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Another reason to avoid debating creationists

You might win. I think Bill Nye thoroughly trounced Ken Ham in their notorious debate over creationism, but how do you think the fervent supporters of a kooky belief might react to seeing their leader crushed by the forces of secularism? By digging a little deeper into their pockets to help the cause. Ken Ham is claiming that the debate brought in enough attention and extra donations to permit groundbreaking of his Ark Park project.

Take that with a grain of salt, though. Creationists aren’t very good with quantitative reasoning — he could have found a nickel on the sidewalk and claimed it was close enough to tens of millions — and also, suspiciously, none of the news reports I’m seeing are citing any specific numbers. They are saying how much he needs (roughly $70 million for the first phase), but they’re not saying how much he has, which would seem to me to be the more important number. All Ham has said is it’s “enough”.

He was raising money with junk bonds. I wouldn’t past him to be trying to raise confidence with unfounded claims of fund-raising success. Show me the numbers.

Comments

  1. ethicsgradient says

    What worries me is that the bonds aren’t ‘junk bonds’ – they’re municipal bonds issued by Williamstown. Not only does that look like a 1st amendment violation to me (from my perspective outside the USA), it also seems to leave the town on the hook for paying back the interest, and principal at some time. What if the project is a failure? 3,227 people have to pay that money back – that’s perhaps $60,000 per household. They are investing in a scheme that depends on gullible people giving them money, and they’ve probably invested more than their combined mortgages are worth. This has ‘Ponzi scheme’ written all over it.

  2. johnlee says

    Ken’s ‘replica’ of the Ark has been given prominence on the web page of the Independent. More free publicity for a prize scumbag. It’s not even news – this is simply regurgitating the same story as told in other newspapers months or years ago.
    There is clearly nothing more important going on in the world than the story of a religious con man fleecing his already well-shorn flock. I am beginning to abhor the press.

  3. says

    Creationists aren’t very good with quantitative reasoning

    Or he could have just been lying about it. Creationists aren’t very good with the truth either.

  4. peterhuestis says

    Part of me kind of wants this project to proceed so that it can blossom into the trainwreck that will inevitably result.

  5. peterh says

    From Jerry’s link:

    “The bonds are to be repaid through revenue from the park, and the city is not liable for the money, according to bond documents.”

    So the city is (hopefully) smart enough not to go “all in” on this.

    “The wooden ark would have old-world details, such as wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers.”

    Those details are not just “old-world.” Several of my direct ancestors in New England were well-respected for their abilities as ship’s carpenters constructing many wooden vessels during the 19th & early 20th centuries and they were skilled in such techniques along with shaping timbers with an adze. A great many New England buildings are of post-&-beam construction using “pegs” correctly called trunnels (a variant of tree nail).

  6. says

    As I remember the previous reporting, this is very much junk bonds. There’s no guarantee that the investors will ever see a penny. Nobody is going to get repaid anything unless the park is a roaring success. If it fails, the money is gone… except for the part that has already been paid out as salaries to Ham and associates. That’ll still remain in their personal bank accounts, nice and safe from any claims made against the ark project itself.

    This was a scam from day one. If it succeeds, they’ll make money. If it fails, they’ll make money. It’s doing exactly what it was set up to do; making sure that Ham doesn’t have to put in an honest day’s work.

  7. raven says

    Ham’s claim like everything he claims is a big dubious.

    1. It might not have much to do with Bill Nye. Often with fund raising, people wait till the last minutes.

    2. It’s also not too clear how much he really raised.

    3.

    Mike Zovath, the Ark project coordinator, said the minimum amount was sold, which constituted most of the bonds, and AiG purchased some. They did not provide exact figures.

    Huh, WTH??? AIG is deep;y tangled up with the Ark Park in some complicated way. I’m not sure what the current version is because it has changed. IIRC, both are nonprofits. The Ark Park will own the Big Boat Park and AIG will run it. Or something.

    This is self dealing and I’m sure perfectly legal.

    But AIG isn’t doing so well itself. They make money overall but lose money on the Creation Pseudomuseum, which has had declining enrollment every year since it opened.

    So basically, AIG bought bonds in a related company that was selling bonds.

  8. says

    I’m sure Ken says his prayers before he goes to bed.
    .
    “Now I lay me down to sleep,
    And thank the LORD for all the sheep,
    For sure as baby Jeez was born,
    He sent the lambs that they be shorn.”

    .
    © 2014 Kevin Alexander
    Send this to ten suckers friends and they can send a love offering to me.

  9. raven says

    Ark Encounter: Life-Sized Noah’s Ark! | Ark Encounter
    arkencounter. com/‎

    Noah’s Ark is being built by the makers of the Creation Museum. … and on the effort to raise bond funding to build a full-size Ark in northern Kentucky. … president/CEO of Answers in Genesis (the builder of the Ark Encounter), will take … See Park’s … In our Western nations, there have been similar reminders in the culture …

    1. AFAICT, the Ark Park is a nonprofit that owns the Arm Park.

    2. AIG will build it and run it.

    3. AIG just bought bonds in the Ark Park.

    This is self dealing, self financing. You only do this when you can’t find enough rustics and religous kooks to sell the junk bonds to.

  10. raven says

    I’m all but certain they will start building the Big Boat Genocide Park.

    They’ve raised tens of millions of dollars already. If they don’t start, they might have to give some of it back. Or at least, they will start looking like ordinary conpeople and might end up with lawsuits by unhappy “investors”.

    This whole operation looks pretty questionable. I’m sure lots of money will be siphoned off by the heads of Ark Park. We know how this works. Get your salaries, benefits, retirement plans, perks, and expense account pay upfront. Drag it out as long as possible. When the corporate shell is drained of every last drop of blood and penny, well, oops, “didn’t you read the prospectus?, it said it was risky.”

  11. says

    It’s possible that this is simply an attempt to save face. Ham has been called as the loser of the debate, even by other Christians. Maybe he’s just trying to pretend that it was totally a fundraising victory.

  12. says

    I am glad that Bill Nye trounced Ken Ham, but I am still bugged that Nye did not insist on splitting the “take.” The event was overtly a fundraiser for creationist cretins.

  13. hostilecyclist says

    What worries me is that the bonds aren’t ‘junk bonds’ – they’re municipal bonds issued by Williamstown. Not only does that look like a 1st amendment violation to me (from my perspective outside the USA), it also seems to leave the town on the hook for paying back the interest, and principal at some time. What if the project is a failure? 3,227 people have to pay that money back – that’s perhaps $60,000 per household.

    Not correct. The bonds are private activity bonds/revenue bonds and the city is just a conduit. The city has no liability and the repayment either comes from project revenue or the bond holders don’t get paid. The bonds are “junk” in the sense that they are non investment grade.

  14. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    I understood that Nye charged his usual speaking fee, and that Ham says the ticket sales of the night did not cover that. The publicity was Ham’s only profit, and if sales of the video are tanking, he has to do what he can to pretend there was good publicity.

  15. weatherwax says

    As I said previously, may is still a few months away. There’s plenty of time for delays that will require groundbreaking be postponed and additional infusions of donations.

    As for bonds, there are 2 kinds; General obligation and revenue.

    General obligation bonds require the issuer to pay off the bonds. Unless of course they go bankrupt.

    Revenue bonds are paid out of the profits. No profits, no bond payments.

    I’ve got better things to do than research these particular bonds, but my guess is they’re revenue bonds.

    And of course, even if this pseudomuseum is successful, creative accounting can mean there’s no profit to make payments out of.

  16. robro says

    I wouldn’t past him to be trying to raise confidence with unfounded claims of fund-raising success.

    That would be my guess. He probably got a bump in bond sales from the “debate,” but not many millions. However, he only needs a little bit of money to stage this groundbreaking ceremony in May. He’ll put on a good show and get another pop from that. He could milk this one for years and years.

  17. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    I wonder how much money Noah had to raise before his ground-breaking ceremony.

  18. ethicsgradient says

    The bonds are private activity bonds/revenue bonds and the city is just a conduit. The city has no liability and the repayment either comes from project revenue or the bond holders don’t get paid.

    OK; I don’t understand why many people are calling them ‘municipal bonds’, then. And I don’t understand how a ‘city’ (of under 4,000 – that’s a village in a lot of the world) is a ‘conduit’ for finance. Isn’t that what banks do, not cities?

  19. raven says

    OK; I don’t understand…

    True.

    These are Industrial Development Municipal bonds. The city doesn’t do anything but let their name be used. They have zero liability if they don’t get paid off. The bonds will be paid back from Ark Park revenue, assuming there is any. And assuming competent highly trained accountants can’t find a way to make sure whatever revenue there is isn’t diverted somewhere else.

    Isn’t that what banks do, not cities?

    No bank would touch a deal like this. Too risky. This tells you all you need to know.

    Industrial Development revenue municipal bonds have a high default rate already. Toss in questionable fundie xians and don’t expect your money back.

    And I don’t understand how a ‘city’ (of under 4,000 – that’s a village in a lot of the world) is a ‘conduit’ for finance.

    It’s done a lot. Municipal bonds are common and not all are risky.

    In this case follow the money!!! Who benefits? I’m guessing that business and political interests in Williamstown have a huge amount to gain from the Ark Park. Even if it collapses. Everyone gets their money up front except the investors. A report that I haven’t bothered to confirm said that Williamstown gave Ark Park 100 acres for their site.

    Kentucky and the local area have given them tax breaks worth tens of millions. Kentucky is supposed to build a highway interchange for the Ark Park. If separation of church and state hasn’t been violated outright here (true IMO) it has been made a complete mockery of.

  20. plainenglish says

    Jesus saves and the Ham gets fatter on believers’ offerings. Oh Lord, won’t ya buy me a Mercedes Benz…

  21. ashley says

    They are also announcing this now because they are annoyed about the new Russell Crowe film.

    Ham wrote yesterday “Some bloggers are trying to claim that my recent debate with Bill Nye “the Science Guy” is what brought in the necessary bond amounts. Actually, that’s not true at all. The registration for bonds had already closed for people wanting to purchase them before the Nye debate. No new bond registrations could have occurred after the debate.” I’m assuming that that could be double-checked and shown to be a lie if it was. Though of course he’s only saying that the debate on the night made no difference, not that the prospect of a debate could not have made any difference to support from the AiG fanbase.

  22. says

    Creationists aren’t very good with quantitative reasoning. That’s because the use creative reasoning. It goes with their creative accounting.

  23. Infidel Avenger says

    I remember Michael Shermer stating some years back why he stopped debating creationists — they are not truly there to win the argument but to show they are doing “battle with the devil” and gain points with the believing community. And just like nothing will convince the creationists they are wrong. That’s why all the evidence in the world presented at these debates doesn’t faze them.

  24. plainenglish says

    @28, agreed but it is not about winning arguments. It is true Love doing battle with the unseen forces of evil who have taken refuge in scientists who think the world is older than the Bible says. The creationists might want to gain some points with the local believer-community but they are really fighting to do the right thing and find the pearly gates open. Nothing will convince them, you are clearly correct but allowing debates repeats important concepts to those of us who need repetition. I don’t have to convince a spiritual bully that I am right but it is important for me to say they are wrong. The world is older than you think, is perhaps enough to say… Somebody in the faith community wins all arguments by default because Jeeber died for your sins. And atheists looking on, see somebody who has lost. How can you have good ping-pong if the best player refuses to play because of warped balls. We all play with the balls we get or don’t. But to say No! to the game? I don’t think that is a sporting choice. Nye wins and Ham makes money. So, Nye wins. Money is not proof of poor science, only a proof of warped balls. Too many metaphors make plainenglish a ruptured speaker….. Long live debate.

  25. says

    We can’t win for losing on this. It is quite galling. Good opportunity to demonstrate at this groundbreaking methinks!

  26. thebookofdave says

    Ham’s ark won’t be the first big boat to sink on its maiden voyage, just the first to do so on dry land. I’m looking forward to its launch.

  27. Amphiox says

    You know, giving Ham just enough money to get started on his Ark boondoggle is actually likely to result in him going into a far bigger financial hole than if he didn’t get enough funding and was forced to abandon the project now….

  28. anteprepro says

    I am keeping my fingers crossed that their Ark turns out to be as epic of an Own Goal as I expect it to be (“you couldn’t build a half-way decent replica of Noah’s Ark with modern technology and millions of dollars!?”). But creationists are masters of deceit, and will probably find a way to turn even an Epic Fail Ark into a rallying cry and a cash inflow.

  29. says

    There is the “minor” fact that no wooden ship the size of the ark has ever been built that was remotely seaworthy. Not even using modern tools, techniques and materials.

    If he ever builds this myth, I personally challenge him to sail it around the world with all the food and animals he can stuff into it. Wait, no animals, only replicas of the proper size and weight. Real animals do not deserve to die to serve this maniac.

    But then, didn’t his g0d murder 99.999% of all life on earth because a few nomadic tribesmen displeased him? Or were the animals and plants evil, too?