Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Expelled: What is it??

Matt saw an ad for something called "Expelled" with Ben Stein, and clicked on it. We both assumed it was a new game show ("Expelled is written in the style of graffiti, and Ben is wearing a schoolboy uniform), as we watched the flash intro to the site, which had "Bad to the Bone" playing in the background and called Ben the "rebel of his generation," we realized it's actually a movie, and we both assumed it was a wacky comedy about Ben as the rebel teacher at a high school.

Next we watched the trailer. It's ACTUALLY a documentary (perhaps Michael Moore-style) about the scientists behind intelligent design and how they've been unfairly persecuted and ostracized in the scientific community for challenging Darwin's theories! What?!? This is BIZARRE.

So I want to read the original paper about Intelligent Design that caused all the stir, but I'm soo skeptical about this movie, and I never knew Ben Stein was so political. Just because you have a different opinion doesn't mean you deserve to be heard when it comes to science, I'm sorry, but not having your paper accepted to Nature isn't a denial of your free-speech rights. The trailer really frames the controversy this way, as if all these poor scientists have been discriminated against. I hope they actually tell us why!


Benjamin Franklin said...


You are absolutely right. This movie is bogus propaganda.

It is indeed framed as though it is a freedom of speech issue, and you are correct that not having your paper accepted to Nature isn't a denial of your free-speech rights.

Peer review exists for a purpose, and that is to exclude articles that do not provide sufficient fodder for study by those who will read the journal in question. It assures readers, not that the material is all true, but that the material has enough scientific merit to be considered. Further, the first amendment doesn’t guarantee you a job at a particular university, or tenure, nor does it protect you from ridicule. In fact, the first amendment protects the right of others to ridicule you.

There is much more dishonesty in Expelled. To read more about it, go to:



Katie said...

This looks SO interesting. I remember why I thought I'd heard of this. You may have already browsed some of those links on expelledexposed.com, but one of them mentions how a number of "anti-ID" scientists (including Richard Dawkins)were tricked into being in this film, were not told what it was going to be about, and then sat through uncomfortable interviews that were then sliced up to have them supposedly saying ridiculous things. The NYTimes did a write-up on it a couple months ago: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/science/27expelled.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=crossroads+intelligent+design&st=nyt&oref=slogin
The movie used to be called Crossroads.

I'm going to read some more and then maybe comment again... :-)

jeff said...

Interesting. Scientific American just published an entire series on the movie that reveals a lot about the movie/debate.



The review takes some funny shots at the movie and makes a lot of sense. In terms of Dawkins being in the film, I guess he had to be tricked because I snipped this quote from Dawkins on debating with creationists from a comment from where I found the link:

"Sometime in the 1980s when I was on a visit to the United States, a television station wanted to stage a debate between me and a prominent creationist called, I think, Duane P Gish. I telephoned Stephen Gould for advice. He was friendly and decisive: "Don't do it." The point is not, he said, whether or not you would "win" the debate. Winning is not what the creationists realistically aspire to. For them, it is sufficient that the debate happens at all. They need the publicity. We don't. To the gullible public that is their natural constituency, it is enough that their man is seen sharing a platform with a real scientist. "There must be something in creationism, or Dr. So-and-So would not have agreed to debate it on equal terms." Inevitably, when you turn down the invitation, you will be accused of cowardice or of inability to defend your own beliefs. But that is better than supplying the creationists with what they crave: the oxygen of respectability in the world of real science."

On a lighter note, I think that it would have been awesome if they kept the name crossroads. Imagine all of the people who might accidentally rent Britney Spears' movie! As movies, they're probably equally accidentally hilarious.