I’ve spent several hours reading all the reactions to the Age of the Machine video (see my previous post) and checking out where it’s been posted. Except for Uncommon Descent it’s all on Science Blogger websites and the reaction is fascinating.
Almost without exception it’s being called brilliant in artistic execution. There’s just about an even split on who it disses more, scientists or creationists. But not on Uncommon Descent where everyone thought it was dissing scientists.
Here’s my take. There are two messages in it aimed at two different audiences.
One message is visible to a mass audience. That message is repeated over and over in the chorus that scientists, biologists in particular, are smarter than “you”. For the average person, the vast majority who aren’t scientists, that’s an insult. To a corporate executive or small business owner earning 10 times an academic scientist’s salary it’s a joke. Along with this a mass audience easily sees one scientist innocently saying “maybe there’s something more than natural selection going on here” and another evil scientist calling in the machine to throw him out on the street for questioning natural selection. The mass audience also plainly sees “EXPELLED” stamped on his forehead like a scarlet letter with the off-center X characteristic of the Expelled movie logo. So the mass audience sees exactly what the producers of Expelled would want them to see. That’s the only message that anyone here at Uncommon Descent saw.
Now on the science blogs the nerd boys clearly saw another message buried in the lyrics. Among other subtleties that go by too quickly and are drowned out by the chorus and visual effects:
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.
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 schtick.
(HT to Mark Norris for the above quotes).
These certainly don’t look like something our camp would write and does indeed give it something of a pro-evolution spin once you read it. It’s a message inside a message. To someone who reads the lyrics, knows the history, and is a scientist or scientist wannabe who believes scientists ARE smarter than “you” the subtle message appears to be the true message.
But who exactly sees the subtle message? As far as I can determine the only people who see it are science bloggers (Panda’s Thumb, Pharyngula, and a few other pro-evolution sites). People who have a rather deep knowledge of the history of the creation/evolution debate. And let’s face it, even among scientists that’s a small minority as most of them have lives where there’s no time or motivation to be concerned about this. It’s below the radar screen. They have jobs, kids, mortgages, politics, and televised sports worry about or take up their leisure time.
So what’s going on here? Clearly the creators (presuming the video didn’t evolve by chance & necessity 😆 ) intentionally put both messages in it. Just as clearly they made one message visible to a mass audience and the other visible to a tiny audience.
Here’s what I think. The producers of Expelled commissioned this video and knowingly made it appealing enough, ambiguous enough, to the science bloggers so that they’d help spread it around, which is exactly what they did. What happened here, I’m guessing, is that people with marketing degrees are playing people with science degrees like a fiddle. Who’s smarter than who now, eh?