Ben Stein has a new film out now, and although there are plenty of sites devoted to tearing it to pieces, I wouldn't feel right if I didn't drop my coin in the pond too.
So here goes.
If you're interested in the so-called "debate" between those in the scientific community and those in favor of the pseudoscience of Creationism -- currently flying under the banner of ID or "Intelligent Design" -- then you should be aware that a new movie staring Ben Stein. The movie makes some outrageous claims as it seeks to promote ID and generally stir up shit.
The film features some pretty major players in science today, such as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, professor PZ Myers, NCSE executive director Eugenie Scott, and a number of others. The producers of the movie asked for interviews with these scientists and professors, telling them it was for a movie they were working on called "Crossroads". They not only lied about the title, they lied about the intent of the film as well, claiming it was a fair and balanced look at the Creationism issue. These interviews were made in April 2007. The producers had already registered the domain for Expelled two months before those interviews took place, and had not registered a domain for Crossroads...ever! They knew right from the start that they were underhandedly getting interviews under false pretenses.
The film is very much in the Michael Moore vein of documentary film-making. There are splices, poor editing, and even charactures when someone who disagrees with the film's message is speaking. The style of the film is intended to provide an appealing movie targeted at those who are poorly equipped to understand it.
One such editing twist makes noted atheist author and biologist Richard Dawkins appear to be a "believer" of Intelligent Design. Dawkins sets up a hypothetical situation to address that regression goes past ID, but due to framing tricks, the audience will fail to understand that this is a hypothetical argument. The film aims to show Professor Dawkins and the other real scientist in a light of ignorance and stupidity (similar to this kind of camera trickery.)
Not to mention the copyright violations on music and animations.
The False Comparison
One of the biggest and most ignorant claims made by this movie is basically that "Darwinism leads to atheism leads to Nazism leads to the holocaust". In a twenty-minute segment, Stein visits a Nazi death camp (apparently he's an authority on the subject because he's a Jew). Stein gets the tour guide to say that the Nazi's did what they did in the name of Darwinian evolution. This argument is so common that it's appeared in a number of books and writings by leading Christian authors, yet it's an argument that is unfounded and ignorant.
Darwin got the idea of natural selection from thinking about how animals were bread for their traits (horses, birds, dogs, etc.). This human-selection had been around for centuries before Charles Darwin. Darwin merely saw that nature does the selecting for evolution. Hitler and his Nazi followers, on the other hand, sought to create a super race of humans by using human-selected breading and extermination -- this is not Darwinian evolution! The vile misrepresentation Expelled gives to history is not only wrong, I think it's evil.
The entire premise of this film is that "Big Science" is keeping ID out of schools because of an elitist, political stance. The fact of the matter is that ID has NEVER produced any results to suppress. The film makes dishonest attempts to show some sort of "war" and controversy between ID and science, when the fact is that there is no controversy. Any scientist worth their weight knows that ID, Creationism, and any other religious claims have no right to be taught as science.
Professor PZ Myers became a victim of the film's hypocrisy when he was expelled from a free pre-screening of the movie. The pre-screening was only available to online registrants. He had signed up on a website, received a confirmation email stating that "tickets were not required". As Professor Myers was standing in line (he hadn't even gotten up to the desk to present identification and sign in) when he was approached by security guards who told him that he had been barred from seeing the film by a producer of the film. The officer even threatened to arrest Myers if he tried to go in! Myers complied and went to talk with his family. The officer came back to him accompanied by the theater manager who told him that not only was he not allowed into the theater, but that he would have to leave the premises immediately! The funny part is that they let in Myer's guest, Richard Dawkins, escorted by Myer's wife and daughter.
After the credits had rolled (in which PZ Myers was thanked for appearing in the film!), Dawkins stood up from the center of the theater and says something to the extent of: "Why, in a movie about free speech and open discussions in academia, do you expel my colleague PZ Myers from seeing it -- a movie, by the way, which he's IN and thanked for in the credits?"
Expelled deserves an F minus for research, publication, production, and class participation. It is a laughable film, but the sad and scary thing is that a lot of scientifically ignorant people will view it as gold, and spread the messages it contains. Of course, churches across the country will be giving this movie good publicity and money. I'm sure the Creationist movement will gain a bit of momentum, and more discussion about it will be appearing in the media for a few months after the film's release. But anyone who can spot the flaws of the ridiculous arguments must stand up and spread the set Ben Stein and his disciples straight.
Visit www.ExpelledExposed.com to learn each and every argument and counter-argument to the film.