Variety Reviews ‘We Believe in Dinosaurs’

We were alerted to this by one of our clandestine operatives — code named “Bluegrass” — who knows everything that’s going on in Kentucky. This doesn’t have a lot of laughs, but it’s interesting. It’s a movie review — of all things — published in Variety, which reports show business news. Their headline is Film Review: We Believe in Dinosaurs’.

We wrote about the film when production was just getting started, a bit more than two years ago — see A Documentary About Hambo’s Ark Encounter. Now it’s completed and being shown. We’ll give you some excerpts from the review, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. It begins on a melancholy note:

This summer will see the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. It may also provide opportunity to meditate upon the fact that an awed populace back then could hardly have imagined an American near-future in which anti-science sentiments would become so widespread, particularly at the highest levels of a government that once rated NASA as a top priority.

Adding to that discussion is Monica Long Ross and Clayton Brown’s documentary “We Believe in Dinosaurs.” Attempting to portray both sides even-handedly (though a principal figure [Ol’ Hambo] presumably refused to be interviewed), it offers not so much a critique as a slightly bemused observation of the Ark Encounter, a Biblical theme park-style attraction in Kentucky designed to promote a creationist rather than scientific view of Earth’s history — which spans about 6,000 years, in this reckoning.

Then they describe the even-handed nature of the film:

The peculiar brand of pseudoscience utilized to provide supporting “evidence” is controversial, needless to say. So is the “separation of church and state” breach many view in such projects getting de facto governmental approval. Often amusing, but never condescending towards either Ark proponents or their equally vocal opponents, this feature should attract interest from various exhibition channels — perhaps particularly abroad, where admittedly it will not do Americans’ current popular image any favors.

So true. Moving along:

The purported $150 million Ark is less than an hour’s drive from the Creation Museum, an attraction also built by Australian-born Christian fundamentalist Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis organization. Legally a nonprofit, AIG nonetheless runs these businesses (as well as numerous ministerial and educative endeavors worldwide), selling them to local authorities as job-generating investments of a purely commercial “entertainment” nature, while on the other hand telling the faithful that they are very much intended to “evangelize.”

There’s nothing new here for our regular readers. We’ll scan through the review to see if there’s something of particular interest. Okay, how about this:

Not least among those [imaginative leaps not found in the Bible] is the depiction of dinosaurs and other extinct (as well as some murkily confabulated) creatures as passengers, since it’s the belief of creationists that fossil-record species simply died during, or shortly after, the Flood. It is also interesting to see the attraction’s PG-13 diorama of the decadence [Gasp!] that triggered God’s watery wrath. There are even animatronic figures used to address such philosophical quandaries as, “Why does a loving God allow so much death and suffering?”

Hambo has some illustrations of decadence? We’re shocked — shocked! Let’s read on:

Without laying on any overt message, “We Believe in Dinosaurs” does definitely suggest that this eccentric collision between faith and secularism, commerce and politics — one that might have seemed wholly outlandish not long ago — is kinda-sorta the direction in which our republic is now headed. [Groan!] Politicians increasingly bend to accommodate religious causes, with judiciary right behind them. Science denial is a trend, whether the motivation is Biblical literalism or simple capitalist greed.

We’re doomed — doomed! Here’s one last excerpt:

We see Ken Ham (who presumably refused to be interviewed by the filmmakers) selling his wares every which way, using whatever terminology will gain acceptance with a particular audience, but always advancing the creationist cause. That the wind is blowing in his direction is underlined by a closing-credits compilation of recent American politicos publicly distancing themselves from (or outright decrying) evolutionary theory.

According to Variety, the success of Hambo’s ark means our whole culture is falling into the slime. It probably seems that way to those who few rational folks who live in Kentucky. But we hope they’re wrong.

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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23 responses to “Variety Reviews ‘We Believe in Dinosaurs’

  1. But not everything is hopeless in Kentucky: check out Prof James Krupa, U Kentucky, online or at and ) To quote Krupa, “The thing about teaching is we are never sure we are making a difference. … To shy away from emphasizing evolutionary biology is to fail as a biology teacher”

  2. “[imaginative leaps not found in the Bible]”
    This of course is the YEC equivalent of “looking beyond the walls of naturalism”, a while ago popular among the IDiots from Seattle.

    “Science denial is a trend”
    Unfortunately not only regarding evolution theory, not only in the USA and also among secularists. The Dutch parties in my political habitat do only gradually better than the right wing ones when it comes to accept scientific facts, despite think thanks like

    As I’ve written before more than half of the Dutch population is not religiously affiliated. Still immunisation coverage is declining in my home country too.

    As a result there is a discussion whether day care should or should not accept non-vaccinated children. There was an epidemy of measles that started six years ago and lasted an entire year. Of course pseudo-skeptical outfits like NVKP (Dutch Society for Critical Vaccination) are undeterred.
    Equally worrying is the racism (including forms of religious discrimination) that goes along with expressions like “homeopathic dilution” and “boreal cultural sphere”. It’s highly understandable that the American regulars here complain about their current president. Within the European Union it’s easy to find versions that are worse, including in The Netherlands.
    Yesterday I heard on the news that ur-Brexiteer Nigel Farage will win (in Britain) the next elections for the European Parliament. Yay! Times are interesting.

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    Evenhanded? Where is the fun in that? At least the flat earth documentary had a pretty good zinger at the end.

  4. Ken got his fingers burnt in Bill Maher’s ‘Religulous’, so he’s not about to let that happen again with another film crew, even if they offer a disclaimer of non-partisan even-handedness. No: unless you’re seriously kissing YEC ass, you’ll probably be consigned to an already overcrowded Lake of Fire, along with the likes of reprobate Darwinists like us.

    Creationists are like vampires. Everybody knows not to invite a vampire over your threshold, ‘cos you can’t get rid of them. Ken is a vampire — a Christian one, yes, but that doesn’t make him any less dangerous. America let him in. It’s time some fearless vampire killer drove a stake through Ken’s heart (not literally!) and sent him back to Oz. We’ll dispose of the remains somehow.

  5. @PaulB: “Specifically, he asked if I would be teaching evolution as a theory or a fact. “I will teach evolution as both theory and fact.”
    This is what I call the Anglo-Saxon philosophy of science. My answer would be “I’m going to teach Evolution Theory and present lots of facts which support it; there are none which falsify it. Or has the Pre-Cambrian rabbit already been found?”
    This is a matter of semantics. The conclusions are the same; I just think that my approach makes it easier nonsense like “Your job was to teach it as a theory and not as a fact that all smart people believe in!!” Also I could not help notice “They use a fact-gathering approach” – here fact does not mean “a scientific explanation that has been tested and confirmed …..” but those confirmations (ie empirical data) themselves. The latter is the meaning I use. It allows me to easily tackle creationist abuse.
    In the end it’s just a matter of preference.

    “no transitional fossil forms had ever been found—despite my having shared images of many transitional forms during the semester.”
    I bet she used the phrase “missing links” – which can’t be found by definition (every transitional fossil form produces two missing links).

    “Human evolution is the greatest of all stories.”
    I beg to disagree – the Big Bang is a greater story and also essentially for “explaining how we came to be”. But hey, physics is my thing, not biology.

    I wish James Krupa all the success he can have.

  6. In brief, Krupa accepts the National Academies definition of “theory”. I will not attempt to defend this, because I regard it as self-serving and question-begging. Calling something a “theory” tells us nothing whatsoever about how well substantiated it is. Darwin himself in Origins repeatedly refers to “my theory”, without distinguishing between factual but at the time incompletely substantiated claims (common descent), and claims regarding mechanism (natural selection, exploitation of inheritable differences) where we now know that his explanations were incomplete.

    This is the kind of argument that can go on forever. I have laid out my own position at as follows:

    “In common language a theory always involves speculation. In academic discourse, it means a coherent set of ideas that explain the facts. Calling something a theory in this sense tells you nothing at all about how certain it is. A theory can be wrong (phlogiston theory), known to be approximate from the outset (ideal gas theory), very close to the truth but since improved on (Newton’s theory of planetary motions), or as certain as human knowledge ever can be (number theory in mathematics). Of course you can explain all this, but you should not put yourself in such a vulnerable position in the first place. It wastes time in debate, or in the classroom. It puts you on the defensive, and thus, paradoxically, confers legitimacy on the attack. It allows the focus to shift from what we know about the world to the words we use to talk about it. This takes us away from science to the domain of the philosophers, lawyers, and expositors of Scripture who are fighting on behalf of Creationism.”

    To which I would now add that distinguishing as I then did and as many do between common and technical usage is rhetorically a bad move, because of the anti-elitist posturing of the enemies of science.

  7. @Chris S, you can’t blame Ken Ham for US creationism. He is himself nothing but a disciple of Henry Morris. And I hope you’re not serious in suggesting that the US should deport him because of what he thinks and says

  8. Paul Braterman says that arguing about the meaning of theory “puts you on the defensive, and thus, paradoxically, confers legitimacy on the attack. It allows the focus to shift from what we know about the world to the words we use to talk about it.”

    True. You don’t want to get tangled up with the “just a theory” gang. But without using the word “theory,” I do let myself say that — unlike the creation stories told in various religions — evolution is a comprehensible, testable explanation that is supported by lots of evidence and contradicted by none.

  9. I thought that a consensus was that evolution was defined as the change in inheritable features of populations.
    That tells me that evolution is something which happens. It is a fact that it happens. There are theories which explain evolution. There are theories which make reference to evolution to explain features of life.
    It is sort of like flight. Flight is something that happens. And there are theories of flight. I don’t think that anyone says that flight is a theory.

  10. @PaulB
    “… I hope you’re not serious in suggesting that the US should deport him…”

    No, not exactly, but Ken Ham — like Rupert Murdoch — has more power than any non-national has a right to wield in another country’s business, no matter how well received they are in certain quarters. No one individual should be permitted that sort of influence. It’s one of the quirks of the US — aided by globalist trends, no doubt — that Ken Ham can realize his parasitic ambitions much more fruitfully there than ever he could in his country of birth. Dracula got around, too, I believe.

    I know how resentful I’d be if an American of similar status as Ham exerted that much influence over Australian culture. Hell, I’m resentful of uncompromising evangelicals like David Robertson aka The Wee Flea, coming soon to ply his unwanted trade on these shores, and he’s small fry compared to Ham.

  11. @PaulB: “I will not attempt to defend this”
    And I didn’t attack it. My point is rather that it’s worth thinking this stuff over when or even before dealing with creacrappers. Krupa obviously has done so, which is why he’s able to deal with them so well.

    @Our dear SC: ” You don’t want to get tangled up with the “just a theory” gang.”
    No problem for me. My answer is simply that gravity and electriticy are also just theories. The reaction of creacrappers invariably is so hilariously bad that it makes shooting fish in a barrel look nearly impossible. That’s because, like I said, it’s nothing but semantics. If they can abuse it I can use it in my advantage.
    This works for me. Krupa’s approach works for him. Just make sure to think it over, make a choice and stick to it. Creacrappers have no right to define terms and certainly not mine.

    @TomS: “I thought that a consensus was that evolution was defined as the change in inheritable features of populations.”
    According to TalkOrigins there are three meanings, if my memory serves me well. Again my point is that it’s worth your time thinking this over, because of course creacrappers will try to exploit it. Especially YECers tend to add a few more meanings, so that it includes eg the Big Bang as well.
    As Wittgenstein wrote:

    “All philosophy is a ‘critique of language’ (though not in Mauthner’s sense). It was Russell who performed the service of showing that the apparent logical form of a proposition need not be its real one.”
    Nothing better than systemetical critique of creacrap language to lay bare the emptiness and essential dishonesty of the “idea”. Exactly in this respect our dear SC has done his best work and hopefully keeps on doing so.

  12. On the one hand, is Ham a US citizen? Whether or not, one of the gloiries of the USA has been its immigrants. And one of its shames has been the abuse of immigrants.
    On the other hand, does Ham actually have any status in the USA? I am out of touch with popular culture.

  13. Politicians increasingly bend to accommodate religious causes, with judiciary right behind them.

    Perhaps foolishly, I still cling to the hope the judiciary will overturn Georgia’s ‘Heartbeat’ legislation, as well as similar pending enactments in a few other states.

    But can’t count on it. VP Pence was boasting just the other day about how many appointments to the bench had been made by the present–and utterly ghastly–administration.

  14. On reflection, would the courts uphold my own proposal for a ‘Brainwave Law’? Under its provisions, if insufficient rational activity is detected in the brain scan of a political leader, he or she should be immediately removed from office.

  15. @Megalonyx, I fear they would welcome it, as long as a judiciary packed with Trump appointees had the job of defining “rational activity”.

    Does anyone here know at what stage a heartbeat is first detectable? And what does a fetus look like at that stage?

  16. Olivia, shuddering as she recalls her brief but traumatising encounter with our Curmudgeon, confesses: “I also believe in dinosaurs…”

  17. With a shudder of revulsion, she still refers to you, Megalonyx, as “that Neanderthal.”

  18. Michael Fugate

    Heart beat begins after 3 weeks – the first organ to develop. You can imagine that it doesn’t look like much without any other organs.

  19. @FrankB, relax. “Win” is a meaningless expression. Deplorably, the Brexit Party will have the largest single delegation, as its predecessor did in the 2014 elections, but unlikely to be much more than 1/4 total UK seats.

  20. @PB
    AIUI the voting for the EP is not the stupid first past the post system. Otherwise, Brexit could easily win a majority with 33%..

  21. Holding The Line In Florida

    Speaking of how far we Americans have gone down the path of ignorance, but then again it is Texas, Vaccines are Sorcery against Jesus and Liberty? Really? Well, what can you expect from the GOP nowadays.

  22. @TomS, that’s right. But even PR can give the pro-Brexit parties (Brexit, Conservative, and depending on how you read their very ambiguous position statements, Labour) disproportionate representation because the smaller anti-Brexit parties may prevent each other from reaching the threshold for representation. (In a sane world, the splinter ChangeUK party, and perhaps the Greens, would enter into electoral alliances with the Lib Dems, but I don’t see that happening).

  23. @PaulB: “unlikely to be much more than 1/4 total UK seats.”
    If anything this makes our times even more interesting …..