Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dawkins, Dawin Raise The Roof

This hilarious video is doing the rounds now:

I love this video because it is so clever that it appeals to both sides of the creationism - science battle. I think it really acts as a mirror to the way of thinking of both sides, both of which seem to think it is supporting them. At the moment no one seems to know who made it, with suspicions that it may be part of a viral campaign for the ID propaganda film Expelled, personally I doubt that, but who really cares its still very funny and as I said it does act as a great mirror into the thought processes of either side.

The creationists opinions of it, on display at such places as Uncommon Descent are that its meant to insult prominent atheist such as Richard Dawkins et al., at a certain level it appears that that is true, they come across as being quite arrogant, especially in the intro. However they (the creationists) never seem to get beyond this, its like they have seen something that confirms their prejudices and their satisfied, off they go happy, this is one for the home team, nothing more to see here.

Over on the pro-science side, almost the exact opposite is true, everyone (myself included here obviously) are over analysing, this has led to some really interesting points that were immediately seized upon by the commenters over at Pharyngula as proof that the video was pro-science, the most important is simply that the lyrics are very forthright and from a scientists perspective, true.
We might have lost at Scopes, beaten down by the dopes,
and the stooges of popes, but in losin' we coped,
becomin' more than we hoped,
creationists slipped on the soap of their own slippery slope.
Not exactly the type of thing a creationist would probably write. You don't tend to denigrate anothers position by writing from their position in (what they would view) a truthful way, scientists do tend to see the scopes trial as an event that despite being lost has proven to in the long run be a great victory for science, sort of a Pyrrhic victory for the creationists. Those on the ID side seem to have totally ignored this, its as if they can't get past the funny video to see the actually content. The scientists do exactly what scientists do however, they look, question, theorize, argue, test and search for evidence ironically precisely the type of things that the creationists claim that the evil "Darwinist" cabal never does.

Then there is the fact that the video uses the word Creationism, something IDists try very hard not to, if this is a viral for ID, its not a very good one, because it ties ID to creationism, by making use of a logo similar to Expelled (the ID propaganda piece) but using the word creationism throughout. The whole point of ID is to circumvent the separation of church and state in the US, by saying the intelligent designer could be anyone/thing, not necessarily the God of the Bible ("nudge, nudge, wink, wink, it is actually God though pastor"), thereby allowing them to teach it in schools. By providing yet more evidence that creationism and ID are one and the same, someone is going seriously off message.

Then some of the other lyrics are particularly good, eluding to the development of the scientific method, which the machine appears to be a metaphor for.
You see, this battle's been ragin' since Zeus was on the bottle,
'tween Science like Democritus and Faith like Aristotle,

who said the mover was unmovin' like some magic trick,
but that's no good logic, my posse is far too quick for this religious sthick.
I just don't see a creationist/IDist including something like this at all, its far to cerebral, their arguments usually descend to claims about evolution being uprovable or some such nonsense, not a reasonably good description of the roots of scientific thought. How the ID side could think that this is in support of their side is beyond me, I can only presume that either they don't know what it refers to, or that they just didn't really listen.

All in all it could have been made by either side, but I'm tending to fall into the thinking that it was made by someone who is somewhat in the middle. Someone who understands that creationism/ID is non-science and utterly vacuous, but who is uncomfortable with the more forthright attitudes and statements of the more prominent atheists featured such Dawkins, PZ Myers and Hitchens.

Whoever made it congratulations you have real talent. I just wonder what will happen if it is revealed to be the work of a partisan from either side, my guess is nothing if it is the work of an IDist, but if someone pro-science made it I would expect it to be pulled from the likes of uncommon descent rather rapidly.


DaveScot said...

You make good points and I wish I could get some overanalysis going on UD but perhaps there's something to be learned in the underanalytic reaction at Uncommon Descent too.

How many people can actually understand the subtlety of the lyrics? Everyone immediately understands the arrogance of the scientists. Everyone sees the scientist saying "it looks like something more than natural selection here" and getting tossed out on the street for it. They certainly see "EXPELLED" stamped on his forehead like the scarlet letter with the off-center X characteristic of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The chorus, played over and over, insults everyone without a science degree. Imagine what a corporate executive or small business owner earning 10 times an academic salary thinks of being called dumber than a scientist. It doesn't even rise to the level of insult for them.

THAT message is loud and clear to a mass audience. The subtle message, which I acknowledge is there, is invisible to the unwashed masses.

So who exactly sees the subtle message? I believe it's only seen by a few people really well versed in the history of the evolution vs. creation war. How many hip hoppers does that include? I'd guess a vanishingly small percentage. Who it includes is pretty much the science-blogger community and no one else. And let's face it, the science blogger community is a tiny percentage of actual scientists who are too busy with work and life to bother with blogging or reading about something that has zero relevance in their lives.

Given a very limited audience able to discern the subtle pro-evolution message and a mass audience who can see the Expelled message it raises the question of why the subtle message is there at all. My working theory is it's there to play the limited audience like a fiddle - make them help spread the word, so to speak. I suspect Myers getting expelled from Expelled and expelled from the teleconference call was a setup too. You're being played by people who don't have science degrees but rather have marketing degrees.

Mark Norris said...

All of that is quite possibly true, either way the video is funny. It also does have a few things that don't work as an expelled tie in, for example the logo, its subtly wrong, close but not quite right, either someone fouled up or they were avoiding using the actual one for some reason. It also uses creationism, not ID throughout, something I'm sure the DI would not be happy about. Though as I understand it Expelled also implicitly states that ID is a religious belief and conflates creationism and ID as well, so maybe that fig leaf has been dropped now?

You make good points and I wish I could get some overanalysis going on UD

You may well have more success if you didn't ban everyone that doesn't agree with you. :)

Imagine what a corporate executive or small business owner earning 10 times an academic salary thinks of being called dumber than a scientist. It doesn't even rise to the level of insult for them.

I'm not sure what salary has to do with intelligence, otherwise most football players would go onto to win Nobel prizes after their playing days, somehow the picture of David Beckham winning a Nobel Prize for economics (for example) doesn't really fit.

Mark Norris said...

I suspect we'll find out who made it fairly soon. I would guess tomorrow would be the obvious date.

Forthekids said...

As for this paragraph:

We might have lost at Scopes, beaten down by the dopes,
and the stooges of popes, but in losin' we coped,
becomin' more than we hoped,
creationists slipped on the soap of their own slippery slope.

I think this is just another display of arrogance and lashing out at "dopes", "popes" and "creationists".

From an ID perspective, it sounds like the same arrogance and religion bashing we see all the time. I'm not sure why anyone would actually ackowledge that this is the position of "science".

Mark Norris said...

From an ID perspective, it sounds like the same arrogance and religion bashing we see all the time. I'm not sure why anyone would actually ackowledge that this is the position of "science".

I always enjoy when creationists tar scientists as arrogant. As I have previously asked, which is more arrogant: to believe a theory which has mountains of actual evidence, or to believe a "theory" without a shred of evidence because it is the position of your own particular religion? Why should I believe creationism any more than the Viking, Greek, Roman, Hindu etc creation stories?

Additionally we on the pro-science side are not the ones claiming a personal understanding of the ways and thought of a supreme being, we simply say here is the evidence, here are the facts. If you find that they conflict with some central tenet of your beliefs I can see why you have trouble accepting that, but it doesn't make them any less true. I don't see why one particular brand of protestantism has such a problem understanding this, even the Catholic church accepts that where the facts and dogma disagree its time to change the dogma.

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