Funding the Creationism Industry

SOME interesting articles have been popping up about creationist funding. Panda’s Thumb posted Creationist Financing. They say, with our bold font:

[A]as [Todd] Wood points out, AIG’s [Answers in Genesis] share of the creationist dollar grew over that period, from 61.6% ($9M) of the market in 2003 to 68.2% ($22.7M) in 2008. AIG’s growth in market share came at the expense of all the other YEC organizations, with the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and and the Creation Research Society (CRS), the two elder U.S. creationist organizations, contributing most of the change.

At Religion Dispatches, Lauri Lebo wrote Funding of Creationist Organizations Doubles. Lauri says:

Answers In Genesis remains the big boy in the business, far ahead of Creation Ministries International (from which AIG split a few years ago) and Institute for Creation Institute. AIG is the owner of the Kentucky-based Creation Museum, which features saddle-wearing dinosaurs and a recreation of Noah’s Ark built to biblical scale.

She also notes:

The Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which pushes the creationist concept of intelligent design, was not included in the ranking.

Not including the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) is a problem for us. We’ll get back to that omission before we’re done here.

Both of the foregoing refer to a post at Todd’s Blog titled Creationist finances revisited.

Todd obtained financial information about several creationist organizations the same way we’ve been doing it when we write about the Discoveroids — for example here: Discovery Institute: Their 2007 Tax Return. Todd has been looking at online tax returns which are publicly available for educational and other tax-exempt organizations. Specifically, using his wording, he’s been looking at information available for: AIG = Answers in Genesis, ICR = Institute for Creation Research, CEM: Creation Evidence Museum (Baugh’s organization), CRS = Creation Research Society, CM = Creation Moments (Ian Taylor’s radio program), CSC = Center for Scientific Creation (Walt Brown’s organization), CMI = Creation Ministries International US.

Todd’s effort was prodigious, and his methodology seems straightforward. Having selected his creationist organizations, he sums up their gross revenues for each year that the data are available. Then he figures each organization’s share of that year’s grand total. After that he moves on to the next year, observing whether the grand total has increased or decreased, and then he computes whether each member of the group he’s following has been increasing or decreasing its share of the grand total. There’s a lot of work involved.

Todd’s conclusions are not surprising. First, funding for his selected group as a whole has been increasing. Second, AIG’s share of that pie has been growing. This is all very interesting — but Todd left out the Discoveroids. The explanation is:

Since the Discovery Institute has more than just the Center for Science and Culture, I dropped the Discovery Institute.

That wasn’t necessary. As we found out in looking at the Discoveroids’ 2007 tax return, they break down their expenses according to activities, and nearly half of their $4 million revenue was expended on what looks like their intelligent design efforts.

Aside from the omission of the Discoveroids, we have questions about Todd’s exercise. For example, how was his group selected? Merely having tax returns available and a multi-million-dollar gross seem to be his criteria, but we’re not certain. The selection seems a bit arbitrary to us.

We don’t care, for example, how much money an outfit like ICR collects and spends. No one should care, as long as it’s not our tax money. Creationists already have churches, private schools, and bible colleges. You don’t care, do you? We certainly don’t. So why should we care if they also have websites and some build creationism theme parks?

The typical young-earth creationism outfit has no influence except among an embarrassingly large segment of the population that is utterly ignorant of science. But so what? Silly people have the right to be silly, and we’re not interested in tracking their financial progress. Well, some of them have a state legislator or two in their pocket, and school board members. The entire Louisiana legislature seems to be young-earth creationists. We track their activities, of course.

But regarding creationist organizations, our approach has been to focus only on those with political ambitions and influence, because they represent a danger to all of us. For that reason, we’ve always concentrated on the Discoveroids. We’ve explained at length elsewhere what we think of them, so we won’t bother to repeat ourselves here.

AIG is worthy of greater attention than we’ve been giving them, but only because they now advertise on the Fox network. (There’s the possibility of a curious Australian axis comprised of Ken Ham and Rupert Murdoch, but perhaps we should leave that to the conspiracy theorists.) Because of Fox, AIG’s potential influence is far greater than their mindless creation museum could ever be otherwise. For an example of what is probably due to AIG’s influence, see Creationism on Fox News.

Anyway, the creationist numbers gathered by Todd are available online. Click around and check them out. They’re interesting, and we certainly appreciate the effort that went into gathering that information. But your Curmudgeon will continue to focus on the Discoveroids and AIG. In our humble opinion, the rest of it doesn’t make much difference.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

4 responses to “Funding the Creationism Industry

  1. Aside from the DI, I don’t think the other organizations mess with politics. The DI, on the other hand, is busy, busy, busy pestering social conservatives to introduce “Academic Freedom” bills and modify teaching standards.

    The DI went so far as to sponsor anti-science education radio ads during the Kansas SBOE election in 2005; to no avail.

    The ICR moved its headquarters to Dallas, I seem to recall, and tried to get their schlock “masters” degree certified by the state. Failed, went to court and failed. No teaching certificates for you, ICR!

    The organizations listed by Todd are harmless, for the most part if you exclude brain damage and mental unhingedness, because they are expressly creationist. The DI is sneaky and therefore warrants more scrutiny because they are creationist but deny it. Liars for Jesus they are and watch them we will.

  2. Doc Bill says:

    Aside from the DI, I don’t think the other organizations mess with politics.

    That’s my impression. ICR tried politics, years ago. Back in the early 1980s they promoted a series of bills mandating “equal time” in schools for creationism. Didn’t work.

  3. Todd explains that his methodology of selection was to take the list of creationist groups I analyzed 3 years ago, drop the least significant ones, add Hovind’s organization, and drop DI.

    I got my list of groups from a yet earlier examination by John Cole in Reports of the NCSE, to which I added all of the other creationist groups I could find.

  4. Jim Lippard, thanks for clarifying things for me.