Posted by Ed
The most terrifying theme park in the world, I've decided, might just be Dinosaur Adventure Land, a creationist theme park that invites children to "discover the truth about dinosaurs." Today's New York Times describes the park and its founder, portraying Dinosaur Adventure Land as a kind of boring place:
At Dinosaur Adventure Land, visitors can make their own Grand Canyon replica with sand and read a sign deriding textbooks for teaching that the Colorado River formed the canyon over millions of years: "This is clearly not possible. The top of the Grand Canyon is 4,000 feet higher than where the river enters the canyon! Rivers do not flow up hill!"
There is a movie depicting the creation, the flood and the fall of man, which fast-forwards from a lush Garden of Eden to a New York City traffic jam.
There are no mechanized rides at Dinosaur Adventure Land — no creationist-themed roller coasters, scramblers or even a ferris wheel — but instead, a simple discovery center and museum and about a dozen outdoor games, each of which has a "science lesson" and "spiritual lesson" posted nearby. A group of about 60 parents and home-schooled children who visited Wednesday, including the Passmores, spent all afternoon trying the games, which promote religious faith more than creationist tenets.
Take Jumpasaurus, which involves jumping on a trampoline while trying to throw a ball through a hoop as many times as possible in a minute. The science lesson: "You will use coordination in this game, which means you will be doing more than one thing at once." The spiritual lesson, according to Mr. Johnson: "You need to learn to be coordinated for Jesus Christ so you can get more things done for him."
Update: P.Z. Myers links to the same article at Pharyngula. He describes the piece as "a pandering bit of fluff" and notes that he read it "with stark disbelief."
The more I think about it, the weirder this article seems. It seems debatable whether this is even a real theme park, after all: it's not exactly loaded with exciting rides and fun activities. When I first looked at the article, I noticed some of the more ridiculous highlights (like the Jumpasaurus "science" lesson and the Grand Canyon propaganda) and assumed that one of the main points of the article was to highlight the park's silliness; nevertheless, as Myers points out, there's just "one brief expression of a mildly contrary opinion in the whole thing." Even the tax fraud charges against the park's founder are downplayed... Perhaps I should have read more carefully before blogging about it.
Part of me wonders whether the article's author knows just how silly the park is and didn't think she needed to highlight its ridiculousness. (Perhaps she assumed that readers knew the context of parks like this and understood the anti-science extremism of plenty of creationists.) It would have been nice if an editor had told her to put some more criticism into the article, though.Posted by Ed at May 1, 2004 11:04 AM