Respectful Insolence

The other night, I wrote about how the painfully inept and just plain dumb actions of the producer of Expelled!, the neuron-apoptosing movie that’s basically an extended argumentum ad Nazium against the dreaded “Darwinism” that blames Hitler, Stalin, and, apparently, puppy hatred on Charles Darwin himself. Basically, the producers were having one of their private screenings (although how one can call a screening for which almost anyone can sign up on the web “private” is beyond me), and, by serendipity, the screening happened to be in the Mall of America on the Thursday before a large atheist conference was to meet in Minneapolis.

An atheist conference where Richard Dawkins was to be one of the main speakers.

Humorously enough PZ signed up with Richard Dawkins, but as he was standing in line a security guard told him he had to leave right away–while Richard Dawkins got in to see the movie. Better yet, he stood up at the question-and-answer session after the movie and asked the lying producer, Mark Mathis, why Myers was–heh!–“expelled”? Mathis is still trying to find a lie that sounds convincing.

Now there’s an excerpt of a conversation between Myers and Dawkins about the incident. It appears that my Hitler Zombie attack on Ben Stein was far more justified than even I had thought at the time I wrote it:

A larger, nicer version of the film clip can be downloaded here.

Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from the film Expelled! that shows just how dangerous Myers and Dawkins appeared:

I really wish Dawkins didn’t use the term “Darwinism.” though. It plays right into the hands of the antievolutionists. Otherwise, it’s all pretty scary, eh?

Comments

  1. #1 Bob O'H
    March 22, 2008

    I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep tonight, now I’ve seen PZed on video. I think I’d prefer the tentacles.

    *whimper*

  2. #2 Mary
    March 22, 2008

    Expelling PZ Meyers. I do think that is the definition of delicious irony.

  3. #3 Eamon Knight
    March 22, 2008

    I few months back, Blake Stacey was exploring the “Darwinism” terminology. It appears that it may a trans-Atlantic cultural thing, with Brits using “Darwinism” where Americans would say “evolution”.

  4. #4 The Christian Cynic
    March 22, 2008

    I’m a Christian (see moniker), and I found myself responding to that Expelled! excerpt in exactly the reverse way it was (likely) intended: except for the last sentence (the comment about religion being evil), it all seemed like reasonable things that someone with the viewpoint of these individuals would say. It makes them look better, in my opinion, with again the exception of the last statement. But then again, I’ve always been willing to believe that reasonable individuals could reasonably believe differently than I do, so the well may have already been poisoned (so to speak).

  5. #5 The Christian Cynic
    March 22, 2008

    I’m a Christian (see moniker), and I found myself responding to that Expelled! excerpt in exactly the reverse way it was (likely) intended: except for the last sentence (the comment about religion being evil), it all seemed like reasonable things that someone with the viewpoint of these individuals would say. It makes them look better, in my opinion, with again the exception of the last statement. But then again, I’ve always been willing to believe that reasonable individuals could reasonably believe differently than I do, so the well may have already been poisoned (so to speak).

  6. #6 The Christian Cynic
    March 22, 2008

    Ignore that double posting; I received a server error and started to resubmit before thinking better of it and attempting to cancel it. Apparently, it got through anyway.

  7. #7 suska
    March 22, 2008

    In the last comment the guy started laughing, so he might have been joking about all religion being evil. I don’t know but the comment just seems to have been taken out of context, which is what I’m sure the Expelled people have been doing through the whole “documentary”. I have to say if this is the best dirt they got on the “darwinists” I’m not impressed.

  8. #8 Wes
    March 22, 2008

    It’s somewhat revealing that statements from Myers and Dawkins that they’d like to see religion become less prominent and science more prominent, are in the eyes of Expelled and its intended audience signs of evil militant atheism that threatens our society.

    Some of the things Myers and Dawkins were saying in that clip are things that even many liberal religious people might agree with, to some extent. They might disagree that religion is pure fantasy, but they already treat their religion like it’s “more of a side dish, rather than the main dish”, as Myers put it. And a lot of moderate religious people recognize the boundary between the public sphere and the private sphere, and want to minimize religion’s influence on the public sphere.

    The statements in that video could really only be seen as threatening from a rather theocratic viewpoint.

  9. #9 Wes
    March 22, 2008

    Ignore that double posting; I received a server error and started to resubmit before thinking better of it and attempting to cancel it. Apparently, it got through anyway.

    Posted by: The Christian Cynic | March 22, 2008 12:28 PM

    If it’s any consolation, I got the same error on my last comment, thought of your double post, and realized I shouldn’t resubmit. So your double post was kind of an edifying error. ;)

  10. #10 thelastpolarbear
    March 22, 2008

    Wow – I must be a more militant atheist than I thought… I thought PZ and Dawkins were extremely well-reasoned and 100% right in their clips. I’m actually surprised that Expelled included them – their interviews made scientists look better… with the exception of the last comment, which was obviously taken out of context.

  11. #11 The Christian Cynic
    March 22, 2008

    In the last comment the guy started laughing, so he might have been joking about all religion being evil.

    I don’t know if I saw laughing, although I’m fairly certain I saw at least a smirk. Unfortunately, the camera angle turned away from a clear view of his face, so it’s difficult to tell.

    It’s somewhat revealing that statements from Myers and Dawkins that they’d like to see religion become less prominent and science more prominent, are in the eyes of Expelled and its intended audience signs of evil militant atheism that threatens our society.

    I agree. It was at best an awful buildup: “What do the evil Darwinists want? DUN DUN DUN! More science literacy!” Doesn’t that sort of undercut the message that the movie is purporting to put forward?

    If it’s any consolation, I got the same error on my last comment, thought of your double post, and realized I shouldn’t resubmit. So your double post was kind of an edifying error. ;)

    It is, somewhat. Glad I could be of service. :P

  12. #12 Suska
    March 22, 2008

    “I don’t know if I saw laughing, although I’m fairly certain I saw at least a smirk. Unfortunately, the camera angle turned away from a clear view of his face, so it’s difficult to tell.”

    Yeah, that whole camera turning thing was pretty suspicious. They really cut him off.

  13. #13 David Marjanović
    March 22, 2008

    the neuron-apoptosing movie

    ROTFL!

  14. #14 Freelanceguru
    March 22, 2008

    Ah evolution. Gotta love it. If it wasn’t for evolution we’d have no creationists to play with…

  15. #15 Norman Doering
    March 22, 2008

    The Christian Cynic wrote:

    I’m a Christian (see moniker), and I found myself responding to that Expelled! excerpt in exactly the reverse way it was (likely) intended: except for the last sentence (the comment about religion being evil), it all seemed like reasonable things that someone with the viewpoint of these individuals would say. It makes them look better….

    Depending on how average a Christian you are, and how badly you thought of Dawkins and PZ, that could be a good sign.

    Do you think you have any insight into the target audience?

    I’m speculating, here, that the film isn’t trying to make good rational arguments, rather it’s psychological manipulation and tried to exploit identity politics and how we judge the thoughts of others. It will probably be effective, in a limited way, in increasing the divisiveness of the theist/atheist debate and push a certain group of theists deeper into a delusional interpretation of science, history and the nature of the current culture war. Atheists will be provoked into becoming more insulting and dismissive of all theists.

    There’s something very Rovian about this movie. It may work to the advantage of the Republican think tanks that want to prevent the political compromises some evangelicals might want to make with the Democratic side.

    It wasn’t too long ago that this debate seemed to take place at a higher level. When people argued about why irreducible complexity wasn’t a valid biological concept and the arguments were academic. But after the Dover trial things started to get nasty.

    Knowing now that they can’t win either a legal or scientific battle the proponents of ID and creationism have shifted into a new strategy. I’m not exactly sure what they are trying to do with this Expelled movie (I haven’t even seen it) but it wouldn’t surprise me if increasing divisiveness and pushing the argument down to lower levels is exactly what they want. Their reasons are probably political and have little to do with either science or academic freedom. This is, rather, a Swift-boating of science and academy.

  16. #16 Norman Doering
    March 22, 2008

    The Christian Cynic wrote:

    I’m a Christian (see moniker), and I found myself responding to that Expelled! excerpt in exactly the reverse way it was (likely) intended: except for the last sentence (the comment about religion being evil), it all seemed like reasonable things that someone with the viewpoint of these individuals would say. It makes them look better….

    Depending on how average a Christian you are, and how badly you thought of Dawkins and PZ, that could be a good sign.

    Do you think you have any insight into the target audience?

    I’m speculating, here, that the film isn’t trying to make good rational arguments, rather it’s psychological manipulation and tried to exploit identity politics and how we judge the thoughts of others. It will probably be effective, in a limited way, in increasing the divisiveness of the theist/atheist debate and push a certain group of theists deeper into a delusional interpretation of science, history and the nature of the current culture war. Atheists will be provoked into becoming more insulting and dismissive of all theists.

    There’s something very Rovian about this movie. It may work to the advantage of the Republican think tanks that want to prevent the political compromises some evangelicals might want to make with the Democratic side.

    It wasn’t too long ago that this debate seemed to take place at a higher level. When people argued about why irreducible complexity wasn’t a valid biological concept and the arguments were academic. But after the Dover trial things started to get nasty.

    Knowing now that they can’t win either a legal or scientific battle the proponents of ID and creationism have shifted into a new strategy. I’m not exactly sure what they are trying to do with this Expelled movie (I haven’t even seen it) but it wouldn’t surprise me if increasing divisiveness and pushing the argument down to lower levels is exactly what they want. Their reasons are probably political and have little to do with either science or academic freedom. This is, rather, a Swift-boating of science and academy.

  17. #17 Freelanceguru
    March 22, 2008

    Ah evolution. Gotta love it. If it wasn’t for evolution we’d have no creationists to play with…

  18. #18 Freelanceguru
    March 22, 2008

    Ah evolution. Gotta love it. If it wasn’t for evolution we’d have no creationists to play with…

  19. #19 Joseph
    March 22, 2008

    Has someone talked to the ScienceBlogs folks about form submission errors? BTW, when you submit a form and you get an Internal Server Error in this particular site, odds are your message did get posted.

  20. #20 DuWayne
    March 22, 2008

    Norman Doering –

    Do you think you have any insight into the target audience?

    It will probably be effective, in a limited way, in increasing the divisiveness of the theist/atheist debate and push a certain group of theists deeper into a delusional interpretation of science, history and the nature of the current culture war.

    I’m not Christian Cynic, but I’d say s/he does. I agree with your summary of what they were trying to do, but can almost guarantee that excepting a minority, Christian Cynics reaction is probably going to be a standard response. This is not something that is likely to fly even with a lot of the fundamentalists. By and large the mainstream fundamentalists are already pretty strongly against the ID movement, mainly because of the blatant dishonesty involved.

    I am talking about people who would love to see biblical creationism taught in science classes. The thing about fundamentalists, is that while they are prone to some ridiculous thinking, they are also rather keen on honesty and lying for Jesus is absolutely unacceptable.

  21. #21 poke
    March 22, 2008

    I’m sure our British tendency to say “Darwinism” has something to do with Darwin being British. Pride before accuracy.

  22. #22 Danio
    March 23, 2008

    Nisbet and Moody are now concern-trolling (is it technically correct to call it ‘trolling’ when they’re posting on their own blogs?) about how PZ & Richard are playing right into the Creo’s hands by talking to the press, being outspoken about their atheism, etc. It’s a whole passel of pandering BS, basically. So if you have the time…(Orac, you are excused–feel better!)

    http://scienceblogs.com/framing-science/2008/03/why_the_pz_myers_affair_is_rea.php?utm_source=mostemailed&utm_medium=link

    http://scienceblogs.com/intersection/2008/03/this_controversy_helps_ben_ste.php

    Bring your emesis basins.

  23. #23 ex-Elvis
    March 23, 2008

    DuWayne wrote:

    The thing about fundamentalists, is that while they are prone to some ridiculous thinking, they are also rather keen on honesty and lying for Jesus is absolutely unacceptable.

    H’m… we haven’t noticed that. In fact, I’ve always remembered this quote from the father of the protestant reformation:

    What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church…a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.

    (source: letter in Max Lenz, ed., Briefwechsel Landgraf Phillips des Grossmuthigen von Hessen mit Bucer, vol. 1)

    Some of them seem to have actually bought into the idea of christians as a beleaguered group in the U.S. (maybe your particular fringe sect, but it is to laugh), which makes it easier for the ends to justify the means.

    Of course, it’s possible that we just see the more extreme public ranters, but like with GWB, it’s hard to distinguish malfeseance from psychosis; they may be honestly delusional. Personally, I don’t care which is actually the case; it’s their public behavior I object to.

  24. #24 David Edwards
    March 23, 2008

    You can imagine how much fun they’re having over at the Richard Dawkins forums with this one. The relevant thread is practically a party. :)

    Ah, I love the smell of creationist idiocy and mendacity being fried in the morning …

  25. #25 David Edwards
    March 23, 2008

    You can imagine how much fun they’re having over at the Richard Dawkins forums with this one. The relevant thread is practically a party. :)

    Ah, I love the smell of creationist idiocy and mendacity being fried in the morning …

  26. #26 David Edwards
    March 23, 2008

    Oops, sorry, server kept throwing “500 internal server error” at me and I refreshed. Please delete this and the duplicate post. :)

  27. #27 Calli Arcale
    March 23, 2008

    As a Minnesotan, I’m humiliated to learn that this movie premiered at MOA. However, it’s been insanely busy there lately (what with the newly revamped amusement park, with actual scary rides, opening this week), so I wouldn’t go near the place anyway until things settle down a bit. As a Christian, I’d say I was humiliated by the movie, but alas, I’ve gotten used to that particular humiliation.

    I once was a fan of Ben Stein, because I liked his quiz show. But that was a while ago. I do remember how upset he got one episode when he lost. While he did control himself and abided by rules of the game, congratulating the winner, he became visibly agitated when he started missing questions, as if losing is quite an unfamiliar prospect to him.

    Mind you, the idea of proving one’s point through persuasion rather than logic may come naturally to him — isn’t he a lawyer by profession?

    In any case, once I learned what “Expelled!” was about, I lost all respect I’d ever had for the man. The clips I’ve seen are enough to make sure I never see the movie. I do not wish to raise my blood pressure so much. It infuriates me to see people argue that their point of view has been suppressed when in reality it has been treated with kid gloves. They whine about censorship, making it clear they have no idea what real censorship is like. They whine about persecution, making it clear they think persecution is when other people get to give their points of view as well. I’ve met plenty of people like that on the Internet. And I do not like them at all. Their mere presence tends to lower the quality of a conversation, because their argumentative style effectively stonewalls any productive discussion.

  28. #28 The Christian Cynic
    March 24, 2008

    Depending on how average a Christian you are, and how badly you thought of Dawkins and PZ, that could be a good sign.

    Do you think you have any insight into the target audience?

    I don’t know that I’m an average Christian, really – for one, I don’t deny evolution or get my panties in a twist when people talk about it. That’s just for starters, really.

    As for insight, I’ve known my share of fundies (and still do – I attend a Baptist church!), and I’d say that it merely plays into ideas of victimhood (or at least diminishing influence) that are prevalent in evangelical circles. If ID is put forth as a genuine scientific effort that is being suppressed because it smacks of religion, then it can garner sympathy even from those who think that the endeavor of “discovering God” through science is worthless. So whereas I sort of agree with DuWayne, it’s for different reasons: evangelicals don’t generally see ID as deceitful but rather wrongheaded: why use science to prove faith when you have Scripture and – to a lesser extent for Protestants – the witness of the church?

    I fully agree, however, with this statement:

    It will probably be effective, in a limited way, in increasing the divisiveness of the theist/atheist debate and push a certain group of theists deeper into a delusional interpretation of science, history and the nature of the current culture war. Atheists will be provoked into becoming more insulting and dismissive of all theists.

    It can only make things worse.

  29. #29 ex-Elvis
    March 25, 2008

    DuWayne wrote:

    The thing about fundamentalists, is that while they are prone to some ridiculous thinking, they are also rather keen on honesty and lying for Jesus is absolutely unacceptable.

    H’m… we haven’t noticed that. In fact, I’ve always remembered this quote from the father of the protestant reformation:

    What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church…a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.

    (source: letter in Max Lenz, ed., Briefwechsel Landgraf Phillips des Grossmuthigen von Hessen mit Bucer, vol. 1)

    Some of them seem to have actually bought into the idea of christians as a beleaguered group in the U.S. (maybe your particular fringe sect, but it is to laugh), which makes it easier for the ends to justify the means.

    Of course, it’s possible that we just see the more extreme public ranters, but like with GWB, it’s hard to distinguish malfeseance from psychosis; they may be honestly delusional. Personally, I don’t care which is actually the case; it’s their public behavior I object to.

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