Pharyngula

Tom Bethell cries

Russell Seitz discovers another review of Expelled. It’s by that deluded dolt, Tom Bethell, and it’s a positive review.

It is surely the best thing ever done on this issue, in any medium. At moments it brought tears of joy to my eyes. I have written about this controversy for over 30 years and by the movie’s end I felt that those of us who have insisted that Darwinism is a sorry mess and that life surely was designed are going to prevail.

Deluded much? If he were at all aware of the science of biology, he’d know that evolution is not going anywhere but deeper into explaining life on earth. A propaganda film cannot change the science, although it could, if it were better done, change the culture in damaging ways.

And propaganda film is what it is:

In the movie there are somber moments, as when Stein visits World War II death camps and traces the Nazi philosophy back to the godless Darwinian world in which fitness must prevail and everything is permitted.

Expelled makes use of Cold War imagery, and the producers might have extended that metaphor by saying that we are now in the Samizdat period (before the fall of the Berlin Wall). That was a time when the most interesting Soviet authors used pen names to avoid being “expelled” — to the Gulag.

Once again, though, we catch them in lies.

Ben Stein pays a call on leading Darwinians, among them Oxford’s Richard Dawkins, William Provine of Cornell, and P.Z. Myers of the University of Minnesota. Dawkins and others later complained that they hadn’t been warned that the movie would be unsympathetic to their cause. In response, Ben Stein said that no one he interviewed asked what the film would be about, and the co-producer Walt Ruloff said at the preview that interviewees were paid and were even told ahead of time what the questions would be.

Everyone I’ve talked to who was interviewed for this movie has said they asked what it was about. I know I did. I also looked up Rampant Films to see if it was real. Most revealingly, Barbara Forrest was among the first to be asked to be interviewed, and she made a point to ask about their bona fides, and turned them down because they couldn’t say what their intent was — and they didn’t have a web site then, which was subsequently cobbled up and loaded with fake film properties before they called the rest of us.

I was not told ahead of time what the questions would be — it was to be an interview on the intersection of religion and science. Just before the visit, I was told that one thing they wanted to try was to show me flash cards of names from the creation-evolution wars, and to get my reaction; they specifically told me they wouldn’t tell me whose names would be on there.

Come on, Ruloff. Has lying gotten to be such a habit with you that you have to make up stories about your intent? We all know now that you went into this project with a specific pro-ID purpose, which you intentionally concealed from us. Why do you have to lie now about it? Admit that you wanted candid interviews and you didn’t want the subjects to know who was interviewing them.

Another revealing slip of Bethell’s preconceptions is laid out here:

The double irony is that Dawkins’s second encounter with Ben Stein is perhaps the high point of the film. Dawkins, speaking with refreshing frankness, comes across as not in the slightest bit confused or caught off guard. He allows that science knows nothing about the origin of life, and that, yes, the Darwinian message is antithetical to religion. He surprises us, too, by allowing that if life really was designed, the designing must have been done by intelligent beings elsewhere in the cosmos who themselves evolved by naturalistic means. Their designs were then somehow transported down to Earth.

I keep hearing this expectation that we’d be confused or evasive, or that we’d reveal secret stuff if we thought we were among friendly interviewers. Dawkins and I are entirely open about our views; I don’t say one thing about religion to my friends, another to strangers, and yet another to creationists. There is no secret conspiracy, and we’re not skulking in the shadows. They had to lie about their motives to get their interviews (we’d both be likely to tell known creationists to bugger off; I might have been inclined to just ask for more money, but then, I’m a poor professor), but if they had gotten through, they would have heard exactly the same story. Well, I might have been more confrontational, but that would have made for better footage.

As for the speculation about panspermia, la de dah. Give any scientist a premise, such as that life has elements of design, and we’ll suggest explanations and possible details — that’s just the first steps in the good ol’ hypothetico-deductive scientific method. All it tells us is that Dawkins is open-minded enough to consider speculative explanations, not that he endorses them.

Oh, and it wouldn’t be a Tom Bethell article without some gross dishonesty about science.

In Darwin’s day the cell was thought to be little more than a “simple lump of protoplasm,” or, in another ludicrous simplification, a “cavity” filled with a “homogenous transparent fluid.” Now the cell is seen to resemble a high-tech factory. How did it get that way? There’s no answer in the Darwinian scheme — other than trial and error. The DNA within the cell, once thought to be mostly (98 percent) “junk” is now believed to be functional all the way through (a dividend of the Human Genome Project). The evolutionists were obliged to believe in a fundamentally simple world because all they had was an elementary mechanism — random mutation plus natural selection — to account for it.

No, in Darwin’s day they did not believe the cell was simple. The last half of the 19th century was one where the resolution of light microscopes reached their physical limit, although the innovations in contrast enhancement wouldn’t be achieved until the 20th. This was the era of great histologists and cell biologists, people like Camillo Golgi and Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who were using new techniques to examine the cell and substructures of the cell. Organelles were discovered, chromosomes were observed, the dynamic activities of cells, such as cytoplasmic streaming and growth cone migration, were all described in detail. This oft-repeated refrain of the creationists is basically ignorant slander of the cytologists of Darwin’s time; that caricature of the cell is parroting the uninformed views of creationist non-scientists, and is simply a damnable lie.

Bethell’s claim that the human genome project revealed that every scrap of DNA is functional is also an outright misrepresentation of the truth. We have now looked in impressive detail at the whole genome, and it has confirmed that the majority of it is random sequence, repetitive sequences, and selfish self-replicators like LINEs and SINEs.

I can understand why the movie brought tears to Bethell’s eyes. At long last he has found people as ignorant and dishonest as he is — he has found his tribe. It’s kind of heartwarming. You just have to picture all the isolated kooks on the fringe, with their conspiracy theories and delusions of competence, all being brought together by one movie that shows that yes, uneducated hobos and yahoos can make enough money to buy an audience. Is this a great country or what?

Comments

  1. #1 Stephen
    February 19, 2008

    the producers might have extended that metaphor by saying that we are now in the Samizdat period (before the fall of the Berlin Wall). That was a time when the most interesting Soviet authors used pen names to avoid being “expelled” — to the Gulag.

    He’s comparing creationists in the US to oppressed artists in the Soviet Union? The ones who were arrested? What a goddamn twit. I never saw a creationist shipped off to a concentration camp for attacking “Big Science.”

  2. #2 MartinM
    February 19, 2008

    In response, Ben Stein said that no one he interviewed asked what the film would be about

    Well, how many people did Stein actually interview himself, as opposed to having someone else do the interview, then splicing him into the final footage?

  3. #3 Holydust
    February 19, 2008

    ugh. just ugh.

    mindbending ugh.

    see, they’ve reduced me to monosyllables.

  4. #4 gg
    February 19, 2008

    It is surely the best thing ever done on this issue, in any medium. At moments it brought tears of joy to my eyes.

    You know, I would probably agree with both statements in this quote. I’m sure the film will bring tears of joy to my eyes, albeit in an MST3K way. I’ll probably also agree that it’s the best creationist propaganda ever written, though that’s a pretty relative statement, like calling someone “more articulate than G.W. Bush”.

  5. #5 Mold
    February 19, 2008

    Teach what controversy? I teach in the public school system and there has been no controversy. There’s a group of folks that want ignorance taught. Cheaper labor and the sure knowledge that there are those less than yourself, but no real dissension from the academic side. Behe, as I’ve posted before, is a marketing device.

    Pretty much everything I’ve read in the basic Biopress confirms the theory. In fact, much of the advances of the last 20 years would not have been possible without the assumption of evolutionary pressures.

  6. #6 Dahan
    February 19, 2008

    “He surprises us, too, by allowing that if life really was designed, the designing must have been done by intelligent beings elsewhere in the cosmos who themselves evolved by naturalistic means.”

    Why is he surprised by this comment? Anyone? How is this hypothetical musing in any way a revelation?

  7. #7 Mold
    February 19, 2008

    The truly oppressed are those whose degrees are sneered at. The truly oppressed are the churches forced to comply with building codes. The truly oppressed are skools that are compelled to accept the sons and daughters of Ham. The truly oppressed are those legally boundto study beyond the ninth grade. The truly oppressed have lumpy bodies. The truly oppressed are prevented from prosetlyizing their subordinates on company time. The truly oppressed are offended by nearly everything.

  8. #8 Escuerd
    February 19, 2008

    @MartinM:

    That’s exactly what I was thinking when I read that. Way to lie by implication. “I didn’t interview anyone who asked what the film would be about.”

    Hey, maybe he could re-use that:
    “I’ve never seen a single credible scientific paper that suggests evolution is anything but a secularist fantasy.”

  9. #9 Aris
    February 19, 2008

    I posted at the “Expelled” website, asking the producers to release the totally unedited video interviews with PZ and Dawkins. Now, I know that will never happen, but it’s useful to keep mentioning that whatever interviews they have, they have been heavily edited, spliced, etc.

    If I’m not mistaken, Stein wasn’t even the interviewer, right? If that’s the case, the interviews are even more fake than I thought.
    ____________________________________________

  10. #10 MAJeff
    February 19, 2008

    He’s comparing creationists in the US to oppressed artists in the Soviet Union? The ones who were arrested? What a goddamn twit. I never saw a creationist shipped off to a concentration camp for attacking “Big Science.”

    Martyrdom is their raison d’être.

  11. #11 Lilly de Lure
    February 19, 2008

    It is surely the best thing ever done on this issue, in any medium. At moments it brought tears of joy to my eyes.

    Jeebus, what medium is this guy used to? Finger painting? Crayon?

    If he’s really interested on seeing “the best thing done on this issue” might I suggest he investigates David Attenborough’s back catalogue, that’s assuming David the Great doesn’t use too many long words for him.

  12. #12 Jason B
    February 19, 2008

    ‘Expelled’ brought tears to his eyes. How sweet.

    Severe constipation can bring tears to the eyes too. Both Expelled and Constipation can do this, as both have to do with being full of s**t.

  13. #13 chuckhumphry
    February 19, 2008

    The only way Ben Stein could get ID science the attention it deserves was to lie. In the state of our culture, with godless evolution being taught in schools, at least a white lie is acceptable. I can’t wait until the film comes out and shows audiances how the lie of evolution is a horrible thing.

  14. #15 RamblinDude
    February 19, 2008

    The only way Ben Stein could get ID science the attention it deserves was to lie.

    I think that captures the creationist mentality perfectly.

    Ben Stein’s dishonest movie will bring tears to your eyes, too. Clear Lies for dry eyes: It’s “aaaaawsome”.

  15. #16 Les Lane
    February 19, 2008

    A prerequisite to being an effective science journalist is the ability to distinguish fiction from nonfiction. Bethell has always suffered haziness in drawing such distinctions. He delights in others who share this haziness.

  16. #17 Christophe Thill
    February 19, 2008

    Well it’s good to see that some things never change. Bethell is still the same self-important ignorant ass that Gould eviscerated some 30 years ago. In this ever-changing world, such stability is comforting.

  17. #18 Armchair Dissident
    February 19, 2008

    He surprises us, too, by allowing that if life really was designed, the designing must have been done by intelligent beings elsewhere in the cosmos who themselves evolved by naturalistic means.

    Meaning that it’s evolution whichever way you want to slice it. Why is this guy even surprised, Dawkins has used similar analogies on many occasions, and even notes something similar in his article in “What you believe but cannot prove”. Dawkins is simply re-stating the position that complexity arises out of natural selection.

    Hell, even if the origin of life on earth was some form of panspermia, that still doesn’t settle the answer of the origin of the origin of life on earth; it just asks a bigger question, and the answer still won’t be “god did it”.

  18. #19 Blake Stacey
    February 19, 2008

    Another thing I don’t get about the standard creationist drivel is the following:

    You’d think a completely featureless cell with nothing but goo inside would be a better argument for mystical vital force or Jesus juice. How could a sack of jelly move and react and reproduce? But the cell is not featureless; we’ve found all these components inside which let it do what it needs to do, and we can tell how they’ve evolved, too. Finding structure within the cell helps the materialist cause, as a matter of simple logic!

    But logic isn’t the creationist strong suit. Take any discovery of science, and they’ll use it to say science is broken. From any observation, the conclusion is — Jesus.

  19. #20 BlueIndependent
    February 19, 2008

    “…I never saw a creationist shipped off to a concentration camp for attacking “Big Science.”

    Few other truer words have been spoken. It’s ALWAYS the truth tellers that get the pyre, stake, rifle, you name it. The intelligent individuals in society are too busy using their skulls to discover and understand. It’s the arrogance of the ignorant that ruins everything because discovery challenges their Oz’d up existence.

  20. #21 jeh
    February 19, 2008

    You could interview these guys under false pretenses and get them to say all kinds of ridiculous & utterly offensive things that they would later regret saying. All you would have to do is get them to think they are talking to a “Christian” audience. Add in footage of crazy statements made by the likes of Pat Robertson or D. James Kennedy–or even Fred Phelps & Co. Interleave their words with video of goose-stepping, book-burning Nazis and cross-burning KKK, and there you have it–a nice piece of propaganda like Expelled!

    They knew they were acting deceptively–it fits with the notion by some of these ev-fundies that they can operate in a kind of stealth mode to avoid detection. Usually their “cloaking device” does not work very well, but then again if you outright obfuscate or lie about your intentions, Expelled! is the result.

    It is good to see the number of intelligently designed responses posted on the Expelled! blog. I’m surprised they don’t pull a UD and delete all unfavorable posts.

    In a similar vein, academics should be careful when approached by students in the next month or so concerning “interviews” by students for purported class assignments about ID. I’ve started to review such requests very carefully in light of what the Expelled producers are doing to organize students on campuses.

  21. #22 TheOtherOne
    February 19, 2008

    The only way Ben Stein could get ID science the attention it deserves was to lie.

    Well, that’s an interesting contradiction in one little package. If ID were really science – if it lead to theories that could be tested and proven or disproven, and either one lead to further theories – then it would get “the attention it deserves”. Frankly, given that it’s not a science, it’s currently getting far more attention than it deserves.

    The fact that you feel it’s okay to lie, in order to get this non-science even more attention, suggests that you are willing to lie (a violation of your supposed morals) in order to mislead people into accepting your supposed morals and living a life ruled by your supposed morals. And you think that’s much better than studying and learning the implications of that “godless evolution” that has nothing going for it other than being, well, true.

  22. #23 Eric
    February 19, 2008

    Ben Stein’s dishonest movie will bring tears to your eyes, too. Clear Lies for dry eyes: It’s “aaaaawsome”.

    I’m glad someone else thought of the Ben Stein eye drop commercials when they heard about how he made some guy’s eyes teary.

  23. #24 stavros
    February 19, 2008

    I can understand why the movie brought tears to Bethell’s eyes. At long last he has found people as ignorant and dishonest as he is — he has found his tribe. It’s kind of heartwarming

    Nice! Now they just need to get in a spaceship and go find their Designer -and leave us alone by the way. Then again, who is going to provide the entertainment?

  24. #25 MartinM
    February 19, 2008

    Finding structure within the cell helps the materialist cause, as a matter of simple logic!

    You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But apparently magic goo implies materialism, whereas complex material interactions imply magic.

    From any observation, the conclusion is — Jesus.

    Exactly. Laws of physics allow for life? Fine-tuning, praise Jesus! Laws of physics don’t allow for life? It’s a miracle, praise Jesus! Universe starts in a state of high entropy? 2nd law is broken, praise Jesus! Universe starts in a state of low entropy? Only God could have arranged it so, praise Jesus! Prayers answered? God is great, praise Jesus! Prayers not answered? God knows best, praise Jesus! Round earth? Just like the Bible says, praise Jesus! Flat earth? Just like the Bible says, praise Jesus!

    It’s all quite fascinating, in a ‘what the fuck is wrong with you people?’ kind of way.

  25. #26 Glen Davidson
    February 19, 2008

    Of course it brought tears to his eyes, for it is one of the few things that seemingly supports his delusions of adequacy. He’s been deriding “Darwinism” for decades, with not a shred of honesty, minimal knowledge, or the ability to learn from others. In addition, he’s continually been a pompous ass about how superior he is, which is why all that it takes is a B- movie actor, a software engineer, and a movie producer to tell him that he’s been right about the science all along.

    I liked this:

    The growing allusions in the scientific literature to “molecular machines” have inspired one biologist, who calls himself Mike Gene, to publish The Design Matrix. I don’t know his real identity, which he conceals for obvious reasons.

    First off, all of the good money is placed on the notion that “Mike Gene” is merely a liar for Jesus, who is as easily taken by delusions of adequacy whenever he finds illusory support for his lies as Bethell is. He almost certainly was not “persuaded” by the lame mistake of assuming that just because biological and obviously evolved parts of life are called “molecular machines” by convention today to suppose that these molecular machines are thereby like our own in origin, but merely wished to believe that jackassery.

    Secondly, of course he conceals his identity for obvious reasons–these being that he doesn’t have a case. If I were a jackass trying to push pseudoscience that I desperately was hoping was true, and as desperately fearing was a load of fuckwittery, I’d conceal my identity as well.

    By the way, Bethell, why aren’t you concealing your identity against the horrible persecutors behind Big Science? You can hardly be doing it for the probable reason Mike Gene does, which is to hide what an incompetent dweeb you are, since everybody already knows that already. But surely you fear some reprisals from the strong-arm tactics of Big Science? Surely our Gestapo is closing in on your office right now, to shut you up?

    No?

    Then what is the slightest bit true about that “movie,” huh, IDiot?

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

  26. #27 Glen Davidson
    February 19, 2008

    A propaganda film cannot change the science, although it could, if it were better done, change the culture in damaging ways.

    And propaganda film is what it is:

    By the way, does anyone here agree with Wikipedia’s labeling of Expelled as a “documentary film”? I asked there why that was, and all I received in response was that it was compromise, plus it’s a documentary like Michael Moore’s films are.

    On the one hand, I’d be more than willing to call Moore’s films “propaganda” rather than “documentaries.” On the other hand, I do not think that Moore’s films stoop to many of the low tactics that Expelled does, though I confess that I’ve never seen any of his movies (I think I’d have read about concealed identities and an overbearing comparison of his opponents to Stalinists and Nazis had these been present in his films, however).

    Seriously, does anyone who has seen Moore’s films, read the reviews of Expelled, and seen the trailers to Expelled think that Moore used the same propagandistic devices that these scum resort to using? I don’t agree with deceiving people, like Moore and Mathis did, but even more so I don’t think that hiding so-called “scientists” in the shadows to make unwarranted accusations counts as “documentary.” What the fuck is “documented” when we don’t know anything about them, their testimony, and have more than enough reason to doubt anything that Mathis, Ruloff, and Kevin Miller say about them?

    What is “documentary” about comparing the normal scientific practices which exist (with some variation, sure) across all cultures with the anti-science stances of the Nazis and of Stalin?

    Isn’t it a serious failing on the part of Wikipedia to actually call Expelled a documentary? Even if Moore’s are similarly labeled, which I would also argue, how does this set of raving nonsense really compare with Moore’s films?

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

  27. #28 J-Dog
    February 19, 2008

    Damn! I wish I had the Crown Of Thorns(TM) marketing rights for this…

    Maybe:

    Hey Kids! Be the first in your church or class to collect the new [b]T[/b]errific [b]A[/b]ction [b]R[/b]eal [b]D[/b]esign Set! Collect them All!!

    Dembski, Behe, Wells, Luskin, and just in time for your Cinco de Mayo Celebration,we now have Guillermo Gonzales!

    If you look at them, they cry! They stamp their feet!
    They are All About ID Science!* They make a lot of noise,
    and No Sense!** Be the first of YOUR friends to Get Expelled!

    * Figures do not do any actual /real science.
    ** based on actual trial in Dover PA

  28. #29 J-Dog
    February 19, 2008

    Damn for real – Sorry about the bad formatting of above post –

    Going for bolded TARDS, and got crap.

  29. #30 Sastra
    February 19, 2008

    Cheers for Blake Stacey #18 and MartinM #24, who both beat me to the punch and said what I was going to say — complexity in living things is much more consistent with naturalism than supernaturalism. If the cell — or the human brain — turned out to have the undifferentiated composition of a potato, nothing but magic and miracles could explain function and mind.

    I was also amused by the reviewer’s claim that Dawkins has been caught on tape revealing, with “refreshing frankness” that he believes that yes, “the Darwinian message is antithetical to religion.” No! Really? Then everyone simply must see this movie — or, perhaps, read Dawkins’ book The God Delusion, where rumor has it he may have also slipped a bit and admitted that a process which forms complexity from simplicity and creates products which appear to be designed with intent is evidence against religious top-down hypotheses which begin with complexity in order to explain complexity.

    You’ll have to search around hard to find that little bit, though. Probably easier to watch the movie, and be surprised at Dawkins’ sudden about-face and his revealing faux pas.

  30. #31 Glen Davidson
    February 19, 2008

    traces the Nazi philosophy back to the godless Darwinian world in which fitness must prevail and everything is permitted.

    Expelled makes use of Cold War imagery, and the producers might have extended that metaphor by saying that we are now in the Samizdat period (before the fall of the Berlin Wall). That was a time when the most interesting Soviet authors used pen names to avoid being “expelled” — to the Gulag.

    Uh, yeah, let’s see, the Nazis were disparaging “Jewish science.” Any mention of that today in America, other than from your side (you know, evil persecuting “atheist science”)? The fact is that science is open to people of all faiths and ethnicities (yes, there may be problems yet, but actually closed to any of these it is not), it just has to be honest science is all.

    And the Stalinists, and at least some of their oppressed satellites, persecuted so-called “Darwinism” with the same disregard for evidence that the IDists evince.

    So a true accounting would note that, with respect to matters scientific, it is the IDists who are aligned with the Nazis and Stalinists. Evolutionary scientists are “wrong” merely because atheists accept it, while the propagandists try to make it out that “atheism” is persecuting Xians rather than that a solid coalition of non-theists and a variety of theists opposes a sectarian imposition upon honest science. And the IDists are much like the Lysenkoists, hating whatever goes against their ideology.

    Of course Bethell loves the movie, it’s totally ass-backward in who are the (would-be, anyway) persecutors and who are the victims. Since he’s pretty much wrong no matter what subject he touches, he can only be gratified that others are dumb enough to think that he’s correct about something now and then.

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

  31. #32 Rey Fox
    February 19, 2008

    “I have written about this controversy for over 30 years”

    And he still hasn’t caught on. Makes me wonder why we bother sometimes.

  32. #33 Bernard Bumner
    February 19, 2008

    GlenD,

    Even if Moore employs similar tactics, he is a well known polemicist, and is openly political. His tactics may be questionable, but his agenda is transparent. (Actually, I think there a few makers of politicized documentaries who do not utilize similar tools.)

    Still, I’m convinced that there is a difference; in this case, we apparently have people posing as non-partisan documentarists, when they are actually purely evangelical propagandists.

    Whereas someone like Moore plays to an audience, giving his interviewees enough rope to hang themselves in the mind of that certain demographic to whom he politically appeals, this is potentially very different. It is entirely possible – and likely, given the reviews – that the game here is to entirely misrepresent the subjects of the documentary via non-sequiturs and innuendo.

    So, whereas Moore may employ underhand methods to obtain material, and then offer somewhat biased interpretations of that material, it seems likely in the case of Expelled that the material itself will be decontextualized and misrepresented to the point that it bears no comparison to the real opinions or arguments offered by the subjects.

  33. #34 Glen Davidson
    February 19, 2008

    So you would agree with me that Expelled should be labeled as a “propaganda film” instead of a “documentary film” at Wikipedia, Bernard?

    That is all that I care about, really, as I indicated by bringing up aspects which I suspect differ between Moore’s films and Expelled.

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

  34. #35 Lilly de Lure
    February 19, 2008

    Glen Davidson said:

    So you would agree with me that Expelled should be labeled as a “propaganda film” instead of a “documentary film” at Wikipedia

    I certainly would Glen. In order to be a documentary you actually need to document something, what Stein et al have done is systematically distort, manipulate and lie about the facts to suit their own religious and political agenda.

    This seems to fit the description “propaganda” to me, it certainly does not fit the description of a “documentary”.

  35. #36 Narc
    February 19, 2008

    Now the cell is seen to resemble a high-tech factory.

    I’ve been in a few high-tech factories in my time. Not a one of them resembled a cell. No ribosomes, no DNA chains hanging from the ceiling. There was not a giant mitochondria in sight.

  36. #37 Tulse
    February 19, 2008

    I was also amused by the reviewer’s claim that Dawkins has been caught on tape revealing, with “refreshing frankness” that he believes that yes, “the Darwinian message is antithetical to religion.” No! Really?

    Yeah, Sastra, I thought that was both funny and bizarre — the world’s most famous atheist has been caught out arguing against the existence of a god.

    In other news, canine bites man, and bear relieves itself in a forest.

  37. #38 Glen Davidson
    February 19, 2008

    This seems to fit the description “propaganda” to me, it certainly does not fit the description of a “documentary”.

    Thanks, for I just haven’t understood their reasoning over at Wiki.

    Yes, I don’t doubt that some documentation, likely quite distorted, does happen in the film, but it seems only a prop for their massive distortions of science, of freedom, and of the very meaning of “persecution,” coupled with an unbelievably shrill set of violations of Godwin’s law.

    The whole is propaganda, while some of the parts barely register as documentary–at least in form.

    I doubt that Wikipedia would come in for as much criticism as it does for supposedly being too harsh toward Expelled if they would just muster up the courage to call it what it is in the first place, a wretchedly dishonest propaganda piece.

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

  38. #39 Bernard Bumner
    February 19, 2008

    Glen,

    I certainly would agree that Expelled has all the makings of a propaganda piece. Still, it would be unfair of me to categorically state that it is, given that I haven’t seen it. Personally, I would rather avoid lending any credence to the makers as they shout and wail about prejudice, by stating too strong an opinion without personal experience to back it up.

    Still, I can pass judgement on their shoddy behaviour with regards to making the film, because I trust what PZ and others have said about it. I can also happily state that the movie’s blog is most definitely a propaganda site, full of mistruths, lies, and misinformation.

    So what odds would I give on a bunch of propagandists producing anything resembling a real documentary? Well, they’d be very long.

  39. #40 Steven Carr
    February 19, 2008

    Scientists gaily give interviews to people without even asking why, and at the same time, work day and night to expel creationists?

    What sort of incompetent conspirators are they?

  40. #41 LisaJ
    February 19, 2008

    This makes me so angry. I can’t believe how so many people will likely eat this crap up. Why is lunacy so attractive to so many but reason and logic just doesn’t seem to get through? It’s unbelievable. I may have to stop reading this blog, because it makes me so angry. (No worries though, I won’t!).

  41. #42 Blake Stacey
    February 19, 2008

    If I cast myself back into the days when I was a busy little Wikipedian, and if I try to recover the strangled language I had to use in writing about controversial topics over there, I suspect the language which would stand a chance of surviving would be something like this:

    Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is a movie advertised as a documentary film [footnote] and described by prominent detractors as propaganda [footnote].

  42. #43 HP
    February 19, 2008

    I really think the term propaganda should be reserved for works that are produced or sponsored by states. Triumph of the Will is propaganda; so is Why We Fight. The word propaganda means something. It refers to the use of media as an abuse of state power. It’s not a humpty-dumpty word you can just use to mean “A film I don’t like.”

    Neither Expelled nor Sicko were produced at the behest of any government. So they’re both documentaries.

    I’m not sure where people get the idea that there exist somewhere pure documentary films that don’t present subjective views or impose a narrative on recorded events. I’ve seen a lot of documentaries in my day, but I’ve never seen one like that.

    Ken Burns is a prime example. Everybody Loves Ken?, but that’s because he’s careful to choose subjects that are either fuzzy, feel-good topics or historically remote. As a student of jazz history, for example, I can tell you with confidence that Ken Burns’s Jazz was as distorted and polemical a documentary as anything Moore has ever done, but about a topic not many people know well, and about which they don’t have strong feelings either way.

    Simply framing and focusing a camera is a subjective act. You’re choosing what to show and what not to show. Film is an inherently subjective medium, and objectivity is impossible. The camera always lies. It’s better to be honest about the dishonest nature of documentary filmmaking, like Moore is, than to present yourself as transparent, like the Expelled people are.

  43. #44 Sastra
    February 19, 2008

    I recall that a year or so ago an on-line atheist made a popular U-Tube movie which argued against the existence of God and the truth of Christianity. I don’t remember the title anymore, or who made it. Brian Sapien (?), perhaps?

    In the movie, the young man went back to visit the fundamentalist private school he had once attended, and interviewed his former principal on camera. As he asked more and more questions, however, it became obvious to the Christian administrator that this was not a positive fluff piece on how wonderful a Bible-based education was, and he tried to stop the interview, claiming he had been mislead. The filmmaker persisted, told him he had never stated his purpose in advance, wanted real answers to his questions, and ended up getting some nice shots of himself getting thrown out of the office.

    At the time, the freethinkers who were discussing the film seemed to be divided on whether or not the tactics used here had been correct or not. Was anyone mislead? The atheist had not told the principal he was going to challenge him, but he had apparently done nothing to make him think he wasn’t going to challenge him, either. Some thought it was sneaky and dishonorable, others thought it was fair game.

    Does anyone remember this short little documentary? It seems to me that this case is fairly close to the tactics of the makers of Expelled — though in the atheist documentary it was made damn obvious during filming what the agenda was, and it seemed that the filmmaker had not gone to any trouble in advance to “set up” the headmaster and make him expect a happy or even a neutral interview.

  44. #45 Glen Davidson
    February 19, 2008

    I like Blake’s solution, which was more or less what I was thinking.

    I cannot imagine why propaganda from non-governmental sources would be exempt from that term, as another claims, sans evidence or knowledge:

    The word propaganda means something. It refers to the use of media as an abuse of state power. It’s not a humpty-dumpty word you can just use to mean “A film I don’t like.”

    That isn’t even close to the truth. Here’s Wikipedia’s definition:

    Propaganda is a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behavior of large numbers of people. Instead of impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense presents information in order to influence its audience. The most effective propaganda is often completely truthful, but some propaganda presents facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the cognitive narrative of the subject in the target audience.

    Here’s Mirriam-Webster’s web definitions:

    1capitalized : a congregation of the Roman curia having jurisdiction over missionary territories and related institutions
    2: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
    3: ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect

    And it takes stupidity, malice, or gross ignorance to suggest that I equated the term “propaganda” with “a film I don’t like.” Learn to read or think before you go around accusing, HP.

    By the way, there is something called the web that you could consult before you assert your own prejudices in place of what a word actually means as it is commonly used.

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

  45. #46 True Bob
    February 19, 2008

    Actually, propaganda is probably the best identifier for this dreck, especially given the word’s provenance (see bottom):

    prop·a·gan·da [prop-uh-gan-duh]
    -noun 1. information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.
    2. the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.
    3. the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.
    4. Roman Catholic Church. a. a committee of cardinals, established in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV, having supervision over foreign missions and the training of priests for these missions.
    b. a school (College of Propaganda) established by Pope Urban VIII for the education of priests for foreign missions.

    5. Archaic. an organization or movement for the spreading of propaganda.

    [Origin: 1710-20; < NL, short for congreg?ti? dé prop?gand? fidé congregation for propagating the faith; prop?gand?, abl. sing. fem. gerundive of prop?g?re; see propagate]

  46. #47 True Bob
    February 19, 2008

    OK, something went haywire in my post (there was a frappin caret in the text). This is Random House’s origin for ‘propaganda':

    [Origin: 1710-20; NL, short for congreg?ti? dé prop?gand? fidé congregation for propagating the faith; prop?gand?, abl. sing. fem. gerundive of prop?g?re; see propagate]

  47. #48 Stanton
    February 19, 2008
    It is surely the best thing ever done on this issue, in any medium. At moments it brought tears of joy to my eyes.

    I can understand why the movie brought tears to Bethell’s eyes. At long last he has found people as ignorant and dishonest as he is — he has found his tribe. It’s kind of heartwarming. You just have to picture all the isolated kooks on the fringe, with their conspiracy theories and delusions of competence, all being brought together by one movie that shows that yes, uneducated hobos and yahoos can make enough money to buy an audience. Is this a great country or what?

    Actually, I don’t understand: wouldn’t shedding tears over union with his new-found tribe of pious liars be akin to a bout of jubilant weeping after having tossed a plastic bag full of soiled tissue paper into a toxic waste dump?

  48. #49 True Bob
    February 19, 2008

    Stanton, it works, if it’s the soiled tissue sobbing.

  49. #50 Darth Chimay
    February 19, 2008

    @Sastra:

    I believe the film you’re talking about is The God Who Wasn’t There, by Brian Fleming.

  50. #51 blf
    February 19, 2008
    It is surely the best thing ever done on this issue, in any medium. At moments it brought tears of joy to my eyes.

    Jeebus, what medium is this guy used to? Finger painting? Crayon?

    Walking into statues and poking his eye out. Brings tears to the eyes, and is perhaps Pavlov-like conditioning to avoid art.

  51. #52 Dan
    February 19, 2008

    This makes me so angry. I can’t believe how so many people will likely eat this crap up.

    Posted by: LisaJ

    Don’t worry. I’m pretty sure the only people this nonsense will impact are those whose minds are already softened to the point where ID is “sensible.”

    In fact, I think most will probably laugh outright at the film and the baseless, paranoid accusations it contains. And then there’s the gleaming hypocrisy of it all since religion has always tried to censor science throughout history.

    The only real problem I have with this flick is that someone somewhere will inevitably try to use it in the classroom where it doesn’t belong. It’s not going to be teaching anyone a damn thing.

  52. #53 Russell Seitz
    February 19, 2008

    As the tree falls, so must it lie, PZ.

    Remember _Cosmos_ retread of the Auschwitz sequence in _The Ascent Of Man_ ?

    Looks like culture maven Ben has been poring over The Book Of Sagan in search of resonant cliches. Serves Carl right for ripping off von Humboldt’s title for the PBS script.

  53. #54 Ipecac
    February 19, 2008

    Oy. John Campea of “The Movie Blog” says he’s really looking forward to Expelled. http://www.themovieblog.com/2008/02/expelled-no-intelligence-allowed-trailer

    “Although I am no longer religious at all, the notion of pure Darwinism has never sat right with me. I’ve also been amazed at how many scientists dispute fundamental Darwinism, non-religious scientists, and yet are quickly silenced.

    To me, the real issue in this documentary isn’t Darwinism vs Intelligent Design, but rather an issue of free speech. We like to believe in our society we encourage open thought, open discussion and the comparison of ideas… but the cold reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. In our society, we only believe in free speech and the value of different ideas if we agree with them… which ultimately makes us no different that cold war communism or the nazis.”

    Sheesh. John is a pretty good guy, so go easy on him. But he’s way off base here. I’ve been telling him so but he appears to already be in the ID camp.

  54. #55 Stanton
    February 19, 2008

    It appears that John Campea is of the tribe of people who are “so open-minded that their brains fell out”

    And thank you, True Bob, for clarifying that for me.

  55. #56 Ann
    February 19, 2008

    I’m late to this party, so can someone catch me up on why Ben Stein is associated with ID at all? He’s surely not a fundie Xian, is he? I know he’s an ass, but I never thought he was ignorant and gullible. Why is he so enamored with ID?

  56. #57 Stanton
    February 19, 2008

    I’m late to this party, so can someone catch me up on why Ben Stein is associated with ID at all? He’s surely not a fundie Xian, is he? I know he’s an ass, but I never thought he was ignorant and gullible. Why is he so enamored with ID?

    He was one of Nixon’s hired spin-doctors, and he was hired to spin Intelligent Design.

    In other words, Ben Stein is an idiot who has been hired by idiots who think that he spin hay into scientific legitimacy. They tried to hire Rumpelstiltskin first, but, a) Rumpelstiltskin doesn’t exist, and b) he turned their offer down.

  57. #58 Glen Davidson
    February 19, 2008

    Now we get the price tag for this travesty of knowledge and intellection:

    Producers of the $3.5 million film, which has been enthusiastically backed by anti-evolution think tank the Discovery Institute, have harnessed some big guns to get the film’s message out. They’ve hired Motive Entertainment, the marketing brains behind “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe,” to spread the intelligent design gospel and tapped powerhouse PR firm Rogers & Cowan to handle the film’s media campaign.

    http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117981021.html?categoryid=2526&cs=1

    And at that rate, Stein’s claim to receiving a modest fee should be correct:

    “It’s not important to me whether it makes money. I’ve already been paid, and I might add quite modestly at that,” says Stein, who is making the rounds from college campuses to “The O’Reilly Factor” to evangelical church screenings to promote the film. “I’m hoping that (schools) will at least allow in science classes someone to say, ‘What if it’s not Darwinism, but what if there was some intelligent designer who created the universe?’ “

    Ha ha, IDiot Ben (not that he truly believes that rubbish, but he’ll shill for them, hence he’s at least an honorary IDiot), you’re watching all of the respect for you from anybody honest and intelligent go down the toilet, and you’re not even making much for it. What an ass you are!

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

  58. #59 Glen Davidson
    February 19, 2008

    ‘What if it’s not Darwinism, but what if there was some intelligent designer who created the universe?’

    Uh, yeah, Stein, imagine if it wasn’t biological evolution that created the universe. I mean, haven’t all those evil Darwinists been telling the defenseless children that the universe is an evolved organism?

    Then again, what if perhaps the Big Bang “created the universe” and not some addled designer who was unable to make much inhabitable territory in it? Ever heard of science, Stein?

    Christ, if he didn’t have the name and the podium from which to preach retarded nonsense, I’d never respond to anyone that stupid and/or uneducated. He’s like Kent Hovind, without getting caught for larceny.

    No wonder he doesn’t take questions at press conferences. He’d even embarrass Mathis and Ruloff, who themselves are an embarrassment in any subject touching on science and history.

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

  59. #60 Eric
    February 19, 2008

    Why is lunacy so attractive to so many but reason and logic just doesn’t seem to get through?

    Reason and logic require work; they require billions of brain cells firing in synchrony. Parroting what you are told requires only as many neurons as are required to sit with a dumb look on one’s face.

    Ignorance is bliss. In other news, war is peace, and freedom is slavery.

  60. #61 Sastra
    February 19, 2008

    Darth Chimay #50:

    Ah, thanks, I did see that, so you’re probably right.

    John Campea of the The Movie Blog

    To me, the real issue in this documentary isn’t Darwinism vs Intelligent Design, but rather an issue of free speech. We like to believe in our society we encourage open thought, open discussion and the comparison of ideas… but the cold reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.

    And so here’s yet one more person who fails to realize that science is not a democratic forum where all views are considered of equal merit and your view is just as good as anyone else’s — it’s a democratic forum where all views are given an equal chance to play by the rules and then win out, if possible, on merit. Intelligent Design was and is welcome to submit its predictions and evidence to the scientific community, on the same terms as every other “idea.” We all know how that plays out. It wasn’t expelled — it FAILED.

    Campea’s complaint reminds me of the popular childhood taunt “it’s a free country.” (At least, popular in the U.S., when I was a kid) Hey, get off my property. “It’s a free country.” No, you didn’t make the team, you can’t play. “It’s a free country.” Put that back, you didn’t pay for it. “It’s a free country.” Spurious appeals to a magical all-permissive liberty are made when common sense, right, and worth are all absent.

  61. #62 bybelknap, FCD
    February 19, 2008

    FORMATTING FIXED for J-DOG

    Damn! I wish I had the Crown Of Thorns(TM) marketing rights for this…

    Maybe:

    Hey Kids! Be the first in your church or class to collect the new Terrific Action Real Design Set! Collect them All!!

    Dembski, Behe, Wells, Luskin, and just in time for your Cinco de Mayo Celebration,we now have Guillermo Gonzales!

    If you look at them, they cry! They stamp their feet!
    They are All About ID Science!* They make a lot of noise,
    and No Sense!** Be the first of YOUR friends to Get Expelled!

    * Figures do not do any actual /real science.
    ** based on actual trial in Dover PA

    Not my orignal work. This is J-Dog’s, but I thought it deserved the formatting he was going for

  62. #63 Tulse
    February 19, 2008

    And so here’s yet one more person who fails to realize that science is not a democratic forum where all views are considered of equal merit and your view is just as good as anyone else’s — it’s a democratic forum where all views are given an equal chance to play by the rules and then win out, if possible, on merit.

    The creationists essentially are in favour of affirmative action for their views — isn’t that ironic?

  63. #64 Sastra
    February 19, 2008

    Tulse #63 wrote:

    isn’t that ironic?

    Yes, very.

    And now I’ve got Alanis Morissette playing in my head. It just gets worse and worse …

  64. #65 nuclear.kelly
    February 19, 2008

    Sastra, I couldn’t agree more. The issue here is not (and has not been for a very long time) whether ID is science. It’s not, period.
    I think the issue may be expounded into a more philosophic statement regarding the nature of God. ID supporters desperately want for God to be detectably present in every aspect of life (obviously, science included), while ‘liberally spiritual’ people, as well as scientists, take no issue excluding the (by definition) supernatural from the natural. One must be very careful to differentiate between science and a philosophy of science, and that is the stark line which ID supporters try (as in this film, unfortunately) so vehemently to blur.

  65. #66 jeh
    February 19, 2008

    “I really think the term propaganda should be reserved for works that are produced or sponsored by states.”

    How about propaganda from incipient theocratic usurpers?

  66. #67 Peter
    February 19, 2008

    Well, how many people did Stein actually interview himself, as opposed to having someone else do the interview, then splicing him into the final footage?

    Ben Stein did interview Richard Dawkins personally. In the first episode of their new radio show, the folks from Minnesota Atheists interviewed Richard. The subject of Expelled and the interview was covered. You can listen here.

    I found RD’s description of Stein as “unpleasant” amusing. For someone as naturally courteous as Richard, that’s equivalent to us calling Stein a fucktard arsehole shithead. :-)

  67. #68 Peter
    February 19, 2008

    Bugger, I’ll try that link again.

    that’s better

  68. #69 Ipecac
    February 19, 2008

    John posted a more reasonable reply, listing some of his problems with evolution. I don’t know enough to refute these, although I presume they are easily refutable. And even if they aren’t, lack of specific answers doesn’t mean evolution is wrong.

    Here’s what he said:

    “There are several glaring gaps and weaknesses in the evolutionary theory that no one to date have been able to honestly give me answers for. Without boring you with the details, the basics are:

    – Complexity of blood clotting and mammal immune and repair systems.

    – Reproductive symbiosis without prior pattern. In other words, the notion that two radically similar, yet different variations of the same species with perfectly compatible and functioning reproductive systems emerged at the exact same time (this is actually a huge one to me)

    – While GBG suggests that fossil records that refute rather than supports current theories are nonsense, the fact of the matter is that for many, even within the scientific community acknowledge it is a large problem. Dr David Pilbeam, of the Boston Natural History Museum actually changed his whole world view based on this weakness, and later commented that the whole neo-darwinism system is: “our theories have clearly reflected our current ideologies instead of the actual data”.

    – Existing glaring gaps in the various ideas of how proteins first formed in light of our current understanding of the behavior of amino acids.”

  69. #70 MPW
    February 19, 2008

    Well, others here can comment on John’s objections in more detail, Ipecac, but off the top of my woefully non-expert head:

    You nailed the main reply yourself. That evolutionary theory doesn’t have a definitive answer for every question doesn’t mean the whole theory is shaky or in doubt. Then, most of his more specific objections just plain aren’t true. For example, blood clotting and the immune system have been the subject of a lot of study and there’s been great progress there. This is easily discoverable with ten seconds of googling. “Many, even within the scientific community acknowledge [fossil record gaps are] a large problem” is just untrue, plain and simple. The stuff about protein formation sounds more the province of abiogenesis than evolution to me, and besides the overarching rebuttal mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph applies there, too.

    There’s nothing “reasonable” about this reply – every word of it is timeworn creationist boilerplate.

  70. #71 Russell Seitz
    February 19, 2008

    Ipecac;

    From roughly the discovery of the violation of Ohm’s law by natural semiconductors by Braun( yea, the coffee grinder guy), in 1876, to the emergence of quantum mechanics in the ’20’s, ‘classical’ physics was in crisis because additions to electromagnetic and thermodynamic theory that had vast macroscopic predictive power collapsed into gibberish when applied to phenomena at the atomic level.

    But confronted with such things as radioactive decay and the ‘ultraviolet catastrophe’, physicists did not fall to their knees and proclaim “It’s a Miracle!”

    They manifested something at once akin to religious conviction , and moral courage , and persevered in laboring to develop theories encompassing the evidence. In the process they revealed an horizon of material existence alien to the world of macroscopic events, that challenged metaphysical assumptions about causality and certainty antedating science. We are now in the formative period arising from that extension – real systems of simple sorts have been built that perform quantum computation and ‘teleport’ information and identities in ways as grossly transgressive of the way Einstein wanted the universe to be as relativity was of Newton’s clockwork cosmos.

    These developments have occurred in the inorganic realm of physics , and it is still unclear how they will transform our biological understanding of the relationship of consciousness and information. But his much is clear – transform it they will, just as earlier , and current systems of biological investigation have eroded the opacity of nature- including the erasure of much of the fossil record by the sheer depth of time.

    What ID has singularly failed to adduce is a formalism resembling Godel’s work in rigor , that plausibly demonstrates why what biologists do not know should forever remain unknowable. A desire to re-enchant the world, however attractive its appeal to nostalgia at best or – kudos to religion for its catalogs of vice, as well as its articulation of the meaning of moral authority, , mere intellectual sloth.

    It is in the nature of metaphysics that time can neither erode its coherence or connect it to the material world. Science has no authority to compel those who have invested their consciousness in metaphysical systems to abandon the objects of their inculcated fascination, but neither do metaphysicians have any power to command science to cease and desist from discovering things they maintain must be unknowable.

    Like how complexity happens of its own mindless accord to the utter despair of teleologists. When that happens what is a philanthropic physicist to do, other than gently remind metaphysicians that there is merit in the view that despair is a sin, and suggest they should shun it if the bottom drops out of metaphysics, and take up science instead. Because as a famous Victorian pietist observed , while it may have no vestige of a beginning ,it has no prospect of an end.

    Given what physics did to itself in a scant century, might it not be an act of charity ( said to be a Virtue) to give post-modern biology a century’s worth of rope to see whether it uses it to hang itself- the confident ID position, or just perhaps , pull itself up by the bootstaps as amazingly as the quantum mechanics did, justas the metaphysicians were getting ready to pronounce them hoist on their own petard ?

  71. #72 Glen Davidson
    February 19, 2008

    Perhaps I should note that Bethell’s “review” is in The American Spectator (TAS), the same right-wing rag that Ben Stein has droned out many useless pages concerning his own boring life.

    Seriously, the inbred nature of TAS writers probably has a lot to do with Stein’s final plunge into the sewage of Expelled. I’m not saying they’re all inbred, of course (it actually was a fun mag long ago, if in a rather juvenile jeering sense–I’ve read some in the archives), since they do allow many “outsiders” to contribute. It’s the Steins and Bethells who haven’t read a damn thing outside of their own comfort zone who are so wretchedly petrified as to think that what each other is writing is excellent stuff, cause, you know, they both went to excellent schools, blah, blah (they actually did, and ceased to learn the moment they graduated).

    True, Bethell is larding on the praise of a colleague sans mention of the fact that they work for the same guys. So that reeks. That’s just dime-a-dozen collusion and sucking up, though, and I’m sure that Bethell’s stupidly honest in his praise of Stein’s stupidly dishonest crap (Ben really can’t be that stupid, I suspect. He’s almost certainly stilling the conscience within him via harsh attacks).

    The point, certainly, is primarily that they have their little places in a magazine that specializes in portraying the world as consisting in a number of conspiracies (or “conspiracies” for the more rational among them) to keep power for the liberals and to deny legitimacy to conservatives. And these two particular old farts don’t get beyond the screeds written in TAS, even when they do venture out into the world. They carry with them the conviction (or desperate desire to believe) that they are right (Bethell and Stein agree on the persecution, don’t they? Must be true), and only their filthy opponents deprive them of the recognition by others of this fact.

    And so it goes. Stein isn’t going to listen to anyone who understands science, because he already believes Bethell, Ruloff, and Mathis. Ruloff chose Stein “because he’s smart,” so he doesn’t need to think about these things either (he’s so intellectually dishonest that he compares the success of biology unfavorably to the success of the computer industry, attributing the “lack of success of the former” to it’s unwillingness to consider ideas freely as the computer industry does. Of course, being no scientist, he’s too much an ignoramus to recognize that the computer industry doesn’t question the science underlying computers, and that biology is immensely successful, in point of fact, and can only operate according to MET). And Bethell is too arrogant and ignorant to consider anyone else’s opinion, and was even before much of the right capitulated to anti-science, yet he’s all the more gratified that they did, because he’s thus “vindicated.”

    It’s a whole circle of stupid going on with the lifers, like Bethell and Stein, at TAS. Stein and the rest at Expelled refuse to discuss anything with those who aren’t ignorant like themselves, thus making sure that the circle of stupid continues. But then, ID has to be inbred, or it would immediately fall due to its insipidity and lack of purchase on reality.

    I suppose, then, that in one sense all of the foregoing thus could have been left unsaid. However, it’s worth noting the particulars of Stein’s and Bethell’s circle of stupidity, at least in my opinion.

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

  72. #73 MAJeff
    February 20, 2008

    Wasn’t the Spectator home of the Arkansas Project? Or is my memory off?

    Political hacks interested in power an nothing more. It’s a fucking Scaife publication.

  73. #74 keiths
    February 20, 2008

    For 30 years, Bethell has been claiming that natural selection is a tautology.

    Here are some other choice quotes from an article he wrote for Harper’s in 1976:

    Darwin’s theory, I believe, is on the verge of collapse.

    Darwin’s idea of natural selection was quietly abandoned, even by his most ardent supporters, some years ago.

    Darwin, I suggest, is in the process of being discarded, but perhaps in deference to the venerable old gentleman, resting comfortably in Westminster Abbey next to Sir Isaac Newton, it is being done as discreetly and gently as possible, with a minimum of publicity.

  74. #75 October Mermaid
    February 20, 2008

    I’ll watch this movie when it’s posted on youtube just to see the interviews.

    I wouldn’t pay any money for it, though.

    That’s apparently the job of the Discovery Institute.

  75. #76 MartinM
    February 20, 2008

    And now I’ve got Alanis Morissette playing in my head. It just gets worse and worse …

    Fortunately, there’s an
    antidote.

  76. #77 Lilly de Lure
    February 20, 2008

    That evolutionary theory doesn’t have a definitive answer for every question doesn’t mean the whole theory is shaky or in doubt. Then, most of his more specific objections just plain aren’t true. For example, blood clotting and the immune system have been the subject of a lot of study and there’s been great progress there.

    Unfortunately, if their treatment of the advancements in paleontology are anything to go by, they will just argue that any progress made just leads to more “glaring gaps” in our understanding of blood clotting/the immune system e.t.c. The fact that just about every scientific advance generally opens up a whole new set of questions (or gaps if you really insist) is something they either manifestly fail to understand or deliberately misrepresent depending on the cdesign proponentsist you are dealing with.

  77. #78 Reynold Hall
    February 20, 2008

    Just a brainless, useless, venting: How many times do these people have to be told about history before they stop lying about it to the public??

    That constant demonizing of Darwin is as you all know, a creationist staple. Ben Stein is just following in a long and “honoured” tradition that’s been set by their YEC predecessors.

    What I find fascinating is the sheer extent that they have to cherry pick history to try to back that claim up. Darwin’s “racism” was common to everyone back in the day, as PZ has shown here.

    He never said anything about the jews; whereas Martin Luther wrote “On the Jews and Their Lies”. Yet they feel free to praise him as a “flawed” hero.

    http://www.talkreason.com/articles/Genocide.cfm

    WTF?

  78. #79 Glen Davidson
    February 20, 2008

    Wasn’t the Spectator home of the Arkansas Project? Or is my memory off?

    They were certainly instrumental in it, though I don’t know if “home” is the word for their role or not. David Brock was writing anti-Clinton articles in TAS that he now claims he knew were untrue.

    Once TAS was irreverent, but it all quickly congealed into a sickening mass of insane Clinton hatred (not that I like the Clintons or DLC, mind you, but I never got the intense loathing of so many right-wingers) and psychopathies among the lifers there. It’s mainly interesting in a post-mortem sense now, figuring out how it all went so wrong in the end.

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

  79. #80 Lilly de Lure
    February 20, 2008

    Reynold Hall said:

    What I find fascinating is the sheer extent that they have to cherry pick history to try to back that claim up. Darwin’s “racism” was common to everyone back in the day, as PZ has shown here.

    He never said anything about the jews; whereas Martin Luther wrote “On the Jews and Their Lies”. Yet they feel free to praise him as a “flawed” hero.

    WTF?

    I think the problems you are having stem from the assumption on your part that in order to be taken seriously an argument needs to be fair, based on evidence, logically consistent or indeed make any kind of sense.

    Once you free yourself from this assumption all cdesign proponentsists arguments will begin to seem reasonable. Well, after enough crystal meth anyway.

  80. #81 Ipecac
    February 20, 2008

    Oh Geez. From the Movie Blog:

    “Hey there folks. Just a quick reminder that the LIVE installment of Uncut is on tonight starting at 9pm EST (6pm PST) and can be heard on the NowLive network, or streaming live right here on The Movie Blog.

    One of the things we’re really excited about for tonight’s show is that we’ll be joined by actor, political activist, presidential speech writer, game show host and now filmmaker Ben Stein as he talks with us for a few minutes about his new film “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” which we posted about yesterday and got a LOT of response for.”

    They certainly did get a lot of response.

  81. #82 Steve T.
    February 20, 2008

    Oh, dear. I’ve known Tom for years, and respect him a lot for his work on early New Orleans Jazz, especially his biography of George Lewis. I’ve even put him up in my home when he’s come here to New Orleans for research trips.

    But I’ve always known better than to try and discuss politics with him. Now I guess I have another topic I’d better not bring up.

  82. #83 Ichthyic
    February 20, 2008

    Once you free yourself from this assumption all cdesign proponentsists arguments will begin to seem reasonable. Well, after enough crystal meth anyway.

    hmm…

    “Crystal Meth: Friend or Foe”

    starting to sound more and more like a worthy science experiment.

  83. #84 arensb
    February 22, 2008

    stavros @#24:

    Now they just need to get in a spaceship and go find their Designer -and leave us alone by the way.

    Maybe we can reuse the Golgafrinchans’ ship blueprints.

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