The “Pity Us Poor Incompetent Boobs” Strategy?

| 18 Comments

Watching the whole Expelled debacle as it has unfolded, with screwups ranging from the expulsion of PZ and the pre-expulsion of Genie Scott who was also in the film (hear her story about 3/4 through this podcast also linked by Tim Sandefur below), to the multiple mutually inconsistent stories manufactured by Mark Mathis and his Swift Boat Veterans for Truth public relations firm, I am beginning to believe that they are following a conscious strategy: the “Pity Us Because We’re So Incompetent” strategy.

The most recent move in that cunning campaign was to “accidentally” send the email list for their scheduled Tempe, AZ, preview to Scienceblogger John Lynch. Because the promoters of Expelled used cc: rather than bcc:, John was privileged to learn that such luminaries as “boughtbythecross,” “homeschoolma,” and “covenant-dad” are among the target audience for Expelled.

C’mon, folks. Can you really believe that grown-up people who cross streets on their own and who (presumably) don’t require full-time home care can really screw up so royally so often? I really think they are angling for the pity vote.

By the way, in the podcast linked above Genie announced that NCSE will be releasing a series of new videos on www.expelledexposed.com on April 15. Link to it early and often.

18 Comments

As one of their supporters would say, don’t “misunderestimate” them.

They know they are targeting “homeschoolma” et al. They are hoping they can get traction in the wider cultural realm, although that seems unlikely in ADD America. But they can be highly effective if they only target the True Believers. Do not underestimate the impact they can have. They have owned the “life/choice” debate in America, largely through grassroots efforts targeted at politicians who are either sympathetic or unwilling to stand up for reason over emotion. These people are in it for the long haul, for them the end justifies the means, and in the worst cases, some of the mentally unstable among them are willing to act violently upon their beliefs. Dover was one small victory in what will be a very long struggle. State legislatures in certain states will almost certainly undermine this decision, necessitating new legal battles. The so-called academic freedom bills in numerous state legislatures look to be a very broad attack on the teaching of evolution in public institutions.

I’m from Ohio and fought in the wars here: I don’t misunderestimate them. But can they be screwing up so consistently without actually trying? The mind boggles. I think they are merely executing the strategy implicit in the subtitle of the film: “No Intelligence Allowed.” By instantiating it they illustrate it.

(See? I could have been a film critic if I’d taken a different path.)

RBH, you would have been a great film critic.

Not an intelligent design film critic though - you weren’t there.

Jeh Wrote:

They are hoping they can get traction in the wider cultural realm, although that seems unlikely in ADD America.

“ADD America” - excellent!

I know I’m in a minority on this issue, but I think that they’ll get a bigger chunk of the Kevin Trudeau crowd than most people think. Most nonscientists have an unhealthy suspicion of mainstream science, and an uncritical willingness to buy into feel-good sound bites and conspiracy “theories.” Sure, many nonscientists who consider Al Gore a saint will dismiss the DI/”Expelled” crowd just for being far-right, but many (most?) of those outside the religious right have fallen for some anti-evolution propaganda before, and I haven’t seen anything that suggests that they’ll stop now.

Bottom line: they can afford to look (or be) incompetent.

The only people left supporting the ID scam are ignorant, incompetent, and or dishonest. There are no other options left when even the ID perps that ran the teach ID scam are running the bait and switch on any of their creationist supporters that still thinks that there is anything worth teaching about intelligent design. Just ask the Florida “Teach ID” rubes what they got to teach about intelligent design. What does “nothing” mean to any competent person that heard the creationists claim to be able to teach the “science” of intelligent design? The Expelled crowd just has all of those qualities in spades. No other explanation for their behavior is required.

As others have pointed out there are probably a whole lot of people that are still ignorant of what the ID creationist scam turned into that may support it out of ignorance, but that is one of the things that is bad about ignorance. Everyone is ignorant about a lot of things, but if you let that ignorance lead you to do stupid things, it is not a good thing even if ignorance isn’t bad by itself.

RBH:

I’m from Ohio and fought in the wars here: I don’t misunderestimate them. But can they be screwing up so consistently without actually trying? The mind boggles. I think they are merely executing the strategy implicit in the subtitle of the film: “No Intelligence Allowed.” By instantiating it they illustrate it.

(See? I could have been a film critic if I’d taken a different path.)

“Never attribute to malice, what is more easily explainable by stupidity.”

Or something like that. I can’t remember who said it.

Well, since by all accounts the movie itself is a poorly-made amateurish mess, combined with all these screwups I see two equally plausible scenarios:

1.) The movie itself was never the main attraction; just the bait. The whole intent is to provoke people like PZ or Richard Dawkins into suing them for some reason or other. The intent was to generate a PR “coup” by claiming “See? SEE?! They even tried to suppress this movie, to cover up their suppressive activities!!1!” The movie was never really meant to be seen by a wide audience, but the idea of it would be an enduring symbol of the oppressive Darwinists.

This email mixup fits into this scenario if they were hoping “Darwinists” on the mailing list would harass the erroneously-listed addressees.

2.) They really are dumber than a bag of hair.

Like I say, I honestly can’t decide which is more believable.

Oh, I thought THIS was the April First parody.

My mistake.

Paul

“Never attribute to malice, what is more easily explainable by stupidity.” Hanlon’s razor, generally used for explaining the motives of conspiracy “theory” perps. It could be modified to adequately explain creationists where malice and stupidity work together, like a hand in a glove.

C’mon, folks. Can you really believe that grown-up people who cross streets on their own and who (presumably) don’t require full-time home care can really screw up so royally so often? I really think they are angling for the pity vote.

By the same logic, C’mon folks. Can you really believe that the PT-mafia is against the film? They spend so many column inches providing publicity for it.

William Wallace

Well, seriously, they are in the habit of attributing any and all failure to the machinations of we the “Darwinists.” So that the intent in any screw-up is to blame the evil conspiracy of “Big Science.” Comically, even their reports mention the “irony” of expelling PZ Myers, acting as if this were just deserts, considering how Myers favors the expulsion of dishonest pseudoscientists from the discipline of science which has that duty–rather than admitting that Mathis is one raging hypocrite (true, they could hardly do the latter). To punctuate the early April Fools (like the IDiots could get the date right) comedy, Mathis said, “…We expell [sic] no one.”

They really are the biggest buffoons around, which would be expected for proponents of one of the longest, biggest, and most thoroughly debunked, fraudulent ideas of all time. Do you really know if they can safely cross the streets? For all I know, there have indeed been thousands of ID scientists, most of them hit by cars and buses as they denied the evidence of their senses, trusting in magic to save them from mere scientific conclusions. Mathis and cohorts may be the pitiful remnants of the true believers, while clearly the masses simply accept science wherever their survival matters (not enough faith to deny their senses, you know).

The IDiots really do have a hard-core following who will excuse anything by Mathis & company, while blaming evil atheistic scientists for any setback or confusion at the DI or Premise. Increasingly it appears that they’re going to have to sell tickets almost entirely to them, and whoever wants to laugh at or fisk the movie. Expelled itself is apparently ham-handed, funny only to those who want desperately for the other guy’s ox to be gored, reliant on Nazi and commie photos to make a case that the facts cannot, with a lot of interviews that the faithful won’t understand except for a few parts where forced laughs are requisite. They’ll sell a number of tickets, all right, but mostly to those to whom hating evolution is a religious requirement.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

By the same logic, C’mon folks. Can you really believe that the PT-mafia is against the film? They spend so many column inches providing publicity for it.

By exposing its vacuity? I guess when it comes to ID, even bad news is good news, after all, what else has ID to offer?

OT:

jeh: Thanks for the Emerson quotation from the other (closed) thread. I’ve added it to my collection.

Can you really believe that grown-up people who cross streets on their own and who (presumably) don’t require full-time home care can really screw up so royally so often?

I personally have no faith in their ability to cross the street on their own.

Clarke’s fourth law: Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.

William Wallace:

C’mon, folks. Can you really believe that grown-up people who cross streets on their own and who (presumably) don’t require full-time home care can really screw up so royally so often? I really think they are angling for the pity vote.

By the same logic, C’mon folks. Can you really believe that the PT-mafia is against the film? They spend so many column inches providing publicity for it.

William Wallace

Considering how badly he shot himself in the foot over false accusations against P Z Myers, I’m amazed he keeps showing up around here. I guess that proves he’s an idiot.

Glen askedd

Do you really know if they can safely cross the streets? For all I know, there have indeed been thousands of ID scientists, most of them hit by cars and buses as they denied the evidence of their senses, trusting in magic to save them from mere scientific conclusions.

Natural selection in action! I love it!

While I think mendacity is mainstay of the ID/Creo movement… It doesn’t even take real incompetence for something like this to happen, just reliance on an inappropriate system for mass external mailings and someone who isn’t thinking.

So while I had a chuckle when I read about the incident a week ago, the first thought that came to mind was when something similar happened at my partner’s work. He was responsible for doing a fortnightly bulletin email out to members of the organisation… so he gives instruction and makes a special note that the person doing it should be sure they use BCC instead of CC… which happened to be the one instruction they ignored. Needless to say, the next day back at work he came back to a flood of angry emails from people who weren’t happy.

I think Paul’s quotation of Hanlon’s Razor (sic) is apt. I think there is underlying malice, but that most of these things are unintended consequences of incompetent planning that come good due to circumstances… one of those is a lazy media. I think so much of their seeming tenacity is an unconcious reliance on an ill informed and intellectually incurious public… so all they need to do is keep the evolving narrative (now that’s an irony, a reliance of the generation and culling of talking points by natural selection) in the here and now, and expect no one but their opponents is paying any mind.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on March 31, 2008 10:26 PM.

Expelled Exposed: Flunked “Rebel” Part 1 was the previous entry in this blog.

Logical Negativism is the next entry in this blog.

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