Friday, February 01, 2008

Expelled: even lamer than we all thought

The Orlando Sentinel has the first mainstream media review I've seen of Ben Stein's ID propaganda film Expelled, and it ain't pretty. The film's egregious dishonesty is evident from the outset, as it attempts to confuse the issue in the minds of an uninformed public and present the ID-vs.-evolution argument as an academic freedom issue, rather than a simple matter of which of those two things is science and which one isn't.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed [is] a rabble-rouser of a doc that uses all manner of loaded images, loaded rhetoric, few if any facts and mockery of hand-picked "weirdo" scientists to attack the those who, Stein claims, are stifling the Religious Right's efforts to inject intelligent design into science courses, science curricula and the national debate....

[Stein] uses anecdotes from a few Fox-over-publicized cases of people who claim to have lost tenure/their jobs/their position in the scientific world for daring to suggest the hand of a supernatural being in the creation of life. He hasn't a scintilla of proof of, well, anything. Then he has the audacity to whine, "Where's the data" when questioning cellular biologists and other real scientists who build their lives around doubt, and finding testable, legitimate answers to those doubts. Where's YOUR data, Ben?

I imagine this writer's experience with the levels of irony, meretriciousness and hypocrisy one confronts routinely when one deals with creationists is fairly limited. Otherwise it wouldn't surprise him at all that the movie demands all kinds of data from scientists (which actually exists in heaps, but which the IDiots ignore), while not feeling any great urgency to back up its own claims.

One of the movie's most repugnant lies is its repetition of the "Darwin = Hitler + Stalin" mantra. As anyone with three brain cells to rub together (which would be four more than Stein has) and has actually studied the history knows, both the Third Reich and Stalin were deeply opposed to Darwin, with Stalin supporting Lysenkoism.

But this is all par for the course for the intellectual wasteland that is creationism. They're scared of evolution because they believe that if it's true, then God can't be true, and thus their lives are meaningless because they have no shot at the promised afterlife. But scientifically, creationism cannot be supported by any facts. So all that can be done is to discredit it by associating it with all that is evil and bad. For all the movie's whining about "academic freedom," the truth is that supporters of ID have never been about achieving a stronger scientific understanding of our world and have always been about protecting their religion, their "scientific" posturing towards that end merely the cheapest of dog-and-pony shows. And isn't it funny how, for all their claims that they are the ones whose ideas are being "censored," every prominent creationist blog on the web (like Uncommon Descent) actively censors pro-evolution arguments out of their comments or deletes entire posts if creationism cannot be made to look superior even through the most extreme rhetorical sleight of hand.

I'm actually looking forward to this movie's release now, limited as it will be, because I think it will be the greatest gift to real scientists the IDiot crowd has ever offered. The tidal wave of articles, editorials, interviews and discussions that will follow in its wake, correcting and attacking all of its easily refuted falsehoods with just-as-easily verified facts will lay bare just what shoddy scholarship and sleazy emotional button mashing the IDiots have to resort to instead of, you know, actual scientific research to develop a workable theory of intelligent design. ID was essentially killed in Dover, but this "documentary" is like the movement's lurching zombie corpse, shuffling along unaware that it's dead. It's a last-ditch act of desperation, and we can only hope that the reaction it's sure to receive will prove the final bullet to the head needed to put ID down for good.


  1. I wish I could share that optimism. In a culture that latches on to 9/11 conspiracy crap, I wouldn't be surprised if Expelled will appeal to others looking to "rebel" against conventional wisdom.

    I don't think the film will be super successful, but it's going to be hard to dismantle these pathetic arguments in soundbite form. Ben Stein is making an idiotic case and we're going to need to be thoughtful when responding to it lest we come off looking angry and dogmatic.

  2. Hope this posts. WTF is up with this #$#@%$@% blogger/google password garbage? Everytime I try to log in it takes about 30 minutes of screwing around to get it to accept the password I put in 30 minutes ago?

    Anyway, to attempt to repost my comment:

    The latest podcast of Skeptoid ( looks at the "WTC 7" conspiracy theory that was brought up on the show. He deals with facts that I have heard before, and brings up a few that I hadn't.

  3. Something tells me that as stupid as Expelled is, there will be loads of fundies simply lapping it up. Sigh.

  4. It's depressing that we are still seeing this crap in the 21st century.

  5. Don't worry Summer, it won't be seen in the 22nd century. Then again, whether the human race makes it to the 22nd century is another issue.


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