Those that have hung in the same parts of the great blogo-sphere as I have — and that basically means Pharyngula — have heard about this character Harun Yahya, the Turkish creationist bully, and his book the Atlas of Creation, a triumph of glossy pictures over accurate captioning, a five-kilo argument by repetition, sent unsolicited to schools that oughta know better all over the world.
Well, yesterday I was in a secondhand shop on the outskirts of Littletown, Finland — a town so small it barely rates the university it has — and what do I see on the shelf with used books for sale on it?
The Atlas of Creation, by Harun Yahya.
After a Wile E. Coyote moment (“Oh, okay… oh, what? Haaaaaagh!”) I took a second look: yup, the very book. A big, heavy green-bound monster of a book. (With some relief I noted I couldn’t find the price tag; my blood pressure couldn’t have handled owning that stinker. I’m not the sort of a person that can look at pictures without being distracted by the captions. And while I happily own three different copies of the Necronomicon, I am. not. going. to own a copy of that Atlas.)
The second shock came as I mentioned this sighting to a high school teacher — and if that university-town was Littletown, Finland, his high school should be that of Two Shacks, Finland, a place rural and little and dismal even in comparison to Littletown.
And that high school (lukio, for you who know the Finnish school system) teacher said “Oh, that book? Yeah, we got a copy too some time back. Addressed to ‘The Teacher of the Subject of…’ or something like that.”
Oh, wow. If Two Shacks got it, then it’s a safe guess every high school in Finland did. (A quick look around the net dug up a mention of several other Finnish schools being bothered by these sendings, but I guess I missed it, as it doesn’t seem to have been news beyond a mention in the local papers; the title was rather like “Expensive whacko book sent to school free; teachers remain baffled”.)
On one hand, I’m delighted that Mr. Yahoo-a is spending his money on pursuits like this; I don’t think Finnish high school teachers are prone to being influenced by unsolicited and unscientific free books from some random creationist, no matter how glossy and expensive. (And indeed the second-hand shop must have gotten the book from somewhere — at times I laugh at the number of spiritual hooey I see cast off in places like that, in hopes of getting a few dimes back from a bad investment.)
On the other hand, though, it’s chilling to see how much money he must have. And… well, he wouldn’t do things like this unless he was accustomed to an audience for which things like this book, plus a flex of muscle, are mightily convincing. And that’s scary.