Part 2: My Day Inside the Creation Museum

After several hours spent at the Rally for Reason, several students and I tried to figure out whether we wanted to go inside the Creation Museum. The upside would be seeing the museum first-hand. The downside would be that Ken Ham would get $20 of our money via the admission cost. (Actually, it was $15 with the coupons we had… but still.)

We decided to go into the museum. Even though we didn’t have the Creationist attire of khaki pants, tucked-in shirt, and neatly parted hair.

It should be noted that, outside major holidays, the museum is open seven days a week. What ever happened to resting on the seventh day? Isn’t that punishable by death?

You know, for the $27,000,000 they spent on the building, there were a few things they were missing out on:

  • An air-conditioned place where we could wait in line to get inside. Instead, we waited in the the heat as if this was an amusement park.
  • More air-conditioning inside. Walking through the crowded exhibits, the heat was getting to many people. In one area, there was a large fan… but that was it.
  • An electronic credit card machine. Seriously. The long line was partly due to people wanting to pay with a credit card… and the machine being used to process the credit cards was one of those hand-held things where you slide the carbon copier over the cards. You’re telling me they couldn’t afford a computerized processor?!

Outside in the line to the museum, there was a man making balloon animals for kids. Because when I go to a museum, its credibility is always bolstered by a man making balloon animals…

Strangely enough, while in line, I was also handed a small plastic drinking glass with the Oreo label on it. There was nothing inside the glass… and there was nowhere to put it at the time, which was annoying. But is Oreo sponsoring this museum? Or do they not have any knowledge of this? And dammit, I’m still trying to figure out what the point of the glass was.

Anyway, I get inside the museum. Here’s what went down. (I should add that there are some great pictures that Zachary Lynn posted. I won’t duplicate his pictures. Just go check them out.)

One of the first things I saw was man and dinosaur living together… the man was exceptionally happy for some reason:

Mandino

Then there was the timeline of fossils. Where all the geological epochs take the same amount of time. And no dates at all are provided…

nodates

Then I stepped into the line for the actual tour. You just walk through the exhibits on your own. I asked one worker how many staff members there were at the Creation Museum. She said over 300. And still, there were no tour guides.

One exhibit showed the consequences that had happened in a world where God was absent from the culture. It featured a collage of magazine covers in a dark hall with red, creepy light…

Godculture

They had that collage along a very long wall. And they always used the same magazine covers. I saw the headline about the “New Atheism” from Wired magazine (“No heaven. No hell. Just science.”) used several times over. It was like they couldn’t find enough examples of God missing from our culture so they recycled certain images over and over.

Later in that same exhibit came my favorite part of the tour. While explaining how church life disappeared among young people as they got older, there was a sign that declared the alarming statistics of church attendance:

Biblemath

Now, they did not say “Almost 1 in 3…” or “Nearly 1 in 3…” They said “Only 1 in 3…” as if that was exact, then gave us the actual statistic of 30%. Maybe this math was brought to us by the same people who say π = 3.

There was another exhibit where there were dioramas of Noah’s Ark. Another area displayed a lifelike version of the Ark, still being built. Where they got the blueprints from, I have no idea. The Answers In Genesis people must have special editions of the Bible.

What was disturbing was hearing a mother near me telling her kids to look at the large size of the Ark and the small size of the animals. “That’s how Noah fit all the animals on the Ark!” She added that the Bible even told us how many cubits long the boat was (so it must be reliable). Her kids just nodded like this was the most normal answer in the world.

Do you realize how much effort it takes to not pull the kids aside and tell them their mother doesn’t know what she’s talking about?

Speaking of taking the museum seriously, it displayed a history of attacks on the church, including the worst one of them all…

DaVinci

The whole museum was structured so that the 7 Cs (Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation) were explained in order. While each of the first four Cs got their own section, we were whisked into a small movie theater to watch a movie about everything else, including Christ’s death and resurrection. The group I was with joked that they must have ran out of money after the first four Cs so they decided to lump the last three together.

7C

Overall, and I know this isn’t exactly surprising, there was no science in the museum at all. When artifacts were presented, they were without dates. “Proof” for anything was given by a Biblical passage. And there was a dinosaur eating a pineapple.

Pineapple

Personally, I think it’d be a nice addition if they had a scale of some sort where you could have your IQ measured before and after you came into the museum. We all felt dumber after we left.

The whole experience reminded me of two quotations I heard the night before at the pre-rally.

My friend Herb Silverman noted:

Creationism is not good enough to be considered “bad science.”

Also, Frank Zindler, editor of the American Atheist magazine, said this:

We are witnessing the grand opening of what might fairly be called the Eighth… [Wonder] of the Ancient World. The Eighth Wonder is, of course, the museum in which the technology of the twentieth century CE is used to illustrate the scientific misunderstandings of the twentieth century BCE.

What a disappointing experience. You knew it was going to be bad. But who knew it could be this awful.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Rally for Reason, Creation Museum, Ken Ham, Creationist, Oreo, Zachary Lynn, New Atheism, Wired, God, Noah’s Ark, Answers In Genesis, Bible, Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation, Herb Silverman, Frank Zindler, American Atheists[/tags]

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  • Ann

    I’m surprised the dinosaur wasn’t eating a banana. It poses quite a dilemma for the atheist, you know.

  • Daniel

    Honestly I am beginning to think that this museum should be required for all children to see. Sooner or later all of them will come face to face with real scientific explanations in books, school, or at legitimate museums and they’ll have to reconcile their beliefs with that. It will be like the first time as a child you noticed that little wisp of black hair underneath Santa’s white wig and you wondered what the hell was going on. The blowback will be enough for them to seriously reconsider everything they’ve been told in church.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    What species of dinosaur IS that even?

    The wierd thing about this museum is that I usually can tell what kind of dinosaur is being protrayed…. I’m kind of a dino fan. I was able to go to the Natural History Museum in London and by SIGHT I could identify almost every single dinosaur there just by looking at the skeleton.

    Yes, I can tell an allosaurous from an albertosaurus.

    I know, I’m awesome.

    What the HECK is eating that pineapple? I’m assuming from the teeth and the forelimbs with the thumbclaw it’s an iguanodon… but the head looks all wrong. What the heck sauropod is the one in the news reports with the cartoon Flintstones neck-ridges?

    It’s like they just made up species of dinosaur. I can’t see those therapods very clearly in the photograph with the smiling boy… but I can’t figure them out either. What are they? If he’s wearing clothes, he must be post-fall. Why don’t those dinos eat him?

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Well, with all of the blatant religious bullshit, at least it’s pretty clear that this is NOT a science museum. I’d much rather see a “creationist” museum than a pseudo-scientific ID museum that is trying to pretend it’s not religious.

  • Richard Wade

    One of the first things I saw was man and dinosaur living together… the man was exceptionally happy for some reason:

    Probably because two dromeosaurids weren’t tearing him into bite-sized chunks with those mouths full of edged fangs. So good for chewing up veggies.

    The “Wall of Fear and Loathing” sure has a lot of anti-gay material. One more trauma for adolescents beginning to realize they’re different.

    One sad thing about this Temple of Ignorance is that now parents won’t take their kids to any genuine natural history museum. They can rest assured that they’ve provided them with a good educational experience and not have to bother with it any more.

    On the other hand, one happy note is about the statistic that roughly one third of teens will not continue church life. If that process holds steadily, then the next generation will have only one ninth of the present number, the next will have only one twenty-seventh, etc…

  • http://http:starseyer.blogspot.com Mikel

    The Da Vinci Code? An attack on Christianity? Damn, these folks can’t even take criticism in fiction, can they?

    BTW, I’m Mikel–I met you at the Rally for Reason. Heard you mention your website so I thought I’d take a look. Good stuff here :)

  • http://starseyer.blogspot.com Mikel

    oops mistyped my URL. Should be right now.

  • Iain

    I find it ironic that the “Wall of Fear and Loathing” displays an article with the title “Gay Bishop”.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    I always knew the robot from Aliens was gay.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Richard Wade wrote:

    Probably because two dromeosaurids weren’t tearing him into bite-sized chunks with those mouths full of edged fangs. So good for chewing up veggies.

    No, he’s wearing clothes. That means it’s post-fall and meatasaurus time!

  • Miko

    You know, for the $27,000,000 they spent on the building, there were a few things they were missing out on …

    Those things seem to be mostly related to problems with standing in line. Perhaps they figure that that will cease to be an issue once their opening hype ends.

  • Karen

    And there was a dinosaur eating a pineapple.

    LOL! For some reason, that line cracked me up. :-)

    The whole experience sounds like theater of the absurd. Dinos eating pineapples just fits right in to the insane mindset – no explanations needed.

    The thing that’s not funny is that the craziness isn’t absurd to many ignorant, deceived people out there. I’d love to get some good stats on how many people really, truly believe this stuff. Anybody know of a good number for young-earth creationists?

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    46% of Americans, according to Gallup.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creationism

  • http://www.missheretic.com/ Becky Robinson

    46%. Ugh, every time I hear that I get just as dumbfounded and aggravated as the first time I heard it.

    When is this country going to wake up and realize that we are the laughing stock of the greater science community?? It’s horrifying.

  • Creationist

    try reading In the Beginning by Walt Brown.It presents all evidence in scientific ways. Even if there are some innacurate sources, many are still credible, believable arguments for creation that stand up for Creation and a worldwide flood.

  • Brett

    Thanks for the link Siamang. I’m saddened…

  • Karen

    Arggghhhhh… another reason to be depressed. Shite. :-(

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    The sad thing is that I haven’t figured out a surefire way to take all their money.

    I guess Ken Ham has. Why didn’t I think of that? ;-)

  • Richard Wade

    I always knew the robot from Aliens was gay.

    I thought he was just bio-curious.

  • Mriana

    That was bad. :( I feel for you Hemant. I’m not a scientist, unless you classify psychology in that area, but I felt like I was looking at a bad rendention of the Flintstones. :( No wonder you felt dumber when you left. I feel the same way just looking at the pics. Either your brain fell asleep or it said, “Beam me up, Scotty. There’s no intelligent life down here.”

  • monkeymind

    The other week on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on NPR (authorittative source I know) they interviewed some guy who clamed that some ungodly percentage of Americans think that Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple. So the pit of ignorance is even deeper than you think! :-)

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    The whole museum was structured so that the 7 Cs (Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation) were explained in order. While each of the first four Cs got their own section, we were whisked into a small movie theater to watch a movie about everything else, including Christ’s death and resurrection. The group I was with joked that they must have ran out of money after the first four Cs so they decided to lump the last three together.

    Even more disturbingly (from a theological perspective) is that their first four C’s all come from the first 11 chapters of Genesis. They skip the bulk of the OT (the whole history of Israel) and jump straight from the tower of Babel to Jesus. I wonder if there’s some latent anti-Semitism going on there.

  • Miko

    they interviewed some guy who clamed that some ungodly percentage of Americans think that Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple.

    If you’re talking about the study I think you are, it was actually just surveying high-school seniors. They also thought that Jeanne d’Arc was married to Noah and that Moses was one of Jesus’ disciples.

    Prothero’s been bandering it about in order to advocate teaching Biblical and religious literacy in high school (as two classes: one on the Bible and one on every other religion in the world).

  • http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~ludtke/prof/index.htm cautious

    If that dinosaur in the picture is an Iguanodon, (Siamang, I think you’re right, who the heck else among dinosaurs had thumb-spikes), then it was possible that they did eat fruit: fruit are conclusively known from the fossil record ~125 Ma, Iguanodon was around then…

    Of course this fruit wouldn’t be a modern pineapple but the creationists at least almost were scientific.

    The only other photo I feel like commenting on is the stratigraphic record that places up fossils with their “secular” geological time periods. A display like this serves creationism perfectly, by

    1) only showing fossils of organisms that don’t show much morphological change
    2) only showing fossils of organisms still existant
    3) not showing age
    4) most importantly, not showing when taxa first appear

    For instance, ok fine Creation Museum, sand dollars of today look similar to those of the past. But how come, according to my evil secular timescale, they don’t show up until ~60 million years ago? If the fossil record occurred in one geological event, than how come sand dollars are not all over the fossil record?

    I point this out because it’s really boggling to me how museums and museums full of fossils could all be ignored by creationists. But I think I get it: the authority figures (the museum makers) only show the public a distorted glimmer of the fossil record. The public believes the authority figures. The public now believes this falsehood, unless they learn to disbelieve the authority figure.

    …my only question I still have is that, as a scientist, can I go see their fossil collections for free? They do have fossil collections, right?

  • monkeymind

    Prothero’s been bandering it about in order to advocate teaching Biblical and religious literacy

    Oh, he’s that guy? That’s what I get for relying on a comedy quiz show as my main source of news. I think there’s another thread about religious ed, but my view is – no public school teacher would feel comfortable having a real, open discussion about religion in the classroom today. Some kid would complain about something that came up to parents, and administrators would be too weaselly to defend the teacher.

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  • Richard Wade

    …my only question I still have is that, as a scientist, can I go see their fossil collections for free? They do have fossil collections, right?

    I’d be astonished if they do. As a kid growing up in the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History I poured over hundreds of thousands of fossils in their vast collections on the research floors. Most people don’t realize that genuine natural history museums are like icebergs; only a small portion is shown to the public.

    Knowing museums inside and out and loving them as I do, I could never bring myself to visit this Disneyland of Superstition. I’d either be carried out crying or thrown out raving.

  • http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~ludtke/prof/index.htm cautious

    As a kid growing up in the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History I poured over hundreds of thousands of fossils in their vast collections on the research floors.

    What did you pour over them? Was it honey? I hope it wasn’t honey.

    (watches joke fall flat) um, from my not-nearly-perfect knowledge of creationist museums/universities, I think the only place that has an actual fossil collection could be Liberty University. This totally confounds me, I mean these people pretend like they’re scientists, so why not go, say, dig up some fish from the Green River Formation in Utah? Actually, the Creation Museum is relatively near some of the best invert paleo in this country, the Ohio River cuts right through huge chunks of Paleozoic limestones, so why doesn’t Ken Ham go collect some Ordovician crinoids and research them and explain how they were deposited in the Flood?

    Oh, wait, this has nothing to do with science? It’s all just a way for religious leaders to make money off of the working class? Ah, never mind then.

  • Richard Wade

    cautious, your joke isn’t any worse than my “bio-curious” pun above. We should write “badaboom pshhh” after some of these. :)
    Yes, how the creationists explain fossils being at entirely different levels in the strata, reflecting entirely different terrain is… well I keep forgetting they don’t actually try to explain such pesky details. Once a woman was admiring my fossil collection and she told me how she found fossil seashells high on a mountain top. She said she thought the Great Flood must have left them way up there. I said, “That’s an interesting idea, but shell fish don’t float.” At first she looked puzzled, then enlightened, then pissed and she left. Another time someone told me they thought the K-T boundary was silt left by the Great Flood. I thought about the lengthy explanation about the fallacy of all that, but it’s not my area of expertise so I just said, “That’s an interesting idea. Why is there in many places another two thousand feet of layers of sandstone, limestone, shale, limestone, sandstone, shale, lava, sandstone, shale, limestone and dirt on top of it, each layer with fossils of organisms that could only live in utterly different environments?” Again the expressions of puzzlement, enlightenment and being pissed, and he left.

    I know we should keep trying to educate people wherever we can, but sometimes I just want to say, “That’s an interesting idea,” and I’ll be the one to leave.

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  • Dave Tyler

    Nice article, loving pineapple dinosaur, be interested to know where they found out about this animal. Do we have recipe books dinosaurs have made proving they like pineapples?

    (And I like the sign on the pineapple – “Thou Shalt Not Touch! Please.” its rather week for an order, but rather demanding for a friendly suggestion…)

  • HappyNat

    Great stuff Hemant!! Thanks for checking it out for me, so I don’t have to go myself. I love a good freak show, but I don’t think I can give them any of my money.

  • Nica Lalli

    Hey – does anyone know if any FEDERAL money was used to open this “institution” – my mother just asked me and I couldn’t tell from the website or any other internet sources

    …and when is George Bush visiting? I am sure he will love that cute little dino munching on that poor helpless pineapple!

    Thanks for a great inside look Hemant! Next stop for you should be the Holy Land Experince in Orlando – they emailed me yesterday and told me they are sending me the information packet on the attraction!
    Cheers!

  • Desert Son

    Hi,

    I’m a new visitor here, just discovered Hemant’s site a few days ago, and it’s a great site. My compliments to the chef!

    Wanted to address a comment by Becky Robinson above. Becky wrote: “When is this country going to wake up and realize that we are the laughing stock of the greater science community?? It’s horrifying.

    The only response I can think of at this time is that it may be that a (significant?) portion of the national population isn’t interested in not being the laughing stock of the greater science community. That is to say, until a widespread cultural change occurs in which the national sentiment sways toward a desire to scale the heights of rigorous scientific endeavor (and as a caution, I would say there are, no doubt, examples of plenty of Americans attempting to do just that), we, as a country, remain behind those nations or areas of the world (and generalization gets hazy, so we have to be careful) that aspire to greater and greater scientific achievement and education. Not that we’re less intelligent, but more that there may not be a national interest that has been cultivated in such development.

    To put it another way, knowledge has to be desired and desirable. One of the questions I’m interested in is how do we, at a personal and national level, engender a real thirst for knowledge, questions, doubts, exploration, investigation, experimentation, and the self-discipline (and humility) to check our methods and findings and reevaluate, across a variety of disciplines?

    I’ve rambled too much, but thanks again for your work Mr. Mehta, and commenters here. I look forward to stopping by as often as I can. Thanks.

    No kings,

    Robert

  • Desert Son

    Hi,

    Forgot to add, I got a chuckle out of the sign near the pineapple. My eyes are getting worse as I age, but I think it reads: “Thous shalt not touch! Please”

    Seems that a lot of fundamentalists (of all stripes) have been yelling that at folks for many years (with or without the polite “please,” as the case may be)! :)

    Thanks again.

    No kings,

    Robert

  • Richard Wade

    The “Holy Land Experience?”

    Come one, come all! Bombings! Shootings! Kidnappings! Occupation! Non-stop tension, hatred and despair! And everybody but everybody thinks they own the road! Fun, fun, fun for the whole family! No need to fly twelve thousand miles for the true Holy Land Experience! It’s right here in Orlando, Florida!

    What’s that? Oh, you mean the Holy Land as it was long ago? Oh.

    Cometh one, Cometh all! Disease! Sword stabbing! Torture! Occupation! Non stop tension, hatred and despair! And everybody but everybody thinks they own the Roman via! Fun, fun, fun for the whole family! No need to ride a donkey twelve thousand miles for the true Holy Land Experience! It’s right here in Orlando, Florida!

    Things sure have changed since the good old days in the Holy Land.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com FriendlyAtheist

    Hey – does anyone know if any FEDERAL money was used to open this “institution”

    As far as I know, all the money came from private donations, small and large. There is no federal money being used.

    Again, this is why we were not protesting the right for AIG to build the museum or to espouse their beliefs. We were protesting the idea that this was a legitimate alternative to science.

    If federal money was involved, you would’ve seen a much larger protest :)

  • Drew

    I personally enjoy the picture of their collage. I mean what other museum would you find pictures of magazines that were drawn on.

  • http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~ludtke/prof/index.htm cautious

    Once a woman was admiring my fossil collection

    Whoa, whoa, no need to bring up your love life…

    I know we should keep trying to educate people wherever we can, but sometimes I just want to say, “That’s an interesting idea,” and I’ll be the one to leave.

    There was a discussion recently on the vertpaleo mailing list in which Greg Paul, amateur paleontologist extraordinaire, pushed forward his hypothesis, which he has been backing up with data and research. Although that linked article is highly long, the thesis that he is pushing nowadays is that education alone will not slay creationism. He thinks that the reason why the US has so many creationists and religious adherents (compared to other western democracies) is because our country lacks a good deal of the social welfare that other western democracies have.

    I’m still personally a bit confused by the idea, I can somewhat follow it (people who can’t afford to pay for medical bills would be more likely to pray that God would keep them healthy) but I still don’t see how that logical conclusion has anything to do with creationism. Greg seems to be conflating creationism with religious faith, which seems similar to saying that if a restaurant menu has pancakes on it (among other items), then everyone who goes to that restaurant must eat pancakes.

    I think that education, even though it is downright depressing at times, is the second-best way to fight religious indoctrination. …of course the first is to prevent that religious indoctrination from ever happening, but in this country, that can’t happen.

  • Miko

    He thinks that the reason why the US has so many…religious adherents (compared to other western democracies) is because our country lacks a good deal of the social welfare that other western democracies have.

    That’s an interesting hypothesis. But I’ve also heard in phrased in the opposite direction: religionists expect god to take care of stuff and use that as a justification for opposing reforms like social welfare programs. Since religiosity is correlated with so many different social problems, it’s probable that the causality goes in both directions. For example, higher STD and abortion rates in the US are caused by preachers condemning contraceptives. Higher violent crime rates are caused by people thinking that a violent book like the Bible is the exemplar of morality. On the other hand, correlations like belief in god to high infant mortality rates are more difficult to explain.

    (people who can’t afford to pay for medical bills would be more likely to pray that God would keep them healthy)

    Definitely something to this. In China, for example, the rich get Western medicine and the poor get reassured that traditional Chinese medicine is effective.

    Greg seems to be conflating creationism with religious faith

    Seeing as no atheist is a creationist (that’s an asbolute statement, but I’m fairly confident in it), this isn’t such a big mistake. The study I linked above shows that the correlation between religion and creationism is just as strong as you’d expect it to be. Thus, since religious belief is correlated to both poor social health and to creationism, creationism is correlated to poor social health by transitivity.

  • http://www.missheretic.com/ Becky Robinson

    Desert Son said:

    “To put it another way, knowledge has to be desired and desirable. One of the questions I’m interested in is how do we, at a personal and national level, engender a real thirst for knowledge, questions, doubts, exploration, investigation, experimentation, and the self-discipline (and humility) to check our methods and findings and reevaluate, across a variety of disciplines?”

    That’s the $1 million question. I wish I had an answer.

    I do think that education plays a huge role. Kids today are simply not taught critical thinking. They are told to listen to what their parents, teachers, ministers, etc. say and just accept it. I don’t personally know of many people who were specifically taught to think critically. It seems that people have to be self-taught critical thinkers.

  • Miko

    I do think that education plays a huge role. Kids today are simply not taught critical thinking.

    They haven’t been ever since Abelard was declared a heretic for writing Sic et Non.

    They are told to listen to what their parents, teachers, ministers, etc. say and just accept it.

    According to a recent cognitive study, even that’s starting to fail. Nowadays, they seem only to listen to what cartoon characters say. Naturally, instead of seeing this as a serious problem with the students, the researchers concluded that we should try to integrate more cartoons into their education.

    I don’t personally know of many people who were specifically taught to think critically. It seems that people have to be self-taught critical thinkers.

    It comes up in mathematics in the year after the Calculus sequence. And I imagine that other majors in college bring it up at some point as well–I can’t think of any area where one could do four years worth of college level work without needing to develop some sort of ability to think critically. Granted, it should be explicitly taught at least a decade earlier, but it’s better than nothing.

  • Desert Son

    Becky and Miko,

    Thanks for your comments. I have to disagree that people aren’t taught critical thinking skills, though I do agree that it’s obviously not across the board and it’s frequently not in the classroom. It may be that, as a public institution, modern education in this country is, indeed, failing to arm students with the kind of intellectual curiosity and drive to attain knowledge through critical thinking.

    I think it has to start early, too, and in small doses that lead to bigger developments. Citing my own example, as a youth, I once asked my mother how to spell a word. Mom knew that at the least I knew how to start to spell the word as I was familiar with phonetics, and she told me to look up the word (we had a dictionary always open in the family room). I complained that, not knowing how to spell the word, how could I possibly look it up? She said, “What does it sound like it starts with?” That was a critical moment in my development, I think, because it forced me to work things out for myself. I began to realize that even if I didn’t know how to immediately solve a problem, I could find a starting point to try (experimentation) to figure something out (“It starts with ‘M’, so if I start looking under ‘M’ in the dictionary, I might be able to sound out enough words until I find it,” etc.). Or even, if not where to begin, at least that asking someone else can start one down the right path, and so on.

    One problem with modern standardized test systems is that many schools are teaching “to the test,” that is, rote instruction designed to get students to produce the expected answer on a given standardized form. Coming from the other direction is a counter problem, and that is that many higher learning institutions demand a certain functional score on a test that ultimately only measures how well a student takes that kind of test, not what kind of productive student or intellectual contributor that candidate might ultimately be.

    Much to digest. Thanks again for your comments.

    No kings,

    Robert

  • Miko

    Thanks for your comments. I have to disagree that people aren’t taught critical thinking skills, though I do agree that it’s obviously not across the board and it’s frequently not in the classroom. It may be that, as a public institution, modern education in this country is, indeed, failing to arm students with the kind of intellectual curiosity and drive to attain knowledge through critical thinking.

    Since some people are getting critical thinking skills, they must be coming from somewhere. But since many more people are not getting them, there must be some failure in the process as well.

    Your example of breaking the problem of spelling a word with help from a dictionary into a series of subproblems is a perfect one. As a mathematics professor, this is exactly how I try to help students approach problems, by asking them to consider what step they could take that would make the problem simpler to solve, etc. Now, students entering college at the Calculus level are usually able to do this with a hint or two. But students entering a couple of math classes lower usually are not. I’m not suggesting this as a cause so much as a symptom of the problem, but the interesting fact remains that the first math class a person takes at the college level is a terrific predictor of how developed their critical thinking skills are. I have a limited perspective, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this same trend carried over to other areas of academic discourse.

    This seems like a plausible cause:

    One problem with modern standardized test systems is that many schools are teaching “to the test,” that is, rote instruction designed to get students to produce the expected answer on a given standardized form.

    Rote instruction, among other problems, teaches students what they’re expected to know while totally ignoring why the ideas are true, how they can be verified, etc. But we should also note the fact that American children on average spend the least time outside of school on academic work of any 1st world country on the planet, and we have one of the shortest school years as well.

    Coming from the other direction is a counter problem, and that is that many higher learning institutions demand a certain functional score on a test that ultimately only measures how well a student takes that kind of test, not what kind of productive student or intellectual contributor that candidate might ultimately be.

    I’ll agree that the tests don’t directly measure these qualities, which is why admissions packets supplement them with letters of recommendation, personal statements, etc. That said, scores on certain tests can indicate more than an ability to do well on a certain test.

  • Desert Son

    Miko,

    Thanks for your post. You noted, “That said, scores on certain tests can indicate more than an ability to do well on a certain test.

    I should admit my own personal bias in asserting a lack of validity among standardized tests. Insofar as my own performance on such exams is average (at best), my denigration of such tests has likely origin in my lackluster performance and resultant frustration.

    In reconsidering my thoughts on such tests following your post, perhaps it behooves educational systems to develop more than one test (SAT, for example, or the GRE, which I took in October of last year), and more than one test format, in order to compile a more complete image of a given individual’s strengths.

    Regardless, my analyis of such tests is anecdotal, and I have not studied them enough to have statistical data indicating trends or conclusions one way or another. I hope graduate school affords me some opportunities to clarify a number of these (and related) issues.

    Thanks again.

    No kings,

    Robert

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Personally, I’m surprised. Despite how much money they spent on it, this museum looks… well… cheap. (Hemant’s comments on the lack of amenities would seem to bear this out.) Normally, creationists are very slick and polished – they have plenty of time to practice, after all, what with all the science they’re not doing. Maybe $27 million doesn’t go as far as one would think?

  • Brad

    Is name calling the worst you can do? Your cynicism sounds witty, but it’s really easy to criticize. I’d be interested in your response to “An Open Letter to the Scientific Community” on the big bang.

    If I ever go to this museum, I may also complain about the air conditioning, but that does not mean that I have to throw out my belief that there is more to this world than just material.

    If, as an athiest, you do not think that there is anything more than matter to the universe, you will not see God through arguments. I mean do you really think that I could change your mind by arguing or you could change mine?

    I have the easier job though. An athiest cannot believe in anything beyond the material world – not even fairies as Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy. All I have to do is see God’s wonder in the face of my child, or any number of other places.

  • Mriana

    An athiest cannot believe in anything beyond the material world – not even fairies as Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy.

    As a non-theist, I see more than just the material world. I see love, compassion, awe and wonder, joy in children, and a lot of other things that are non-material. However, I do not attribute them to the god you do though. Even my 18 y.o. son knows of the energy we emit. Everything emits electrical energy. As a Buddhist, he attributes it to Chi. I’m not Buddhist, but he is.

    If, as an athiest, you do not think that there is anything more than matter to the universe, you will not see God through arguments.

    This leads me to your mentioning God. God is a human concept. Theism is only one definition of god. So many theists mistake even Spong for an atheist, but even he will tell you he is a non-theist and has his own non-theistic concept of god.

    Again, since God is a human concept, one cannot judge as what is god to another person. I do look at the various human views of a deity- some are natural concepts and others are supernatural. The difference is how we label it. Not everyone has the same concept and some have no concept. Sometimes I think having no concept is better than having a personal concept, for it is more open to different possibilities.

  • http://duoquartuncia.blogspot.com/ Chris Ho-Stuart

    They said “Only 1 in 3…” as if that was exact, then gave us the actual statistic of 30%.

    I am pretty sure it is worse than that. The original source was the Barna group, and they do appear to have used 1 in 3. The original also used 3 in 10 for a different statistic; so they knew the difference. This original did not use percentages at all; so the 30% seems to have been added when the poster was made, which would indeed make it a straight bit of mathematical incompetence by whoever produced the poster.

    The poster seems to be based on a report from Jan 2000, by the Barna group; a conservative Christian polling organization. The report is “Teenagers Embrace Religion but Are Not Excited About Christianity“. Extracts, links, and more details at my blog, as Creation Museum Does Maths.

    I’ll also update the blog to credit you with being the first to notice this.

    Well done — you may go to the top of the class and pass out the erasers. Chris

  • William

    So, let me get this straight. One museum showing biblical creation compared to how many “scientific” museums in this country? Why in the world would you waste your money on something you evidently know is false? If you already knew this museum was a waste of time, it doesn’t seem like a very smart move to pay money to see it, let alone have people come from all over the country to protest it. Paranoia willl destroy ya.

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  • daveloneranger

    I’ve been to the Creation Museum and had a wonderful time. My mom even bought me some dino eggs that hatched when I put them in a bowl of water. I also thought I recognized the Adam mannequin. He looked so familiar and just like I imagined him.

    Your complaints sound like tired old Christian bashing to me. I stand up to and rebutt similar religious intolerance disguised as “scientific fact” by my college professors.

    I wish this museum was around back when my mom was homeschooling me. What a great field trip that would’ve been! As it is, if anyone out there is looking for a place to go for the next family vacation I highly recommend the Creation Museum. It’s educational and fun.

    Live long and piously!

    DaveLoneRanger

  • Kevin

    Your friend Herb Silverman said, ” Creationism is not good enough to be called “bad science.”

    I find that interesting considering the THEORY of evolution is just that. It is not science by definition. It is not even based on information that is scientific, with the main ideas of the theory changing all the time. Only microevolution can be replicated today. The theory of evolution is the theory of macroevolution which is absurd.
    Creationism is a better description of the human race and it’s beginnings. Life just doesn’t happen. The highly complex animals and beings did not slowly become themselves over time. What about the soul? Human beings are different than the animals in a way that you cannot attribute to evolutionary change.
    Am I going against the mainstream of science? Yes. I can think for myself and not have to be fed all of my information from the so-called scientists. The Bible is a credible source of information for history and many other things. It has been studied for many years and nothing has brought it down as an indisputable source for so much important information that has changed the world.
    Creationism is based upon this amazing history book. Evolution is based upon seeing some different looking birds. Evolution cannot be used to explain all of the different species. The genetic pool only has so much water. Ask yourself which idea is more credible. One from a history book, or one from “scientists” with an agenda? Creationism hasn’t changed. Evolutionary theories come and go…

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  • friendly Christian

    I ran across accidently while planning my trip to the Creation Museum. I’m definitely going and taking my whole Creationist family with me. BTW, you really don’t sound very friendly. Maybe you should call your blog the Whiny Atheist. Actually if you want to see a bad exhibit, vist the National History Museum in Washington, DC. There are lots of preposterous “facts” about evolution that you’d just love there. Maybe that would make you happy.

  • DONA

    Not sure when this guy went to the creation museum.  We went this month, August 2011, and it was actually cold in there.  The museum was awesome and very educational.  We highly recommend it to anyone with questions about evolution or creation by God.


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