Point and laugh

Sometimes, people wonder if criticizing creationists brings more attention to them than they deserve — it’s a weird dynamic on the web, where we measure popularity by traffic (unfortunately), so referencing the bad guys sends them traffic, which seems to increase their apparent popularity. There’s no way around it, because that’s the way it works.

So we’ve always got people urging stasis — don’t raise a ruckus, keep mum, hush, don’t draw more attention to the crappy, crazy creationists — and they mean well, but they’re wrong. I say we need to be loud and tell everyone about them. We need to point and laugh. Really, it works. It does bring more attention to them, and I think there is a certain movie that will have more viewers than it would otherwise, but it’s all people seeing people point and laugh and going into it with a more skeptical, critical attitude, and that’s a win for us. They get to take home a little more money, but we have more people willing to point and laugh, and that’s the currency I’m gambling for.

One of the rascals at AtBC (not the one who is a witch) dug up an interesting Alexa comparison of traffic to my site (actually, the whole of scienceblogs, but I own an embarrassingly large percentage of that — please do go to the entry page and say hello to some other worthy blogs, won’t you?) and to that movie site. Guess which one is the gently rolling prairie beneath the craggy mountain peaks?

At a recent phone conference, the possessors of the tiny little red line claimed to have achieved massive popularity on the web last week, and even said they had the #1 spot for popularity at that time…but I think you can tell who was actually winning that little competition for eyeballs, and who was fibbing again.

You can go ahead and tell me to shut up, but you better be careful — I might point and laugh instead.

By the way, I mentioned that a bunch of reporters had contacted me about the recent chaos at the conference call — almost all of them are from very small outfits, mostly religious newspapers and sites. I suspect that the big newspapers have given up on Expelled as fluff and noise, and no longer newsworthy. We’re getting our cake and eating it, too! It’s also amusing that the producers are still trying to buy an audience.


  1. #1 KevPod
    March 29, 2008

    Further, much of the godly site traffic is non-believers just looking in out of morbid curiosity.

  2. #2 Flaky Steve
    March 29, 2008

    Well we all need a hero
    Of mythical size
    To explain what we can’t understand

  3. #3 craig
    March 29, 2008

    That one thing is what I see as the major success of this – the small papers and religious papers are now seeking an outside opinion or interview or what have you… they wouldn’t have otherwise.
    And while some may use the opportunity as simply a way of finding a villain, others I’m sure will not.

    Which means that while Expelled is finding new exposure amongst atheists and/or the science-minded, it won’t win any atheists or science-minded people over to accepting the message of the movie.

    But the message that the movie is full of lies has found an audience of some who would otherwise have accepted it, and some of those people may find a new skepticism.

  4. #4 MAJeff, OM
    March 29, 2008

    A parallel from another field: Holocaust denial.

    Deborah Lipstadt, in particular, has taken the position that deniers are not to be ignored, but confronted. While I still find some of her views about intermarriage ridiculous because of the woo-factor of religious rules, I find her position on denial to be on the mark. You don’t leave them to have a say in public all by themselves. If you do so, they’re the only voice in the public sphere. You challenge them to put up or shut up.

    Ask David Irving about the results.

  5. #5 Bubba Sixpack
    March 29, 2008

    Like Ben Stein, the Expelled movie is turning out to be a sleep-fest. Ho Hum.

  6. #6 Quidam
    March 29, 2008

    Please watch my movie
    Anyone? … Anyone? … Anyone? …

  7. #7 kcanadensis
    March 29, 2008

    Thanks for the evening laugh, PZ. This whole thing is just so much fun to follow that I can’t wait to see what happens next, and I’m sure others echo my sentiments on that.

  8. #8 Phil Plait
    March 29, 2008

    I compared Expelled to my site, and I tend to dominate them too. Interesting.

    What’s also interesting is that Alexa has rankings for going back to July 2007. Heh heh heh.

  9. #9 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 29, 2008

    Very nice.

  10. #10 Dr X
    March 29, 2008

    Are they using Ben Stein’s money? $5,000 was the Grand Prize on Win Ben Stein’s Money.

  11. #11 John Morales
    March 29, 2008

    Robert #33: I looked, but when selecting Jan, Feb or March of 08 the result is:

    Your terms – expelled movie, pz myers, pharyngula – do not have enough search volume to show graphs.

    Whatever it shows, it’s not relevant to the current fiasco.

  12. #12 James McGrath
    March 30, 2008

    Speaking of pointing and laughing, another video game was long overdue. I hope you enjoy this one as much as the last (especially since you star in it, PZ), although I wish I had had the time to make it more elaborate.

    It was created with MIT’s Scratch program, like the last one, so anyone with more time and the desire to improve it can do so. If anyone does, please let me know!

  13. #13 Peter Ashby
    March 30, 2008

    Wasn’t it in Florida last year where they were thinking of some wording to introduce ID into science and they got a heap of emails from pastafarians thanking them for allowing the teaching about the FSM touching the world with his noodly appendage? That bit of ridicule certainly seemed to work.

  14. #14 wazza
    March 30, 2008

    Ah, but if you look below that at the comparisons in different countries…

    PZ beats expelled in canada, and expelled doesn’t even get a look in in the UK

  15. #15 Physis
    March 30, 2008

    But Google Trends is entirely context-free; people searching for Expelled could well be looking for Myers’ post, or have done so after reading his post to laugh at it.

  16. #16 Wazza
    March 30, 2008

    MH, what need is there to go any further than Ricky Gervais? Yes, he has friends with big audiences, but he has a pretty big one too. All we need is to give Carl Pilkington a copy of one of the more accessible ID tomes, then record a new season of the podcast once he’s had time to read it.

  17. #17 W. H. Heydt
    March 30, 2008

    Is it worth pointing out that the current, proposed release date of _Expelled_ (Apr. 18) is the anniversay of the “Great San Francisco Earthquake” of 1906?

  18. #18 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    Not sure how to read that graph. What that hell do they mean “per million”? Can’t mean “in millions” since I doubt this blog pulled 200 million readers. Certainly 200 seems low if this site is popular. Per million what?

  19. #19 SocraticGadfly
    March 30, 2008

    PZ, after I blogged about the NYT story about your expulsion, I found Expelled’s website. It had a preview screening, in my neck of the woods, down here in Fort Worth last October, and I heard not a word about it at that time.

  20. #20 LP
    March 31, 2008

    I didn’t have time to check this entry out to its full extent but if you are talking about the piece on about Ben Stein’s little ditty Expelled with reference to your name/site/phone number(just kidding about the phone number) yeah saw that one.