The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Ken Ham’s “Ark Encounter” Sinking Under the Weight of Heavy Lies?

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 11, 2015

In the ongoing drama that is Ken Ham’s halting and sadly hilarious attempt to get the Kentucky state government to fund his creationist propaganda debacle, also known as “Ark Encounter”, time and time again it seems that he cannot avoid both controversy and the law. Now it seems as if Ken Ham and his Answers In Genesis organization (the creationist parent organization of both the floundering Creationist Museum and Ark Encounter) are mired in even more controversy: they apparently lied about the number of people who would be attending the new park attraction when they applied for an $18.25 million tax rebate through the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has more details…

Boatload Of Lies: Ark Encounter Gave Ky. Officials Inflated Attendance Projections

Americans United has long been skeptical that Ark Encounter, a proposed theme park in Kentucky that will feature a 510-foot replica of Noah’s Ark, could ever live up to the enormous projected attendance figures claimed by its leadership in order to secure public assistance. As it turns out, the numbers submitted by Ark Encounter were indeed wildly inflated. …

… Now, thanks to an open records request by Ed Hensley of the Kentucky Secular Society, we know that AiG was less than truthful in at least a portion of its application. Ark Encounter claimed it would have 1.2 to 2 million visitors annually. This included an estimate of over 1.6 million visitors in the park’s first year.

But the reality is nowhere near that high. Kentucky sent AiG’s application out for review, and Hunden Strategic Partners in Chicago determined that if the Ark Park remained a purely religious attraction, it would generate about 325,000 visitors its first year, rise to 425,000 in its third year and eventually fall to 275,000 by its seventh year in business. This would mean the Ark Park could create about 514 jobs, Hunden said.

Were AiG to pursue “a mainstream approach to the attraction,” Hunden estimated it could draw just under 500,000 visitors in year one, 640,000 visitors in year three, then drop off to about 400,000 by year seven. Hunden estimated 787 jobs would be created if that scenario played out. … [emphasis added]

At this point, one might think the claim that Ham and AiG were lying is overly harsh, but then there are more details that have been revealed which seems to lend credence to the claim of outright lying (or even fraud). It ends up that there was a potentially huge conflict of interest between Ham and the firm which generated the initial (and wildly inflated) attendance estimates…

… Hunden also noted that AiG’s estimate was provided by the South Carolina-based America’s Research Group, which has ties to AiG head Ken Ham.

“The president of America’s Research Group is Britt Beemer, who is also a co-author with Ken Ham on the book Already Gone,” Hunden said in its report. “Furthermore, research by Beemer and America’s Research Group is featured in Already Compromised, another book authored by Ken Ham.” …

Wow. At this point, I’ll let the reader decide on whether or not the state of Kentucky made a good decision to not award the tax rebates to AiG. It seems that Ham isn’t above skirting both ethics and the law to “do the Lord’s work” in an attempt to get his hands into the public coffers – whatever happened to him being an honest Christian?

One Response to “Ken Ham’s “Ark Encounter” Sinking Under the Weight of Heavy Lies?”

  1. Question: How can a person lie when it comes to making estimates? You can’t lie when you make a guess about something that will happen in the future! Moreover, Ham cited the nationwide research by ARG that concluded that perhaps 1.2 million people will come to the Ark in the first year. This is the same research group that predicted 400,000 people would come to Ham’s Creation Museum in its first year, and 404,000 showed up. (And ARG estimated that about 300,000 people would visit, on average, in the years following, which has occurred at the museum.) There’s a track record of making solid estimates.

    Did the other research group you mentioned, which was commissioned by the state and came up with lower attendance estimates, conduct their own national phone survey (which ARG did and came up with 1.2 million estimated people)? I don’t think so.

    Also, if attendance at the finished Ark is not high, then the Ark will not receive the rebate of sales tax from the state. There is no reason to even think about fabricating numbers now to get the rebate – the rebate comes based on performance at a finished Ark, about 2-3 years from now.

    So, I am wondering if you would be prepared to retract your “lie” claim in 2-3 years if the Ark sees an attendance of over one million people in its first year? How about making a note to yourself to write me back in 2017, OK?

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