Jan Udo Holey AKA Van Helsing

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Jan Udo Holey AKA Van Helsing

Hi people. I need help.

So, my mom has recently gone crazy over a book named (no kidding) "Don't Touch This Book!" by Jan Udo Holey, who has been calling himself Van Helsing ever since he read Dracula (again, no kidding). He believes that Hitler is still alive and living in the South Pole, that the earth is hollow and that it will be taken over by Jews and/or the Illuminati and/or freemasons. Really. Also among his favourites: reptilians, Atlantis, fake Moon landing, ancient aliens, New World Order, Nostradamus, every other fucking thing you can think of. At this point, I'd be surprised if this electric monk does not believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. 

I've pointed out some of the most obvious ridiculosities above to my mom, and while she doesn't believe them, she kind of just says, "Well, he's wrong about THAT, but that doesn't mean that this other thing I read in the book isn't true." And technically, she's correct - so many of history's greatest minds have been laughably wrong about things outside their field (Watson, Crick, Doyle, Tesla, Newton, Pythagoras and Plato, to name just a few, were batshit insane about at least one thing). 

What can I say or do that will make her realize that this dude is just talking out of his ass? 


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Technically, that's correct.

Technically, that's correct.  You do need to establish the degree of wrongness relative to authority.  If my dentist told me some crazy shit about quantum mechanics, I'd still trust him to do a root canal.  On the other hand, if he started telling me that pulling out all your teeth is a good thing and dentures are da shiet! I'd likely stop seeing him.  Also, you're allowed to be as wrong as you want to be as long as you're willing to have your opinion challenged.  The moment you start making claims that you're right and everyone else is wrong, despite contrary evidence, you start to lose credibility on a larger scale because you set a pattern of degree of critical thinking.  If you are unwilling to think critically on one subject, you likely would tend to think less critically generally. 

 

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


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My advice.

                           My sugestion is to say nothing ,  do nothing,  ignor her nonsense;  and make it clear she can discuss her beliefs with someone else, anyone else!  just not you.  Trust me her non-relatives will have LESS patience with such nonsense then you do;  with any luck she will outgrow it, but maybe not.  Let her decide if she wants to talk to her son OR talk nonsense.  More then that you can not do.    Does she suffer any mental dis order?    

 

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According to his german

According to his german wiki, this guy is in fact, an interior decorator. That's his only actual qualification.

Oh, and he didn't just change his name, he actually got some holy water from the local church and went vampire hunting.

He also claims to have seen several flying saucers, decorated with swastikas. Those things are all over Mexico, apparently.

And then there's his grandfather Alois, who helps him write his books, and who's also dead.

 

I'm curious, which "other thing" in his books does your mom believe ? 


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No, my mother does not have

No, my mother does not have a mental disorder. Questions like that are why we atheists have such a bad rep the world over. 

Example of "that might still be true": Atlantis, Nibiru. 

I guess my underlying question is, how can you make someone value skepticism over superficially intriguing fairy tales?


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freethoughtnam.org wrote:No,

freethoughtnam.org wrote:
No, my mother does not have a mental disorder. Questions like that are why we atheists have such a bad rep the world over.

Nothing disparaging was meant by that. Like you said yourself "so many of history's greatest minds..."

And I don't know about the US, but we have a pretty damn fine rep over here in Europe.

 

freethoughtnam.org wrote:
Example of "that might still be true": Atlantis, Nibiru. 

I guess my underlying question is, how can you make someone value skepticism over superficially intriguing fairy tales?

Everybody values skepticism. Your mom would not fall for the fairy tale of the Nigerian prince and his diamond mines. She also wouldn't buy insurance against Nibiru crashing into her front lawn, or worry about Atlantis clogging the drains.

Instead of her buying more of Van Helsing's crap, why couldn't this lead to a genuine interest in astronomy and archeology ? Almost all the popularized books on those subjects are better written, and way more fascinating than anything the new age-crowd can come up with. Cheaper too.

And anyway, would she really want to buy more stuff of a guy who had his books banned for being a raving anti-semite ?  


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freethoughtnam.org wrote:I

freethoughtnam.org wrote:

I guess my underlying question is, how can you make someone value skepticism over superficially intriguing fairy tales?

I don't personally think you can MAKE someone see something that they do not want to see.

Atheism was a conclusion that I had to arrive at on my own.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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 No offence taken,

 

No offence taken, Anonymouse.

The thing is, she IS interested in astronomy, archaeology, etc. She's got a Master's in Chemistry and works as an analyst at a gold mine. AND she's always been interested in new-age Chopra-esque woo-woo; e.g. she's always been into this stuff called The Rosicrucian Cosmo-conception, and Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophical ideas, and Krishna Consciousness. I'd say she's a great example of a "partitioned mind" that can think logically on 6 days of the week and rest on the 7th. I gave her Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World, and she said it's too fundamentalist/extremist. I pointed her to the Nightline debate between Deepak Chopra and Sam Harris (one of my favourites) on YouTube, and she said "They started off alright, but for most of the video they were just measuring their dicks." Apparently that affects a person's credibility more than anti-semitism. She does find Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku very interesting, but apparently not as interesting as Nazi flying saucers - who could compete with that? I guess what it comes down to is WANTING to believe, as you said:

 

harleysportster wrote:

I don't personally think you can MAKE someone see something that they do not want to see.

I know atheism isn't considered negative in Europe, I'm from Bulgaria myself, but now my family lives in Namibia (Africa) and down here it's a different story. They don't even use the word "evolutionist" or "Darwinist" - it's "one of those monkey people". And whenever you try to have a conversation, all you hear is "Shroud of Turin!" "Carbon dating is false!" "So you think this is all by accident?" 

 

I'm in the process of starting up a local community of freethinkers and that's partly why I'm reaching out to you experienced debunkers. And many thanks for your quick and helpful responses so far, you guys are awesome. 

 


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If she already has an

If she already has an interest, feed it. Give her books and documentaries on those subjects she enjoys. The more real info is in her head, the less sense this shit will make to her. I can't think of anything that would be as effective.

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freethoughtnam.org wrote:The

freethoughtnam.org wrote:
The thing is, she IS interested in astronomy, archaeology, etc. She's got a Master's in Chemistry and works as an analyst at a gold mine. AND she's always been interested in new-age Chopra-esque woo-woo; e.g. she's always been into this stuff called The Rosicrucian Cosmo-conception, and Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophical ideas, and Krishna Consciousness. I'd say she's a great example of a "partitioned mind" that can think logically on 6 days of the week and rest on the 7th. I gave her Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World, and she said it's too fundamentalist/extremist. I pointed her to the Nightline debate between Deepak Chopra and Sam Harris (one of my favourites) on YouTube, and she said "They started off alright, but for most of the video they were just measuring their dicks." Apparently that affects a person's credibility more than anti-semitism. She does find Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku very interesting, but apparently not as interesting as Nazi flying saucers - who could compete with that? I guess what it comes down to is WANTING to believe, as you said:

My aunt's a mensa member who makes a living doing astrology charts, so I can sympathize. 

Well, seems you've done all the gentle nudging a loved one can possibly do.  I think you can probably stop worrying about it, although this is the first time I ever heard someone describe Sagan as "fundamentalist". This might just be one of those things you have to keep chipping at, even if you don't seem to get anywhere. Having the nonsensical nature of those ideas explained to her by an actual astronomer or archaeologist in person might help, but that's more than a little tricky to arrange.  

Reaching for straws here, but there's a pretty funny recent SF movie that uses the "space nazis" idea for comic effect. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wx_mk_kxi-s

If watching that doesn't bring home the ridiculousness of such a notion, then I'm not sure what will. 

 

freethoughtnam.org wrote:

I know atheism isn't considered negative in Europe, I'm from Bulgaria myself, but now my family lives in Namibia (Africa) and down here it's a different story. They don't even use the word "evolutionist" or "Darwinist" - it's "one of those monkey people". And whenever you try to have a conversation, all you hear is "Shroud of Turin!" "Carbon dating is false!" "So you think this is all by accident?" 

 

I'm in the process of starting up a local community of freethinkers and that's partly why I'm reaching out to you experienced debunkers. And many thanks for your quick and helpful responses so far, you guys are awesome. 

 

Africa, huh ? Man, that's a tough crowd. I think I speak for everyone here if I say your efforts are more than appreciated. I sincerely wish you all the best of luck.


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freethoughtnam.org wrote:I

freethoughtnam.org wrote:

I know atheism isn't considered negative in Europe, I'm from Bulgaria myself, but now my family lives in Namibia (Africa) and down here it's a different story. They don't even use the word "evolutionist" or "Darwinist" - it's "one of those monkey people". And whenever you try to have a conversation, all you hear is "Shroud of Turin!" "Carbon dating is false!" "So you think this is all by accident?" 

 

I'm in the process of starting up a local community of freethinkers and that's partly why I'm reaching out to you experienced debunkers. And many thanks for your quick and helpful responses so far, you guys are awesome. 

 

Hey. I think it is good that your taking a stand. I am all for spreading as much reason to the entire world to debunk superstition and religion.

I should have been a little more clear in my response.

You might not be able to "MAKE" someone see the truth.

BUT. You can start planting the seeds of doubt here and there. You can find the information on frauds and charlatans and try to establish uncertainty in those that are buying bogus claims.

Keep up the good work on your end.

I would ask your mother, what is there about all of this that has her so ready to believe it ? I would google something like : " Debunking Conspiracy Theories" and see what your search result yields. You can narrow it down with keywords. Google : "Debunking people who say that we never walked on the moon." You'd be surprised at all the results that you can get on that. Show her the results.

The best approach is to not try to do a confrontation. For instance, work it in gradually. Say : "You know, I was looking around on the Web and there are an awful lot of pages that  debunk this idea of - (insert claim here) and some of these people are credible scientists. What do you think ?"

By the way, why not register on here and get a screen name ? Your posts will go straight through and post a lot faster.

Anytime someone has not officially registered, it has to go through the moderators to doublecheck for spam and such.

It would be a benefit to you in participation. Just saying.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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He's got an account, he just

He's got an account, he just hasn't taken advantage of the avatar or signature features. Smiling

And noone gave him an atheist badge. I can do that! My first badging!

I hereby pronou... oh fuck it here ya go. > >

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


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 I did create this account rather hastily and chose the name to promote my up-and-coming website (although I regret that now because it seems so hucksterish). Will upload a pic and edit my profile soon; and thanks for the badge!


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freethoughtnam.org wrote: I

freethoughtnam.org wrote:

 I did create this account rather hastily and chose the name to promote my up-and-coming website (although I regret that now because it seems so hucksterish). Will upload a pic and edit my profile soon; and thanks for the badge!

Welcome aboard and good luck with your website. Good luck on spreading reason in a part of the world that sounds like it desperately needs it.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno