Sunday, April 22, 2007

Losing Friends And Alienating People

Stale Carny Guys, Corporate Hustlers
Posted by olvlzl.
Penn Jillette, the taller, talkative half of Penn & Teller, might need some magic to manage his schedule. The father of two is back at Showtime for the fifth year of the counter-news show "Bulls**t!" Topics on tap this season include "a hardcore, pro-Wal-Mart show" and obesity. "It's a pro-science show and also a libertarian show," says Jillette, 52. "We expected more than half of the feedback we got would be negative, but the majority of the correspondence is positive."

Taking the last first, you couldn’t pay me enough to sit through another one of Penn and Teller’s magic acts, at least not without those noise cancelling headphones. I had enough of them the first five minutes, the first time I saw them. It doesn’t surprise me that it’s mostly their fans who would watch their self-described “pro-science, also libertarian” show. What’s “libertarian science” ? And how does it differ from, you know, real science? Anyone want to predict how many of the conclusions drawn WON’T support their libertarian ideology? And, given this “pro-Wal-Mart” stuff, how does it differ from John Stossel’s, self advertised, pro-corporate, junk-reporting? Why buy premium cable when you can get the same message on broadcast at everyday lower prices. Just to get in the Wal Mart spirit of things.

I spent some of last week following the “Framing” arguments on digby’s, coturnix’s and a number of other blogs. I was very happy to see some people taking a more realistic approach to talking to people outside of professional scientists in order to gain support for real science as opposed to creationism and other ideological nonsense. But a lot of the participants, who seem to have taken Penn as a role model, spent a lot of time blasting the others as "Neville Chamberlain atheists". I wasn’t exactly sure of how a discussion of more effective ways to promote science turned into a test of adherence to some previously unknown club rules for atheists. Apparently the N.C. A’s are declared to be apostate due to unwillingness to be a rude jerks in the cause of gaining atheists the civil rights denied to them by a prejudiced public. Yesterday, a couple of the true non-faith went so far as to tell me that being obnoxious was a better fire way to get atheists elected to public office than not being obnoxious.

Their movement has come a short way very fast. It’s at the stage when the biggest mouths grab the mike and wield it to bash their rivals. The next stage is no movement. I remember the 70s very well and know a movement on the brink of collapse when I see one. It’s not my business what they do but if the reasonable ones among them want to find common ground and work towards progress they’re going to have to dump the jerks first. Having seen this all before, I’m not wasting any time on people more interested in projecting their obnoxious personalities than in winning elections and preventing fascism. I’m not wasting time on people who waste their time placating them.