Evolution-Denialism Propaganda Playbook: The “Everybody Knows Atheist Scientists Think That…” Game

Bible.and.Science.Forum readers know that, despite his many years of hiding from vindictive “creation scientists” via the Ex-YEC Witless Protection Program, Professor Tertius still manages to get around. Thanks to our many friends in the science-friendly Christian underground and an incredibly clever series of identities and disguises, you’ve probably seen our indomitable Emeritus Professor on TV or even in a movie cameo appearance (e.g., Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult) without realizing it.

This week was no exception as our geriatric genius of Genesis exegesis for Jesus wraps up his tour of America and heads for home and a much-needed change of clothes. Never prone to the pretentious, our nonagenarian sage prefers his thread-worn and faded terrycloth robe to the formal white one required by this week’s disguise—even if the latter can be contrasted with the former in terms of the wholly holy versus the wholly hole-ly. In other words, when the professor wears his favorite robe, he hasn’t been this vulnerable to drafts since WWII.  (When he wears it, the hole-ly see includes a land down under, if ya know what I mean.)

Despite a busy week of saying “Bless you!” almost as many times as Ken Ham ignores scientific evidence in a single day, Professor Tertius took the time to address a question posed at the Sensuous Curmudgeon blog.

Dr. Christine Janis asked:
“How do Klinghoffer and other members of the DI know what scientists are thinking?”

They work from the same game and script as the YECist ministries: The “Everybody Knows Atheist Scientists Think That…” Game.

Obviously, it all about promoting a caricature. But it is a caricature that resonates with the donor base. For years, they’ve generalized statements by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1 that they’ve taken to mean that all atheists choose to deny the Creator “so they can sin all they want to with total impunity.” (They either gloss over the fact that Paul’s target group in the much-cited Romans 1 passage are idol-worshippers, or they generalize “idols” to include The Theory of Evolution as the “shrine” worshipped by the evolution-religion.) From there, they embellish their caricatures by imagining, “How would I think and reason if I were a dirt-bag atheist scientist?”

Any organization which has to meet a payroll and depends wholly or in significant part on donations must continually “feed the beast.” Emotions must not be allowed to calm. The threat of the “enemy”, whether real or imagined, must be constantly described in the most dire of terms.

For the YECist or IDist origins-ministry entrepreneur, the reality of what scientists actually think and do is inconvenient at best and distracting at worst. All propaganda depends upon repeating a script over and over. Why? Just yesterday I saw yet another research project which indicated that even obviously false statements which a test audience knows to be false nevertheless take root in subtle ways by repetition—even in the minds of an audience who knows better. The subject experiences a “softening” of their truth concept because of the repetition and loses motivation to act on the actual truth.

This example is extrapolation and conjecture based on such studies but it makes a good illustration of the concept: Suppose one is an Aryan in 1940 Nazi Germany who thinks that the anti-Semitic propaganda claims are ridiculous and demonstrably false. Nevertheless, after years of repetition one’s sense of the truth has been so worn down by the retelling of the lies that one has become much less likely to feel appalled by the lie and to act to opposite it—even if there were not criminal penalties for doing so. The truth has been softened, and thereby one is less likely to feel motivated to deny the lie.

IDists and YECists focus entirely on their target audience’s uninformed concept of how scientists think. If you question a typical donor as to their beliefs about scientists, they will say, “You know how those godless scientists think they know everything!” If I express my surprise at their description and say, “How many scientists do you know? I’ve worked with many scientists, both in academia and in industry, and I can’t think of a single one who thought they knew everything or acted like they did. In fact, if scientists knew everything, they’d have no jobs.”, they will either huff their disapproval and walk away OR will say, “Then you must not have been paying attention.”

And if that sounds silly, is it really that much different from the Fox News devotee who thinks that all Democrats just love to “dismantle America’s military and destroy private enterprise” and the MSNBC fan who thinks that all Republicans are “homophobic and engaged in a war-against-women”? Political fund-raisers work from a script not all that much different from origins ministries:

(1) Regularly remind the donor of the impending dangers and doom posed by the despicable enemy.

(2) Tell them that our organization has the solutions but…

(3) …desperately needs help NOW to continue holding back the enemy from totally destroying us all, and…

(4) only the donor has the wisdom, foresight, and means to stand with us in preventing such a disaster.

As to #1, personification of the danger always helps: Richard Dawkins will suffice now that the late Christopher Hitchens passed on. (You can bet that there was very real grief at AIG and ICR upon hearing the news of Hitchens’ death. Nevertheless, they already had ready-to-go the “Christopher is no longer an atheist and will miss his air-conditioner if you know what I mean” fund-raising appeal letter.) Republican fund-raisers have Hillary and Barack. Democrats have Rush and now Donald. Fund-raisers pray that their “evil enemy” remains in good health and as despicable as possible. Caricatures do the rest.

(C) Copyright 2015.  Professor Tertius and the Bible.and.Science.Forum at Gmail.com. All rights reserved. Permission terms available upon request.



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2 responses to “Evolution-Denialism Propaganda Playbook: The “Everybody Knows Atheist Scientists Think That…” Game

  1. Incredible. More confusion of abiogenesis and evolution—because he doesn’t know HOW it happened, it surely COULDN’T have happened.

    Yet, as a Christian he ought to assume that God is capable of making the physics work. So what’s the problem?

    Lots of people assume that evolution-denialism is just a matter of ignorance. As you know, perpetual evolution-denialism—that is, the failure to reach new conclusions after learning about the evidence for evolution—requires either a propensity towards pride to the point of hubris or pathological lying or both. I’d prefer not to judge a person so harshly but this is yet another situation where it is difficult not to follow the evidence where it leads.

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