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Bronze-level article

Ted Holden

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Ted Holden is an old time troll and loon who is best known for pushing pro-Velikovsky and catastrophist nonsense on the Usenet group talk.origins. Although repetitive and frustrating, he can be highly entertaining.[1]

Many of Ted's opinions are unique to Ted himself. This sets him aside from the normal brand of internet kook in that he adapts crank ideas to his own worldview. Needless to say, none of his views have been accepted by the scientific community. Sadly, despite the entertaining nature of some of his ideas, none of them have been embraced by the crank community either.

Ted has a website that covers his views on creation and catastrophism.[2]

Ted's World[edit]

Ted Holden pushes a set of theories that makes him the kook's kook. Such a range of bizarre and off-beat ideas is never encountered, with the exception of Time Cube. Unlike Gene Ray, however, Ted is articulate, funny, and inventive, while maintaining an equivalent level of wrongness.

Although "troll" is a good label, since he posts information while fully aware of the disruptive consequences, he honestly seems to believe his material. Nearly 30 years of posting the same delusional nonsense is a good sign of commitment to an idea.

Some of Ted's beliefs include:

  • Earth, Venus and Mars were all populated in the past. It was possible to travel between them using some sort of teleport system.
  • Saturn used to hover over the north pole of the Earth. This reduced the "felt effect" of gravity, which explained the existence of dinosaurs. According to Ted, dinosaurs were too heavy to stand up in normal gravity, so gravity had to be reduced in some way.[3][4] The natural solution is to assume the presence of a gas giant planet in close proximity to the Earth.
  • People used to communicate by telepathy.[5] When they lost this ability (after a series of colossal planetary movements), they took up language. The variation of language is then also proof of the non-existence of evolution.[6]
  • Hens, specifically feral chickens, are proof that evolution is wrong. [7]
  • Bats are also proof that evolution is wrong.[8] Ted took to including an ASCII bat called "Splifford" in his signature.

Some of these ideas have "evolved" over time. The "felt effect" of gravity appears to be Ted's own. Note that while he presents all the appearances of a creationist, a better term is "anti-evolutionist", with him apparently accepting and rejecting standard creationist arguments as a matter of convenience.

talk.origins[edit]

Ted spent well over ten years on talk.origins, cyclically trolling the newsgroup.[9]

His method of operation was to post a set of articles detailing his theories. This would trigger a huge amount of responses and refutations and completely engulf the newsgroup. Ted would battle against everybody else, setting off flame wars in every direction. Finally, everything would calm down and Ted would go away.

He would then wait a few months until there were new readers in t.o. and then post exactly the same articles all over again. The new readers would jump on this idiocy. Old hands would sigh at the start of a new Holden Cycle. Chaos would reign. And so on, year in, year out.

He was one of the very earliest contributors to Usenet. Vague recollections suggest that he was posting to net.origins (as it then was) in 1983 or even earlier. By 1985, he was heav‎ily spamming net.origins, with him being one of the highest 25 contributors to the whole of Usenet.[10] Following his failed attempt to create the talk.catastrophism group (in 1997, see below), he became less active on t.o and has not posted there for a number of years.

comp.lang.ada[edit]

Ted was a persistent critic of the computer language Ada. This is a descendant of Pascal that was designed for the US military as a standard. The design of the language has been criticised by many programmers, mostly for being ridiculously complex and overly picky about some programming issues; its supporters would argue that such strictness is necessary for systems peoples' lives rely on, but that's a debate for an entirely different wiki.[11] Considering his lack of practical experience with Ada, it is hard to see why Ted hated the language so much. Following his t.o practice, he cyclically spammed c.l.a with a number of anti-Ada articles and defended the articles in the same obstinate way as he did on t.o.[12]

His basic point is defensible, albeit far from universally agreed upon (there's a lot to be said for a language that forces you to cross your t's and dot your i's, especially when lives are on the line), and Ada is no longer a US military standard.[13] However, his attitude and methods alienated even his natural supporters. Other programmers critical of Ada rejected him.

With the user turnover on c.l.a being much smaller that t.o, he found his way into the killfiles of most users and his influence in the group was quickly reduced to zero. He gave up on the Ada campaign.

In any case... the DoD Ada mandate expired in 1997, but it's still pretty widely used in the aerospace industry (there is a lot of legacy code out there), and it's a first-class supported language in the GCC compiler suite[14], so at the very least it's still important enough to to some people to keep on the market.[15]

talk.catastrophism[edit]

One common idea of cranks is that they are expressing an idea that is held by many, but that this mass of people are afraid to go up against the orthodoxy in order to put their views across. Ted frequently stated that his mission was to show to the mass of lurkers on Usenet that he was challenging the orthodoxy.

Following over ten years of constant rebuttals on talk.origins, Ted decided that he needed a new portal to expound his beliefs. This would be talk.catastrophism. The point of this is that in the Usenet world, the "talk" domain is carried by all providers (as opposed to the fringe "alt" groups) and guaranteed a wide readership. If he created the group, he would also be able to set himself up as moderator.

In order to drum up support, he spammed Usenet far and wide. Typically, his attitude turned many people off his idea, even if they knew nothing about the debate in the first place.

The vote for the creation of talk.catastrophism was defeated by a landslide.[16]

Finally having proof that there wasn't a huge number of silent readers that supported him, Ted raged over the corruption of the voting process. Apparently, despite there being a record number of "yes" votes, there was an even more impressive number of "no" votes. Ted blamed the "BandarLog" (his name for the evolutionists on t.o) for the result.[17]

Free Republic[edit]

As a right-wing, gun-toting libertarian, a natural place for Ted on the modern internet is Free Republic. Indeed, several pseudonyms have shown up. As well as discussing some of Ted's political interests (guns, Israel/ Palestine), these sockpuppets invariably end up pushing some anti-evolutionist and catastrophist idiocy. This is usually quickly identified; the disruption that it causes leads to the sock being banned.

The following accounts have been banned from Free Republic. In most cases, there is no definite proof of the identity of the puppetmaster; however, the likelihood is that Ted is behind them:

  • medved (definitely Ted - his email addresses were always "medved@...")[18]
  • tomzz[19]
  • wendy1846[20]
  • piltdownpig[21]
  • sallymag
  • titanmike
  • nanrod
  • tallyho1946
  • annflounder

This is almost certainly not an exhaustive list.

References[edit]

  1. Are You Ted Holden? This quiz used to be available on the Ediacara website - scroll to the Guest84:Quiz entry in the thread
  2. Bearfabrique.org Ted's page
  3. Bearfabrique.org Ted's explanation of the felt effect of gravity.
  4. Talk.origins archive t.o debunking of Ted's nonsense.
  5. Bearfabrique.org Under "Paranormal Phenomena".
  6. Bearfabrique.org
  7. Bearfabrique.org
  8. Bearfabrique.org This part of Ted's FAQ also includes Splifford the bat in all his glory, together with Ted's warning note about the evils of evolution.
  9. Tim Skirvin's page Tim's ancient history of internet loons. Search for "Holden" on the page among all the other stars of the 1990s
  10. Google News archives
  11. http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?AdaLanguage
  12. c.l.a FAQ
  13. Wikipedia article on AdaWikipedia's W.svg
  14. http://gcc.gnu.org
  15. The Ada Information Clearinghouse has links to everything you could ever possibly want to know about the language, and GNAT, the de facto reference implementation of the language, is available for free at http://libre.adacore.com.
  16. talk.origins archive of the vote
  17. Google News archives
  18. Free Republic Ted spamming a thread with all his FAQs from the old t.o days.
  19. Free Republic Quotes from others in the thread: "Don't forget Saturn hovering over the north pole.", "How about the Felt Gravity Effect? And ascii bats?"
  20. FSTDT Ted makes it to FSTDT. In particular, the use of "Punk-eek" and "Haldane Dilemma" marks this out as classic Holden.
  21. Free Rpublic Ted hijacks the thread (his comment deleted).