I would be cautious on your labeling them as incompetent--perhaps they are very competent at protecting their positions, you just have a different agenda.
Of course, I don't know your exact situation. But, people act according to their alignment of incentives. If one is more motivated by the work they're doing rather than the pay they're receiving, then you get one set of behaviors. Likewise, if they're motivated by power, you get another set of behaviors. It's folly to assign your values and incentives onto somebody else and call them incompetent because they're different.
You may just be golfing, and they're bowling, and looking at the scoreboard, you think they have a miserable score, when in fact, they're a strike away from a perfect game.
If you understand how folks like that behave, you can work with them to make decisions that will be in your best (or at least better) interests.
I agree in theory, but it's difficult to align values with someone whose strategy is to shift blame to clients and subordinates due to lack of planning and communication skills. These people create a toxic, reactive working environment and their damage needs to be managed. I don't believe that they bring good things to the table.
I realize that this sounds exceptionally bitter so I am open to the possibility that I have become cynical and am unable to see from outside the lense of my own vision.
The people who believe in these types of predictions don't put much stock in science anyway. Someone who doesn't believe in carbon dating isn't going to listen to an argument regarding the Earth's age based on carbon dating.
If you really want to provide a counter in these types of discussions it is more helpful to speak in their language. My favorite example of this was when last year astronomers announced that the zodiac signs were incorrect due to a shift in the planet's position relative to the sun since the time that the zodiac was created. This produced more reverberations in the astrological community than any number of studies showing the falsehood of their predictions.
In this case, it may be helpful to point out that the December 21 is simply the date at which the next cycle in the Mayan calendar begins, as occurs every 400 years or so, and that the Mayans themselves made no predictions about cataclysmic events occurring on these dates.
My main complaint from the book is that Isaacson injects his own opinion too strongly and too often. He writes it like a novel, with him guiding us to the conclusions he has prepared for us. Instead I would have preferred it be written like a well-written wikipedia entry, with numerous sources presented and the reader being granted the freedom to come to his own conclusions. This bothered me much more than any technical inaccuracies.
I think this touches on a larger social issue. I believe that the younger generation is more sensitive to being manipulated about what to think and feel. Before the internet, we relied on experts to present us with the facts and the conclusions; there is now greater awareness that there are always multiple sides to any story, and we prefer hearing all of them before making up our minds.
As an example, I recently watched an investigative journaling television show with my parents about the dangers of laser eye correction. I was struck by how unaware they were of the different methods that were being used in the show to guide their opinions (music, poor-quality hidden cameras, etc). To me, I wasn't given nearly enough objective facts to come to any sort of conclusion, but to my parents, the conclusions presented by the experts were enough.
Isaacson writes like an expert, but we don't want an expert, we want a fact-gatherer.