Ebert writes a mean 'Poe'

Sep 23 2008 Published by under ... the Hell?

A few days ago, it was noted that Roger Ebert had posted an article titled, "Creationism: Your questions answered".  The article gives a straight-faced accounting of creationist beliefs, which was somewhat shocking to many fans who were familiar with Ebert's long agnosticism and support of evolution.  The curious article was noted in many places, including Pharyngula, sparked an intense debate: was Ebert writing satire?  had his website been hacked?  was he losing his mind?

Ebert himself has answered the question in a blog post: it was a satirical piece.  One of the clues, which I hadn't quite understood when I read it, was the retitling of his Adaptation review with, "Evolution is God's intelligent design."  The post was a demonstration of Poe's law in action.

What was the point?  If I understand Ebert correctly, it was a test/demonstration of the too-ready credulity of people these days.  I'm not sure it was quite the right test: people of all ages, even scientists, have been known to start believing crazy and weird things without much provocation.

3 responses so far

  • Blake Stacey says:

    The problem is that Ebert's "satire" was less ridiculous than creationist material we find on a daily basis. The only point where Ebert wrote something a real-for-life creationist might not be likely to say was the following:

    We know that Noah was 600 years, two months and 17 days old when he sailed. Using that as a starting point and counting forward, Genesis tells us it lasted for 40, 150, 253, 314 or 370 days.

    And, frankly, you'd have to be more familiar with the Bible than most Americans are to get the joke, which hinges on contradictions in the Genesis text caused, originally, by multiple sources being woven together.

  • Blake wrote: "The problem is that Ebert’s “satire” was less ridiculous than creationist material we find on a daily basis. "

    I guess that's what I was trying to get at when I noted that people have a history of believing plenty of crazy and weird things. These days, it's hard to write satire that isn't out-weirded by reality, and not just with creationists. A few years ago, one could write, "My preferred candidate lives within sight of Russia, and therefore has foreign policy experience," and it would be easily spotted as satire. Now, it's a genuine political argument.

  • Personal Demon says:

    Can we trust the ironic perceptions of a guy who once stuffed an entire sausage into his mouth while standing in a buffet line?) (h/t gg 😉 )

    To promote his new movie Religulous, Bill Maher & company have built a pretty cunning website. It's a mirror-maze of real and fake religious nuttyness, including a premptive, self-induced religious boycott.

    Now that's irony, Mr. Ebert.