Investors of the lost Ark

| 11 Comments

I wish I had thought of that title, but it is actually an article by Joe Sonka in the Louisville newspaper, LEO Weekly. According to Sonka, the Ark Park (properly known as Ark Encounter) will have to raise $22 million before it can even start construction, and $44 million an additional $22 million to complete the project (it was unclear to me whether that is an additional $44 million, above the first $22 million). Sonka further estimates that the project will take at least 3 years to complete, and an estimated $53 million will have to be invested over the next decade. If the project takes that long to complete, however, they will presumably lose at least some tax incentives.

But cheer up! There is hope: If you invest $100,000, the minimum investment, they project a 20.6 % return on investment. At this point, I am torn between a quotation attributed to P. T. Barnum and a myth concerning the sale of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Ken Ham, the driving force behind the Ark Park, claims that PBS will air a documentary this fall, but I could find nothing on the PBS website besides this broadcast, a year ago. According to Sonka, Ham claims that the PBS documentary will net the Ark Park 2 million visitors per year, an attendance that Sonka says would rival that of a big amusement park in Cincinnati, a city of roughly 300,000. Grant County, by contrast, has a population of around 25,000 and is located at least an hour’s drive from any major metropolitan area.

11 Comments

If you invest $100,000, the minimum investment, they project a 20.6 % return on investment. At this point, I am torn between a quotation attributed to P. T. Barnum and a myth concerning the sale of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Like Santa Claus giving away toys, they’ll make it up the loss in volume.

Joe Sonka tells me that it is $44 million total, not an additional $44 million.

He notes that King’s Island is located in metropolitan Cincinnati, which has “a whopping 2,000,000 population,” not merely the 300,000 I cited. He discussed the absurdity of comparing the Ark Park to King’s Island and the Cincinnati zoo here.

Hasn’t the state already started construction on the roads for the park?

I had to love this comment following Sonka’s article:

If your argument is with the age of the earth, the museum does support the Biblical view of thousands of years, not billions as you have been duped to believe, and God created all life, it wasn’t formed by accident in some primordial muck. Science can’t prove the age of the earth without making a lot of assumptions, because you see, no one was there when the earth was formed nor can they reproduce life in a lab as the scientific method would require. There is nothing scientific about billions of years or evolution.

Enough people like this, and maybe they CAN turn a profit someday.

Flint said:

I had to love this comment following Sonka’s article:

If your argument is with the age of the earth, the museum does support the Biblical view of thousands of years, not billions as you have been duped to believe, and God created all life, it wasn’t formed by accident in some primordial muck. Science can’t prove the age of the earth without making a lot of assumptions, because you see, no one was there when the earth was formed nor can they reproduce life in a lab as the scientific method would require. There is nothing scientific about billions of years or evolution.

Enough people like this, and maybe they CAN turn a profit someday.

I couldn’t find that comment; the thread there is dominated by obsessive nit-picking over whether someone at the museum was a “guide” or a “volunteer”.

But I do have a reply to that comment. I’ll leave it here.

The Ark Encounter will not demonstrate the literal truth of the Noah’s Ark story, because it is a fake, non-functional ark on dry land.

As it happens, I disagree with everything in the comment, but rather than defensively rebut the false claims about science, I will ask the writer of the comment to defend his positive claims.

Why doesn’t he take either the Ark Encounter model, fill it with living animals, and sail it on the open sea, without re-supplying or putting into port for any reason, for the length of time that Noah’s Ark was supposedly at sea?

Doing that still wouldn’t prove that Noah did it, but failing to do that makes fake projects like the Ark Encounter look really, really silly.

If you want to create a model that supports the idea that the Noah’s Ark story is literally true, why don’t you at least make it an actual seagoing model?

If the project takes that long to complete, however, they will presumably lose at least some tax incentives.

While I’d prefer that a park promoting wrong facts get no tax incentives at all, the time limit aspect makes me rethink my opposition (to the legislature granting them). I thought the clock on no-tax sales would start when the park opened. If it started the year the state legislators gave it out, this actually seems a very reasonable and content-neutral way to reward serious efforts while not rewarding boondoggles.

PBS will bring in 2 million visitors? Do they really want that many people coming to ridicule their little fantasy?

Maybe their 20% investment guarantee is based on the ratio of donations they get to $100,000 investors. I still don’t get how they can ask for donations for a for profit venture. The donations can’t be tax deductible, and if they are giving out receipts for the donations what are the people going to use the receipts for? Is that fraud or participating in fraud if they do not state that the donation is not tax deductible up froont? Is it just a case where you blame the rube?

Matt Young said:

Joe Sonka tells me that it is $44 million total, not an additional $44 million.

He notes that King’s Island is located in metropolitan Cincinnati, which has “a whopping 2,000,000 population,” not merely the 300,000 I cited. He discussed the absurdity of comparing the Ark Park to King’s Island and the Cincinnati zoo here.

According to Mapquest, the drive time from Paramount’s Kings Island (north of Cincinnati on I-71) to Williamstown, KY (south of Cincinnati of I-75) is 1 hour, 12 minutes. The park would be about halfway between the city centers of Cincinnati, OH and Lexington, KY; the drive to Louisville, KY is a bit longer. There’s also a factory outlet mall in Dry Ridge, KY (also in Grant County), a couple of miles away from Williamstown.

So, if you’re determined to build something like this, the choice of location isn’t stupid. That said, I concur with Joe Sonka’s skepticism regarding projections that the Ark Park will be as significant a draw as the Cincinnati Zoo or Paramount’s Kings Island.

Any securities attorney’s here? I smell all kinds of SEC violations.

harold said:

…The Ark Encounter will not demonstrate the literal truth of the Noah’s Ark story, because it is a fake, non-functional ark on dry land.

Why doesn’t he take either the Ark Encounter model, fill it with living animals, and sail it on the open sea, without re-supplying or putting into port for any reason, for the length of time that Noah’s Ark was supposedly at sea?

Doing that still wouldn’t prove that Noah did it, but failing to do that makes fake projects like the Ark Encounter look really, really silly.

If you want to create a model that supports the idea that the Noah’s Ark story is literally true, why don’t you at least make it an actual seagoing model?

Obviously duplicating Noah’s sea voyage, rather as Thor Heyerdahl did with the Kon-tiki, will prove nothing. Heyerdahl demonstrated that a raft made of balsa logs from South America could remain seaworthy long enough to reach the nearest Polynesian islands, and hence that the migration of the Polynesians could have been from South America westwards, rather than from Asia eastwards. This theory is now discounted on other grounds, though, mainly technological and linguistic. Demonstrating physical possibility is insufficient.

The Ark business venture can’t get as far as an actual sea voyage. The US is only place in the world where such a building project could be even mooted - the money and the interest only exist there, and possibly not even there, as we see. No western government would allow the massive abuse and cruelty to animals that such a thing would involve. But in another sense, it’s impossible anyway. No ship of that size, constructed only of wood, could possibly survive in an ordinary seaway for more than a day or two of fair weather, and only then if fitted with power-driven pumps. It would leak like a basket. The first half-serious swell would break it apart.

Not being able to demonstrate the physical possibility would be, to a rational mind, a strong argument against Noah’s Ark. Alas, these are not rational minds. Ham knows Noah’s Ark is not physically possible now, so he’s not going to try to build one. But for Noah, God performed whatever miracles were required to make it true.

Ham knows this, I say. Not from evidence, or anything mundane or rational like that, but from revelation and faith. He needs no evidence. His followers need no evidence. Atheists - everyone who doesn’t read the Bible the way Ham does is an atheist, to Ham - may call it “belief”. It isn’t belief, to Ham. It is knowledge, far more certain than any fallible human observation.

We are dealing with pre-enlightenment minds here, minds to which the world is a frail skin of received sensation over an infinite cauldron of Godhood, as whimsical as it is terrible. Miracles are the currency of God; whatever miracles are implied in the word of God, were provided.

It does little good to protest that what they propose is impossible in a large number of different ways. Nothing is impossible to God.

What do you do with something like that? How can you rationally argue with someone who has just cheerfully told you that they’re not rational?

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on August 1, 2012 7:51 PM.

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