Monthly Archives: June 2008

Are Sunnis and Shiites Conspiring to Confuse McCain?

Andy Borowitz, from wikimediaAndy Borowitz may be the funniest Internet columnist going. Irreverance is certainly far from the normal business of a serious academic institution such as the Institute of Expertology.  Nonetheless, Mr. Borowitz’s June 17 column seemed so in tune with the Institute’s recent study of Senator John McCain’s Iraq War expertise that we felt compelled to reproduce it below….


McCain: Sunnis, Shiites “Trying to Confuse Me” 

Will Stay in Iraq Until He Can Tell Them Apart, Mac Says 

In a major speech on the war in Iraq today, presumptive GOP nominee John McCain said that the Iraqis have split into two factions, Shiites and Sunnis, with a sinister goal in mind. 

“My friends, the Iraqis have divided themselves into these two groups for one reason and one reason only,” Sen. McCain told an audience in a retirement village in Scottsdale, Arizona. “They are trying to confuse me.” 

Sen. McCain said that although the two groups of Iraqis are “well-nigh impossible” to tell apart, he vowed to commit U.S. troops to Iraq “for as long as it takes for me to figure out just what the difference between Sunnis and Shiites is.” 

“If it takes 100 years, 1,000 years, or a billion zillion years, we will stay there until I can tell Sunnis and Shiites apart,” the Arizona senator said. 

Sen. McCain reserved his harshest words for the Shiites, who he said were trying to confuse him by sometimes referring to themselves as “Shiites” and other times as “Shia.” 

“What’s that all about, anyway?” he asked. “Stop clowning around and call yourself one thing.” 

Sen. McCain seemed alarmed when a reporter asked him whether he believed that the Kurds, the third major group in Iraq, were trying to confuse him as well. 

“The Kurds?” he said. “Who the heck are they?” 

Elsewhere, a carjacker in Los Angeles stole a tank of gas but left the Mercedes. 


If you enjoyed the above, subscribe to Andy’s brilliant column here.  It’s free!




An Institute Retrospective: The New York Times Reports on Our Founding in 1984

Nineteen years before Judith Miller’s authoritative dispatches on WMD in Iraq (and a full twenty-four years before the debut of William Kristol’s column), The New York Times reported on the founding of the Institute of Expertology. Here’s what they said: 

New York Day By Day: Experts’ Average
By Susan Heller Anderson and Maurice Carroll

[Published: August 29, 1984]

Most fields have their institutes, complete with experts and their publications and pronouncements. So it comes as no surprise to receive the first publication of the Institute of Expertology, an august body of experts on expertise, founded by the writers Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky.

”It’s a very serious organization,” Mr. Cerf declared, ”that studies the works of experts in every field and comments upon it.” The first publication, The Experts Speak, is to be published shortly by Pantheon Books. In it are about 2,000 quotes from experts in nearly every field. What the quotes have in common, Mr. Cerf says, is that they’re all fallacious.

”This is positively my final marriage,” said Barbara Hutton, after her sixth. (She then went and did it again.)

”Degas is repulsive,” said The New York Times on April 10, 1886.

”We just had noticed that experts were being quoted on everything, and that decisions were being made based on experts’ pronouncements,” Mr. Cerf said. ”But very few people went back, a few years later, to see if the experts were right.”

”I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language,” wrote the editor of The San Francisco Examiner in a rejection letter to Rudyard Kipling in 1889.

”I’ll never run again. Politics is a filthy business,” stated Edward Koch after a 1962 defeat in the State Assembly primary. (He then went and did it again, and again, and again.)

”This doesn’t mean that experts are always wrong,” Mr. Cerf concluded. ”They may be right 50 percent of the time. Our research continues.”

Robert Kennedy, Jr., Will Interview Navasky & Cerf on This Week’s “Ring of Fire,” Broadcast on “Air America”

Mission Accomplished! coverTune into the popular “Ring of Fire” program on Air America Radio on Saturday, June 21 at 3pm Eastern Time (or, if you prefer, Sunday at 8 pm) to hear Robert Kennedy, Jr., interview Victor Navasky and Christopher Cerf about the definitive collection of Iraq misstatements and lies in their new book, Mission Accomplished! (or How We Won the War in Iraq).

As one reader said about Mission Accomplished!: “I laughed till I cried.” If you want to learn more about the “Ring of Fire” show, or listen to a live stream of the program, just click here.

Victor Navasky Discusses Expertology and Iraq Misstatements on “Anti-War Radio”

Scott Horton interviewed Institute of Expertology co-founder Victor Navasky last week on his radio program, “Antiwar Radio.” You can read about and/or listen to it by visiting Scott Horton’s “Antiwar Radio” Website.  Or you can listen to the interview — enhanced with video segments and images provided by Scott Horton himself –by clicking on the links below:






“It Takes a Village….”

Hillary Clinton’s extremely gracious and effective Saturday speech in support of Barack Obama notwithstanding, the Institute has received a plethora of calls over the past few days in hopes we might be able to shed some light on the message the New York senator was attempting to deliver by choosing to wear a costume to her Wednesday AIPAC gig that looked almost identical to the one  “Number Six,” Patrick McGoohan’s famous character on the TV series The Prisoner, found himself decked out in after he was kidnapped and incarcerated in “the Village.” 


Although, as meta-experts, we cannot be expected to offer expertise on any subject beyond expertise itself, we can’t help but notice the similarity between the following exchange and the the interrogatory that opened every episode of The Prisoner

     What does Hillary want?

     The nomination.

     She won’t get it.

     By hook or by crook she will.