Scrooby the Crackpot? Scrooby the Desperate? Far from it. He’s a very cool, shrewd operator by the look of it.
How mad are fundamentalist atheists, anyway? How mad are fundamentalist creationists? How mad is the whole world in this most stupid of stupid debates? I don’t lay claim to any precise measuring tool here; the madness-o-meter is an imprecise tool at best, but I think we know a certain kind of madness exists when alleged lies spew from the mouths of some concerned; because it is surely quite mad to (allegedly) misrepresent others just to win a point. Ah, the psychopathology of everyday life! In this arena, it’s a venomous, snake-pit psychology at best.
This week, with the publication of Stephen Hawking’s much publicised book, The Grand Design, Milton Keynes satirist and parodist, Scrooby, a.k.a. Chris McGrath, an ex-Bournemouth University Screenwriting student and, by his own declaration an ex show biz agent’s movie script reader for global giants I.C.M. – who manage Hollywood film-stars, no less – took guerrilla marketing to the next level by jumping on the back of Hawking’s publication. He wrote a review of Hawking’s book on Amazon.co.uk from within his own publishing company’s Amazon-seller’s page, linking Hawking’s book to his own and neatly confusing the reader with a review brazenly titled: The Attempted Murder of God: Hidden Science You Really Need To Know – the name of his own book! It was a significant event. There’s an ideological war on and it just went to the next level – direct action by self-publishing. This wasn’t just spamming, this was a giant slap in the face for Hawking’s book and its publicists, whom he argues had falsely publicised the book as proof that God did not create the universe when the book itself says it’s still theory without proof. The atheist brigade went ‘mental’.
I had to smile. A stroke of genius in the marketing stakes from someone who appears to be a one-man business enterprise on a mission to wise the world up to a more honourable way of living together. Within hours, a torrent of abuse from atheists from www.RichardDawkins.net sabotaged his review for, in their view, ‘spamming’ such an illustrious figure as Hawking, and caused a firestorm in which he appears to be taking one reviewer to court for mentioning the names of his children in the middle of the debate. It was a strange and creepy move by the atheist camp and may signal that they sense he may have something in his book that they want to silence, and quick (there are two chapters at the publisher’s website).
They would say it’s just rubbish and needed to be mocked for what it was. A trashy self-publicizing effort from a nobody that ruined the dignity of the publication by one of their secular heroes, Stephen Hawking, which would be fine, but they strayed into dark territory, searching his house on Google Earth, publicly attempting to assassinate his character, eerily mentioning his children in the middle of the fiery exchanges that did feel like a veiled threat, all of which did their cause for Rational Humanism a heap of damage. When it transpired that the book was written as a result of the author believing he was quite possibly going to die in the not too distant future, they dismissed it as irrelevant, saying the mere mention of it was a crass appeal to emotion, despite then berating Scrooby for the stunt as being sick and depraved when one considers that Hawking had been ‘twitching and winking’ his way through writing the book for the last however long – if ever there was a crass appeal to emotion, that was it; their strategy was so hypocritical it was almost laughable were the situation not becoming so serious. And then when it was revealed that Scrooby was re-diagnosed long after publication that he was not going to die, they jumped on that as some kind of evidence of how bogus it all was. Given that the facts of his illness are not known, the Rational Humanists, with whom these atheists ally themselves, have shown themselves up to be neither rational nor especially human if compassion and gathering all the facts before commenting are worth anything. It was a dire spectacle on their part, though I doubt Richard Dawkins would agree. I’m sure he would think they were good little gun dogs for the cause, but he should know that he has some decidedly poor, degree-educated advocates for his defense of reason and rationality.
Amazon was forced to remove the review and the firestorm thread due the impending legal action. But there is still a remnant of the debacle in a comment by Scrooby beneath another person’s review (the RichardDawkins.net lot buried it by clicking on ‘poor comment’ so it now sits as a fragment waiting to be discovered at the bottom of the comments page). There were at least two threads remaining in the cache on Google as of this week that have since disappeared – Amazon move fast when they think a court case in the offing. The RichardDawkins.net tribe are busy congratulating themselves that thanks to their ‘spam’ complaint the main review was removed along with all their quite vile attacks, but my guess is that with not a trace of anything left in Google in just few days, it’s the possible threat of a court case that made the difference.
In any case, Scrooby advised he had sent the details of the mention of his children to the Thames Valley Police as a possible child-protection issue and kindly advised the atheist to stop posting, as the debate had taken a weird turn and it was now a matter for the authorities. He was clearly spooked by the odd mention by name of his children and I had to agree. In these child-alarmist times, if I might call them that, it was incautious to say the least within a heated exchange. No problem mentioning children in the right context, but not in this one. It looked, frankly, crackpot. It would have been easy to say ‘your children’ instead of finding out their names and spelling them out. The atheist crossed the line in the debate and Scrooby wisely ended it there and then as, clearly, they were in character assassination territory and had lost all reason and good judgement in the science debate, painting him in their view as a stereotypical ‘ignorant creationist’ who’d hijacked the publication of Hawking’s book.
Despite the police notice, however, they kept on – driven by some kind of mania, cavalierly mocking his advice that he’d had to involve the police until he was forced to post the actual email he’d sent to them in an attempt, it seems, to stop them making it worse for themselves. How embarrassing for the atheist concerned. He and a like-minded reviewer had goaded Scrooby and the guy got what he deserved, I think. Scrooby had valiantly tried to steer the conversation back to the science but they were not interested, they were out to ‘get him’ and that was that, despite the thread being underneath the publication of the science book by Hawking. I don’t blame Scrooby for ending it where he did and court action looks likely. That alone will make the papers, so the attempt to shut this guy up has backfired quite spectacularly. Book-sales are made as much on curiosity as anything else and any controversy around a book, no matter how bad it is, can make a big difference. This is a no win situation for the atheists. The more noise they make, the more curious we become to see the other point of view.
It was quite something to witness, full of accusations of lies and deceptions from the atheist camp that looked a little too desperate to discredit this guy, calling him mentally unstable, a creationist crackpot, the works. Their tone was, quite simply, thuggish and vicious; and while I was there to read reviews of The Grand Design, too, I knew something extraordinary was brewing and eagerly copied all the web pages in anticipation of Amazon’s move. They don’t want to get embroiled in a court case and I don’t blame them, but I have all the evidence, and the RichardDawkins.net tirades, and it’s fascinating where it lead me.
So who is this guy, Scrooby/Chris McGrath and what he does he have to say? Should we bother listening, or is he a crackpot as the reviewer who named his children appears to think? Though, as this is the stock answer from the RichardDawkins.net devotees, I take that analysis with a pinch of salt. In any case, I’ve done some research – I went straight to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and so far from being a crackpot, this guy is a seriously shrewd operator.
His company websites www.mcgproductionsltd.com, www.mcgproductionsltd.co.uk, www.causes.cc, www.mcgworks.com, show a flair for industry, for entertainment, and for social welfare. He had a million hits from over 70 countries in an online game he tested, Golden Key Quest, that he says is in revision to re-launch following feedback from players. Okay, so he plays games. But it appears the main intention is to send people all over the net in search of clues, as he had already done – only the next time, on the main launch, it will be using only one search engine. Initially, I didn’t get the significance, but if I read that correctly, he will somehow make the clues available only by searches through a pre-determined search engine, like www.Bing.com – that’s actually quite clever. Microsoft would pay for that.
And what of his other sites? www.Causes.cc, for one – I thought he was linking to Facebook’s www.causes.com, but his company owns the website Causes.cc. He wants to do the same thing as Facebook. What’s interesting there is that Facebook can hardly claim any kind of infringement because it’s charitable, and the .cc extension is geared specifically to Christian Charity! That’s quite a bold move. And to narrow the appeal to Christians with a .cc extension is simply good thinking. Christian advertisers are going to go for that, and I understand that proceeds will go to the local community as part of his company’s attempt to pitch its tent in the Third Sector, making profits for the benefit of the community. Slowly, I could see a very ambitious, socially conscious businessman emerging who wasn’t afraid of radical action for what he believed in.
But at this stage, it all seemed merely interesting. He’s got ambition, I thought, he seems to care about the world, he’s passionate about his beliefs; good for him. But he’s not Rockefeller! And then I looked closer…
His company appears to be running at the bottom of the business league tables at the moment, and we’re told his main job is working for the relatively poor in helping them with benefits and housing, which, while admirable, is nothing worth talking about. Lots of people work on the front line in social care. But, he appears to have started taking his business more seriously and has set up an automated recruitment agency, www.mcgworks.com – What’s this, I thought? An automated agency? Launched this August? Designed to slash the cost of staff procurement in the Credit Crunch for councils and businesses, Stelios-style? Easy-Job! I like it. But, how does that work? He doesn’t appear to charge more than the cost of administration! And did he really put that whole thing together by himself? He seems to be the only one in his company, with his wife as company Secretary, and he’s putting all this stuff together. And, to top it off, he’s written and, crucially, self-published a book available in http://www.waterstones.com (http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/scrooby/the+attempted+murder+of+god/7442813/ ), www.whsmith.com, (http://www.whsmith.co.uk/CatalogAndSearch/ProductDetails.aspx?productID=9780956471406); wherever books sell. And it ain’t no www.Lulu.com enterprise, which any of us can use at the drop of a hat, as good as that site is. His publishing company seems very professional. It’s even its own distributor! This is one sophisticated set up.
If he is creating all this out of the back of his house as the atheists rather pettily mocked him for, it’s more admirable than laughable, and how did he find the time for all this as a father of two children, a husband, working in social welfare? Okay, so maybe I was just a tad jealous for a moment. I got over it. I shrugged it off. I could write a book, I thought. I could do that. I could set up my own publishing company… Alright, admittedly loads of people claim they could do these things if they wanted to but we don’t actually step up to the plate and do it, that’s true. Fine, so he keeps himself busy, so what?
And then, perhaps most impressive of all – no, definitely most impressive of all – I find he has the following website that appears to be gearing up for something I could not quite believe: www.20xii.com.
Does this man’s ambition know no bounds? Now, I know an opportunity when I see one. He seems to have done what no multibillion pound businesses have done before him and caught the Olympic Committee napping to acquire perhaps the most valuable trademark for the next few years, 20XII The Honor of Sport™… Was I reading that correctly? 2012? Twenty Twelve? 20XII? The Olympics? Exactly how the hell did he do that? And I see on the Intellectual Property website that he owns the thing himself! It’s registered to him at his Registered business address. And it is a business address, by the way, Dawkins.net readers – it’s a firm of accountants, not his house, as you insisted over and over again! I read and copied everything you wrote. Do all atheists on RicharddDawkins.net claim to be bright while exhibiting such stupidity? This address is a firm of accountants that deals with multiple businesses. It’s easy to find out. The now obviously reckless casting of aspersions on his character is beginning to look very, very moronic, not to say actionable. To cap it all, the Intellectual Property link shows the Olympic Committee knew about the application! How does a nobody with nothing fight the Olympic Committee who challenged Nike and countless others not to tread on their precious territory? I want to know. I really want to know. That’s big news!
There’s such a powerful human story building here. The trademark alone means we’re going to be hearing about this guy whether we like or not – that too is going to make the news. His company may be worth beans, but this guy, potentially, is loaded! That trademark move is possibly the shrewdest move of all. It must be worth millions! He’s not only got a 20XII trademark, he’s got the word SPORT linked with it! That means no one else can use the word sport in a trademark linked with 2012! Not even the Olympic Committee itself! Suddenly, I thought, this guy is interesting. Hell, I want to invest in his stock!
His company states there’s no link between the trademark and the Olympics and none is implied so should not be inferred. The only link is with sport and the honour of sport; whether it’s on the track and field or in internet games, he considers it all good sport, and keeping our honour intact should steer us away from greed and cheating.
This trademark shows he is serious about honour, so there’s no way he didn’t have an honourable game-plan in the satirical book, showing up the dishonourable book publicists and the distastefully arrogant creationists’ and atheists’ claims, which are so outlandish as to be dishonourable in their claim to such singular scientific certainty – both sides have faith, nothing more. Hawking himself has admitted there can be no such certainty without physical evidence! Scrooby may be at Poverty Central today, in the social benefits world and by the look of his company accounts profile, but I put my money on him being the next Richard Branson (or one well on the way there) with a trademark that valuable. Does his company sell shares? No, I think they’ve got 1, and it’s his! Damn!
The atheists should be careful here. If they try as they have to slander his character and good mental standing when he and his company have massive financial potential, even if worth nothing at present, there’s a serious prospect of the accusers being ruined financially for damaging those prospects. The fact that RichardDawkins.net also currently carries the accuser’s tirade on their website could have huge implications for Richard Dawkins himself. Amazon killed the debate stone dead. Dawkins seems content to leave it up there. This is risky stuff.
This is no idle dummy they’re dealing with. This trademark alone that enshrines honour and is owned by Scrooby/Chris McGrath himself is a statement of character and intent and of his willingness to take on some of the biggest players in the world, and win! The Olympic Committee? Come on! This is Scrooby The Giant Killer at work! He means business; honourable business and you can bet he has a cast-iron case for the honour of his book. I asked, why is it spelt honor and not honour? To appeal to the Americans? Turns out it’s to save on stitching space for the logo! Now, that’s a businessman thinking.
I always remember Jeffrey Archer being close to bankruptcy before turning his life around with a book that set him on the road to fame and fortune. I think this guy is just an ordinary guy, with a family, no doubt a hefty mortgage and, like many of us, big credit card bills to fund his ambitions. But what he has that few of us can boast of, is serious prospects. This guy not only has a book, a new recruitment agency, a website to challenge Facebook’s Causes.com, an online games strategy emerging with Bing.com in his sights, he also has quite possibly a very, very valuable trademark waiting and ready to go.
How’s he going to do it? Well, his book is sold at www.mcgbookstore.com, and I notice the website and store provider is none other than www.Shopceator.com, used by www.Guardian.co.uk for all their merchandising and a quick look there tells us that Shop Creator have launched a bespoke clothes retailing unit for just this very thing! Everything Scrooby/Chris McGrath appears to be doing is to automate everything! No overheads. His book, I now discover is manufactured by the superb www.Lightningsource.com used by the Open University! It costs him nothing to produce bar the net cost for each book that’s published on demand, one at a time. The fact that it’s self-published may break Lightning Source’s rules, I’m not sure, but if the sales take off as I suspect, I doubt they’ll ditch it; other printers will happily step in. What’s more important is that, given the intention of the book is to parody with satirical intent – a satire partly on the publishing and publicity machine, as well as the whole sorry creationist/atheist debate – he has a legitimate, social cause proven this week in the way Hawking’s book was marketed as proof, when the book itself reveals it’s just a theory. Scrooby/Chris McGrath seems to have waited for this moment to strike and it will pay off, I don’t doubt it. Timing is key, and he’s nailed it. I’m probably the first, but I won’t be the last to talk about him. This story is just beginning.
No, on the evidence, he’s certainly no crackpot or dummy. Some might conceivably think we’d be dealing with a crackpot, it’s true, because the stereotype that’s pedalled by atheists is that anyone who believes in God creating the universe is a crackpot by definition. And yet, with the publication of Hawking’s book we find that not even Hawking has been able to say much more than that they have a theory that needs to be tested by physical experience. In other words, seeing is believing; and they haven’t seen evidence of their God-did-not-create-the-universe theory. Has Scrooby got evidence of God in his book? I don’t think it matters, it’s the debate that counts and satirising the debate that’s got out of hand and damaging the honour of us all.
It’s an admirable enterprise and the atheists really should apologise for their dreadful attack on his character because he’s got what seems to me to be an honourable goal, an honourable track record in social care, an honourable spirit all round, even to the point of risking his reputation in satire and parody for the sake of that very honour he’s championing. In sport, he’s clearly targeting a return to some kind of honour: sports without drugs-use and the money machine that clouds the true sporting spirit. Oh, I’m sure he’s not perfect, like the rest of us, we have our faults; but it’s hard to fault his ambition and values.
A picture is starting to emerge of this guy, who exploded onto the Amazon launch of Hawking’s book this week. On his Facebook page he’s ‘friends’ with bishops, royalty, the Hollywood elite! Oh, and Batman, Adam West: he’s definitely got a sense of humour. I know, anyone can ask to be friends with anyone, and he has a collection of people with the name, Scrooby, too; but for so many credible names to link to him? Desmond Tutu? Catherine Zeta Jones? Among many more famous models and artists? They might be tempted to bolt when they get wind of all this, but I suspect they’re all made of sterner stuff and when they discover what I discovered, I think they’ll be fine with the ‘friendship.’
Initially, when I found all this out, I thought what hell’s he doing writing a book about God? About evolution? What does that add to the company portfolio? He’s already come under fire as a charlatan by http://www.RichardDawkins.net devotees for having a pen name – even though it seems the atheists jumped the gun on that because he reveals himself in the book, so no foul there – and a charlatan for writing fake blurbs and reviews and press relases to support his book, though his book we now discover was written and published independently partly as a satire and a parody of that whole practise by writing deliberately over-the-top blurbs and deliberately over-the-top reviews and press releases; so, again, no foul there either. The list of people who’ve been caught out doing this is long and it’s worthy of satire. Take a look:
Google “fake reviews” and you’ll see that this was ripe for parody with satirical intent; it’s a dishonourable and disreputable practise that only a similar tactic driven by satire could make us sit up and question again. It’s been going on for years in all sectors of industry. I understand the company intends to offer a refund for books prior to the stunt, so watch their publishing site for developments if you want your money back. It seems there was never an intention to keep the money from sales to date. Any sales from here on in are, I suppose, clearly fair now that the satire is known.
Indeed, as a parody with satirical intent to try to restore some kind of common sense and honour in the whole God/Evolution debate, and in the publicity-machine world that sees books like Hawking’s claim categorically that God did not create the universe, only to find in the book that it’s just a theory and so is a marketing deception, it is a publication beyond reproach – in satire, all is fair game, even the methods by which the book itself is marketed, if it’s to highlight the state of affairs we’re in. He’s a very, very shrewd, smart, articulate and wildly ambitious man. He tells me he only managed a 2:1 degree, but that he did have the benefit of Oxford and Cambridge University quality lecturers. Well, I have to say, this is a first class package all round.
But still, I couldn’t quite see where the book fits into his business enterprise, until I considered that it was prompted by a terminal illness scare that was re-diagnosed this summer, so maybe it was an aberration, the last creative act of a dying man who, while he was recently given the all-clear, saw the parody out to the end this week by a spectacular feat of internet guerrilla marketing. You have to be made of stone not to be impressed by this guy. The atheists on Dawkins.net will, inevitably, feel the humiliation but deny it and seek to drive their points home with increasingly hollow purpose. Some people are so ignorant and arrogant, so close-minded and bitter, that they would rather look foolish and wrong than to admit defeat, gracefully. Were they to do so, however, they would recover some kind of honour and dignity in a thoroughly undignified attack.
Is his book any good? I don’t know if it matters. Apparently it was un-edited and was mocked as amateurish for that, but could he risk involving others at any stage in the satire if it were to work? They might have taken exception to any involvement had they known where it was leading, so it was perhaps a thoughtful, considerate decision, and in any case, I’ve seen many a ‘professional’ publication with spelling and grammar mistakes in them so it’s an irrelevance. What counts is thought. What ideas are there in the book, what does it mean, what are its intentions and the intentions of the publicity and marketing surrounding its publication? The point he appears to be making in general is that anyone can claim anything but how can we be sure what’s really real anymore in the internet age? Where’s the honour gone? I can see why he was interested in Herodotus’ line on his website about sportsmen and sportswomen needing to “compete for honour not for money” and anyone trying to challenge his integrity, in the way the incensed atheists on RichardDawkings.net have tried to do, need to get some wider perspective because the whole package looks distinctly honourable.
I am reliably informed that he’s not a creationist, per se. He’s a Catholic, but doesn’t attend church regularly, doesn’t indoctrinate his children as the atheists on RichardDawkins.net have crudely suggested and, I have to say, rather stupidly assumed – they are to be left free to decide for themselves, even while he tells them that he does believe in God, as is his right. On this guy, they really should look hard before they attack him further because he’s not at all the stereotype they’ve immediately drawn him as. Indeed, there is the reported subtext at the end of his book that while the book looks like a plea for creationism, actually it’s a plea for tolerance in faith, and in the principle of ‘live and let live’ on both sides. His single-handed empire-building ambitions with a social conscience are going down very well in my book. I’ll watch for developments.
Go Scrooby! Or, Chris McGrath… Actually, now that the book is done and we know your name, what do you want us to call you?
Scrooby’s got a ring to it. How about sticking with that? I’ve bought the book, too.
PS. What he’s brought into sharp relief this week is that the internet identity game is a perfect reflection of the deceits and deceptions he has so brilliantly satirized. One review I found that could be Scrooby’s or not, it doesn’t matter now, reads: “The oddest response is to go online and ask others if they ought to buy a book in case they’re being scammed. How will you know who is
answering? Seems to me you have to buy the book and find out for yourself and then put
it down to experience if it doesn’t measure up to your expectations.” How will you know who is answering? Good question. Amazon allows people who commit their ‘real’ name or an alternative identity to review: it’s written into the online DNA that anonymity counts for something you can rely on, when of course you can’t really, not really. “Seems to me you have to buy the book and find out for yourself and then put it down to experience if it doesn’t measure up to your expectations.” I couldn’t agree more. And even those ‘real’ names can be faked. This is the internet; nothing is known for sure, we take everything on trust and when we trust a publicity machine marketing as proven fact a scientific theory that even Hawking agrees needs to be seen in evidence before it can be believed, that God did not create the universe, then nothing and no one can be trusted 100%. If you’re interested in the general subject matter, “you have to buy the book and find out for yourself and then put it down to experience if it doesn’t measure up to your expectations.” It’s a fair point.
So, I could give my real name, but in this debate the point is well made that we really don’t know who’s posting what or what the real agenda is – even from huge corporations. Why did a huge publicity machine market as fact essentially that God is ‘fake’ when it did not have the facts but only theories to support that conclusion? To sell more books is the obvious answer – can’t let a fact stand in the way of a sale. But is that all there is to it?
You know, it may be a parody with satirical intent to call his book The Attempted Murder of God: Hidden Science You Really Need To Know, (it’s so obviously a parody title, especially with a comical name like Scrooby – which inevitably bears comparison with Scooby-do; I mean come on, it’s obvious) but Scrooby’s book is beginning to have the ring of truth about it this week. So I’ll add to the point and let people speculate as to who I am. Conspiracy theorists will inevitably conclude that I am Scrooby himself! And I like that thought. Yes, I could be Scrooby! This could be his final act in the satire! What a delicious irony it all is. I could post this on a blog, anonymously, to guarantee that speculation, which, no matter which way it’s played anonymously will be the result in any case. Perhaps the greatest mark of respect for his point that I can show is to hand this to the McG company itself to post on their website, if they care to: my own, small contribution to a worthwhile debate. No, they won’t go for that. I guess it will have to be a blog. Make of it what you will.
Ladies and gentlemen, my money is on Scrooby in this war of words. Don’t stop Scrooby, we love you! You’re a fighter not a quitter for what you believe in and that alone is worth its weight in gold – ask Peter Mandelson.