Tuesday, March 15, 2011

#166: Ken Ham

Arguably the successor of Kent Hovind to the title of mackerel baron of the biblical creationist movement, Ken Ham is the well-known founder of Answers in Genesis (a pertinent description of which is found here, and also here). He originally hails from Australia (where all the kangaroos apparently floated after the Ark stranded in Turkey; see here). He is very diligent and shovels a lot of shit every day, completely delusional and utterly unable to distinguish fact from fantasy.

Also generally recognized as a human spambot that generates sentences with no regard for their truth or justification, their cogency with previous statements or any conceivable rules for good critical thinking, but in a completely predictable manner, such as in this case where the input cue is the term “atheist”. See this, and also this.

His favorite debate technique is a version of the Gish gallop known as the “Ham Hightail” which consists of jumping from point to point, ignoring all contrary evidence, and quoting the Bible whenever proof is required. Since the purpose is to retain the hold of those who already believe creationism is backed by science, if all else fails the hightail prescribes the “different worldviews” (i.e. atheist vs. moral) gambit.

Ken Ham and AIG also run the world-famous creation museum in Kentucky, a monument to ignorance, fundamentalism and denialism. The main purpose of the museum is to promote the idea that humans and dinosaurs coexisted peacefully before the Flood. The T Rex ate coconuts, and the reason animals ended up on different continents was that plate tectonics happened really, really fast after the flood. It “says quite a lot about Ham and his followers that they find a 4.5-billion-year-old Earth wildly implausible next to the notion of a tyrannosaur calmly grazing in a meadow.” Ken Ham and AiG seem to have failed to realize that the Flintstones is not a documentary. This is also pertinent, as is this.

Absolutely clueless and ignorant about science, Ham is also fond of dismissing any evidence on the grounds that the presenter is (purportedly) an atheist – a standard conspiracy theory trick, really.

He does, however, realize that Dembski’s old earth, intelligent design creationism is “bizarre", though not obviously for the right reasons.

Ham is also constantly complaining that scientists are unwilling to take him seriously. Go figure (He really, really doesn’t get it, though).

A couple of other examples: Ken Ham (feebly) claims that his Noah’s Ark claims are misrepresented.

Ken Ham on the Virginia Tech shootings (predictably).

Ken Ham on Tiktaalik.

Ken Ham applies double standards for Jesus.

Ken Ham fails to stay classy.

Ken Ham goes insane.

Oh, and Hitler.

And so on, and so forth. You get the gist.

Diagnosis: A clod, crackpot and (unintentional) con artist; seriously deluded and influential in the manner of Kent Hovind; Ken Ham is perhaps the leading advocate of traditional creationism and naïve biblical literalism. A threat to reason, sanity, intelligence and rationality everywhere.


  1. Can you quote anything but 'rationalwiki,' 'scienceblogs,' and sites with 3-letter addresses?

    I just think it'd help your case, considering that people often seem to get upset at Creationists when they link to answersingenesis, for example. How about a Scientific American link, or a PNAS article?

    Just some food for thought.

  2. "I just think it'd help your case"

    Depends on what you think the purpose of the blog is. We have no hopes of converting the already lunatic. The purpose, as we conceive it, is to make people aware of these people; the links are supposed to provide background material on them (it is in the links that you'll find actual discussion of the various claims). The purpose is hence to provide a resource for ordinary, rational people who are actually able to recognize lunacy, denialism and conspiracy theories for what they are.

    "How about a Scientific American link, or a PNAS article?"

    Insofar as they exist. Scientific American, for instance, rarely deal with the various antics of the delusional. Scienceblogs, rationalwiki and skeptic's dictionary, among others, do.

    "considering that people often seem to get upset at Creationists when they link to answersingenesis, for example"

    Yes, but there is a relevant difference. Answersingenesis is a pile of lunacy. Scienceblogs and rationalwiki are generally trustworthy sources on these things, on the other hand (these resources are, for one, written by people who actually know what they are talking about and who possess critical thinking skills). I assume that said rational people recognize that.

    (appears that blogspot doesn't recognize the blockquote tag)

  3. Now, this is an interesting development.

  4. Here's Ken Ham's attempt to show that his is the only correct religion and all others are false.

  5. Here is an overall all-too-sympathetic review of one of Ken Ham's scientific treatises.

  6. The lack of self-awareness yield rather funny results on occasion.

  7. You can see Ken Ham attempting to explain why evolution and same-sex marriage are two sides of the same coin here.

  8. And here is Ham getting it wrong. Again.

  9. Ham visits Sea World in Australia and
    doesn’t like it.

    He has also expressed his anger, recently, at Pat Robertson for coming out as an old-earth rather than young-earth creationist. Predictably, Ham is delightfully and incoherently moronic about the issue.

  10. Ham complaints that telling the truth is brainwashing kids with reality.

    And here he shows, once again, that his lack of understanding of science is complete.

  11. Ken Ham is dissatisfied with Robert Jeffress. Hilarity ensues, or would have if these two monsters weren't so scary.

    Here is Ham weighing in on Earth Day.

  12. Ham's complaints about intolerant atheists viciously attacking Christian schools.

  13. I agree with EriK that It'd be great if you'd link to sources of further information with less obvious bias. I enjoy your site, but when looking for context and clarification I usually google or go to Wikipedia instead of using the links you provide. Rationalwiki has such an obvious bias which, although agreeable, comes across more as sarcasm than objective information.

  14. No, Ken. Dragons aren't real. And dinosaurs weren't on the Ark, either.

    Now, visitors appear to have failed his theme park recently, and to remedy the situation they have recently opened an allegedly non-religious exhibit to pull in ... well, you can see for yourself how appealing it is to non-fundies.

  15. At present it looks like the Ark Encounter project is going ahead; I recommend heading over to The Panda's Thumb or The Sensuous Curmudgeon for more details. Meanwhile, This is quite a shame.

    Apart from that, AiG recently turned 20. The world would have been such a better place if the people involved had spent their resources and efforts on something worthwhile instead.

    Here is Ham taking on religious critics of young earth creationism.

    1. It seems to me as if you ought to find something better to do with your time than troll the internet looking for individuals to slam, simply because they believe differently than yourself. Neither evolution nor creationism can be proven by science, although the latter has substantially more solid evidence in its favour. Both beliefs are faith based. It is a truth undeniable. One is faith that the universe was created by an intelligent Being in seven days, the other the faith that the universe came into being by process of evolution throughout billions of years. Either way, it is faith, not science proof. You, sir, have proven yourself the moron by being so harsh and close minded.

    2. And it seems to me you would have made less of a fool of yourself if you had bothered to acquire even a minimal understanding of the ideas you try to talk about. "the other the faith that the universe came into being by process of evolution throughout billions of years" is garbled nonsense that has no likeness to what the theory of evolution actually claims. It would also have helped if you had avoided displaying such amazing lack of understanding of what science is and how scientific investigations and evidence actually work ("science proof" is another nonsense phrase). The theory of evolution is supported by mountains of evidence; 7-day creationism is a thoroughly falsified hypothesis. Faith has nothing to do with it, unless you refer to the fact that many people choose to ignore the scientific evidence for evolution and the evidence falsifying the 7-day creation hypothesis due to faith.

      I am not trolling "the internet looking for individuals to slam, simply because they believe differently than yourself." I am exposing people who are dangerously wrong about reality and displaying hopeless lack of critical thinking skills but who are nevertheless in positions of power and influence. Such people are dangerous.

    3. As it is obvious that reasoning with such a person as yourself would be utterly pointless, I won't continue past this reply. But in defence of my own character, which you have again brutally attacked, I will say this. I am not ignorant of the topics on which I speak. I have at length studied both theories (about ten years), and have written numerous papers discussing the scientific evidence for and against each of them. I have also read extensively on both theories, and if evolution (boiled down to its foundation, and not going into detail with such factors as punctuated equilibrium etc. as that would take all day) isn't a process of macro and micro genetic mutations over millions of generations, sir, I guess I must be as ignorant as you say. But it seems to me if you had, with an open mind, studied both theories in depth and with appreciation for the brilliant minds in favour of each, you might not be so sure of yourself and the ways in which you slander those opposing you. In conclusion, every man is entitled to his own opinions, but noticing that the world view you have chosen preaches tolerance and acceptance of those different from yourself, maybe you should listen.

    4. No one who characterizes evolution with "that the universe came into being by process of evolution throughout billions of years" has made any serious study of the topic, and no one who uses the phrase "science proof" has an even cursory understanding of how science and scientific investigations work (nor does anyone who thinks evolution has anything to do with faith). That you can rattle off a term like "punctuated equilibrium" really isn't going to affect that conclusion.

      You haven't studied evolution at all. At best, you have read a couple of creationist distortions of the topic. "Tolerance" and "open-mindedness" doesn't mean that one has to take claims that have already been refuted a thousand times and misconceptions that have already been corrected a thousand times seriously, and Ken Ham and his fellow young-earth creationists have got nothing else (oh, yes - I have looked).

    5. So now I am not only a fool, but a liar as well. Thank you for that. And you continue to hearken back to my initial statement, which was meant to be a simple overview for the sake of making a science-detached observation. Not a proof of scientific knowledge. Had I done so, you would still be reading. Some of your statements reminded me of a series of quotes that I ran across in the back of a copy of the works of Dr. Colin Patterson, Senior Palaeontologist; British Museum of Natural History, London.

      "Well, we're back to the question I've been putting to people, 'Is there one thing you can tell me about evolution?' And the absence of an answer seems to suggest that it is true, evolution does not convey any knowledge, or if so, I haven't yet heard it."

      "Now I think many people in this room would acknowledge that during the last few years, if you had thought about it at all, you've experienced a shift from evolution as knowledge to evolution as faith. I know that's true of me, and I think it's true of a good many of you in here."

      "So that's my first theme. That evolution and creationism seem to be showing remarkable parallels. They are increasingly hard to tell apart. And the second theme is that evolution not only conveys no knowledge, but seems somehow to convey anti-knowledge, apparent knowledge which is actually harmful to systematics."

      May I inform you that this book that I possess is an all-inclusive study of his work, including his best selling title "Evolution," which is most definitely in favour of the theory. And this isn't the only statement of its kind. There are hundreds, if not thousands of statements by leading evolutionists other than Dr. Patterson equating the science of evolution to faith. With that I conclude my conversation with you, kind sir.

    6. I did not call you a liar. I suggest that you're a victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Your use of Colin Patterson sort of bolsters that suggestion. For the record: Patterson is not a representative of contemporary evolutionary biology (he died twenty years ago, and was during his lifetime hardly central to evolutionary research). Even so, creationists continue to quote-mine him: Patterson was pretty clear that he considered evolution pretty much settled science (and not a matter of faith) supported by mountains of evidence. Some of his comments (including the ones you cite) were used by creationists even during his lifetime as evidence of the absence of transitional forms in the fossil record - something Patterson emphatically did not intend to suggest. In the second edition of Evolution (1999), he explained how his remarks had been taken out of context:

      "Because creationists lack scientific research to support such theories as a young earth ... a world-wide flood ... or separate ancestry for humans and apes, their common tactic is to attack evolution by hunting out debate or dissent among evolutionary biologists. ... I learned that one should think carefully about candour in argument (in publications, lectures, or correspondence) in case one was furnishing creationist campaigners with ammunition in the form of 'quotable quotes', often taken out of context."

      In short, if you had actually *read* Patterson in anything resembling an intellectually honest way, you would not have taken him to suggest that there is scant evidence for evolution or that it is somehow a faith-based dogma. That's why I don't think you've actually read Patterson's book (not that it would be anything remotely resembling cutting-edge research in evolutionary biology even if you did): You've read some creationist's misrepresentation of him.