Thursday, October 25, 2007

Extended Trailer of Expelled the Movie

An extended trailer for the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed was shown to the recent Values Voter Summit. It was followed by a speech by Ben Stein. The relevant part begins at about the 27th minute mark, or you can get there by clicking the "next track" button- at least on my browser.

The clips are quick, but it gives a little more flavor about where they are going with this. The film seems to be very focused on free speech rights.

The highlights:

Richard Dawkins says, "As a scientist I am pretty hostile to a rival doctrine."

Daniel Dennett: "It's all propaganda."

At the end, Stein notes the likelihood of hardship for anyone who chooses to challenge Darwinian orthodoxy. He concludes, "If you do leave, will anyone be left to fight this battle? Anyone? Anyone?"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

James Watson, Charles Darwin and John Scopes

With all the uproar over James Watson's recent comments on racial matters, I thought that I would point readers again to the fact that the ACLU once defended the right of a teacher to teach American high school kids similar ideas.

For some excerpts from the celebrated textbook used to teach those ideas, read here.

I am delighted to see an article in The Guardian confirming the connections between Darwinism and eugenics and Nazi Germany, which Abraham Foxman and many Darwinian proponents denied (with insults added), as discussed here and here. The article states in part:

But the writings of literary eugenicists betray their real roots: fear. In 1915 Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary: "On the towpath we met and had to pass a long line of imbeciles. It was perfectly horrible. They should certainly be killed." HG Wells openly advocated the killing of the weak by the strong, insisting that "those swarms of blacks, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people ... will have to go".

. . .

Fear was translated into action in many European countries and US states that adopted eugenicist sterilisation policies. In liberal Sweden, more than 62,000 people (mostly women) with physical or mental disabilities or considered to be socially "undesirable", were sterilised against their will, and the policy continued well into the 1970s. The full horror of eugenics was realised in the 1934 German "racial hygiene" laws, which led to the enforced sterilisation of more than 80,000 individuals.

Hitler's enthusiastic support of its principles established eugenics as the pariah of postwar science. But many geneticists continued to investigate the genetic basis of intelligence, creativity, sexuality and criminality.

The gratuitous anti-Americanism at the end of the article seems to come out of nowhere.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

False Accusations of Dishonesty: Jonathan Adler and Expelled the Movie

Jonathan Adler, on the widely read blog The Volokh Conspiracy, gives his post the title "ID Documentary Deception," and says:
In early 2008, Premise films will release Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a documentary film featuring Ben Stein arguing that those who believe in "Intelligent Design" face persecution in the academy and scientific institutions. For the movie, the producers arranged interviews with prominent scientists who point out that ID is not a scientific theory or who argue against a belief in God. Yet according to this NYT story, the film producers explained they were with a different production company and making a movie about the intersection of faith and belief, rather than about the alleged persecution of ID proponents.

To start out, Adler gets one key fact totally wrong: they explained that they were making a movie about the "intersection of science and religion," not the intersection of faith and belief" (which would not seem like much of an intersection). He also does not disclose that Premise Films and Rampant Films are part of the same company.

Here is the letter that PZ Myers got, asking if he would agree to be interviewed:

Hello Mr. Myers,

My name is Mark Mathis. I am a Producer for Rampant Films. We are currently in production of the documentary film, "Crossroads: The Intersection of Science and Religion."

At your convenience I would like to discuss our project with you and to see if we might be able to schedule an interview with you for the film. The interview would take no more than 90 minutes total, including set up and break down of our equipment.

We are interested in asking you a number of questions about the disconnect/controversy that exists in America between Evolution, Creationism and the Intelligent Design movement.

Please let me know what time would be convenient for me to reach you at your office. Also, could you please let me know if you charge a fee for interviews and if so, what that fee would be for 90 minutes of your time.

I look forward to speaking with you soon.


Mark Mathis
Rampant Films

So the letter states that they will be asked questions about "the disconnect/controversy that exists in America between Evolution, Creationism and the Intelligent Design movement," and that the working title was "Crossroads: The Intersection of Science and Religion." Is the new film about those topics? From the trailers it is clear that it is. The overview on the web site states this:
Ben realizes that he has been “Expelled,” and that educators and scientists are being ridiculed, denied tenure and even fired – for the “crime” of merely believing that there might be evidence of “design” in nature, and that perhaps life is not just the result of accidental, random chance.

Does this mean that the film is not about the intersection of religion and science or "the disconnect/controversy that exists in America between Evolution, Creationism and the Intelligent Design movement"? Of course it does not. What is interesting is that so many people, such as Adler, Cornelia Dean, Eugenie Scott and Richard Dawkins, think that one subject area excludes the other. This is simply bad logic. The original letter talks of the general subject matter, while the trailer and web site for the film talks about the editorial angle they pursued and how they decided to market it. The film is "about" what they said it was about. I do not see any deception.

I think this shows that for some people, the only proper editorial angle is the Scopes Trial Mythology, and not the Scopes-In-Reverse dynamic, which the film documents. The impression I get is that the people complaining were misled not by the producers or Ben Stein, but by their own prejudices, stereotypes and unfounded expectations.

Did all the people complaining sign release forms? They apparently did. What did these forms say? What was disclosed in these forms? Adler, a law professor writing on a law blog, does not seem to care.

What is also interesting is that all these complaints are coming before anyone has seen the film! Jumping to conclusions and making false accusations before seeing the evidence is not good science.

Ben Stein Interview with Bill O'Reilly On YouTube

Ben Stein's interview with Bill O'Reilly last night is now on YouTube.

The first comment is hilarious:

Why is he unaware that the ONLY scientists who have any contention with evolution do so on RELIGIOUS grounds and NONE have posited ANY scientific grounds for doing so?

This is beyond stupid. If either of these intellectual dwarfs had bothered to do 10 minutes of research into what science is and is not, they would not be so confused.

Trust me, not all people who believe that Darwinism explains all aspects of life on earth are so uninformed. Does this person realize how wonderfully he proves the points Stein makes? A good example of someone who is ignorant and intolerant and an extremist.