Friday, November 6, 2015

Carson and the Pyramids: Does it Matter?

Carson and The Pyramids Would be a Great Band Name
RedState writes that Carson's views on they pyramids--and why they were built--are utterly meaningless:
The difference here is that Carson’s belief on grain storage in pyramids will never affect a single policy decision he would be called upon to make if elected president. On the other hand, the closely embraced fantasies of the left kill people and make life much more difficult. It Dr. Carson wins the nomination, I will cheerfully cast my vote for him.
From the left, The Washington Monthly writes "Why the Pyramid Thing Matters:"
It’s not that Carson is a very religious man that should concern us. Even his Biblical literalism is only troubling up to a point. The problem is this juvenile way of coming to strong conclusions and the lazy willingness to put his own pet theories ahead of the conclusions of the Scientific Community.
So, okay? Who's right?

On The Pyramids

Well, it's not Dr. Ben Carson. This article points out two things (and it includes a tweet that does them succinctly):
  1. The pyramids are not--and never were--hollow.
  2. The ancient Egyptians could and did write down who built the pyramids and why/what they were used for.
It isn't much of a mystery.

On Ben Carson on The Pyramids

The Omnivore is here to tell you The Truth is that it does matter. Not for the reason that the Washington Monthly article says it does--RedState is closer to right on that count (having a goofy belief about ancient history caused by strong religious beliefs is unlikely to impact future-President Carson's decisions: his thinking, however non-mainstream--is probably limited in scope of the damage it could cause).

No, the reason this "matters" is branding. Firstly, it is a weird, goofy belief. It's not just biblical literalism, it's biblical literalism which is then applied where most Americans would not apply it. It is also biblical literalsim applied in a falsifiable context (if Carson is ever cornered on his pyramid belief, he will have to explain how the pyramids presumably stood up back when they were hollow . . . and how reading hieroglyphics is really all guess-work anyway--or something). 

In short, it's very religious and kinda crazy. This is a branding problem.

Dr. Ben Carson is Seventh Day Adventist--most people don't know much about them except (a) they tend to be, comparatively, very religious and (b) they observe the Sabbath on Saturday (weird!). The problem is that in the world of branding, having kooky religious beliefs plays against Carson's negative brand.

For evangelicals this isn't a problem: in contemporary America, anyone who is an evangelical Republican is already familiar with how religious beliefs are reconciled with every-day secular life (you can believe evolution is false but you still accept dog-breeding). No, the problem is for the non-evangelicals who worry that Carson might be a member of some wacky cult.

For them, the focus on the pyramid thing will bear-out this fear and, amplified by the media (who will smell blood and money), Republican rivals (who will smell exploitable weakness), and Democrats (who will see a chance to advance the clown-car narrative) it will linger like, oh, an email-scandal.

The MSM-Wrinkle

While we're here, there's an interesting learning opportunity around the recent Debate Dust-Up. Republicans feel, with some justification, that they were attacked by The Left at the last debate. There's some truth to this--it wasn't necessarily the content of the questions at a high level but rather how they were asked and followed up on (combined with CNBC losing control of the debate).

The GOP narrative (the one they would have you believe) is that the MSM is out to get their candidates with illegitimate gotcha-questions that should never be asked. The solution--the one they tried to launch--was to, erm, unionize (ha!) and through collective bargaining (ha! ha!) demand better working conditions (ha ha ha . . .). 

This failed. Miserably. Why? The reason is that the GOP Primary is The Hunger Games: there's one winner. Even if, say, Cruz and Trump team up, they have to eventually turn on each other by the end. Their "alliance" also attracts attention and fire from the other tributes. Everyone involved in the "united front" had their own et of goals and these goals were often at odds with each other.

The question of "what is legitimate" (is an attack on Carson's belief's acceptable?) is going to come down to the question of whether or not it's effective. The Omnivore asserts that by playing nicely into Carson's negative brand, Pyramid-Gate will, in fact, hurt him (some), and as such, it'll be used like a hammer by his opponents (namely Trump) just like the liberal media would.

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