Sunday, April 20, 2008

Intelligent Design movie, "Expelled" - debuts as a miserable failure

Another failure in the Conservative Religious right wing War on Science.


The reviews are in ...the move Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed sucks. Called a "flunkout documentary," an "unprincipled propaganda piece that insults believers and nonbelievers alike," Expelled is a crusade by Ben Stein to show how believers of intelligent design are victims of persecution and that Darwinism is the root of all evil. As the Chicago Tribune put it:
"...a cynical attempt to sucker Christian conservatives into thinking they’re losing the “intelligent design” debate because of academic “prejudice.”

Typical of the religious right, Expelled is a loathsome and idiotic attempt to show scientific legitimacy for a creationist worldview while desperately trying to swiftboat science.

UPDATE: The National Center for Science Education has launched a website exposing the lies of the film "Exposed." Check out - Expelled Exposed.
Further exposing the films unprofessionalism, the producers of Expelled have been cited for copyright violations.

NYT

One of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” is a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry.
Mixing physical apples and metaphysical oranges at every turn “Expelled” is an unprincipled propaganda piece that insults believers and nonbelievers alike. In its fudging, eliding and refusal to define terms, the movie proves that the only expulsion here is of reason itself.

New York Post:
After all of his efforts to unhook the ID caboose from the creationism train, Stein makes it clear that his beef with Darwinism is that it weakens religion.

In a long, greasy detour, Stein shows that the Nazis were Darwinists. So what? They also liked skiing. Having Nazi fans doesn’t make Darwin wrong.

Time:
It’s in the film’s final third that it runs entirely off the rails as Stein argues that there is a clear line from Darwinism to euthanasia, abortion, eugenics and–wait for it–Nazism. Theories of natural selection, it’s claimed, were a necessary if not sufficient condition for Hitler’s killing machine to get started. The truth, of course, is that the only necessary and sufficient condition for human beings to murder one another is the simple fact of being human. We’ve always been a lustily fratricidal species, one that needed no Charles Darwin to goad us into millenniums of self-slaughter.


E! Reviews:
A flunkout of a documentary, this features Ben Stein—still best known for his monotone “Anyone…anyone?”—advocating creationism, er, intelligent design, in science classrooms. Stein’s credibility is blown on this poorly constructed diatribe, and you’d be smart to save your bucks.
Plus, he’s tedious and unfunny.
With a heavy, heavy hand, the pic punctuates every scene with over-the-top archival footage—the Berlin wall, Stalin and other Cold War imagery.

Despite insisting “intelligent design” isn’t pro-God propaganda, Stein argues we’re waging a religious war (cut to cannon fire) with Darwinists smiting the faithful with—gasp!—atheistic ideas. Most outrageously, he plays the overused Nazi card—he tours an old concentration camp and notes Hitler himself was influenced by Darwin. Yes, kids, studying evolution leads to this (cut to dead prisoners).
Expelled pretends it wants to encourage debate but shuts down and edits around every Darwinian scientist who attempts to explain complex issues, as Stein makes snide remarks in voice-over.

LA City Beat:
One might accuse Michael Moore of similarly facile, manipulative techniques – and I have – but Moore has never gone to lengths nearly as outrageous as the makers of Expelled. (For what it’s worth, he’s also funnier.)

In the third act, Stein and company move beyond mere visual associations, when they build a case linking Darwinism to Nazism – which is not merely insultingly lame, but also ranks as one of the cheapest, most offensive exploitations of the horrors of the Holocaust I’ve ever witnessed (and I’ve witnessed plenty).
Expelled is another expression of the right wing’s victim complex. It’s classic paranoid thinking: Since we’re pure and correct, any setbacks we suffer must be the result of an Evil Conspiracy. Communists are fluoridating our water. Purity of Essence. We couldn’t be doing substandard academic work. Our poor advancement must have to do with a blacklist! (Stein himself used this idea to bully Norman Lear into giving him a writing job.)

Newsday:
Ben Stein, the actor, lawyer, columnist and onetime speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Ford, is probably smarter than you. He’s definitely smarter than I am. What’s galling about his new documentary, “Expelled,” is that he seems to think we’re both slobbering idiots.

In an increasingly hysterical tone, Stein lambastes Darwinians as misguided, ignorant fascists, cutting repeatedly to old footage of the Berlin Wall - a metaphor for squelched thought.

Finally, he unleashes his biggest attention-getter, holding Darwinism responsible for Nazi atrocities and genocide. I’m no lawyer, but that’s a pretty lousy argument.

Did Stein really think audiences wouldn’t balk at being suckered into a propaganda rally? Or was he preaching to the converted from the start? Stein claims to denounce the tyranny of dogma, then browbeats us with his own.

23 comments:

Library Betty said...

I saw it today and found it excellent and thought provoking. Are you going to see it or just post the thoughts of others?

From looking at your blog, I think I know the answer to that one. ;)

William said...

Library Betty,
I live in the world of reality based on facts and evidence. If you choose to believe in the supernatural, you certainly are a part of a movement called 'group think' and YOU, not me are one who is not capable of original thought or critical thinking, one prerequisite required to distinguish religion and science.

As one reviewer noted:

"Expelled pretends it wants to encourage debate but shuts down and edits around every Darwinian scientist who attempts to explain complex issues, as Stein makes snide remarks in voice-over."

Is that your idea of "excellent and thought provoking?"

Library Betty said...

William --

If you are into fact based things. Why are you only quoting others's thoughts and not willing to see the movie.

Why to to think I'm a religious fundamentalist? I'm not, but I don't think that Darwinism explains it all and that raising question is part of the scientific process. The fact that raising questions cause careers to end smacks of group think, as fall as I'm concerned.

What are your own thoughts --- without quoting others. I actually saw exacting the same blog entry elsewhere -- were you asked to post this for someone else. Or is it all a conincidence?

William said...

I crossposted this at TN Free.

Betty said -
but I don't think that Darwinism explains it all and that raising question is part of the scientific process. The fact that raising questions cause careers to end smacks of group think, as fall as I'm concerned.

Betty,
If I were a geologist and published research 'proving' the earth were 6000 yrs old, would I deserve to have a career? Would I deserve to be taken seriously?

OF COURSE, part of the scientific method is to constantly question and refine theory - within the bounds of provable scientific evidence. Sorry, you have been sucked in by a propaganda film and perhaps you should return to the library and do more studying. I recommend the series on the History Channel The Universe - you might learn something or get a feel for the basis of science for why the earth and life exists.

William said...

Also, Betty, Your comment:

From looking at your blog, I think I know the answer to that one. ;)


Please, give me an example of what you mean on this blog that isn't supported by documented reports, facts, evidence... etc.

Anonymous said...

William:

I think what Betty prolly means is that you're a GODLESS atheist hellspawn who's going to be really, really sorry to be surrounded by all of those empty suits after "The Rapture" (or will that just be th GOP's national convention, this summer").

I think Betty would be thrilled to meet Ned Williams if she isn't, in fact, Ned Williams.

Ben Stein=minor league tool.

democommie

Pixygiggles said...

Excellent reviews! I'm thrilled to see that the critics aren't swayed by the religious propaganda being presented in this film. I find it very disturbing that religious groups are so anti-science that they felt it necessary to create this pseudoscience of intelligent design to confuse things even more. It is simply an example of "argumentum ad ignorantiam."

mynym said...

I live in the world of reality based on facts and evidence.

If you are taken in by Darwinian reasoning then that's not the case. You criticize the notion of the supernatural but the tendency of Darwinists to imagine past events which seem natural to them isn't much different. Like the supernatural they cannot really be known to exist. And naturalism, whatever one may mean by "Nature, cannot be falsified or tested unless one admits that the supernatural is a possibility.

...YOU, not me are one who is not capable of original thought or critical thinking, one prerequisite required to distinguish religion and science.

I suppose you mean by "religion" forms of knowledge based on low epistemic standards as opposed to science which is defined by high epistemic standards?

Anonymous said...

Mynym:

This:

"If you are taken in by Darwinian reasoning then that's not the case. You criticize the notion of the supernatural but the tendency of Darwinists to imagine past events which seem natural to them isn't much different. Like the supernatural they cannot really be known to exist."

is sophistry.

There is abundant evidence of many types to support the "Theory of Evolution". There is scant (and it's much disputed) evidence to support religious beleif systems. Believe whatever you like, but don't try to equate your belief in the invisibly and untestable with genuine science.

democommie

mynym said...

There is abundant evidence of many types to support the "Theory of Evolution".

That depends on what you mean by evolution. If people are allowed to cite imaginary past events as the equivalent of "evidence" then of course there is plenty. It's telling that in disputes amongst themselves biologists note that imagining things about the past isn't evidence, yet to the public they begin talking about how "overwhelmed" they are and so on. For example:The viewpoint of Coyne et al. (1988) is one in which past events are argued to explain, in a causal sense, the world around us. Such explanations cannot be verified or tested, and the only biological observations they require are that variation and differential reproduction occur. This is not a caricature, as a reading of Coyne et al. will verify. In keeping with this general viewpoint, proponents claim that species are explained with reference to history. Important characters are hence “mechanisms” that have established and maintained the separation between diverged lineages of an ancestral population. According to Coyne et al., even the adaptive purpose of the changes that resulted in these mechanisms is irrelevant.
We would ask where biology enters into this schema. The answer is that it does not. Rather, biology is interpreted in terms of a range of historical processes, including selection of variation over time. This could, with equal relevance, be used to understand any nonbiological phenomenon such as the development of the automobile, agricultural methods, culture, or men’s suits (Lewontin, 1976).
(Points of View
Species and Neo-Darwinism
By C. S. White; B. Michaux; D. M. Lambert Systematic Zoology, Vol. 39, No. 4. (Dec., 1990), :400-401)


I would ask along the same lines, is there any possibility that something is caused at present? Do you cause the text that you write or must we reduce it to past events by imagining things about the mating habits of ancient worm-like creatures?

There is scant (and it's much disputed) evidence to support religious beleif systems.

There is often a general unity to them, they often involve angels/gods/aliens or beings of light from the sky and so on. It's interesting to note that any being of life would essentially be transcendent with respect to Nature just as any alien with the technology to cross light years in space would essentially have to transcend Nature in ways far beyond us. Given that religions include tradition, personal witnessing, personal experiences, etc., they admit to more forms of evidence than scientific evidence. And there's nothing necessarily wrong with that, it's likely that some variant will turn out to be true.

...don't try to equate your belief in the invisibly and untestable with genuine science.

There are different forms of science just as there are different forms of religion. It's not as simple as you seem to believe, science doesn't always meet high epistemic standards and religion isn't always defined by low epistemic standards.

Anonymous said...

What, exactly, does this,

"I would ask along the same lines, is there any possibility that something is caused at present? Do you cause the text that you write or must we reduce it to past events by imagining things about the mating habits of ancient worm-like creatures?"

mean?

You are offering hokum as if it were a fact.

I can't say I'm familiar with the article you extracted. I did try to find it online without having much luck. So you have one, or maybe dozens of sources. arguing against evolution, which you can reference to "disprove" evolution? Those sources would be compared to how many thousands that argue for evolution?

On the other hand, there is no direct physical evidence for the existence of any god, period. If there were, it would be trotted out.

Science is about inquiry, faith is about acceptance.

democommie

William said...

Ever notice that 99% of all science denying, intelligent design champions like "mynym" are christioan conservatives? Kind of like listening to tobacco industry execs telling us that cigarettes are not addictive or harmful.

Anonymous said...

William:

Smoking is bad for you? Then how come they allow cigarettes to be sold? Our leaders would never willingly allow such a thing.

I just wish that there was one of those visual aids to show the number of publications, in support of the "Theory of Evolution", written by tenured professors at respected universities (many of them Nobel Laureates) v the number, in opposition to evolution (many of which are written by crackpots and not peer reviewed). I think it would be one of those classic mountain v molehill scenarios, the molehill being the ID/Creationist pile.

Of course, we both know that all the folks who believe as Mynym does that evolution is bad science also do not use any modern contraptions like cars, Ipods or computers (whoops, my bad!) and don't take any synthetic drugs--cause that would be against GOD's will.

mynym said...

You are offering hokum as if it were a fact.

No more than any mind of the synaptic "gaps" may be written off as if it were hokum. That's the point, if we do imagine intelligence away based on natural selection than any symbols and signs of your own design may be written off as an artifact of natural selection operating on ancient worm-like creatures. Can we admit that text and code is an artifact of intelligence encoding information on matter, or not?

If you don't understand that question then here is another, is there any way for us to be scientifically aware of the information content of the books in a library or must the scientific view be that books are nothing more than ink on wood pulp, which is nothing more than fields of energy and so on?

I can't say I'm familiar with the article you extracted. I did try to find it online without having much luck. So you have one, or maybe dozens of sources. arguing against evolution...

Not at all, as I said that was a dispute among biologists themselves and pretty much all biologists believe in "evolution" as you would apparently put it.

...which you can reference to "disprove" evolution?

I'm not in the habit of trying to falsify a notion rooted in nothing more than hypothetical goo which was never specified in the first place. Can you be more specific?

Those sources would be compared to how many thousands that argue for evolution?

What is it that you think you mean by the term evolution?

On the other hand, there is no direct physical evidence for the existence of any god, period.

There is no direct physical evidence for many things that are likely to be true. And the notion of physical evidence depends on what form of physics you are talking about. For instance, in the end it seems that something one ought to already know is true because it's the only way to have knowledge of anything, sentience, may ultimately be known to have an impact on physical evidence. But as far as "direct physical evidence" goes I'd go back to my questions about the library, books, your texts and so on because it seems that you're using one form of knowledge (science having to do with the physical substrate of existence) to do away with another (knowledge of the transphysical nature of information) when in fact that's not necessary.

mynym said...

I just wish that there was one of those visual aids to show the number of publications, in support of the "Theory of Evolution", written by tenured professors at respected universities...

It's disingenuous to work against the publishing of any ID papers, deny people tenure in the name of science and so on and then turn around and demand that ID be advanced by methods that you've censored.

Of course, we both know that all the folks who believe as Mynym does that evolution is bad science also do not use any modern contraptions like cars, Ipods or computers (whoops, my bad!)

It's not clear what you believe evolution has to do with cars and so on. Intelligent design and engineering principles have plenty to do with Progress as we know it. Further, the Founders who originally wrote patent laws and so on had a firm grasp on the transphysical nature of information which is linked to the amount of technological progress in America.

Perhaps you could think of it this way, imagining mythological narratives of naturalism which "explain" progress as we know it really have nothing to do with progress at all. Instead, progress has more to do with engineers finding solutions to problems in the real world based on ID type principles and in the end the notion of progress itself must be defined by a religious perspective.

William said...

mynym,
dude... treat yourself to a trip to the American Museum of Natural History. I recommend the Hall of Human Origins. It seems that somewhere your dogma of belief in the supernatural replaced a vital part of your education and critical thinking skills.

mynym said...

Ever notice that 99% of all science denying, intelligent design champions like "mynym" are christioan conservatives?

That's not actually true but given that Darwinian arguments include Christian theology: "God wouldn't make a panda's thumb this way, therefore natural selection did." why are you surprised that Christians would tend to reply? Of course Christians tend to reply to Darwinian reasoning rather than Newtonian reasoning because there are links between Darwinian reasoning and Christian theology. And after all, the story of the provincial fundamentalist of one sort or another who goes on a journey and finds his answers to his religion in the Darwinian creation myth is so common that it is provincial itself. Yet the theological arguments typical to Darwinists seem to be rather puerile and shallow: “God wouldn’t make a panda’s thumb like this because we all know that the Bible says that creation is perfect or somethin’.” Perhaps that’s because they typically leave their original faith as an ignorant schoolboy.

mynym said...

...treat yourself to a trip to the American Museum of Natural History. I recommend the Hall of Human Origins

Given that we know that people practice contraception, commit suicide, become celibate priests, practice abortion and engage in other behaviors which falsify the notion of natural selection as applied to man, how do you think it applies to human history?

As the philosopher David Stove notes of some attempts to point out where natural selection applies to the history of man:Huxley naturally realized that, as examples of Darwinian competition for life among humans, hypothetical ancient fights between Hobbesian bachelors were not nearly good enough. What was desperately needed were some real examples, drawn from contemporary or at least recent history. Nothing less would be sufficient to reconcile Darwinism with the obvious facts of human life [evidence of cooperation]. Accordingly, Huxley made several attempts to supply such an example. But the result in every case was merely embarrassing.
One attempt was as follows. Huxley draws attention to the fierce competition for colonies and markets which was going on, at the time he wrote, among the major Western nations. He says, in effect, “There! That’s pretty Darwinian, you must admit.” The reader, for his part, scarcely knows where to look, and wonders, very excusably, what species of organism it can possibly be, of which Britain, France, and Germany are members.
[...]
A third attempt is this. Huxley implies that there have been “one or two short intervals” of the Darwinian “struggle for existence between man and man” in England in quite recent centuries: for example, the civil war of the seventeenth century! You probably think, and you certainly ought to think, that I am making this up; but I am not. He actually writes that, since “the reign of Elizabeth . . . , the struggle for existence between man and man has been so largely restrained among the great mass of the population (except for one or two short intervals of civil war), that it can have little, or no selective operation.”
You probably also think that the English civil war of the seventeenth century grew out of tensions between parliament and the court, dissent and the established church, republic and and the monarchy. Nothing of the sort, you see: it was a resumption of “the struggle for existence between man and man.” Cromwell and King Charles were competing with each other, and each of them with everyone else too, à la Darwin and Malthus, for means of subsistence. So no doubt Cromwell, when he had had the king’s head cut off, ate it. Uncooked, I shouldn’t wonder, the beast. And probably selfishly refused to let his secretary John Milton have even one little nibble.
Huxley should not have needed Darwinism to tell him— since any intelligent child of about eight could have told him— that in a “continual free fight of each other against all” there would soon be no children, no women and hence, no men. In other words, that the human race could not possibly exist now, unless cooperation had always been stronger than competition, both between women and their children, and between men and the children and women whom they protect and provide for.
And why was it that Huxley himself swallowed, and expected the rest of us to swallow, this ocean of biological absurdity and historical illiteracy? Why, just because he could not imagine Darwinism’s being false, while if it is true then a struggle for life must always be going on in every species. Indeed, the kind of examples for which Huxley searched would have to be as common as air among us, surrounding us everywhere at all times. But anyone who tries to point out such an example will find himself obliged to reenact T. H. Huxley’s ludicrous performance.
There is (as I said earlier) a contradiction at the very heart of the Cave Man way out of Darwinism’s dilemma: the contradiction between holding that Darwinism is true and admitting that it is not true of our species now.
(Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity, and Other Fables of Evolution by David Stove :7-9)


That's what those who believe that Darwinism explains human origins seem to be saying, it's good for explaining imaginary past events about Cave Men and so on but doesn't explain what can be observed of man now. So the question is this, when did natural selection begin to fail to apply to man?

Anonymous said...

Mynym:

I think there is some overlap between your notions and the truth; just like there is between science and science fiction.

"Given that we know that people practice contraception, commit suicide, become celibate priests, practice abortion and engage in other behaviors which falsify the notion of natural selection as applied to man, how do you think it applies to human history?"

WTF are you asking?

Are you saying that anamolies in the behavior of humans, or any other animals, somehow negates evolution?

As I said earlier, you can cherry pick your favorite writers (whose credentials & CV you don't furnish) but why would anyone be convinced by a few dissenters when the body of work on the other side is huge, well vetted and generally accepted by the scientific esatblishment of all civilized nations?

Again, prove there's a GOD and I might give you a little slack on saying evolution does not exist.

democommie

mynym said...

WTF are you asking?

Are you saying that anamolies in the behavior of humans, or any other animals, somehow negates evolution?


I'm not sure that you understand how Darwinian theory is specified well enough to understand how it may be falsified. But my uncertainty can be done away with by your answer to this question: What empirical observations would falsify Darwinian theory and not necessarily the notion of evolution?

...why would anyone be convinced by a few dissenters when the body of work on the other side is huge...

Scientific consensus isn't an argument and given the history of science one might as well advance scientific consensus as evidence that a theory is incorrect rather than correct. You go on to say what could have been said of eugenics a relatively short time ago, the scientific establishment of all "civilized" nations generally accepts Darwinism. Those who are commenting here apparently haven't even read books written by proponents of ID and apparently have heard everything second hand from those who oppose ID. It should also be pointed out that there is a long line of dissent from Darwinian interpretations of evolution within biology, not to mention mathematicians and philosophers and so on. William Bateson, Reginald C. Punnett, Leo S. Berg, Pierre Grasse, Otto Schindewolf, Soren Lovtrup, i.e. any scholar who takes the Darwinian mind at its own words:
The book begins (p. ix):
“In my previous books... I tried to show that the currently accepted theory of evolution—called ‘neoDarwinism’ or ‘the modern synthesis’—is false. Taking an interest in the history of evolutionary thought in the course of subsequent work, I made a very remarkable and unexpected discovery: nobody, not even Darwin and his closest friends, ever believed in Darwin’s theory of natural selection: Darwinism was refuted from the moment it was conceived.”
And on its last page (p. 422):
“I believe that one day the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science.”
(Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth, Reviewed by Gareth Neslson
Systematic Zoology, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Mar., 1988) :80)


Again, prove there's a GOD and I might give you a little slack on saying evolution does not exist.

I didn't claim that evolution does not exist. Change, like excrement, happens.

It would seem that your linking evolution to theology only makes sense given the "panda's thumb" type of reasoning typical to Darwinism: "If not God, therefore natural selection." Ironically the same people who make such arguments then go on to argue that theology/"religion" and science must be kept separate.

patrick said...

Ben Stein's goal in making Expelled (i gather) is to promote dangerously-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

Anonymous said...

Patrick - yet another christian intelligent designerweighs in.

The only thing dangerous about Ben Stein is the level of stupidity. Yes, stupidity is free thought, but doesn't belong in science or education.

Anonymous said...

Mynym:

I don't read the bible either.

You do know you're wasting your time and energy with me and any one who reads this blog on a regular basis, right? It's not that we can't be convinced by fact based arguments. It's that you and others like to portray sloppy, second rate research that is attempting to bolster pre-conceived notions about the origins of man as sound scientific inquiry. Put as much lipstick on that pig as you like, it will still oink.

democommie