Pharyngula

I always aim to misbehave

Some of you know that the producers of Expelled had a conference call this afternoon…a carefully controlled, closed environment in which they would spout their nonsense and only take questions by email. I listened to it for a while, and yeah, it was the usual run-around. However, I dialed in a few minutes early, and got to listen to a tiresome five minutes of Leslie and Paul chatting away, during which time they mentioned the secret code (DUNH DUNH DUNNNNH!) for the two way calls. I know. Sloppy, unprofessional, and stupid, but that’s the way they work.

So … I redialed. (DUNH DUNH DUNNNNH!)

Then I listened along quietly until I could take no more.

They repeated the usual lies (the Minneapolis event was a private screening [which was publicly linked on the web, where any idiot could get to it]; their blog was #1 on blogpulse [near as I can tell, it wasn't—it was my exposure of their hypocrisy that was #1]; they didn’t lie to get interviews [totally bogus], etc.). They made amusing contradictions. Walt Ruloff first claims that the genesis of the movie was in 2006, when he claims to have started investigating biotechnology and discovered that there are “questions that can’t be asked” and that people were suppressing information that called Darwinism into doubt — note, though, that he never stated what those unnameable questions are. A moment later Mark Mathis comes on to say that the subject of the film was a work in progress, that they hadn’t settled anything, and that the name wasn’t even decided upon. Come on, they registered expelledthemovie.com in early 2007, well before they asked us to be interviewed.

They threw out a bunch of softball questions to Ben Stein: “How can you be so intelligent and question Darwinism?”, I kid you not.

One good question got through on email: KMOX radio contested the claim that there was no distortion of the interviews of Dawkins and Myers because they surrounded the interviews with film clips of Nazis — I think it’s obvious how they were trying to bias the discussion, and I was floored by Stein’s reply. He wanted more goose-stepping Nazis all over the place.

This was all a great deal to stomach, but I restrained myself. Then Mathis really started to lie: he said that all anybody ever blogged about was distractions, and several times he claimed that we never addressed the content of the movie. Let’s set aside the rank hypocrisy of expelling the people interviewed in the movie from screenings so we couldn’t see it; it’s simply not true. We have blogged extensively on the ridiculous premise at the heart of the movie, that the Holocaust was a consequence of evolutionary theory.

Here’s one of my entries in this subject.

Here’s Richard Dawkins’ review, which discusses the bogus Nazi connection quite a bit. Josh Timonen, of the RDF, also saw the movie.

John Wilkins has an excellent post on Darwinism and racism.

The Panda’s Thumb has discussed the false connection several times.

So I interrupted. I said, in essence, hang on — you guys are spinning out a lot of lies here, you should be called on it. I gave a quick gloss on it, and said that, for instance, anti-semitism has a long history in Germany that preceded Darwin, and that they ought to look up the word “pogrom”. There was some mad rustling and flustering about on the other side of the phone some complaints, etc., and then one of them asked me to do the honorable thing and hang up…so I said yes, I would do the honorable thing and hang up while they continued the dishonorable thing and continued to lie.

Then I announced that if any reporters were listening in, they could contact me at pzmyers@gmail.com and I’d be happy to talk to them.

So excuse me, I’ve got a few dozen emails in my inbox right now.


More accounts of the press conference:

Comments

  1. #1 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 28, 2008

    Terrible framing.

    How do you like them apples, Mr Nisbet?

  2. #2 Bjørn Østman
    March 28, 2008

    About the domain-name for the movie being purchased before the interviews: Did they buy others? It is common to buy a bunch before having settled on a title, to have them reserved. If they did buy others, what were they? Were they all titles that would have given the interviewed a clue, or were there others more like “Crossroads”?

  3. #3 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 28, 2008

    That was beautiful. Just beautiful.

    It’s far too late at night that I could read the whole thread right now, so it has probably already been said, but it almost bears repeating:

    This ranks high among the best evidence for a benevolent supernatural force that I’ve seen so far.

  4. #4 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 29, 2008

    But I will take issue with and will NOT submit to being penalized just because some journal decides it cannot or will not accept a paper because it was submitted by a “Creationist” or an “IDer”. I’ve seen too many examples of REALLY good papers not being accepted simply because the submitter was an alleged “religious” nut – but who previously submitted papers that were regularly published before his/her “religious” views became known. Here is a proposed compromise: You must be willing to accept ANY papers written by ANYone whose papers were regularly accepted before their “religious” views became known. I won’t submit to crass discrimination. That means you will accept any papers or books published by the likes of Dean Kenyon who clearly proved his abilities before he became blackballed. Same for Guillermo Gonzalez and Carolyn Crocker, etc., who successfully published in respectable, peer-reviewed journals before they were tarred and feathered.

    You are mistaken. It isn’t people that are peer-reviewed, it’s manuscripts.

    Each manuscript is evaluated on its own merit. To ascertain this, some journals now conduct double-blind peer-review — not only are the referees anonymous (unless they choose to sign their reviews), but they don’t get to know the names of the authors either! Two weeks ago I had a manuscript rejected by a journal that does that.

    Which just proves that smart people (if I say so myself) are capable of writing subpar papers, too. Worse yet: smart people are capable of being utter crackpots. Linus Pauling, the only person so far to have got two Nobel Prizes, believed humongous doses of Vitamin C cured everything from the common cold to cancer. Faraday was inspired to some of his work by the fact that his sect venerated circles. Newton spent much, much more time writing on alchemy and Biblical prophecy than on science. And so on.

    This is why the argument from authority is a logical fallacy.

    All you can do about a rejected manuscript is demonstrate that the rejection was unfair. (Which, of course, happens occasionally. Peer-reviewers are people and make mistakes, too. Though, in such cases, the authors usually just shrug and submit the manuscript to another journal.) You are welcome to try.

    The Living Dead Intelligent Design Zombies! BLARGBLARG! Eviscerated by Darwinists online, a fate worse than DEATH! Not allowed in universities, yet not allowed to die, they now roam the Earth… to feed!

    ROTFL!

    I was just making the point: he’s a creationist AND he’s also demonstrated that he’s an excellent scientist in many respects.

    THAT is the point. You don’t credibly deny someone a careeer in science or dismiss someone from the academy simply because of their religious beliefs, and say they can’t possibly function as a scientist or educator because of that.

    We have already explained it to you: being smart is a necessary but not sufficient criterion for tenure. Other criteria must be fulfilled, most notably
    - an above-average number of frequently cited publications (there are ways to measure that);
    - in the US, an above-average amount of funding attracted.

    This is where, as far as I remember, all of the flunked (not “expelled”) people have failed. Not even mentioning that Crocker didn’t know the basic facts of the field she was supposed to teach.

  5. #5 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 29, 2008

    Additional clarification: IMNSHO, Pauling fully deserved both of his Nobel prizes (chemistry and physics) — and yet he was still a crackpot for believing, in the absence of evidence and (AFAIK) later despite the presence of contradicting evidence, in his vitamin C woo. Denying him tenure in chemistry or physics would have been utterly laughable. Denying him tenure in medicine or biochemistry or molecular biology would have been the only defensible option.

  6. #6 ???
    March 31, 2008

    Hey Kseniya, wutz shakin? Certainly not blog censorship here at PZ Myers Hypocrisy pool;-)

    ????!!????????….???????….

    three two one….*cmf deleted again*
    dripping wet double standards;-)

  7. #7 Shakes Peer
    April 20, 2008

    Thou art a knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in a way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch; one whom I will beat into clamourous whining if thou deny’st the least syllabel of thy addition.

  8. #8 Mike
    August 5, 2008

    the monkey trial dot com