Most of you have probably already seen this: David Bolinsky accuses Expelled of theft. Bolinski is the professional who invested a great deal of time and money in generating the “Inner Life of the Cell” video, only to see it misappropriated, misinterpreted, and misused by creationists to promote their absurdity. You can tell that Bolinski might be a little bit angry about this, but of course there’s not much that a few poorly paid college professors can do against the huge buckets of money from unscrupulous fat cat investors and bloated right wing ‘institutes’.
To Mr. Dembski: The only reason I am involved in this discussion is because I do not want the reputation of my company, hard-earned as it is, to be sullied by even oblique affiliation to your sort of smarmy ethics, if only through works of ours, purloined to fit your agenda. Last year you were charging colleges thousands of dollars to give lectures showing a copy of The Inner Life of the Cell, you claimed you “found somewhere”, with Harvard’s and XVIVO’s credits stripped out and the copyright notice removed (which is in itself a felony) and a creationist voice-over pasted on over our music (yes, I have a recording of your lecture). Harvard slapped you down for that, and yes there is a paper trail. One can only assume that had we not taken notice then, we would be debating The Inner Life of the Cell being used in EXPELLED, instead of a copy. You have enough of a colorful history that Harvard, in its wisdom, decided to ‘swat the gnat’ with as little fuss as possible. Imagine our surprise earlier this month, to see our work copied in a movie trailer for EXPELLED! And you are in the movie too! Not quite a star, but brown dwarfs are cool. XVIVO has no intention of engaging alone, in asymmetrical fighting against an ideological entity with orders of magnitude more resources than we have. That might make great theater, but would resemble a hugely expensive game of whack-a-ID. Boring!
You might also want to read Wesley Elsberry’s account of an interview with Stein: one of the problems with lying is maintaining consistency — big elaborate lies involving many people tend to unravel as the principals begin to contradict themselves. Mark Mathis has one account of the creation of the movie that claims it simply, gradually evolved to its current ideological state; Ben Stein casually mentions, however, that he was drawn to the film because, right from the beginning and well before they interviewed me and others, they had a clear, predetermined accusation to make. This is a movie built on lies from the very beginning.
Meanwhile, the reviews are trickling in. Greg Laden tells me there is a review in Time, and it’s negative. You can tell the writer is inclined to be sympathetic to the movie and wants to give it some credit, but has to admit that the claims of the film are unsupportable. Since he can’t do that, though, he has to resort to irrelevant atheist-bashing.
In fairness to Stein, his opponents have hardly covered themselves in glory. Evolutionary biologists and social commentators have lately taken to answering the claims of intelligent-design boosters not with clear-eyed scientific empiricism but with sneering, finger-in-the-eye atheism. Biologist P.Z. Myers, for example, tells Stein that religion ought to be seen as little more than a soothing pastime, a bit like knitting. Books such as Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great and Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion often read like pure taunting, as when Hitchens pettily and pointedly types God as lowercase god. Tautology as typography is not the stuff of deep thought. Neither, alas, is Expelled.
Yes, I did say that. But remember, I was told specifically that this movie was to be about the “intersection of science and religion”, and their questions were all about atheism and religion, and my quote in that section is about why I think science erodes religious belief, well in keeping with what I was told the movie was about … if they’d asked me about specific issues in Intelligent Design creationism, I would have gladly addressed them (and they may have, but answers that were examples of “clear-eyed scientific empiricism” would not have made it into this movie). This is yet another example of how they skewed the interviews with editing. Hitchens isn’t in this movie, so why bring him up? And why get irate about capitalizing the name of a god? I can’t say that the typological argument for bestowing respect on a deity is very persuasive, either.
Man, at least Expelled is getting the reputation it deserves: a dishonest documentary that fails to make its case, that relies on dishonest interviewing techniques and misleading guilt-by-association … and don’t forget the Lord Privy Seals.