Ken Ham and a horse’s ass

Actually, this article is about Ken Ham, horses, and the height of a horse.  Close enough.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Kenny, he is an evolution denialist whose anti-scientific ideas could be easily disregarded, as he preaches his silly ideas to ignorant, uneducated Americans.  Actually, it would have been best if he had stayed in Australia with his anti-science pal, Meryl Dorey, the vaccine denier who runs the vaccine-hating Australian Vaccine Network.  So, Kenny runs Answers in Genesis (AIG), a creationist faux-science screed, that was originally written to counter the more scientific, and better written, TalkOrigins website, which was constructed over the years to debunk the stupidity of creationism, which is rather easy.  Admittedly, AIG is a prettier website, but Kenny lacks any evidence whatsoever for his claims, so, as we all know, if you don’t have a message, make it look nice.

We could have still ignored Ham as a waste of human evolution, if not for his insane Creation Museum in Kentucky. The craziness of this museum is almost beyond comprehension.  The museum cost $27 million to build, which probably could have fed the poor and destitute of Kentucky for many years.  It has thoroughly comedic ideas like dinosaurs were friendly with humans, that the earth is only 6000 years old, and that carnivorous dinosaurs were actually vegetarians.  Even ignoring the “museum’s” (intentional scare quotes, because this museum is an insult to real museums) ridiculous ideas, it otherwise fails on the basic level.  For example, Utahraptor is shown to without feathers, when every single piece of evidence today indicates otherwise.   Kenny’s museum has been thoroughly ridiculed by top evolutionary scientists.

Despite all of this, which can be written off as pure stupidity and fodder for jokes, on a more serious side the museum pushes racist propaganda, by promoting the Curse of Ham.  Basically, the story is based on the mythical Noah placing a curse on Noah’s mythical grandson, Canaan, for some biblical insanity of some sort.  Click the link if you want more details.  So, biblical scholars (how hard is it to study the Bronze Age Goatherder’s Book of Fairytales, Myths, and Hallucinations) have stated that Canaan was made black, and exiled to Africa.  Why is this racist?  Well, it was used for many years to justify slavery, and, more recently, why blacks are somehow inferior to white people.  Of course, race is meaningless in biology, as all human beings belong to one species, Homo sapiens.  The genetic variability amongst all humans is around 2%, meaning humans share 98% of its genome with all other humans.  Ironically, humans share 97% of its genome with its closest relatives, chimpanzees.  Do with that what you will.

And to further feed Kenny’s fragile ego, he has decided to rip off the good citizens of Kentucky, and use favorable tax treatment to build his paean to Noah’s Ark with the equally hysterical Ark Encounter, a $150 million orgy to Hammy’s ego.  Maybe the Curse of Ham should refer to Kenny’s continued obsession with his evolution denialism.  

Back to horses and their asses.  Yesterday, Kenny got all upset because a museum (this time a real museum) near his beloved palaces to creationism, dared to describe evolution accurately.  The Kentucky Horse Park appears to be nice place where you can find out all about horses, something for which Kentucky is actually well known.  One of the displays at the attraction, describes the evolution of horses, starting with Hyracotherium, from about 50 million years ago, to the modern horse.  The Kentucky Horse Park, like the horse evolution chart on the right, seems to indicate that horses have gotten larger over time.

Kenny appears to be apoplectic about the displays, and started with this comment:

…Robert Owen, the discoverer of this species, named the original specimen Hyracotherium because it resembled a rabbit-like creature. So this supposed evolutionary ancestor of the horse was not a horse at all!

First, Robert Owen identified the species in the 1840’s, well before we understood the evolution of the horse.  Moreover, sometimes the binomial naming system use Latin words that that can be descriptive.  Owen may have thought the fossil appeared to resemble the Hyrax (the “rabbit-like” creature).  There is a bug named Cedusa medusa, which I am certain did not evolve from the mythical Medusa.  In fact, the scientist who named it, enjoyed the word play.  There is a clam that has the hysterical name of Abra cadabra.  It’s doubtful that the clam evolved from David Copperfield.  Nor should we ignore the lungless salamander, Oedipus complex.  In other words, there is no real standard for binomial names, not now, and certainly not in the 1840’s.  The only reason to debunk this silly comment is because it’s fun to list out some really good binomial names in biology.  

Kenny needed to continue his vast ignorance of biology and evolution:

One popular belief in regard to the horse evolution series is that as horses supposedly evolved, they got bigger. Eohippus is listed as 14 inches tall, while Mesohippus is listed as 24 inches tall. The next two horses in the display, Miohippusand Merychippus, grow steadily bigger. What’s the problem, though, with the belief that horses somehow evolved into larger and larger animals? If that were true, shouldn’t we see only very large horses today? But we don’t—horses vary in size from the Clydesdale to the much smaller Fallabella (just 17 inches tall).

Because modern horses are all one species with artificial selection creating different “breeds” of horses.  Some were selected to be draught horses used in farming.  Arabians were bred to run fast and survive in tough environments.  Artificial selection has given us hundreds of breeds of dog, all with different purposes in helping man.  Canine evolution brought us the wolf, which was domesticated by man about 15000 years ago (or approximately 9000 years before Kenny thinks the world was created).  By Kenny’s ridiculous understanding of evolution, then the chihuahua disproves evolution.  You can laugh now.

Kenny concludes his post about horses, with this asinine remark (see, back to horse’s asses):

This example of a poor, unscientific display at the Horse Park is just another good reason why you need to visit a place that will tell your children the truth—the Creation Museum!

In response to Hammy’s use of “unscientific,” we should quote Inigo Montoya from the classic movie (at least for some great quotes), The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”  

In Panda’s Thumb, an evolution blog, Matt Young wrote the best metaphor ever debunking Kenny’s fallacious statements about horse evolution:

If IQ’s are generally increasing, then why do we still have creationists?

Seriously Kenny, why don’t you and Meryl Dorey save us all a lot of time and merge your two blogs.  Then you can write about bad science together, and writers can be more efficient in debunking bad science from both of you.  And you can both talk about Australia.

The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!