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Jun 07 2013

The Creation “Museum” is not a museum

Kurt Percy, the assistant manager of the Cincinnati Museum Center, has crossed Ken Ham. Percy dared to speak the truth about the Creation “Museum”. I agree whole-heartedly with this comment:

This is not a museum, and this is further proof of that. Please stop referring to it as such. They are not an accredited museum by any association of museums. It is a theme park that misleads the public and it is a pockmark on our region. The fact that someone profits by misrepresenting their faith as science to children and families is shameful. When we wonder why America is falling behind in science education, it is because places like this are allowed to exist. I’m glad to see that their attendance is declining despite generous handouts from the state of Kentucky at the expense of their university funding.

Ken Ham’s “rebuttal” is pathetic. He cites a dictionary definition of “museum” at a manager of an accredited museum.

…an institution devoted to the procurement, care, study, and display of objects of lasting interest or value; also: a place where objects are exhibited.

So, is Disneyland a museum? A jewelry store? A church? Because you could claim that all of those fit his dictionary definition. A dictionary is a rough guide to common usage, not a definitive explanation of meaning.

Then Ham obliviously makes it worse. He cites other summaries of what constitutes a museum, in particular the American Alliance of Museums Accreditation, and notes that the Cincinnati Museum Center is accredited.

The Creation “Museum” is not. It’s not ever going to be accredited by any legitimate agency. Percy was exactly right: it’s a theme park, equivalent to a Halloween haunted house on a bloated budget, and it is little more than a colossal joke. There is nothing of lasting value there — animatronic Jews and dinosaurs and replica skeletons don’t measure up. There is definitely nothing worth studying; it has no archives, no scientific collection, no employees doing research. It could be blotted out by a meteor falling from the sky, and it would no loss at all to science, only a small loss to Kentucky tourism.

Then Ham closes by bragging about his new zip line ride at the “museum”. Without apparent irony.

I’m just glad someone in Cincinnati is speaking bluntly and honestly about the carnie act playing in nearby Kentucky. Someone give Kurt Percy a promotion.

71 comments

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  1. 1
    R Johnston

    Citing dictionary definitions and muddying the concept of science whenever he’s caught being phenomenally stupid. Is Ken Ham a christian fundy or an MRAtheist libertarian? Who knows?

    Slymepitters and Ken Ham; the difference between them is not one of any significance at all.

  2. 2
    Glen Davidson

    It’s fitting that a pseudoscience would have a pseudomuseum.

    Glen Davidson

  3. 3
    kevinalexander

    AFAIK the American Museum of Natural History doesn’t have a zip line ride and they call themselves a museum. If a house of evilooshinist propaganda with no zip line! can call itself a museum then anyone can.

  4. 4
    Menyambal

    Geeze. All he had to do was show them his objects of lasting interest or value. Or does he not have anything of lasting interest or value?

  5. 5
    sceptinurse

    Disneyland is more of a museum than the Creation “Museum”. It has archives, employees doing research (Imagineers), and it updates exhibits when things change. I would be willing to bet that the food is better too. All in all I would rather spend a day in the imaginary world of Disney than the imaginary world of the creation “museum”.

  6. 6
    ck

    Or as the editors in the “Ask the Editor” videos at Merriam-Webster’s website often say, “A dictionary is descriptive, not prescriptive.” It tells you how the word is or has commonly been used, not how it ought to be used.

  7. 7
    butterflyfish

    Ken Ham is the master of saying absurd things with a straight face. He’s like one of those carny con men Walt Disney always hated.

  8. 8
    firstapproximation

    equivalent to a Halloween haunted house on a bloated budget

    Only if the haunted house tried to misinform people that ghosts and zombies were real.

    I guess Ken Ham does kinda look like Frankenstein though.

  9. 9
    yazikus

    procurement, care, study, and display of objects of lasting interest or value; also: a place where objects are exhibited.

    I’m having fun thinking of other institutions that fit this description. My fireplace mantle displays things of lasting interest and value that I have procured, cared for and studied… Does that count?

  10. 10
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Ken Ham is the master of saying absurd things with a straight face. He’s like one of those carny con men Walt Disney always hated.

    Able to say absurd things with a straight face? Sounds like a preacher. Or a Fox talking head. Or a libertarian.

    Which, in a Venn diagramme, would most likely show significant overlap.

  11. 11
    John Morales

    I know from experience of much more vicious conflicts than these that it is likely that there are good people on all perceived ‘sides’

    They’re perceived, alright, but they are sides, not ‘sides’ — you’re insinuating that there is only one side here (the atheist side) and thus the conflict is internecine — which amounts to ignoring the actual issue under contention, that being the social justice side.

    (Your scare quotes fail)

  12. 12
    John Morales

    [aaargh]

    My #11 was posted in error.
    Please ignore.

  13. 13
    yazikus

    Sounds like a preacher. Or a Fox talking head. Or a libertarian.

    Which, in a Venn diagramme, would most likely show significant overlap.

    Ogvorbis, this made me chuckle out loud. So true.

  14. 14
    Crissa

    Cincinnati is the city that has a major freeway closed for two weeks for filming Captain America, with like no signage to the effect.

    Aside from that, looks like a nice city.

  15. 15
    Becca Stareyes

    Granted, I haven’t been there, but one would think if Ken Ham wanted to keep the veneer of ‘science’, he could spend the cost of a zip line buying fossils from collectors and make up a few signs about how these are Obviously Proof of a Great Flood. Or pay someone to write new exhibits so they can rotate some out, which has the added benefit of making his customer base make repeat trips, because they can’t miss the new ‘Why Australia is So Weird: God’s Test Kitchen’ special exhibit.

    It’s like Ken Ham doesn’t expect his customers to know what a museum should even look like beyond ‘educational things in a room’. Or he figures that the ‘creationist and biologists-studying-creationist-arguments’ market isn’t filling his pocketbook, so he might as well make some money from tourists/locals who just want to ride a zip line.

  16. 16
    defaithed

    Here’s something fun: Try to think up appropriate names for the “Creation Museum”.

    The Judaic Mythology Theme Park
    Kentucky Ken’s Creatio-World
    Redneck-o-Rama (slogan on T-shirts: “Were you there? YES!”)
    Savior Souvenir Shop (“We gots tyrannersaurs, too!”)
    Uncle Ham’s Dino Emporium and Goodtime Jesus Jamboree
    Fantasyland (oops, that’s taken)

    Any more?

  17. 17
    robster

    We’ve got to remember that this “museum” is a christian enterpise and nobody does dodgy use of the language better than christians. The supposed “good news” of their baby jesus is a great example of this, being neither “good” or “news”. They misname all their nonsense to make it appear as something it’s not.

  18. 18
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Ogvorbis, this made me chuckle out loud. So true.

    I look at it more in terms of infuriatingly sad.

  19. 19
    yazikus

    I look at it more in terms of infuriatingly sad.

    True again. It was the first time I laughed today, which I appreciated.
    -
    As far as more accurate park names… Jurassic Ark?

  20. 20
    yazikus

    Here’s something fun: Try to think up appropriate names for the “Creation Museum”.

    Did you know wikipedia has an extensive list of all (well probably most) theme parks? The following link leads to a sampling. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_amusement_parks_in_the_Americas

  21. 21
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Try to think up appropriate names for the “Creation Museum”.

    How about: “Biblical Bullshit”? or “Biblical Bloviations”?

  22. 22
    yazikus

    As per my wiki perusal, this is regarding The Holy Land Experience theme park in Florida:

    There was a four-year legal fight concerning almost $1,000,000 in property taxes that Orange County Property Appraiser Bill Donegan alleged were owed. Donnegan argued that the Holy Land Experience is a theme park. Donegan dropped his fight after state lawmakers passed a law in 2006 granting a tax exemption for theme parks that display, exhibit, illustrate and interpret biblical manuscripts.

    Way to go lawmakers.

  23. 23
    Rey Fox

    Wonderful smackdown. I would personally quibble with the part where he says they’re “misrepresenting their faith” though. Seems to me that the Creation Nonmuseum is a perfect monument to the intellectual paucity of Christianity.*

    * Christianity in the fundamental sense, unencumbered by all the more advanced ethics and science that was bolted on from the outside in recent years.

  24. 24
    Dee Emarr

    A dictionary is a rough guide to common usage, not a definitive explanation of meaning.

    This. I hate it when people act like the dictionary definition is the final word on a subject.

  25. 25
    DBP

    According to Ken Ham, my bedroom floor is a museum! I’ll start charging admission right away!

  26. 26
    jimnorman

    Try to think up appropriate names for the “Creation Museum”.

    Ned: Oh, Maude, I’ve turned your dream of a Christian amusement park into a be-musement park.
    Homer: (gasps) Don’t say that, Ned!
    Ned: It is! It’s a be-musement park!

  27. 27
    ednaz

    defaithed @ 16

    *snort*

    : D

  28. 28
    carlie

    Did you know wikipedia has an extensive list of all (well probably most) theme parks? The following link leads to a sampling.

    To see what the Creation Museum will hopefully become, try Wikipedia’s list of abandoned theme parks.

  29. 29
    sadunlap

    Back when I gave lectures to classes on critical evaluation of information I would start by going around the classroom, shaking hands with the students while introducing myself as “Brad Pitt, the famous movie star.” Then I would ask what they thought would happen if I tried that on his then girlfriend, Jennifer Anniston. Everybody laughed. This, I called the “naming game.” I can call myself Brad Pitt if I like, but that does not magically turn me into a movie star. You can call anything anything. So what? Calling something what you would like people to believe it is does not make it so. Nice try.

    (Added bit of whimsy: it’s difficult to find someone who looks less like Brad Pitt than I do).

  30. 30
    carlie

    Speaking of which, you can now get “The Holy Land”, a theme park abandoned for 30 years, for the newly-lowered price of 350k.

  31. 31
    R Johnston

    Try to think up appropriate names for the “Creation Museum”

    Fred and Wilma’s Funhouse.

    Fekaktaland

    Der Ring Gott Farblonjet

  32. 32
    unbound

    Found this gem…”We are also thrilled to open the best zip line course…”

    Don’t all respectable museum’s have zip lines?

  33. 33
    John Morales

    Creation Myth Museum.

  34. 34
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    John:

    perhaps the Creation Mythseum

  35. 35
    John Morales

    Ogvorbis, a definite improvement.

  36. 36
    Lofty

    Hammy’s House of Rubes and Spare Ribs.
    .
    .
    .@17 robster:

    The supposed “good news” of their baby jesus is a great example of this, being neither “good” or “news”.

    Yeah, like it’s TV namesake, what they pronounce to be “news” is mosty “olds” aka “old hat” like we’ve heard it all before, over and over and over again.

  37. 37
    Menyambal

    Hmm. Mike Zovath, senior vice president of Answers in Genesis, says the $90 zip line is designed to attract people onto the museum grounds, in hopes they will then cough up another $10 to get into the museum proper. So it’s bait.

    Ken Ham, the pig plucker, wraps up his rant with, “… zip line course … we’re fallen because of our sin … ” I’m not getting on a zip line operated by the fallen.

  38. 38
    defaithed

    @yazikus: List of theme parks? Thanks! Ooh, lots of words to play with in there…

    The Alley Oop Institute of Theologic Anthropology
    Knott’s $27 Million Boondoggle Farm
    Wet ‘n’ Wild ‘n’ Really Dumb
    The Enchanted Taxpayer-Funded Violation of the First Establishment Clause
    Land o’ Lies (featuring the Zion Zipline, the Creation Coaster, and the Attendance Freefall!)
    Propaganda Park
    Holy Christ! I Can’t Believe It’s a Museum!
    National Monument of Shame
    The Petersburg Children’s Hands-Off Non-Science and Discovery-Free Center
    Museum of Unnatural History (newest attraction: “Create-Your-Own-Reality Workshop”, next to the “Revenues in Genesis” permanent exhibit)
    Grampa Ozzie’s G’Day Ministry and Triceratops Rodeo
    Accreditation Quest!

    Here’s an interesting note gleaned from the Wikipedia list: There actually is a Noah’s Ark amusement park in Wisconsin, though the name seems to relate primarily to water park attractions. (Can’t get much more “wet ‘n’ wild” than a global genocidal flood!) It also had an ark structure, which “was the former ticket office and recently was used for storage and as a museum burned down due to an electrical fire in fall 2012 and was not rebuilt.” Oops.

    Also: In case anyone isn’t already aware of it, the “Museum”‘s web site is a real eye-opener. The place isn’t not a Discovery Institute kind of thing, pushing “scientific” creationism while pretending to be non-religious. The “Museum” is full-out Old Testament and talking snake and Jebus and salvation preachiness. It’s not a “teach the controversy” tactic of religion in disguise. It’s a church.

    Bleah.

  39. 39
    defaithed

    I guess I can’t edit typos in my post… Last full paragraph: “isn’t not” => “isn’t”.

  40. 40
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    “Fun House”?

    “Ken Ham’s House o’Lies”?

  41. 41
    Owlmirror

    I think it could be argued that calling it a Creationist Museum might work. That is, it contains the material culture of a religious subgroup of Americans, or more accurately, the descendants of Western Europeans (Ham is from Australia and Comfort is from New Zealand, and I’m sure there are creationists in Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, and South Africa), called “creationists” as a general term. Each artifact is constructed not just for aesthetic or entertainment purposes (as one might find in a theme park), but also for the religious purpose of reinforcing the narrative of the creationists’ religious beliefs, demonstrating the strong social anxieties that lead to this support, and denying the narrative provided by the scientific consensus while unironically cherry-picking from the scientific consensus for the appearance of some of their largest and most dramatic artifacts (fiberglass dinosaur replicas).

    Of course, a proper curation would need to provide placards that contrast the ludicrous bullshit of the claims made by the creationist placards with what science actually says.

    Some museum of the far future could indeed house an anthropological exhibit of this particular subculture from Ham’s collection, to the edification of our distant descendants, who will presumably not have to put up with creationist nonsense directly and personally, just as we no longer have to put up with the Inquisition directly and personally.

  42. 42
    No One

    “….generous handouts from the state of Kentucky at the expense of their university funding.”

    Are you kidding me? Taxpayer money goes to that?

  43. 43
    Menyambal

    Creative Interpretation of Iron-Age Myths Museum

  44. 44
    Glen Davidson

    I like to think that, if Ham’s little joke of a “museum” can spring for a zipline, that the American Museum of Natural History will soon have a roller coaster.

    Or, more seriously, is the zipline actually because the “Ark Park,” or whatever it’s supposed to be called, is floundering?

    How many of those who want to ride a zipline are really ready to be herded around a series of little sermons and precious little lies? Some probably will be guilted into it, but when you have to endure church already, why endure the “museum” as well? Their hope might be that the kids who want to go on the zipline will, if they can persuade a parent or two, be forced by their parents into the boredom of hearing once again that “we’re right.”

    I think it’s fair to suppose that they’re not really concerned about being held to high standards by their gullible customers.

    Glen Davidson

  45. 45
    Hank_Says

    16, defaithed:

    Here’s something fun: Try to think up appropriate names for the “Creation Museum”.

    The Judaic Mythology Theme Park
    Kentucky Ken’s Creatio-World
    Redneck-o-Rama (slogan on T-shirts: “Were you there? YES!”)
    Savior Souvenir Shop (“We gots tyrannersaurs, too!”)
    Uncle Ham’s Dino Emporium and Goodtime Jesus Jamboree
    Fantasyland (oops, that’s taken)

    Any more?

    Jackassic Park.

  46. 46
    Hank_Says

    Y’know, if you approached the Creation Museum as a prime and current example of fundamentalism, you could totally use it educationally. Take a tour group through there and treat it as a living anthropological exhibit in and of (and about) itself – the Creation Meta-seum.

  47. 47
    Draken

    Ripoff’s Believe it- or Not.

  48. 48
    Draken

    Kurt Percy’s original comment on NKY seems to be gone. Did he feel any need to retract it or has the editor zapped it?

  49. 49
    Holms

    It could be blotted out by a meteor falling from the sky, and it would no loss at all to science, only a small loss to Kentucky tourism.

    INCORRECT:
    A modern, large meteoric crater would not only be of tremendous scientific interest, but would also draw plenty of tourists keen to see the new youngest crater on Earth.

    Net gain!

  50. 50
    Hank_Says

    49: +1!

  51. 51
    Rich Woods

    I see Ken takes the same approach to the dictionary as he does to the bible. If his head were to be sliced open I bet we’d see half his brain was black and the other half white, with no sign of any grey matter whatsoever…

    Donegan dropped his fight after state lawmakers passed a law in 2006 granting a tax exemption for theme parks that display, exhibit, illustrate and interpret biblical manuscripts.

    To avoid breaching the Establishment clause, wouldn’t they have to expand that to cover everything mythological rather than just biblical?

  52. 52
    hillaryrettig

    >” pockmark on our region. ”

    nice touch, that. almost shakespearean.

    Now I’m wondering why more mainstream churches don’t object to creationism specifically as a debasement of their religion. Is it because once you start attacking someone else’s dogma it’s hard to defend your own?

  53. 53
    Mike Bendzela

    Ken Ham’s fantasyland needs to be preserved for posterity as a monument to failed ideology…

    …at which point it will be called “The Creation Museum Museum.”

  54. 54
    vaiyt

    Is it because once you start attacking someone else’s dogma it’s hard to defend your own?

    More or less like that, yes. It’s like how cranks are nonconfrontational with each other – if they start applying logic and evidence to other cranks, pretty soon all of them will end up disproving each other.

  55. 55
    lehman scott

    It’s been quite telling to watch Ham’s recent spate of attacks on his critics. In the past he’s mostly confined himself to the occasional and mostly reserved response to internet posts about him and AiG, but lately he seems to be actively looking for them and making quite a scene about every one he can find, both great and small.

    Case in point: In yesterday’s lead article, Ken had his “primary consultant for Ark theory and design” (lol) write a response to a member of our own little atheist internet cul-de-sac who had made a post on his personal blog dissembling the seaworthiness of the Ark (you may remember Froggie, PZ, he was in your group that visited the Creation Museum.). For some reason Ken decided that it was necessary to elevate Froggie’s analysis (that was probably not seen by very many people at all) to the front page of his AiG blog… and to be dealt with in two separate posts!

    That AiG would give so much attention to one person’s post on an obscure personal blog is indicative of just how desperate they have become. As the untenability of their beliefs is exposed at every turn they behave like a cornered and wounded animal flailing about at anything that moves in their general direction. Even minor critics are now perceived as a deadly threat to their survival

    Sometimes I feel genuinely sorry for them. It’s gotta be painful to watch your entire belief system crumbling all around you.

    Sometimes.

    link to the AiG post.

    Froggie’s post.

  56. 56
    David Marjanović

    Disney… Disney… have you noticed that religion is plainly absent from the Disney universe?

    (Oh, sure, the most savage of savages regularly have stupid superstitions that threaten the lives of main characters. But those always portrayed as self-evidently completely wrong.)

    Fekaktaland

    Der Ring Gott Farblonjet

    I don’t understand these.

    Jackassic Park

    I love it!!!

  57. 57
    David Marjanović

    It’s like how cranks are nonconfrontational with each other – if they start applying logic and evidence to other cranks, pretty soon all of them will end up disproving each other.

    The Defeat of Flood Geology by Flood Geology (pdf)

  58. 58
    Lofty

    David Marjanović:
    Link bork!

  59. 59
    Lofty

    Looks like FTB is playing silly buggers with links.
    “www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/Flood%20geology.pdf”

  60. 60
    rogerfirth

    Correct. It’s not a museum. It’s a masturbatorium. Avid promotion of such nonsense is tantamount to masturbating in public.

    The Creation Masturbatorium.

    The Creation Mythtorbatorium.

  61. 61
    rogerfirth

    Re carly #30 mention of the decaying abandoned Holy Land theme park in Waterbury CT going for $350k. One of the comments at the linked site was:

    A crumbling bible themepark. If that’s not a metaphor for religion today, I don’t know what is.

  62. 62
    sundiver

    David Marjanovic, that Phil Senter paper is great, I stumbled across it a few months ago and made a few copies to leave around the hospital where I work to annoy the creobots.

  63. 63
    Owlmirror

    It’s like how cranks are nonconfrontational with each other – if they start applying logic and evidence to other cranks, pretty soon all of them will end up disproving each other.

    I dunno, sometimes cranks can get rather shirty with each other. YECs and OECs are certain that the other has gotten things terribly wrong. And Ken Ham has recently hinted that anything other than YEC is (or might as well be) a heresy:

    http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2013/05/16/warning-rampant-compromise-but-isnt-it-really-heresy/

  64. 64
    Air

    Best new name for the Creation Museum?

    “Closed”

  65. 65
    ironflange

    Here’s what the OED defines museum:

    “A building or portion of a building used as a repository for the preservation and exhibition of objects illustrative of antiquities, natural history, fine and industrial art, or some particular branch of any of these subjects, either generally or with reference to a definite region or period. Also applied to the collection of objects itself.”

    By this definition, Ken Ham’s Creation. . . uh. . . “thing” is not a museum.

  66. 66
    David Marjanović

    Whoa. Corrected link to the pdf.

  67. 67
    coffeehound

    Then Ham closes by bragging about his new zip line ride at the “museum”. Without apparent irony.

    No,no, Ham has a point. Museums are judged by the quality of their zip line rides.

    What?

  68. 68
    PatrickG

    @ No One:

    Are you kidding me? Taxpayer money goes to that?

    No kidding involved here.

    Here is the press release from the Tourism, Arts, and Heritage cabinet. Here is an article about such from the Lexington Herald-Leader.

    A suspension of sales tax up to 25% of capital costs, which the state is projected (their claim, not mine) to recoup. Also, jobs. JOBS. JAAAAHHHHBS!!!!

    In addition to the tax breaks, the Creation Mythseum* will be the beneficiary of an $11 million highway interchange project, though this is still in the planning stages and is dependent on whether or not Ham Rove can deliver on his projected attendance (and thus “economic benefit”).

    Meanwhile:

    The state has gone through eight rounds of budget cuts over the past three years. Some agencies have been cut more than 20 percent.

    Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2011/03/26/1684616/beshear-vetoes-spending-cuts-contained.html#storylink=cpy

    So yeah.

  69. 69
    Cat's Staff

    In keeping with the way creationists do things…tomorrow they will create the Christian Association of Museums and it’s first act will be to print something out that says that Ken’s Creation Museum is fully accredited…it might even be suitable for framing. It will be hanging on the wall behind the front desk by lunchtime.

  70. 70
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @defaithed #16

    Uncle Ken’s Creationist Indoctrination Centre Park.

    It’s accurate, and the “park” makes it sound fun. .

  71. 71
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    For the UK Pharyngulites; by happy coincidence, Uncle Ken’s Creationist Indoctrination Park also has the advantage of having an acronym which is pronounced the same as “UKIP”.

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