Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ben Stein's Expelled - Teaching the Controversy

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, by Ben Stein, is about to hit theaters, if it hasn't already. The film has already generated a lot of buzz, none of it good.

The fun began last month when science blogger, and co-star in the film, PZ Myers was expelled from Expelled, the new pro-intelligent design and anti-evolution film from Ben Stein. The movie opens this week, possibly today (I haven't checked the listings).

Here is a bit of Dawkins' musings on the colossal PR blunder that denying Myers access to the film entails:

Just think about it. His entire film is devoted to the notion that American scientists are being hounded and expelled from their jobs because of opinions that they hold. The film works hard at pressing (no, belabouring with a sledgehammer) all the favourite hot buttons of free speech, freedom of thought, the right of dissent, the right to be heard, the right to discuss issues rather than suppress argument. These are the topics that the film sets out to raise, with particular reference to evolution and 'intelligent design' (wittily described by someone as creationism in a cheap tuxedo). In the course of this film, Mathis tricked a number of scientists, including PZ Myers and me, into taking prominent parts in the film, and both of us are handsomely thanked in the closing credits.

Seemingly oblivious to the irony, Mathis instructed some uniformed goon to evict Myers while he was standing in line with his family to enter the theatre, and threaten him with arrest if he didn't immediately leave the premises. Did it not occur to Mathis -- what would occur to any normally polite and reasonable person -- that Myers, having played a leading role in the film, might have been welcomed as an honoured guest to watch it? Or, more cynically, did he not know that PZ is one of the country's most popular bloggers, with a notoriously caustic wit, perfectly placed to set the whole internet roaring with delighted and mocking laughter? I long ago realised that Mathis was deceitful. I didn't know he was a bungling incompetent.

Not just incompetent at public relations, incompetent in his chosen profession of film-making, for the film itself, as I discovered when I saw it on Friday (and this genuinely surprised me) is dull, artless, amateurish, too long, poorly constructed and utterly devoid of any style, wit or subtlety. It bears all the hallmarks of a film-maker who knows nothing about the craft of making films. I'll come to that in a moment.

Here is an overview of the film, and the controversy, by someone who was there when Myers was refused entry into the film -- and Richard Dawkins, the most vocal and militant defender of evolution, was allowed in to see the film.

Expelled Overview
by Josh Timonen

Since I was one of the group who watched Expelled at the Mall of America last week with Richard Dawkins and (not!) PZ Myers, I thought I should do my part to expose the movie for what it is. Richard and PZ Myers have written responses, a conversation between them about their experience is now online, and over one hundred blog posts have appeared on the subject. I think the best contribution I can make to all of this is to give you as detailed an account of the actual film as I can, so that you don't have to give Mark Mathis any money in order to know what Expelled is all about.

Expelled is said to be opening in 1,000 theaters nationwide on April 18th. Please don't give them any of your money to see it. If it tanks in the theaters, and you have the stomach for such garbage, I'm sure you'll be able to see it soon by other means that don't involve supporting Creationists.

Before the film
Mathis came out before the film and told everyone that the showing was being projected from a laptop, and that on previous screenings this had caused the film to appear dark. He assured us that this had been corrected this time, and that he thought they had it looking pretty good. When the film started, it looked really dark. So dark, that you couldn't even really see the scenes in some shots. Stein's voiceover audio was also distorted (too much gain). It really was an unprofessional showing, and a terribly unprofessional film, aside from the content.

First off: Either Expelled has a disproportionately-large music budget (for how bad of a film it is), or they are using songs they haven't paid for in their Director's Cut private screenings (that may be changed before the official nationwide release). John Lennon's "Imagine" is played (original version) over B&W scenes of what looked like communist China, with a parade of soldiers. The lyrics to the song were subtitled on the bottom of the screen. I think I remember a shot of Stalin saluting somewhere in here as well. The part of the song played was of course "...and no religion too...", implying that no religion equals communist China. Does Yoko know about this? I doubt she'd be pleased.

The Killers' song "All These Things That I've Done" was used at the end of the film. The part of the song used was the bridge with the lyrics "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier". I'm guessing that wasn't cheap, and I'm surprised that a fairly popular band like The Killers would want their reputation tarnished by being in a Creationist film - especially since this is THE song that the film ends with, very prominently. Maybe The Killers don't know about this, and someone should tell them?

"The Wall"
The film opens with scenes of the Berlin wall being built, brick by brick. The footage and title cards are affected to look old, like a 50's educational film. The effect doesn't look professional, and by this point I was already starting to question the technical quality of the film. They're really trying to push this in national theatres? Don't they have someone sympathetic to this nonsense that knows how to make a film?

"Big Science"
We see clips of PZ Myers, Dawkins, Dennett, etc. criticizing ID. No surprise here, but we can be fairly certain that the filmmakers know their audience, and it isn't anyone on the fence. The only people who will find these statements to be negative are those who have bought into Mathis' "Big Science" Conspiracy.

We see Ben Stein preparing to speak in a college auditorium. It really felt like they were trying to emulate Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

USA #1!
Ben Stein is the narrator, and is as terrible as you can imagine. He gives a monologue about how freedom is what makes America great, over images of flags around the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, Stein walking by the mirror pond, and so on. Stein and Mathis of course want you to think that freedom should also extend to the classroom, as in "teaching the controversy". He says "Why should we allow freedom in all other areas, but not in science?"

Eugenie Scott
Expelled even tries to make Eugenie Scott look like a villain, which is absurd. Eugenie Scott works for NCSE, which is a non-profit group working to keep Evolution in science education. She shows them a map with colored pins in it, where problems have come up in teaching evolution.

"Intellectual Terrorists"
Stein goes to meet a couple of people who claim to have lost their jobs due to mentioning ID in some way connected to a University. Big Science is squashing all the little guys who don't toe the pro-Darwin line, obviously. Eugenie Scott and NCSE are collecting information on debunking these stories. They are building their response page at

Here's a brief explanation from NCSE:

Expelled Exposed is a new National Center for Science Education website that counters the Ben Stein/Premise Media anti-evolution movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. It is available at Currently in a preliminary stage, Expelled Exposed consists of a collection of links containing the most basic and important resources for teachers, scientists, reporters, and members of the public who seek information now to respond to this movie. On April 16, days before the movie Expelled is premiered on April 18, NCSE will launch the full version of the website. In its final form, Expelled Exposed will examine claims made in the movie and explain, neatly and concisely, why each is an exaggeration, a misrepresentation, or a fabrication. NCSE encourages all interested parties to bookmark the site, and pass the link on to friends and family, so that by the time the creationist movie is released, will be the most popular Expelled site on the internet!

The Discovery Institute
We see Stein walking the streets of Seattle trying to be funny "I don't know where we are... Is this third street? Where are we?" I know it doesn't sound funny written out, and it wasn't funny on-screen, but you could tell from his strained delivery that Stein was TRYING to be funny. The sympathetic audience did laugh, which was even sadder. Stein asks people on the street how to get to the Discovery institute, and no one he meets has even heard of it. I guess the point is to make you think that The Discovery Institute isn't very big or influential. "It must be this whole building" Stein says when they arrive, and acts shocked when he finds out it is only half a floor in the building, with a staff of about 30. See? The Discovery Institute is just a harmless little group on half a floor! They all look so friendly! A very friendly interview follows with someone from the Institute, and the implication is that they are the struggling underdogs.

We see a second attempt at comedy when Stein is in a boardroom meeting (I think it was at the Discovery Institute) and starts to look bored, pulls out an expandable pointing device, and proceeds to scratch his back with it. It doesn't sound funny, and it wasn't funny. But you could once again tell he was trying to be funny. I guess that was enough to get the sympathetic audience in Minneapolis to laugh once again.

Michael Shermer
Stein goes to speak with Michael Shermer (, and asks him what he would think about people losing their jobs for publishing about ID. Michael Shermer had this to say about this experience with the Expelled team:

My take on Mathis is that he's an opportunist. He says and does whatever he thinks necessary to get his film made and now promoted. My guess on the latest flap about tossing PZ out of the screening but not Dawkins was PZ's original assumption that they just didn't notice Dawkins there, and only after the fact rationalizing the whole affair with plausible (and ever changing) reasons.

For my part, the moment I sat down with Stein (with Mathis there) and he asked me that question about firing people for expressing dissenting views a dozen times, I realized that I was being manipulated to give certain answers they were looking for me to give. I asked them both, several times, if they had anything else to ask me about evolutionary theory or Intelligent Design. In frustration I finally said something like "Do you have any other questions to ask me or do you keep asking me this question in hopes that I'll give a different answer?"

That's when Stein finally changed the subject and asked about social Darwinism. We got into a lengthy discussion about Adam Smith, which he seemed surprised to learn that I seemed to know more about the great economist than he did! For example, he didn't seem to even realize that Smith's first book was "The Theory of Moral Sentiments", and that Smith didn't trust businessmen any more than he trusted government bureaucrats, and that we need a mix of enlightened self-interest and strictly enforced rules of trade. But as I noted in my review of the film for Scientific American, Stein was especially displeased with my linkage of Smith and Darwin, that Darwin read Smith as an undergraduate at Edinburgh, etc. I also pointed out to him that Darwin has been used and abused by ideologues of all stripes, and that in any case that is all separate from whether the science is good or not. That seemed to tax his thinking too much, because shortly after he announced that he had to take a rest break and he just got up and went out to his car for about 20 minutes! Seriously, he just went out to the street next to our office and sat in the rent car they had! I couldn't believe it. We had only been going for about 30 minutes and he was tired? And this was in the late morning. I joked with Mathis that, this being Hollywood and all, I wondered if Stein was out doing a line of cocaine.... Mathis assured me that Stein doesn't do drugs, but I found the whole thing to be quite odd. Then Stein came back in and that's when we walked around the office with the handheld camera to get some B-Roll footage, and they showed him asking me about my books, and that's where I told him I thought ID was much closer to pseudoscience than science. Then he asked me AGAIN if I thought people should be fired....

The whole experience was a bit surreal, and I found Stein to be a somewhat disagreeable man. He tried to come off like he was a star and that I should have been star-struck, and when I wasn't that seemed to get under his skin a bit. For example, when he came back into the office from resting in his car, I said something like "gentlemen, I've got work to do so I'd like to wrap this thing up now," he looked at me like "hey, don't you realize who I am and that you should be grateful to be talking to me?" I let him off the hook a bit in my review about his questionable comment about blacks, but I suspect he has some racist tendencies.

PZ Myers (of Pharyngula-fame)
PZ comes across as very likable in the film, and says he would like to see religion become more of a hobby for people, like knitting.

There's more to the overview, so please go read it.

This film, and the associated scandal, has generated an enormous number of posts, of which this is just the latest. I'm sure there have been more since this was posted last month. There is much more information at Expelled Exposed.

Latest News

Today a story showed up on Dawkins' site about a science teacher who was fired (in Texas) for not teaching intelligent design.

(There are some related videos in this embed.) Blackmailing science teachers to be neutral about teaching creationism as science is pretty funny in light of this film.

The Skeptic, as one might expect, has a bit to say about this whole thing. Today they posted the first two of four articles debunking the BS in Exposed. What follows is a taste from each of the first two articles.

Expelled Exposed, Part 1: Ben Stein’s Blunder
By Michael Shermer

Ben Stein came to my office to interview me about what I was told was a film about “the intersection of science and religion” called Crossroads (yet another deception). I knew something was afoot with his first question to me was on whether or not I think someone should be fired for expressing dissenting views. I pressed Stein for specifics: Who is being fired for what, when and where? In my experience, people are usually fired for reasons having to do with budgetary constraints, incompetence or not fulfilling the terms of a contract. Stein finally asked my opinion on people being fired for endorsing Intelligent Design. I replied that I know of no instance where such a firing has happened.

This seemingly innocent observation was turned into a filmic confession of ignorance when my on-camera interview abruptly ends there, because when I saw Expelled at a preview screening at the National Religious Broadcasters’ convention (tellingly, the film is being targeted primarily to religious and conservative groups), I discovered that the central thesis of the film is a conspiracy theory about the systematic attempt to keep Intelligent Design creationism out of American classrooms and culture.

Stein’s case for conspiracy centers on a journal article written by Stephen Meyer, a senior fellow at the Intelligent Design think tank Discovery Institute and professor at the theologically conservative Christian Palm Beach Atlantic University. Meyer’s article, “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,” was published in the June 2004 Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, the voice of the Biological Society with a circulation of less than 300 people. In other words, from the get-go this was much ado about nothing.

Nevertheless, some members of the organization voiced their displeasure, so the society’s governing council released a statement explaining, “Contrary to typical editorial practices, the paper was published without review by any associate editor; Sternberg handled the entire review process. The Council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, and the associate editors would have deemed the paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings.” So how did it get published? In the words of journal’s managing editor at the time, Richard Sternberg, “it was my prerogative to choose the editor who would work directly on the paper, and as I was best qualified among the editors I chose myself.” And what qualified Sternberg to choose himself? Perhaps it was his position as a fellow of the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design, which promotes Intelligent Design, along with being on the editorial board of the Occasional Papers of the Baraminology Study Group, a creationism journal committed to the literal interpretation of Genesis. Or perhaps it was the fact that he is a signatory of the Discovery Institute’s “100 Scientists who Doubt Darwinism” statement.

Expelled Exposed, Part 2: The Richard Sternberg Affair
By Ed Brayton

The June 2004 issue of the PBSW, the last issue for which Sternberg acted as managing editor, included a highly controversial article entitled “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,” written by Stephen Meyer. Meyer, whose Ph.D. is in philosophy, is the director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, the nation’s most influential and well recognized center advocating Intelligent Design. That article proved so embarrassing to the Biological Society of Washington (BSW) and to the Smithsonian itself that the BSW council publicly disavowed it and said that it never should have been published. And that is where this saga begins.

Emails began to go back and forth among scientists and administrators at the museum asking obvious questions: how did this article get in there? Who had reviewed it? Were the regular peer review procedures followed? Who was Richard Sternberg? Was he a creationist of some sort? Did he have ties to the ID movement and the author of this paper? The answer to that last question proved most revealing.

In November 2004, Sternberg filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a branch of the Department of Justice empowered to investigate claims of discrimination by government employees. In a letter to Sternberg in August 2005, an OSC attorney named James McVay told Sternberg that they were closing the investigation due to a lack of jurisdiction; since Sternberg was not actually an employee of the Smithsonian they could not exercise any authority over decisions made in his situation. McVay’s letter admits that he was “not able to take statements and receive further paper discovery that would allow for final conclusions,” yet he still saw fit to go into some detail about his “preliminary conclusions” on why he thought Sternberg’s allegations had merit and how terribly he thought Sternberg had been treated. This was all quite unusual, of course; if the OSC could not complete the investigation, particularly when they could not take statements or get documents from the accused and had no authority over the situation, they should not have said anything at all about the substance of the allegations made in the complaint. Indeed, McVay’s letter was highly polemical, consisting mostly of unsupported rhetoric and boilerplate aimed at those evil scientists who don’t like creationism. All of this was highly inappropriate.

The ID movement immediately began to hold up Sternberg as a martyr, a man being persecuted not just for being an ID advocate (in fact, they initially — and falsely — claimed he was not one) but for merely being open-minded enough to give ID advocates a fair hearing. They even managed to get a sympathetic legislature, Rep. Mark Souder (R-Indiana), to use staff of the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, which he chaired, to prepare an unofficial report supporting those allegations. That report came out in December of 2006 and it examined all of the allegations made by Sternberg and his supporters against the Smithsonian. It was released along with an appendix consisting of memos and emails sent back and forth between Smithsonian scientists and others in the weeks and months following the publication of the Meyer paper. But a close examination of the report’s arguments and conclusions reveal that most of them are flatly contradicted by the evidence in that appendix.

One of the amazingly specious claims -- of many -- in this silly film is that evolution lead to the Nazi extermination of Jews and Africans.

Why did you make this film? Why was it important to you?

The creator is Walt Ruloff and his merry band. I decided to work on it because I've always had questions about Darwinism. I have always been very concerned that Darwinism gave the basic okay to terrible racism and to the idea of murder based upon race. And I think most people don't realize what a sinister role Darwinism has had in the history of the 20th century, and I guess part of the history of the 19th century too.

As I got working on the movie, I got to realize how many holes there were in Darwinism and how little of the world's great questions about existence and life Darwinism answered, and I wanted to share my understanding and learning on that subject with the wider world.

Then, I got to be very concerned about the academic suppression that goes on in terms of not letting people who have differing views from the Darwinists have any place at the table for talking about their scientific insights.

Aren’t there plenty of scientists who might subscribe to Darwin's theory of evolution but not accept social Darwinism?

I don't doubt that there are. It is extremely well documented in a book called "From Darwin to Hitler" by an author named Weikart that the people who read Darwin's book in Germany and then became important influential thinkers in German political life believed that Darwin's views could be translated into the social realm. [They believed that] immediate actions should be taken to put those ideas into effect, especially by attempting to exterminate entire native African tribes.

The explicit connection of Darwin's work with the Holocaust and with the belief of the Nazis that they were furthering Darwin's agenda and Darwin's discoveries and theories is explicitly documented in not just one, but many annals of the life and death of Nazi Germany.

Of course, today with the current intellectual beliefs, nobody's going to say, "I'm in favor of exterminating the indigenous tribes in Southern Africa," but they were then. And they explicitly said, "And Darwin says it's the right thing to do."

In the film there are some very powerful images and conversations that you have about the Nazi regime and about trying to purify a race. I wonder if this limits dialogue?

Absolutely not. We at no time say that the people who are the big [proponents] of Darwinism today are Nazis or believe in Nazism or believe in theories of eliminating what they believe to be inferior races.

What we are saying is the history of Darwinism is littered with millions of innocent people who are in their graves prematurely and agonizingly because of those who read and believed in Darwin's theories.

And certainly they took them to a length that I don't think Darwin would have taken them to, and I've said that over and over and over again.

But the fact is that Darwinism did what it did. It's a different Darwinism today. But the fact is that in its day when it was riding high and there were no humane theories to counteract it, it did incredible, unimaginable damage.

Wow, what a fucking dumbass argument. Darwinism didn't do ANY damage -- a bunch of freaking Nazis did the damage. Ideas and theories don't kill people -- people kill people.

Was Christianity responsible for the Inquisition? Or was it a group of misguided people doing evil things? Good ideas can be misused by bad people, but that does not negate the value and/or truth of the idea.

Yesterday, Scientific American posted an article debunking six points in the film. What follows is a taste of each item.

Six Things in Expelled That Ben Stein Doesn't Want You to Know...
...about intelligent design and evolution

1) Expelled quotes Charles Darwin selectively to connect his ideas to eugenics and the Holocaust.
When the film is building its case that Darwin and the theory of evolution bear some responsibility for the Holocaust, Ben Stein's narration quotes from Darwin's The Descent of Man thusly:

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

This is how the original passage in The Descent of Man reads (unquoted sections emphasized in italics):

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The producers of the film did not mention the very next sentences in the book (emphasis added in italics):

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.

Darwin explicitly rejected the idea of eliminating the "weak" as dehumanizing and evil. Those words falsify Expelled's argument. The filmmakers had to be aware of the full Darwin passage, but they chose to quote only the sections that suited their purposes.

2) Ben Stein's speech to a crowded auditorium in the film was a setup.
Viewers of Expelled might think that Ben Stein has been giving speeches on college campuses and at other public venues in support of ID and against "big science." But if he has, the producers did not include one. The speech shown at the beginning and end was staged solely for the sake of the movie. Michael Shermer learned as much by speaking to officials at Pepperdine University, where those scenes were filmed. Only a few of the audience members were students; most were extras brought in by the producers. Judge the ovation Ben Stein receives accordingly.

* * * * *

3) Scientists in the film thought they were being interviewed for a different movie.
As Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, Eugenie Scott, Michael Shermer and other proponents of evolution appearing in Expelled have publicly remarked, the producers first arranged to interview them for a film that was to be called Crossroads, which was allegedly a documentary on "the intersection of science and religion." They were subsequently surprised to learn that they were appearing in Expelled, which "exposes the widespread persecution of scientists and educators who are pursuing legitimate, opposing scientific views to the reigning orthodoxy," to quote from the film's press kit.

* * * * *

4) The ID-sympathetic researcher whom the film paints as having lost his job at the Smithsonian Institution was never an employee there.
One section of Expelled relates the case of Richard Sternberg, who was a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History and editor of the journal Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. According to the film, after Sternberg approved the publication of a pro-ID paper by Stephen C. Meyer of the Discovery Institute, he lost his editorship, was demoted at the Smithsonian, was moved to a more remote office, and suffered other professional setbacks. The film mentions a 2006 House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report prepared for Rep. Mark Souder (R–Ind.), "Intolerance and the Politicization of Science at the Smithsonian," that denounced Sternberg's mistreatment.

This selective retelling of the Sternberg affair omits details that are awkward for the movie's case, however. Sternberg was never an employee of the Smithsonian: his term as a research associate always had a limited duration, and when it ended he was offered a new position as a research collaborator. As editor, Sternberg's decision to "peer-review" and approve Meyer's paper by himself was highly questionable on several grounds, which was why the scientific society that published the journal later repudiated it. Sternberg had always been planning to step down as the journal's editor—the issue in which he published the paper was already scheduled to be his last.

* * * * *

5) Science does not reject religious or "design-based" explanations because of dogmatic atheism.
Expelled frequently repeats that design-based explanations (not to mention religious ones) are "forbidden" by "big science." It never explains why, however. Evolution and the rest of "big science" are just described as having an atheistic preference.

Actually, science avoids design explanations for natural phenomena out of logical necessity. The scientific method involves rigorously observing and experimenting on the material world. It accepts as evidence only what can be measured or otherwise empirically validated (a requirement called methodological naturalism). That requirement prevents scientific theories from becoming untestable and overcomplicated.

By those standards, design-based explanations rapidly lose their rigor without independent scientific proof that validates and defines the nature of the designer.

* * * * *

6) Many evolutionary biologists are religious and many religious people accept evolution.
Expelled includes many clips of scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, William Provine and PZ Myers who are also well known as atheists. They talk about how their knowledge of science confirms their convictions and how in some cases science led them to atheism. And indeed, surveys do indicate that atheism is more common among scientists than in the general population.

Nevertheless, the film is wrong to imply that understanding of evolution inevitably or necessarily leads to a rejection of religious belief. Francisco Ayala of the University of California, Irvine, a leading neuroscientist who used to be a Dominican priest, continues to be a devout Catholic, as does the evolutionary biologist Ken Miller of Brown University. Thousands of other biologists across the U.S. who all know evolution to be true are also still religious. Moreover, billions of other people around the world simultaneously accept evolution and keep faith with their religion. The late Pope John Paul II said that evolution was compatible with Roman Catholicism as an explanation for mankind's physical origins.

During Scientific American's post-screening conversation with Expelled associate producer Mark Mathis, we asked him why Ken Miller was not included in the film. Mathis explained that his presence would have "confused" viewers. But the reality is that showing Miller would have invalidated the film's major premise that evolutionary biologists all reject God.

So the science community has had their say -- what do film reviewers think? Rotten Tomatoes shows 9% positive reviews. Doesn't bode well. Still, at least America is a country that allows dumbasses to make dumbass films -- so I guess his argument against freedom of speech and academic freedom rings a little false.


Anonymous said...

just saw Expelled... Ben Stein's goal in making Expelled (i gather) is to promote free thought, especially more thinking about motivations that drive American academia and a lot of other behind-the-scenes worldview that we tend to take for granted.

william harryman said...

I doubt that was his intent, no matter what he says.

He lied to several scientists to get them to appear on film, then terribly edited their comments.

Mostly, he seeks to fight off the encroaching forces of reason that threaten to reduce mythical thinking to a footnote in Western history. It's a losing battle.

There's nothing wrong with asking "why?" but there becomes a problem when some people want to impose their non-scientific answers as though they were actual science.

You want ID and creationism in the schools, great -- teach them as part of a comparative religions course on creation myths from a variety of cultures.


Anonymous said...