Pharyngula

I wrote to Mark Mathis about his movie, Expelled, which I was told was going to be called Crossroads. Here is the entirety of my message:

Hey, I just learned today that the actual film is now called
“Expelled”, that it features Ben Stein, and that it’s really a gung-
ho pro-creationism/anti-science film. I would have agreed to be
interviewed even if you’d been honest with me about the subject —
I’m not reticent about my opinions — so I don’t understand why you
felt you had to conceal your intent. Care to explain yourself? Was
this the movie you planned from the beginning?

Now I’ve gotten his reply!

Mr. Myers,

Thank you for your recent communication. Please know that I strongly
disagree with the insinuations and characterizations made in your e-mail
to me. Nevertheless, I want to thank you for sharing your viewpoints, and
I wish you the best in all your endeavors.

What a curiously defensive response. There was no insinuation at all in my email: he wasn’t honest with me, and he did conceal his intent. I gave him an opportunity to respond, and all he can say is that he disagrees with me on something in that email? What was it?

I think the underhanded way he obtained interviews with some of his subjects is a sore point that he’d rather not discuss. I guess I can’t blame him — if I’d had to misrepresent myself to get an interview I’d probably be a bit shamefaced, too.

Comments

  1. #1 K. Signal Eingang
    August 28, 2007

    My guess is he doesn’t actually know what the word “insinuation” means.

  2. #2 pough
    August 28, 2007

    Does the email text display differently in different browsers? I see “Fuck you, tool of Satan!”

  3. #3 raven
    August 28, 2007

    He just lied again. Don’t make the simple complex.

    Oh well, you really needed that email. Reporters always like to give people a chance to comment and maybe correct inaccurate information. Quite often, like the senator from Idaho, they get things like “repeated emails and phone calls were sent or left on answering machines and have not been yet been returned.”

    It is OK, the first rule when you have screwed up is, STOP DIGGING. The creos aren’t smart enough to figure this out. This veritable mountain range of lies will be the gift that keeps on giving. When the movie comes out, the lies will have to be collected and fisked for posterity, as a demonstration that some moral codes given by some gods aren’t worth a penny. A religious cult that lies constantly isn’t much of a religion.

  4. #4 wildlifer
    August 28, 2007

    Wow, talk about a non-reply, reply.

  5. #5 raven
    August 28, 2007

    The movie needs its own anti-website. Something along the lines of “Lies of Expelled and the Demented Cultists who tell them.” It is going to be a vast collection. The movie even started out that way, different title, different subject, lying to the interviewees.

    The might sue but so what? California is a strong anti-SLAPP suit state and truth is an absolute defense against slander, libel, and defamation accusations.

  6. #6 Greta Christina
    August 28, 2007

    I agree with Vance. This has “form letter” written all over it. I don’t think he even noticed that your email was from somebody he had in his movie. I think he just hit the “form letter to the hellbound blasphemers who are writing to me in droves” button and moved on.

  7. #7 PZ Myers
    August 28, 2007

    No, actually he knew exactly who I was. I wrote that last week, and he replied fairly quickly with this response:

    PZ,

    I promise I’m not ignorning you. I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment,
    but plan on sending you an appropriate response first part of the week.

    Have a wonderful weekend,

    Mark “ass-prod” Mathis

    The letter in the article is his “appropriate response”.

  8. #8 Max Udargo
    August 28, 2007

    How can people so fundamentally lacking in integrity be so convinced of their righteousness? Isn’t there some element of self-reflection in being religious?

    All I know is these people are tougher than me. I could never survive the cognitive dissonance. It would tear me to pieces.

  9. #9 Glen Davidson
    August 28, 2007

    To be fair to Mathis, he’s probably thinking of PZ’s letter in the context of all of the complaints made at this and at other sites. Sure, the letter doesn’t really contain the insinuations he’s claims are there (he could learn how to respond to specific statements, that’s for sure), but he’s a creationist (most likely) who probably can’t separate out the details, so he conflates the letter with the blog.

    It’s lame, like everything by these IDiots, however it’s not likely that he’s responding only to the letter, but knows what is being said elsewhere and indeed can’t answer the charges adequately.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  10. #10 wildlifer
    August 28, 2007

    “ass-prod”? Is he gay? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you know how these conservatives are.) Craig’s evil twin maybe?

  11. #11 PZ Myers
    August 28, 2007

    “ass prod” is a reference to my article.

    I’ve now heard from someone else who wrote to Mathis. Exactly the same reply was returned — it’s clearly a form letter.

    I think we can safely say Premise Productions/Rampant Films is clamming up.

  12. #12 Trip the Space Parasite
    August 28, 2007

    So, he got PZ’s letter, then got a bunch more, wrote quickly back to PZ, then formulated the generic response and sent it to everyone in his inbox?

  13. #13 raven
    August 28, 2007

    Thank you for your recent communication. Please know that I strongly disagree with the insinuations and characterizations made in your e-mail to me. Nevertheless, I want to thank you for sharing your viewpoints, and I wish you the best in all your endeavors.

    I just put this email through my creo translation program:

    Dear Mr. Myers:

    Shut up and drop dead, sucker.

    Well at least you know which species of slime mold you are dealing with. Valuable information for a biologist. LOL

  14. #14 Richard Dawkins
    August 28, 2007

    Those with the temerity to accuse Mathis of writing a form letter to PZ might be interested to see the letter he wrote to me:-

    “Mr. Dawkins,

    Thank you for your recent communication. Please know that I strongly
    disagree with the insinuations and characterizations made in your e-mail
    to me. Nevertheless, I want to thank you for sharing your viewpoints, and
    I wish you the best in all your endeavors.

    Sincerely,

    Mark Mathis
    Associate Producer, Rampant Films/Premise Media”

  15. #15 Zombie
    August 28, 2007

    It would help if he were specific about what characterizations he felt he needed to disagree with, but I can tell you the answer: he doesn’t like his film because called pro-creationist or anti-science, because golly, isn’t intelligent design supposed to be all sciencey and stuff?

    That guess would explain why he wasn’t specific, too: because he knows exactly where that line of horseshit would immediately go.

  16. #16 Greg Peterson
    August 28, 2007

    Mr. Dawkins? Mr.?! Mr. Ass Prod clearly does not know who he is effing with.

  17. #17 pharandaway
    August 28, 2007

    Jeebus christ! He even called Dr. Dawkins “Mr.”.

    This clown has a definite lack of respect.

  18. #18 Justin H.
    August 28, 2007

    Even creationists don’t always agree that they’re “anti-science” (although many of them proudly wear the label, see FSTDT), so chances are that’s the “characterization” that he’s objecting to.

  19. #19 Mike O'Risal
    August 28, 2007

    Who were the “slime-snake” people again? This guy seems like a pretty slimy snake to me. Perhaps he was too busy intelligently designing his new monkey suit to write an actual response.

  20. #20 Dustin
    August 28, 2007

    I’ve now heard from someone else who wrote to Mathis. Exactly the same reply was returned — it’s clearly a form letter.

    That tears it. I’m writing him a letter to tell him I think he’s the greatest man on the planet, a giant among men, a dashing playboy who women cannot resist, an uncommonly sophisticated philanthropist, a worldly scholar with a poet’s soul, and an all around awesome dude.

  21. #21 Sonja
    August 28, 2007

    He’s not embarrassed — PZ (or any one of us) is just not his intended audience. PZ was just a bit player in his little show. I’m sure he is spending all his time penning emails to the various fundamentalist religious organization to whip up a frenzy to promote, screen, review, and watch his movie. You know, to create a “buzz”.

  22. #22 AndrÚs
    August 28, 2007

    I think the difference is made clearer now. Evolutionists are slime-snake-monkey-people, whereas creationists are just slime.

  23. #23 AndrÚs
    August 28, 2007

    I think the difference is made clearer now. Evolutionists are slime-snake-monkey-people, whereas creationists are just slime.

  24. #24 Saber
    August 28, 2007

    Good People,
    You are clearly under appreciating the virtue of this reply. It is trite, short, and perfectly dismissive. No one who received this in their inbox would ever mistake its bland tone for meaningful dialog. I promise we’ll see no such indifference in the up-coming movie. I would even hazard that the movie editors will find room to mention “the courteous response sent by Associate Producer Mathis to the ravenous Darwinists” somewhere in the film.

  25. #25 Rebecca
    August 28, 2007

    What I’d like to know is whether Eugenie Scott was also called “Mr.” in her reply email. I suspect she’s too nice to mention it though.

  26. #26 Great White Wonder
    August 28, 2007

    Remember when Hannah Maxson and her dork friends at the Kornell Kreationist Klub were so bitterly offended by the journalist who passed herself off as a creotwit in order to get access?

    http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1425

    I wonder if they’ll react with the same indignation to Mark Mathis’ sneaky tactics.

    Any bets?

  27. #27 Great White Wonder
    August 28, 2007

    Thank you for your recent communication. Please know that I strongly disagree with the insinuations and characterizations made in your e-mail to me.

    Dipshit probably sent Myers’ message directly to his lawyer. “Can we sue him? Can we? Can we?”

  28. #28 Great White Wonder
    August 28, 2007

    Speaking of Kornell Kreotwits, did Hannah Maxson graduate? If so, does anyone know what awesome intellectual experiences she is seeking next? Is she interning with Dr. Behe? Or is she going to Africa to evangelize poor folks and put yet another chip on her shoulder?

  29. #29 Sonja
    August 28, 2007

    Now what background image would be suitable for someone who is slick, personable and a damned liar?

    Tommy Flanagan

  30. #30 Great White Wonder
    August 28, 2007

    Oh. My. Freaking. God.

    http://www.overwhelmingevidence.com/oe/node/312

    IDURC Announces 2007 Casey Luskin Graduate Award

    The recipient of the 2007 Casey Luskin Graduate Award will remain anonymous for the protection of the recipient. The many students, professors, and scientists who have been denied degrees or tenure, and removed from positions and jobs for no other reason than acceptance of–or even sympathy to–intelligent design theory is very telling of the importance of keeping these bright young minds out of the crosshairs of those opposed to open-minded investigation and critical thought.

    The recipient of this year’s award is a graduate earning degrees in chemistry and chemical biology and mathematics. This student has demonstrated excellence and courage in research and promotion of intelligent design. The recipient will receive a certificate of achievement, a $100 award, and an autographed copy of Dr. Michael J. Behe’s newest book, The Edge of Evolution: the Search for the Limits of Darwinism.

  31. #31 Greg Peterson
    August 28, 2007

    All that anonymous excellence and courage, and barely enough money for a decent hand-job. Or whatever the female equivalent would be.

  32. #32 phat
    August 28, 2007

    That form letter was surely written by somebody’s lawyer. I’m sure after your original post and the following series of posts, and your e-mail various phone calls were made to various people. There was a conference call and this is the outcome.

    phat

  33. #33 AlanWCan
    August 28, 2007

    ass-prod? Did I miss something? WTF?

  34. #34 Texas Reader
    August 28, 2007

    About the “dr” versus “mr”: my policy is that if someone calls me “Ms. Reader” then I will call the person Mr/Ms/Dr as appropriate. If someone, such as one of my doctors, calls me “Texas” (my first name, ha ha) then I respond by using that person’s first name.

    I don’t think someone with a doctorate deserves a special designation for “respect” versus someone with a bachelor’s degree, masters (myself), or no degree at all. To me everyone I deal with gets respect, regardless of age, education level, etc. I don’t think adding a title constitutes showing respect.

  35. #35 NE1
    August 28, 2007

    Sounds like a good idea would have been: ask around for a one-off agent to review the contract, and make sure there’s a loophole retaining rights to the full interview.

    The reply definitely sounds like a form-letter composed to simulate an honest, busy, professional. I guess time will tell how widely this gets released.

  36. #36 Steve_C
    August 28, 2007

    Associate Producer ot Assistant Producer. I’d guess.

    Buncha gutless wonders.

  37. #37 K. Engels
    August 28, 2007

    Jeebus christ! He even called Dr. Dawkins “Mr.”.

    This clown has a definite lack of respect.

    Well I don’t know about you all, but I usually refer to Dr. Dawkins as ‘Romanadvoratrelundar’s husband’. Because, like creationists, I can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality. =p

  38. #38 ghl
    August 28, 2007

    Following the occurrence of events from “Crossroads” to “Expelled” it does seem that Mark Mathis was less than forthcoming in his goals and motivations. However, for PZ to state that “[t]here was no insinuation at all in my email” is not true either.

    To write, “even if you’d been honest with me about the subject” implies that Mark was not. I must agree that this certainly seems to be the situation given the final usage of footage, but it is also possible that there was a misunderstanding and/or Mark sold his footage due to financial needs. Who knows?

    Additionally, the statement, “I don’t understand why you felt you had to conceal your intent” implies that Mark did. It is possible that he did not at the time of the interview, and the realization of concealment was only seen after the fact by PZ.

    Before getting flamed, I would just like to state that Mark’s intent and approach, as described in this blog, does seem to lack integrity. However, it is also not true that there were no insinuations in PZ’s mail. There are assumptions to PZ’s email statements, probably much like Mark had assumptions in his interview.

  39. #39 CalGeorge
    August 28, 2007

    From the news item:

    “People will be stunned to actually find out what elitist scientists proclaim, which is that a large majority of Americans are simpletons who believe in a fairy tale.”

    I’m looking forward to this movie!

  40. #40 Jud
    August 28, 2007

    “That form letter was surely written by somebody’s lawyer.”

    Bingo. Any communications whatever from PZ, Dawkins, etc., would be treated as a potential prelude to a lawsuit, their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. Particularly when PZ’s letter (however correctly) says Mathis concealed his true intent, Mathis’ response was designed to make sure it could not be read as admitting any such thing.

  41. #41 Steve Murphy
    August 28, 2007

    Huzzah for Scott’s comment and suggestion (#61). Additionally, while I don’t hero-worship or get frightened easily, I am not sure I would want to explain why I sent both Prof Myers and Prof Dawkins the same form letter in response to some pretty pointed questions. One suspects that it might just make them rather angry and even sharper in rejoinders?

  42. #42 pough
    August 28, 2007

    So, when this movie comes out, the people behind this movie should be trashed in the public eye. They don’t deserve any quarter, any mercy, any compassion until they admit their misdeeds. I mean, seriously, PZ, the mildness of your response almost annoys this theist. I say, sic ‘em!

    I think it would be far better if this was done by another theist, rather than an atheist. It’s too easy for them to dismiss PZ, no matter what he says. You, on the other hand, are not so easy to dismiss. I say, sic ‘em!

  43. #43 David
    August 28, 2007

    It seems clear to me that the “insinuation” he disagrees with is PZ’s statement that the film is “pro-creationism/anti-science”. He believes that ID and his film are pro-science and that ID and creationism are different.

  44. #44 Moses
    August 28, 2007

    Before getting flamed, I would just like to state that Mark’s intent and approach, as described in this blog, does seem to lack integrity. However, it is also not true that there were no insinuations in PZ’s mail. There are assumptions to PZ’s email statements, probably much like Mark had assumptions in his interview.

    Posted by: ghl | August 28, 2007 08:44 PM

    I call bullshit. There is a fairly probable description of the movie’s intent. There is an declaration that PZ is willing to be interviewed without any sort of prejudice or pre-condition and is forthright and honest with how he interviews. PZ noted that the intent of the producer might of been hidden by the producer which means the interview was obtained through a false premise. PZ asked for an explanation of this discrepancy (ie, why did he lie or change his plans) and even proffered a potential defense (change of movie plans) to explain away the apparent lie.

    This whole “insinuations” thing is a load of crap and how a liar is trying to turn the tables and change the argument by playing the role of victim. A rather typical avoidance strategy used by small children, politicians and career liars when confronted.

  45. #45 Scott Hatfield, OM
    August 28, 2007

    Right on.

  46. #46 Brian Macker
    August 28, 2007

    Moses,

    Give ghl a break. It’s pretty clear that Prof. Myers was saying the guy was deceptive. He wasn’t insinuating it, he was saying it outright. So ghl was wrong when he claimed, “However, for PZ to state that “[t]here was no insinuation at all in my email” is not true either.”. I sure ghl can see things in this light given the generous interpretation of the other guys letter. ;)

    Right, ghl? Right any ladies?

    Hey Rey, What makes you think their are any ladies here?

  47. #47 thalarctos
    August 29, 2007

    “Or whatever the female equivalent would be.”

    A house cleaning.

    Am I RIGHT ladies?!

    Over at the Comics Curmudgeon, they call it “painting the garage”…

  48. #48 DrFrank
    August 29, 2007

    @Robert Bell (#74)

    See #25 from Richard Dawkins: he also received exactly the same letter, so it is undoubtedly a generic (haha, I typed genetic first out of habit) letter and not personalised for PZ.

  49. #49 Zuckervati
    August 29, 2007

    Just so you know, IMDB finally put this film into the database. Now’s the chance to make some user-submitted comments about it.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1091617/

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1092000/

    Looks like there’s 2 entries, though. Not sure which one is the real one and which one’s the dummy.

  50. #50 Alex
    October 4, 2007

    It seems your initial letter to the producer was very aggressive. It would only appear natural to write back offering a simple paragraph of no wrong doing and wishing you luck.

    My suggestion to you Mr. myers is stop whinning. The more you whine, the more of an idiot you appear to be.

  51. #51 Judith M.
    October 6, 2007

    Why do you care if he changed the name of the film, or who else was in it if, as you claim, you would have appeared any way? This looks like a classic atheist ploy to discredit anyone who dares to go against their “orthodoxy.”

    P.S. Ben Stein is going to become even richer than he already is with this one, that picture of him on the movie poster in the school boy uniform is priceless!

  52. #52 Rick O'Keefe
    March 21, 2008

    I can’t understand the negtivity of this article and so many of the replies: How can Mark Mathis have lied or misled? He’s a Born Again Xtian, probably Evangelical!

  53. #53 Ryan
    April 17, 2008

    you seem confused, maybe you should look up the word insinuation. You may not have as explicitly accused him of anything, as you are now doing. But you imply he was misleading, dishonest, and reticent about his opinions.

    Seriously, this article makes you look dumb as well as insecure, seeking out anyway to demean your opponent. Really, you should know the principles of a good argument.

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