Genetically speaking, Hungarians hardly differ from their neighbours and from Europeans in general. As to the language, its structurally similar to Finnish, Estonian and a couple of other languages spoken by ethnic minorities in Russia, the nearest relatives being the Khanti and Mansi languages. The theory that the Sami and Hungarian language show similar traits was first put forward by János Sajnovics who during a Nordic expedition had the chance to study the Sami language; his 1770 study marks the beginning of this theory, that wa later refined and expanded to include what is now known as Finno-Ugrian languages. The idea was immediately rejected by some Hungarians who considered this extended family not noble enough (‘halszagú’, i.e. ‘smelling of fish’), but linguistically, it has been proved to be sound. Linguistics has of course a complex set of methodological approaches, but its most important feature is that for sound results you have to compare sets of structures (e.g. comparing the structure of spatial expressions and its postfixes), not individual words or expressions. However, certain people are convinced that this lowly family tree is promoted with the aim to lessen Hungarian aplomb. Instead, they prefer to promote other, nobler kinships that have been refuted long ago, such as the idea that Hungarian is related to Sumerian (some people are also convinced that Hungarians are Scythians, and Jesus was king of Parthia and therefore really a Hungarian).
The proponents of the petition seem to be illustrious, at least at first. 10 of the seem to have a doctoral degree, of which 4 are listed in the Hungarian list of PhD-holders (the other five may have a doctoral title not equivalent to a PhD in law or medicine or hold a degree abroad), none of them in linguistics (although there are other linguistic fields than exploring Finno-Ugric relations). There’s one philosopher, the ‘anthropologist, biologist’ turns out to have a degree in ‘sports science’, the third one is a physicist, and with the last one’s name 5 different persons are listed, none of them in humanities (of course this is based on identical names, but I don’t have their birth date to double check). A part of them is listed as member of the ‘Institute of Hungarian Studies’, which sounds nice but is operated from a private address, and judging from the stylistics used on their homepage, they have lost touch with the version of Hungarian we use in the Carpathian basin today.
To make it short: use of media and legal initiative instead of scientifically compelling arguments – doesn’t that remind you of something?

http://szekularisfigyelo.blog.hu/2009/09/01/a_jobbik_a_kreacionizmus_nyomaban
http://nol.hu/belfold/hunort-magort_a_tankonyvekbe_

Ad hominem for criticism

Hungarian sceptics were quite delighted to hear that a TED-conference was being organised in Hungary in cooperation with the weekly HVG. They were also quite surprised when they saw that the programme contained István Tasi [ishtvan tashee], whose ideas they know but to well. His book about “biology” is available in English, too (he also claims the book was a finalist at the USA Book News 2009 Best Book Award, though it seems each title paid for being listed becomes a finalist there). As the title of his presentation was identical with the title of his book, the sceptics wrote an open letter to the organisers, suggesting not that they cancel his presentation, but that the topic was changed to something more in line with his career, such as religion (their letter is available also in English http://criticalbiomass.freeblog.hu/files/2010/1/tedx/TED-Open_Letter.pdf). The organisers and Tasi said that this was a misunderstanding and the presentation was going to be about religion, anyway, and everything seemed to be all right.
Now, three months later,
the bosses of those who signed the open letter got a letter from the head of the institution Tasi works for, bad-mouthing them stating that they were violating free speech, and threatening that the college was considering legal action (one of them, in English, is here: http://criticalbiomass.freeblog.hu/files/2010/4/discrimination_Mate_Varga.pdf – I found the bit about Krishna being the fourth biggest denomination particularly funny, since though they are 5th [for 2009] regarding the number of taxpayers who offered them 1% of their income tax, that’s 12039 persons, as compared to half a million Catholics, 164 thousand Calvinists, 45 thousand Lutherans and 300 thousand people making an effort to offer their taxes for a secular purpose). Would you have thought that someone who got a degree as a biology teacher and calls himself biologist becomes head of a Krishna Hinduist Faith College?
http://criticalbiomass.freeblog.hu/archives/2010/04/14/Vedikus_hazmesterek/

Similarly, an other guy, a professor for physics at Eötvös Loránd University was accused on the creationism website at ertem.hu of anonymously attacking the movement – in an article with the title “Is a professor of ELTE behind the attacks?”. The professor is asking for an excuse.
http://szkeptikus.blog.hu/2010/04/14/tudomany_helyett_ragalmazas

(Thanks to Jocó)

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