Category Archives: Evolution

Ken Ham — Looking for More Tax Breaks

Noah's Ark (by Edward Hicks, 1846)

Noah’s Ark (by Edward Hicks, 1846)

You know all about the proposed Ark Encounter project. It’s the latest creationist extravaganza of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), and for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

The last time we wrote about this was Ken Ham’s Latest News About the Ark. That was a few weeks ago. There’s still been no ground-breaking. Instead, ol’ Hambo staged a symbolic “Hammer and Peg” ceremony inside the Creation Museum.

We have some news today from the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky (not far from ol’ Hambo’s Creation Museum). Their headline is: Tax incentives sought for Noah’s Ark theme park. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Why does Hambo need tax incentives? Surely, it’s enough that his project is divinely inspired. Anyway, here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Ark Encounter will return to Frankfort [the state capital] on Tuesday to seek — for a second time — state approval of tax incentives for its proposed Noah’s Ark theme park in Grant County. Three years ago, the group won approval of incentives for its entire $172.5 million project, but because of funding problems it withdrew that application and now is seeking approval for a $73 million first phase of the biblical theme park.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s the secularists’ fault!

And it [Hambo's outfit] expects preliminary approval Tuesday from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority and plans to break ground next month. “We can begin construction as soon as we get preliminary approval,” said Mike Zovath, Ark Encounter’s project coordinator. “And we expect to get that because the project fits all the criteria for the tourism act.”

What kind of tax incentives is Hambo looking for? Let’s read on:

Ark Encounter is applying to participate in a program that allows eligible tourism attractions a rebate of 25 percent of the sales tax they collect on admission tickets, souvenirs, food and other things over 10 years. For this application the rebates would be as much as $18.25 million.

Sweet deal! The droolers visit the Ark, buy their tickets, pay the sales tax, and ol’ Hambo’s group gets a kick-back from the state. We continue:

The incentive program’s rules say that if preliminary approval is granted, the authority would then select a consultant — at Ark Encounter’s expense — to study the project to see if it meets the program’s criteria, including that the project get at least 25 percent of its visitors from out of state after four years and having an overall positive impact on the state budget.

We can (to some extent) understand that Kentucky would pay a kick-back for sales taxes collected from out of state droolers, but if they’re only going to be 25% (or whatever) of those who visit the ark, then why doesn’t the kick-back apply only to that portion of the taxes collected? Here’s more:

Ark Encounter, a venture of Answers in Genesis, which developed and runs the controversial Creation Museum in Boone County, cleared all of those hurdles and won final approval from the authority in May 2011 for its entire proposal. Under the incentive program’s rules, it had three years to start work. But as that deadline approached, it withdrew its application for the entire park and re-applied — seeking approval of just the $73 million first phase.

In other words, ol’ Hambo didn’t succeed in meeting the original deadline, so he’s starting all over again. Moving along:

The project was delayed, Zovath said, “because funding was slower than we’d anticipated. It was all about funding.” Sufficient financing was in hand by early this year for the first phase, he said. Construction of other phases on the 800-acre site is still planned over the next 12 years.

We’re shocked — shocked! — that funding was slower than anticipated. But now they’re ready for the first phase. Another excerpt:

Zovath emphasized the first phase includes the feature that consultants say will draw the crowds — the 510-foot wooden ark. “That’s the main feature, the main attraction,” Zovath said.

Okay, but everyone wants to know — when will the ark start generating ticket sales … ah, we mean, when will it be open for visitors? We’re told:

He said the park will open about two years after construction begins. “We should open mid-summer of 2016,” he said.

It’s gonna take two years to build the thing? It’ll be difficult waiting that long. But will the state come through with the tax goodies? That’s not yet certain. The next part of the story is about some wicked group that seems obsessed with separation of church and state. They may start litigation to prevent the tax incentives. Oh, after that there’s some information about ol’ Hambo’s bond issue:

The Ark Encounter website says $14.8 million has been raised so far toward a goal of $29.5 million.

Last year Williamstown offered $62 million in bonds on behalf of the Christian group. The city isn’t responsible for repaying the unsecured bonds, which are to be repaid from park revenues. Partly because of a lackluster response to the offering, the bond sale was extended late last year.

Zovath said, “We needed to hit a certain target — about $45 million in project funds from the bonds. … We hit that target in late February.” In order to reach the target, Zovath said Answers in Genesis itself bought “probably between $2.5 million to $3 million” of the bonds.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Ol’ Hambo had to buy some of his own bonds in order to keep the whole thing from collapsing! But we’re still confused. First they say they raised $14.8 million. Then they say they raised $45 million from bond sales. Which is it? Or is it both?

Nothing is very clear, but the big thing right now is getting the state to come through again with the tax incentives. And ol’ Hambo may have to deal with some lengthy litigation along the way. Will the ark ever get built? Stay tuned to this blog!

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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The Insanity of “Social Darwinism”

The bizarre subject of “social Darwinism” has been discussed around here before. For example, see Banquet at Delmonico’s — Spencer and Social Darwinism, where we defined it and described its origin. It was developed by Herbert Spencer, who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” (which Darwin never used).

From that misguided beginning, the creationists have found enough ammunition to condemn Darwin and his theory of evolution for virtually all the ills of society — for example, see Discovery Institute: Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, Part VI, and also Ellis Washington: Driven Mad by Darwin, and also Discovery Institute: Beyond Despicable.

That’s enough background. Now let’s turn to what prompted today’s post. We found this at the National Review website: Ryan’s Anti-Poverty Plan . It’s attributed to “the Editors,” and it says, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

President Obama famously accused Representative Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) of “thinly veiled Social Darwinism” for one of his budgets.

That was a couple of years ago. We remember it well, because we wrote: Is Barack Obama a Creationist?, in which we said:

One of the typical creationist arguments against Darwin’s theory of evolution is to raise the specter of what they call “social Darwinism,” a term that is as unconnected to biology as “social plate tectonics” is to geology or “social quantum mechanics” to physics. … The slur of “social Darwinism” is both nonsensical and squalid — which is why it’s such a favorite of creationists.

[...]

What this tells us is that Obama sees fiscal conservatives as “Darwinists,” and he sees his own policies of ever-expanding government as the opposite — which we all know is creationism. This isn’t the first time your Curmudgeon has commented on the apparent relationship of free-enterprise and evolution (see Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Barack Obama), but it’s the first time the President has confirmed our thinking.

[...]

We can’t help but conclude that Obama sees himself more than a community organizer — whatever that really is. Now he thinks he’s the intelligent designer of America’s economy.

Some of you didn’t like what we wrote, but that never restrains a true Curmudgeon. Anyway, National Review goes on to praise Paul Ryan’s new budget proposals. They make sense to us, but we won’t bore you with any of that. What we really want to talk about is the old slur of social Darwinism.

The expression “social Darwinism” is misleading not only because it’s based on a false conception of the theory of evolution, but because it’s an equally misleading label for the free enterprise system. The enemies of reason and freedom score two propaganda points every time they play the social Darwinism card.

Free enterprise is not like the law of the jungle, where predators (i.e., the rich) pounce upon and devour the poor. Donald Trump doesn’t lurk in alleys looking for winos from whom he can steal to add to his fortune. If you don’t achieve success, it’s not Darwin’s fault, and no one is plundering you.

Okay, let’s sum it all up. Is Paul Ryan a social Darwinist? No, of course not. Is Obama a creationist? He behaves as if he were the intelligent designer, but who knows what he thinks? Is this a slow day for news? Indeed it is.

Hey — we just had a sudden thought: Astrology is social astronomy. Well, why not? It makes as much sense as social Darwinism.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Scientist Fired for Finding “New” Dinosaur Fossil

It looks like we have yet another creationist lawsuit to watch. We learned about this one from the Los Angeles CBS website: CSUN Scientist Fired After Soft Tissue Found On Dinosaur Fossil. They say, with our bold font:

Attorneys for a California State University, Northridge scientist who was terminated from his job after discovering soft tissue on a triceratops fossil have filed a lawsuit against the university.

It appears that CBS is getting the story from only one side of the controversy, so we need to exercise caution in reaching any conclusions. It’s extremely doubtful, in our humble opinion, that anyone would be fired for discovering a fossil. We’re also told:

While at the Hell Creek Formation excavation site in Montana, researcher Mark Armitage discovered what he believed to be the largest triceratops horn ever unearthed at the site, according to attorney Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute.

The Pacific Justice Institute? They like to handle creationist cases. We’ve run into them before — see Caldwell Litigation Against UC: Dismissal Affirmed on Appeal. Wikipedia has an article about them: Pacific Justice Institute. They seem to be the right outfit for a case like this. They have a press release about it at their website: University Silences Scientist After Dinosaur Discovery. It says:

When examining the [triceratops] horn under a high-powered microscope back at CSUN, Armitage was fascinated to see the soft tissue. The discovery stunned members of the scientific community because it indicates that dinosaurs roamed the earth only thousands of years in the past rather than going extinct 60 million years ago.

According to court documents, shortly after the original soft tissue discovery, a university official challenged the motives of Armitage, by shouting at him, “We are not going to tolerate your religion in this department!”

Here’s a copy of the complaint that was filed: Mark Armitage vs. Board of Trustees of the California State University, et al. It’s a 21-page pdf file. We haven’t read it yet. Okay, back to CBS:

Armitage’s findings were eventually published in July 2013 in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Really? It was published a year ago and it hasn’t been in the news until now? CBS gives this link to the published article: Soft sheets of fibrillar bone from a fossil of the supraorbital horn of the dinosaur Triceratops horridus. It was published in Acta Histochemica, which is indeed a peer-reviewed journal.

So what happened after that? It’s not clear at all. The only thing we hear from the other side of the case is this:

CSUN spokesperson Carmen Ramos Chandler told CBSLA Armitage was a temporary hire between 2010-2013 and worked as an electron microscopy technician. She could not comment on the lawsuit as university officials had not yet received the complaint.

So all we have is the plaintiff’s side. The poor guy found a fossil, published about it, and then … Ka-Boom-O, he’s expelled! Could there be any more to the story? We strongly suspect that there is, but we’ll have to wait and see how the case progresses. Oh wait — CBS adds this at the end of their story:

The discovery is the latest in several recent – and controversial – soft tissue finds by archaeologists: researchers last November claimed the controversial discovery of purported 68-million-year-old soft tissue from the bones of a Tyrannosaurus rex can be explained by iron in the dinosaur’s body, which they say preserved the tissue before it could decay.

We’ve had posts about soft tissue alleged to have been found on dinosaur fossils before, for example: Dinosaur Fossils Found with Hot Red Meat? Those never amounted to anything. But this could be the case that finally brings down the horrid house of Darwin. Stay tuned to this blog!

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Klinghoffer: All Scientists Are Scoundrels

Although creationists have absolutely nothing to show for their endless prattling about the evils and uselessness of science compared to the imaginary value of creationist (and intelligent design) mythology, they persist in promoting their nonsense. One of their techniques is to seize upon any errors in scientific work, proclaiming such to be typical of all science, and rock-solid evidence that science is worthless.

They never mention that: (1) it’s always scientists, not creationists, who discover and correct such errors; (2) actual instances of scientific fraud are career-killers; (3) creationists never correct each other or retract anything, no matter how crazy their claims may be; and (4) regardless of their idiocy, there are no creationist career-stoppers — their careers continue forever.

A good example of this creationist anti-science tactic is the latest post at the Discovery Institute’s blog by David Klinghoffer, their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. It’s titled People Are Starting to See Scientists the Way They Really Are. Oooooooh! He says, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The public used to see politicians in far more exalted terms than they do now. The same fate befell the clergy. Now it’s scientists.

Oh dear. The public is waking up to the scam of science. We’re told that:

Dr. Ivan Oransky, MD, of Retraction Watch gets a delicious write-up from Forbes:

Here’s the Forbes article he’s talking about: Bad Science Muckrakers Question the Big Science Status Quo. We’ll overlook the way Klinghoffer precedes Oransky’s name with “Dr.” and follows it with “MD.” The About Ivan Oransky page at his website is impressive, and he doesn’t appear to be a flake at all. So why is Klinghoffer quoting him? According to the poo-flinger, Forbes says:

Oransky is raising awareness of the impact that competition for grants and career advancement is having on the quality of the science being produced. Far from being above the fray and immune to corrupting influences, “Scientists are just as human as anyone else,” says Oransky. And increasingly, “People are starting to see scientists the way they really are.”

Okay. No one doubts that scrambling for government handouts is a demeaning activity. What does Klinghoffer make of it? Let’s read on:

When we say things like that, they say we’re “anti-science.” No, just pro-realism about scientists.

[*Sigh*] Actually, Klinghoffer, you and your comrades are anti-science. Yes, it’s true, some science papers need to be retracted, and some scientists (but not very many) do misbehave. How does that compare to the creationist track record of having no creationist articles published — except in your own captive journals? Creationists’ papers are such obvious junk that they rarely get to the point where they need to be retracted — but it sometimes happens, e.g., the paper by the Discoveroids’ own Stephen C. Meyer, resulting in the Sternberg peer review controversy.

Klinghoffer continues:

Also quoted [by Forbes], Dr. Thomas Stossel of Harvard Medical School:

[Klinghoffer's mined quote:] “I realized how fundamentally honest business people are compared to my academic colleagues, who’d run their grandmothers over for recognition.”

When you read the article Klinghoffer’s quoting, you’ll see that Stossel isn’t saying that scientists are fundamentally dishonest — ambitious, yes, but not dishonest. What he’s really saying is that his eyes were opened to how basically honest business people are, compared to what he had believed in his isolated academic life when he was a “typical academic socialist.” How does that help to make Klinghoffer’s case? It doesn’t.

So what’s the conclusion of Klinghoffer’s post? Here it comes:

As for non-scientists who have not yet been disabused of their childlike faith, one can only say: Growing up is hard to do.

We see it differently. First of all, very few science papers need to be retracted. Some of those are due to error, and yes, some small percentage is due to fraud. However, the fraudsters aren’t typical scientists. Rather, such people behave like creationists, and it’s entirely proper that their once-promising careers end in infamy.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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