Photography Contest VIII

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Polish your lenses, dust off your tripods, search your archives (and, if you have entered before, remember that you are not limited to 3 good pictures per lifetime) – the eighth Panda’s Thumb photography contest, begins – now!

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Pierce extinction meter, still-camera version. They sold for $1.95 in 1946.

We will accept entries from 12:00 CST, Monday, June 20, through 12:00 CST, Monday, July 4. We encourage pictures of just about anything of scientific interest. If we get enough entries, consistently with Rules 11 and 12, we may assign entries to different categories and award additional prizes, presuming, of course, that we can find more prizes.

The first-place winner will receive a signed copy of Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails), which has been donated by one of the authors. The National Center for Science Education will donate copies of Sahotra Sarkar’s Doubting Darwin: Creationist Designs on Evolution and Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross’s Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design to the second- and third-place winners.

Trolley problem, again

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I ran across two articles today on the trolley problem as it applies to driverless (or self-driving) cars: one in Science by Joshua Greene and one in the LA Times by Karen Kaplan. Both are based on this article by Jean-François Bonnefon and colleagues in today’s issue of Science. We discussed the trolley problem briefly here at PT last October. More precisely, we discussed an extended trolley problem wherein you are in a driverless car and the choices are to kill 5 people, kill 1 person, or kill yourself.

The current research also concerns driverless cars. Not surprisingly, the researchers found support for driverless cars choosing to kill one person rather than five, but they also found that such support withered when you were the one. Their result in fact is completely consistent with the research of April Bleske-Rechek, which I outlined in my talk on the evolution of morality. Professor Bleske-Rechek found that people’s willingness to sacrifice one person in favor of five decreased with, for example, increasing relatedness of the one person.

Professor Bonnefon and his colleagues employed a survey, similarly to Professor Bleske-Rechek and hers, and found that people’s enthusiasm for a “utilitarian” car – a car that will sacrifice the driver in favor of a larger number of pedestrians – decreased as the driver became closer related to the respondent. Professor Greene asks whether driverless cars should indeed be programmed to be utilitarian in that sense; or programmed to behave in some other way, say, to save the driver; or simply be programmed to avoid a crash, come what may. He notes,

Manufacturers of utilitarian cars will be criticized for their willingness to kill their own passengers. Manufacturers of cars that privilege their own passengers will be criticized for devaluing the lives of others and their willingness to cause additional deaths.

Professor Bonnefon and colleagues similarly conclude,

Although people tend to agree that everyone would be better off if AVs [autonomous vehicles] were utilitarian (in the sense of minimizing the number of casualties on the road), these same people have a personal incentive to ride in AVs that will protect them at all costs. Accordingly, if both self-protective and utilitarian AVs were allowed on the market, few people would be willing to ride in utilitarian AVs, even though they would prefer others to do so. … [M]ost people seem to disapprove of a regulation that would enforce utilitarian AVs. Second–and a more serious problem–our results suggest that such regulation could substantially delay the adoption of AVs, which means that the lives saved by making AVs utilitarian may be outnumbered by the deaths caused by delaying the adoption of AVs altogether.

This question – whether to design utilitarian cars or to let the chips fall where they may – is precisely the trolley problem which, as I showed in my talk, is very real and not simply a philosophical exercise.

Avida-ED is educational software that provides an accessible presentation layer on the Avida artificial life platform. The first version was released nine years ago, and today marks Prof. Rob Pennock’s release of version 3, with a formal presentation at Evolution 2016. Avida-ED is geared toward the needs of undergraduate and advanced high school curriculum use.

The new version, Avida-ED Web 3.0, is a web application: it runs in your browser (Firefox or Chrome currently; Safari, Internet Explorer, and Edge have some compatibility issues). To get it, visit the canonical Avida-ED site, or the mirror site. As a web application, Avida-ED Web 3.0 lowers the barriers to use, restoring the ability for those running Linux to use Avida-ED, and giving Windows users access to the latest feature set. While installation is not required, there are installers for MacOS and Windows that set up a local HTTP server and launch a local copy of Avida-ED Web in the default browser. This latter option may be useful for people who expect to be without internet access when they want to use the program. More discussion below the fold.

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Brandon Haught at Florida Citizens for Science does a deeper dive on the educational assessments coming out of the Florida Department of Education (DOE). The DOE says that student performance in science improved by a percentage point this past year. Haught shows that they redefined science performance in order to have an improvement, no matter how slight.

Chrysomela sp.

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Chrysomela sp. – leaf beetle. Thanks to a volunteer at BugGuide for the identification.

Media Matters reports that talk-show host Rush Limbaugh said on his May 31st, 2016 show

By the way, you know there’s another factor in this, Snerdley? A lot of people think that all of us used to be apes. Don’t doubt me on this. A lot of people think that all of us used to be gorillas. And they’re looking for the missing link out there. The evolution crowd. They think we were originally apes. I’ve always – if we were the original apes, then how come Harambe is still an ape, and how come he didn’t become one of us?

This was also a topic on Huffington Post.

Well, this was covered in detail years ago right here on The Thumb - Why are there still Monkeys? February 25th, 2005.

Folks, this is just another example: if creationists evolve at all, it’s very, very slowly.

Discuss.

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On May 30, 2016, Bill Dembski announced:

I had the opportunity at the end of this month (May 2016) to update an interview I did four years ago at TheBestSchools.org.

What I was dealing with in The End of Christianity is a more narrow problem, namely, how to account for evil within a Christian framework given a reading of Genesis that allows the earth and universe to be billions, rather than merely thousands, of years old. I’m an old-earth creationist, so I accept that the earth and universe are billions of years old. Young-earth creationism, which is the more traditional view, holds that the earth is only thousands of years old.

The reason this divergence between young-earth and old-earth creationists is relevant to the problem of evil is that Christians have traditionally believed that both moral and natural evil are a consequence of the fall of humanity. But natural evil, such as animals killing and parasitizing each other, would predate the arrival of humans on the scene if the earth is old and animal life preceded them. So, how could their suffering be a consequence of human sin and the Fall? My solution is to argue that the Fall had retroactive effects in history (much as the salvation of Christ on the Cross acts not only forward in time to save people now, but also backward in time to save the Old Testament saints).

In this long interview, chock full of surprising comments on his fellow Christians, Dembski mentions Panda’s Thumb, and quotes our own Andrea Bottaro extensively, saying he “got it exactly right.”

The Cartwright Lab at Arizona State University is looking for a Software Engineer to be part of a team developing software related to bioinformatics and phylogenomics. To apply visit http://links.asu.edu/job-23154BR. (Job ID is 23154BR.) The closing date is June 10th at 3PM Arizona Time.

Requisition ID: 23154BR
Job Title: Associate Scientific Software Engineer
Salary Range: $51,100–$60,000 per year; DOE
Close Date: 10-June-2016

The Biodesign Center for Personalized Diagnostics is seeking an Associate Scientific Software Engineer to perform professional work in the research, design, development, implementation and maintenance of scientific software applications.

Essential Duties

  • Designs, develops, implements, tests, documents and maintains scientific and engineering software applications.
  • Analyzes and writes software functionality requirements, designs specifications, manuals, and user guides.
  • Interacts, trains, and works with users on how to use software and solve problems.
  • Distributes developed software to the scientific community as necessary.
  • Analyzes project specifications and creates project sub-tasks and implementation schedules.
  • Reviews, modifies, and rewrites existing software to optimize it or adapt it to fit new requirements.
  • Coordinates the activities of subordinates; trains and instructs other personnel; leads, directs, checks, and integrates the work of others.
  • Researches, evaluates, and implements third-party products and vendor applications.

Minimum Qualifications

Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or related field 3-years prior experience developing software in a research environment; OR any equivalent combination of experience and/or education from which comparable knowledge, skills and abilities have been achieved.

Desired Qualifications

  • Demonstrated knowledge of relevant software engineering practices and design methodologies
  • Demonstrated knowledge of principles, practices, developments, and techniques used in systems analysis and applications programming
  • Experience in designing and implementing software applications
  • Experience in analyzing pre-existing software to identify and resolve complex problems
  • Evidence of effective communication skills (orally and writing) with the ability to convey technical issues

Working Environment

  • Activities are performed in an environmentally controlled office setting subject to extended periods of sitting, keyboarding, and manipulating a computer mouse
  • Frequently required to stand for varying lengths of time and walk moderate distances to perform work
  • Occasional bending, reaching, lifting, pushing and pulling up to 25 pounds
  • Regular activities require ability to quickly change priorities which may include and/or are subject to resolution of conflicts
  • Communicate to perform essential functions
  • Use equipment such as calculator, telephone, computer (monitor, keyboard and mouse), printer, fax, and copier

Department Statement

The Biodesign Institute addresses today’s critical global challenges in healthcare, sustainability, and security by developing solutions inspired from natural systems and translating those solutions into commercially viable products and clinical practices.

The Center for Personalized Diagnostics is a research center within the Biodesign Institute that focuses on personalized medicine. Promising advances in the area of personalized medicine have shown us that life-threatening diseases are as distinct in character as the individuals they afflict. The Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics has been established with an eye toward overcoming the health care challenges posed by disease variance. Our Center is developing new diagnostic tools to pinpoint the molecular manifestations of disease based on individual patient profiles. The strategy promises not only to improve therapeutic care, but also to greatly reduce treatment costs by allowing for early disease detection.

ASU Statement

Arizona State University is a new model for American higher education, an unprecedented combination of academic excellence, entrepreneurial energy and broad access. This New American University is a single, unified institution comprising four differentiated campuses positively impacting the economic, social, cultural and environmental health of the communities it serves. Its research is inspired by real world application blurring the boundaries that traditionally separate academic disciplines. ASU serves more than 90,000 students in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, the nation’s fifth largest city. ASU champions intellectual and cultural diversity, and welcomes students from all fifty states and more than one hundred nations across the globe.

ASU is a tobacco-free university. For details visit http://www.asu.edu/tobaccofree

AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and other national service alumni are encouraged to apply.

Arizona State University is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor and an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will be considered without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other basis protected by law.

Employment Verification Statement

ASU conducts pre-employment screening which may include verification of work history, academic credentials, licenses, and certifications.

Background Check Statement

ASU conducts pre-employment screening for all positions which includes a criminal background check, verification of work history, academic credentials, licenses, and certifications. Employment is contingent upon successful passing of the background check.

Instructions to Apply

Application deadline is 3:00PM Arizona time on the date indicated.

Please include all employment information in month/year format (e.g., 6/88 to 8/94), job title, job duties and name of employer for each position.

Resume should clearly illustrate how prior knowledge and experience meets the Minimum and Desired qualifications of this position.

ASU does not pay for travel expenses associated with interviews, unless otherwise indicated.

Only electronic applications are accepted for this position.

… June 20. That is, we will accept entries from noon, June 20, to noon, July 3, where noon is defined by the Panda’s Thumb server, which thinks it is still in Central Standard Time, or UTC(GMT) - 5 h. The rules will be essentially the same as previous years’. We have not chosen categories yet, but please be assured that they (or it) will be all-inclusive.

The number of entries has gone down monotonically or almost so since the first contest in 2009. Thus, we want to dispel the rumor that each person gets only 3 decent pictures per lifetime and encourage our readers to submit up to 3 photographs per person, even if you have already submitted several in past contests and think that you have used up your allocation: There is no Law of Conservation of Complex Specified Photographic Quality!

So wipe your lenses, grease your shutters, check your archives, and be ready!

A Postdoctoral Research Associate position is available at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University (ASU). This new Postdoctoral Research Associate will be part of the Cartwright lab (http://cartwrig.ht/) located in the Biodesign Center for Personalized Diagnostics. The lab is focused on evolutionary research related to mutation and population variation, as well as developing statistical software to process large, genomic datasets to identify and study somatic and germline mutation patterns. A successful candidate will participate in two NIH funded research programs: (1) analysis of mutation accumulation lines from the ciliate, Tetrahymena thermophila, and (2) development of DeNovoGear (https://github.com/denovogear/denovogear), a general toolkit for the study of mutation rates from next-gen sequencing of related individuals and cells. Corresponding projects in the lab involve the study of somatic and germline mutations in humans, chimps, trees, bacteria, bees, mice, and cancer.

In particular, under guidance from Dr. Cartwright, the candidate is expected to:

  • Work both independently and closely with other members of the lab
  • Map and/or assemble next-generation sequencing data
  • Adapt existing genomic techniques to non-model organisms
  • Develop novel, high-throughput methodologies to identify de novo mutations by comparing related individuals and somatic samples.
  • Present the results of research at meetings, in publications, etc.

Requirements

  1. PhD in bioinformatics, computational biology, biostatistics, genomics, molecular biology or related fields
  2. Proficiency in scientific computing and programming/scripting languages in UNIX platforms (e.g. Bash, Python, C/C++)
  3. Experience in statistical computing (e.g. R/Bioconductor and Biopython)

Desired Qualifications

  1. Experience in development/maintenance of scientific software
  2. Experience in next-generation sequencing data processing and analysis
  3. Experience in statistical analysis and method development
  4. Experience in high-performance parallel computing
  5. Experience in collecting and processing large-scale scientific data

Instructions to Apply

The position will remain open until filled. To apply, please send cover letter, CV, summary of past work, and the names and email addresses of three references to Dr. Cartwright at [Enable javascript to see this email address.] by June 30, 2016. Please put “Postdoctoral Research Associate” in the subject line of your email.

The Cartwright Lab (http://cartwrig.ht/) offers a productive environment, in which researchers are given the freedom to explore new ways of solving scientific problems. There are opportunities to work with a large number of collaborators at both ASU and worldwide. We are located in the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix, AZ, USA), home to 4.5 million people, and short driving distances from numerous outdoor activities in the Sonoran Desert. Biking, hiking, mountain climbing, and bird watching are all popular activities in the area.

The Biodesign Institute Mission

The Biodesign Institute at ASU addresses today’s critical global challenges in healthcare, sustainability and security by developing solutions inspired from natural systems and translating those solutions into commercially viable products and clinical practices.

Arizona State University is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor and Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will be considered without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability protected veteran status, or any other basis protected by law.

ASU’s full non-discrimination statement: https://www.asu.edu/aad/manuals/acd/acd401.html

Title IX statement: https://www.asu.edu/titleIX/

Hardground with borings

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Photograph by Dan Phelps.

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Hardground with borings from the Grant Lake Limestone (Upper Ordovician, Maysvillian), Maysville, Kentucky. Mr. Phelps explains, “Hardgrounds are surfaces in the geologic record that lithified on the sea floor and then were bored into and encrusted by marine invertebrates, followed by the deposition of more sediments. They are common in Ordovician carbonates of Kentucky.” And adds, “The creationist explanations for hardgrounds can be hilarious. Especially look at the diagram with gas emissions lifting antediluvian hardgrounds to be redeposited in the Flood.”

This link is a preview of an Australian television show about the “replica” of Noah’s Ark being built out of gopher steel and concrete in Kentucky. I think it will air next Sunday, and I hope that an online version will be available soon afterward. “Sunday Night” is apparently an Australian news magazine similar to 60 Minutes in the US.

Ken (who you callin’ the a Messiah, bud?) Ham commented on the program here; he seems to have been bent out of shape by a comment made by Bill Nye in the preview. Mr. Ham is an Australian native, and that may be part of the reason that the Australian channel is running the story.

The producers also interviewed the Ark Park’s persistent critic Dan Phelps at length, both in a hotel meeting room in Cincinnati and on an outcrop near Big Bone Lick State Park. I have a feeling that Mr. Ham will be bent further out of shape if Mr. Phelps’s comments are aired.

A commenter on an earlier thread directed our attention to an article by Zack Kopplin in the Daily Beast, “School teaching creationism with video from Islamic sex cult.” The headline may be a bit over the top, but the gist of the article is that the school district is employing materials developed by Harun Yahya. To give due credit, here is what the commenter, “Charley Horse,” wrote on the earlier thread:

A bit off topic … but of interest.

School Teaching Creationism With Video From Islamic Sex Cult. An Ohio school district is using a video made by a Holocaust-denying Muslim to undermine evolution in science class.

QUOTE A BIT:

A curriculum map recommends teachers in this public school district show a creationist video, Cambrian Fossils and the Creation of Species as part of 10th grade science education. The video claims that the Cambrian Explosion “totally invalidates the theory of evolution.”

…The district’s curriculum map calls for teaching “an alternative theory called Intelligent Design,” which is another name for creationism. Youngstown suggests teachers show a creationist video, Unlocking the Mystery of Life, produced by the right wing Christian advocacy group, Focus on the Family and by the Discovery Institute, a creationist think tank.…

“Students are reminded how the irreducibly complex system like the flagellum of a bacterial cell could not have evolved slowly, piece by piece and serves as a counter-example to evolution,” says the curriculum, citing another disproven creationist talking point. It also recommends the video Darwin’s Dilemma, also produced by the Discovery Institute. Other materials call evolution a “theory in crisis,” and were created by the All About GOD ministries.

The Daily Beast article directs us to a “curriculum map” and notes,

A curriculum map (PDF) recommends teachers in this public school district show a creationist video, Cambrian Fossils and the Creation of Species as part of 10th grade science education. The video claims that the Cambrian Explosion “totally invalidates the theory of evolution.” The Cambrian Explosion was a time period, nearly 550 million years ago, where, over the next tens of millions of years, the number of species on Earth experienced a (relatively) rapid expansion by evolutionary standards. Christian creationists regularly point to this explosion of life as evidence for creation by God and against evolution.

Blink and you’d miss the Islamic connection in the video. A black screen flashes for less than one second that says “this film is based on the works of Harun Yahya.” In the right corner, there’s a gold bubble that says, “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” in Arabic.

I followed the link to the curriculum map. I am not a biologist, and I did not read all 24 pages in detail, but, sure enough, on page 3/24, I found,

An article in The Star Press datelined Muncie, Indiana, today proclaimed, ‘Intelligent design’ professor earns tenure at Ball State. The professor in question is Eric Hedin, a physics professor who, as we reported in 2013, is apparently an intelligent-design creationist and once taught a course called Boundaries of Science. The class has, however, been canceled, and Professor Hedin has presumably been enjoined to not teach creationism in his physics classes. (No, my very dear trolls, that is not a violation of his freedom of speech.)

I looked up Professor Hedin and find that his research interests include “Teleology.” He has what seems to me a heavy teaching load, primarily General Physics 1 and 2, 5 mornings a week. I followed a link to his publications and find that he has a steady stream of publications in what look like respectable journals and conference proceedings. I did not see any papers that looked like they were concerned with teleology, and I presume that he is not surreptitiously teaching creationism.

The physics department at Ball State is blessed with 2 intelligent-design creationists. Panda’s Thumb reported, about 1 month before our report on Professor Hedin, that Gonzalez [is] appointed assistant professor at Ball State University, referring to the intelligent-design creationist Guillermo Gonzalez. Professor Gonzalez had famously been denied tenure at Iowa State University, presumably for failure to conduct an original research program and instead writing The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery.

A morbid curiosity getting the better of me, I looked up Professor Gonzalez in Google Scholar and also here. I do not know when he became a fellow of the Discovery Institute, but I noted no publications of interest after 2007, though he was a co-author of a book on observational astronomy in 2006. Like almost every other fellow of the DI, Professor Gonzalez appears to have produced virtually nothing since joining that institute.

But let us end on a positive note: The same cannot be said for Eric Hedin, and I must assume that his promotion and tenure are well deserved.

______

Thanks to Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education for the original link.

Recurvirostra americana

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Recurvirostra americana – American avocet, Cottonwood Lake, Boulder, Colorado, 3 days ago.

A retired European geneticist, Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, has made a point that he feels is devastating to population genetic arguments about the effectiveness of natural selection. In a post at the Discovery Institute’s blog Evolution News and Views. He pointed to an argument he made in 2001 in an encyclopedia article. The essence of his criticism is that many organisms produce very large numbers of gametes, or of newborn offspring. Most of those must die. Then

If only a few out of millions and even billions of individuals are to survive and reproduce, then there is some difficulty believing that it should really be the fittest who would do so.

In addition, he was interviewed two days ago by Paul Nelson, in a podcast posted very recently by the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute, on their blog Evolution News and Views. You will find it here. He makes the same point (while Nelson misunderstands him and keeps raising an unrelated point about protein spaces).

It is a stunning thought that evolutionary biologists have ignored this issue. Have they? Have population geneticists ever thought about this? Well, actually they have, starting nearly 90 years ago. And the calculations that they made do not offer support to Dr. Lönnig. Let me explain …

Dan Phelps just sent us an editorial in the Lexington Herald-Leader. The editorial accuses Kentucky of seeking science jobs while at the same time denying science: not just evolution but also global warming, alternative energy sources, and conservation. The editorial notes that Kentucky is “perennially short of money,” in part because of tax breaks like that for the Ark Park, and concludes,

Kentucky forgoes tax revenue to help deny science while telling students they need to learn it. In homage to coal, Kentucky dumbly stints on alternative energy technologies, or even conservation, while telling young people they need to prepare to work in advanced manufacturing.

The messages aren’t just mixed, they’re in open conflict.

That about sums it up.

Celithemis eponina

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Photograph by Robin Lee-Thorp.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention.

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Celithemis eponina – Halloween pennant.

NCSE informs us that the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has rendered a decision in the appeal of Cope vs. Kansas, which we reported on here. Specifically, the Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s earlier dismissal of the case, largely on the basis of standing. Additionally, NCSE notes, “Interestingly, though, the decision observes in a footnote that COPE’s suggestion for ‘teleological’ explanations to be added to the standards would be unconstitutional.” NCSE’s report on the decision follows, printed with permission:

A DECISION IN THE COPE APPEAL

The creationist lawsuit seeking to reverse Kansas’s 2013 decision to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards on the grounds that the state thereby “establish[ed] and endorse[d] a non-theistic religious worldview” failed again on April 19, 2016, when the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s dismissal of the case, COPE et al. v. Kansas State Board of Education et al.

The court’s decision mainly addressed the question of standing, agreeing with the district court that the plaintiffs lacked standing to assert any of their claims. Interestingly, though, the decision observes in a footnote that COPE’s suggestion for “teleological” explanations to be added to the standards would be unconstitutional.

As NCSE previously reported, the lead plaintiff, COPE, Citizens for Objective Public Education, is a relatively new creationist organization, founded in 2012 but its leaders and attorneys include people familiar from previous attacks on evolution education across the country, such as John H. Calvert of the Intelligent Design Network.

The NGSS have been adopted in eighteen states – Arkansas (so far only for middle school), California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia – plus the District of Columbia. The treatment of evolution and climate science in the standards occasionally provokes controversy, but COPE v. Kansas is the only lawsuit to have resulted.

You may find the court’s decision (PDF) here, courtesy of NCSE.

And you may find NCSE’s collection of documents from COPE v. Kansas here

______

Thanks to Glenn Branch of NCSE for allowing us to reproduce their essay.

The Ark Park is hiring

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Answers in Genesis is advertising a whole slew of jobs, but you do not have to read very far between the lines to realize that the hirees will be “detailed” to the Ark Park, presumably because AIG, as a religious organization, is allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion. I do not know why they are bothering, because recently a Kentucky judge ruled, in effect, that it was legal for the Ark Park itself to discriminate on the basis of religion, and there is no chance that the state will appeal.

For the uninitiated, Ark Encounter (the legal name of the Ark Park) is a for-profit corporation, though it is apparently owned by Answers in Genesis. In order to get a tax break, Ark Encounter had been prohibited from discriminating on the basis of religion. Indeed, as we reported here, they purported to

provide equal employment opportunities to all qualified employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, religion, sex, age, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, citizenship status, veteran status, disability or any other legally protected status. [Emphasis added.]

Nevertheless we predicted some shenanigans here

… it appears as if AIG plans to hire someone to work not for AIG, but for its subsidiary, Ark Encounter, that is, that AIG wants to apply a religious test to an employee who on paper works at AIG but in fact works at Ark Encounter. You might say that they are planning to launder the position so that the religious test can be applied where it ought not be applicable.

and here

In other words, Ark Encounter’s tax incentives will be restored, if only they pledge in writing that they will not discriminate in employment. Ark Encounter has so far declined to give such assurance, which makes a body speculate that they just might be thinking of laundering all Ark Encounter employment through Answers in Genesis in order to circumvent the law.

I checked the job listings, and, sure enough, the jobs are apparently located at “(WILLIAMSTOWN, KY/ARK …),” even though the employer appears to be AIG. Additionally, AIG applies a religious test. For example, a senior network administrator has to have

Ability to communicate technical issues and concepts to a broad range of technical and non-technical staff with Christ-like kindness and tact …

Most importantly, a proven firmness in their walk with Christ, and a passion for technical skill for the glory of God.

A grounds maintenance technician has to supply “Salvation testimony. Creation belief statement. Confirmation of agreement with the AiG Statement of Faith.” Other occupations that I checked had similar requirements.

I cannot immediately find a forthright statement by Ark Encounter that they will not discriminate on the basis of religion, but the mayor of Williamstown certainly thought so:

…The city supports the Ark and is pleased that it is locating in Williamstown. The Ark Encounter will not require anyone to sign a statement of faith. I agree with you that it is a requirement of employment at the Creation Museum [presumably as opposed to the Ark Park] …

according to a Facebook posting on March 6, 2013, which an informant very kindly sent me. I do not know whether anyone piped up to disillusion the mayor.

Finally, while figuratively thumbing through old Panda’s Thumb articles, I came across my own 2011 article, Ark Park goes nowhere, in which I predicted that the groundbreaking would take place in 250,000 years:

My own estimate is that their timescale is skewed by their belief that the Earth is around 5000 years old. It is in fact more like 5 billion years old. Thus, if we take 3-4 months and multiply it by the ratio of 5 billion years to 5000 years, we estimate that the groundbreaking ceremony will take place in 3 million months, or 250,000 years.

LEO Weekly was more modest and estimated 2024.

Read very carefully, because this may be the first time that a pundit has ever admitted error: However reasonable my prediction – and they had raised very little money at the time – I was severely mistaken, and the Ark Park will open on July 7, 2016. If that is not a miracle, nothing is.
_____

Note added in proof, so to speak. Dylan Lovan of the Associated Press reports today that the Ark Park will hire approximately 300-400 people; they must be Christians, but apparently almost any denomination will suffice (see, however, the requirements for the grounds maintenance technician, above). I do not know whether all these positions will be laundered through AIG.

Attacus atlas

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Photograph by Diogenes.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention.

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Attacus atlas – Atlas moth. This specimen is a captive male at the Museum of the Academy of Natural History of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

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  • Dave Thomas: You certainly are Goalposts on Steroids, Ray! You started off saying that “EVOLUTION IS UNFALSIFIABLE” because atheists supposedly “HAVE NO OTHER CHOICES BESIDES EVOLUTION.” I pointed out how false read more
  • Rolf: Please note that in my post “Rolf replied to a comment from PaulBC | June 25, 2016 12:11 AM”, I goofed on the use of quotes so there’s nothing to read more
  • PaulBC: I probably should have put this in my previous reply for context, but again, how do you defend this asinine comment as a Christian, Ray? Not as a pseudoscientist read more

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