Pharyngula

Thieves and liars

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.

Comments

  1. #1 CalGeorge
    April 12, 2008

    Pump up the volume.

    We should orchestrate a blogswarm on this movie on its April 18 release date.

  2. #2 Reginald Selkirk
    April 12, 2008

    You see, this just makes their point even more. Darwinism leads to immorality. It has even somehow corrupted the fine Christofascists (including honorary Christofascist Ben Stein). Darwinism must be stopped before its immoral influence is totally out of control.

  3. #3 keith
    April 12, 2008

    Well in addition to buying every councilman , science teacher, and youth minister in my college town a ticket ( they have to pick them up at the box office with an ID)I have spoken at length to the local police and asked them to have a good presence at the theatre for the first two days of showing to guard against people like ERV, Phillip Kleppa, and any other evo piglets from causing a disturbance.

    I have my own triple strength pepper spray and a mail order tazer so don’t worry …I’ll be fine.

    April 18th.. The Great Awakening.

  4. #4 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 12, 2008

    Off-topic, via zoon politikon on scienceblogs.de: Foreign Policy has this nice list of calls for violence from people who are currently politically active… a Muslim, a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist, and a Jew.

  5. #5 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 12, 2008

    Good parody of the paranoid cre_ti_nist mindset, keith. “Triple strength” :-D

  6. #6 Dan
    April 12, 2008

    Oh… Keith’s doing parody?

    Never mind, then. Keep up the good work Keith.

  7. #7 Kseniya
    April 12, 2008

    Not quite a star, but brown dwarfs are cool.

    Laugh of the day! (So far.)

  8. #8 PZ Myers
    April 12, 2008

    Why don’t PZ, RD et al make their own recordings of whenever they are interviewed by anyone on the science/religion topic?

    I think I’ve been told this about ten thousand times now. Here’s the catch: scientists don’t assume that people asking them questions are dishonest frauds who want to distort their words.

    But yes, in the future, I will have at least an audio recording device with me, and will make a copy of the unedited recording a prerequisite for my participation. That’s one of the disillusioning things about this whole episode: encounters with liars like Mark Mathis diminish your trust in the human race.

  9. #9 Kimpatsu
    April 12, 2008

    I always write “god” in lower case, because I was taught as a child that the capital “G” is reserved for the One True God (TM) only, and as there’s no such creature, the word has no more resonance to me than does “chair” or “table”.

  10. #10 Kseniya
    April 12, 2008

    I believe Philos meant “tamping down”.

  11. #11 MAJeff, OM
    April 12, 2008

    encounters with liars like Mark Mathis diminish your trust in the human race.

    See! An evotard talking about race! NAZI! Stein is right! [/keith]

    just had to get it out of the way.

  12. #12 Marcus Ranum
    April 12, 2008

    How many Nobel Prize-winning biologists have been EXPELLED for creationism? Oh. Right. There aren’t any.

  13. #13 alex
    April 12, 2008

    Marcus:
    How many Nobel Prize-winning biologists have been EXPELLED for creationism? Oh. Right. There aren’t any.

    they wuz all EXPELLED before they had the chance!

  14. #14 razimmermann
    April 12, 2008

    Last night on the Fox News sitcom “Hannity and Colmes”, Sean Hannity gave “Expelled” an almost teary-eyed endorsement after interviewing Ben Stein. The idiocy must be seen to be believed (clip at http://www.foxnews.com/hannityandcolmes). Among the more egregious nuggets to drop from Stein’s mouth: Hitler was a lineal descendant of Darwin; Darwinism provided the rationale for the Holocaust (the idea of exterminating whole races of ‘inferior’ beings); the Grand Canyon, Lake Pend Oreille, Malibu and Manhattan sunsets are evidence for God; there’s no reason to believe that an intelligent designer did not create the universe.

    His parting shot is priceless (for everything else, there’s MasterCard): “People took our God away from use and gave us Darwinism. Darwinism didn’t work. We’d like our God back.”

  15. #15 Benjamin Franklin
    April 12, 2008

    A simple, one page rebuttal to Expelled
    Here it is – PZ, if you like it howz about page one?

    Expelled begins with a deception. The opening scene of the movie is a fraud. It purports to show Mr. Stein giving a lecture to an adoring crowd of students at Pepperdine University. But the production company for the movie literally bought the audience: there were only 2 or 3 actual Pepperdine students there, the audience having been created from what is known in movie jargon as “extras.” What a way to start a “documentary”, the purpose of which is to supposedly unmask deceptions and conspiracies.

    It doesn’t get better. The films’ main thesis, that anyone in the science community who believes in God, or is a Darwin dissenter is being “expelled” is false at its core.

    In a New York Times interview, Walter Ruloff (producer of Expelled) said that researchers, who had studied cellular mechanisms, made findings suggestive of an intelligent designer. “But they are afraid to report them”.
    Mr. Ruloff also cited Dr. Francis S. Collins, a geneticist who directs the National Human Genome Research Institute and whose book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, explains how he came to embrace his Christian faith. Mr. Ruloff said that Dr. Collins separates his religious beliefs from his scientific work only because “he is toeing the party line”.

    That’s “just ludicrous” Dr. Collins said in a telephone interview. While many of his scientific colleagues are not religious and some are “a bit puzzled” by his faith, he said, “they are generally very respectful.” He said that if the problem Mr. Ruloff describes existed, he is certain he would know about it.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/science/27expelled.html?pagewanted=2

    Similarly, Dr. Ken Miller is a Biology professor at Brown University, and a professed Christian who wrote Finding Darwin’s God. Dr. Miller has not been “expelled” in any fashion. When asked why Dr. Miller or any other scientists who feel that evolution doesn’t preclude religious beliefs weren’t in the movie, Mark Mathis (associate producer of Expelled) responded that it “would have confused the film unnecessarily”.

    The movie tries to make the case that “Big Science” is nothing but a huge atheist conspiracy out to silence believers, but only presents a very one-sided look at some Discovery Institute “martyrs”.

    Richard von Sternberg “expelled”? – No.
    Von Sternberg claimed that he was fired. No. He continued to work for NIH in the same capacity. He claims he was kicked out of his office, and his keys were taken away. No. That was a move of all offices by the Smithsonian announced months earlier. He claims that he was ousted as editor of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. No. His term as editor was up. Of course the movie doesn’t bring up his underhanded tactics regarding the peer review in getting Meyers’ article on ID published in the last issue in which von Sternberg served as editor.
    http://www.nmnh.si.edu/rtp/other_opps/intern/associates04.html

    Carolyn Crocker “expelled”? – No.
    Her annual teaching contract was not renewed. Was she “fired” for daring to bring God into research? – No. She was hired to teach Biology, and she decided to ignore the schools’ curriculum and substitute her own curriculum.
    http://tinyfrog.wordpress.com/2008/02/15/ode-to-caroline-crocker/

    Guillermo Gonzalez “expelled”? – No.
    He was not granted tenure. The film doesn’t bring up the fact that in all his years at ISU he had only brought in only a miniscule amount of grant money. Nor does it bring up the fact that he failed to mentor any students through to their PhD at ISU. Nor does it mention that in his career at ISU, his previous excellent record of publication had dropped precipitously.
    http://scienceblogs.com/strangerfruit/gg2.jpg

    This movie attempts to influence viewers with dishonesty, half-truths, and its heavy-handed linkage of modern biology to the Holocaust in an utterly shameful way. John Rennie recently wrote in his review Expelled: No Integrity Displayed – “It demands a response for the sake of simple human decency.”

    If a scientists’ research is not accepted by the scientific community, it isn’t because the scientist either believes or doesn’t believe in God, it is usually because they are producing bad science.

    For more information – go to expelledexposed.com

  16. #16 James F
    April 12, 2008

    #72 Benjamin Franklin:

    Here’s a quick grammar police cleanup of commas, apostrophes, and quotation marks, plus it’s Sternberg, not von Sternberg. Please add back the bold and paragraph spacing. You might want to post this puppy at the Vanity Fair comments section.

    Expelled begins with a deception. The opening scene of the movie is a fraud. It purports to show Mr. Stein giving a lecture to an adoring crowd of students at Pepperdine University. But the production company for the movie literally bought the audience: there were only 2 or 3 actual Pepperdine students there, the audience having been created from what is known in movie jargon as “extras.” What a way to start a “documentary,” the purpose of which is to supposedly unmask deceptions and conspiracies.??It doesn’t get better. The film’s main thesis, that anyone in the science community who believes in God or is a Darwin dissenter is being “expelled,” is false at its core.
    In a New York Times interview, Walter Ruloff (producer of Expelled) said that researchers who had studied cellular mechanisms made findings suggestive of an intelligent designer, “but they are afraid to report them.”?Mr. Ruloff also cited Dr. Francis S. Collins, a geneticist who directs the National Human Genome Research Institute and whose book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, explains how he came to embrace his Christian faith. Mr. Ruloff said that Dr. Collins separates his religious beliefs from his scientific work only because “he is toeing the party line.”
    That’s “just ludicrous,” Dr. Collins said in a telephone interview. While many of his scientific colleagues are not religious and some are “a bit puzzled” by his faith, he said, “they are generally very respectful.” He said that if the problem Mr. Ruloff describes existed, he is certain he would know about it. ?http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/science/27expelled.html?pagewanted=2
    Similarly, Dr. Ken Miller is a Biology professor at Brown University, and a professed Christian who wrote Finding Darwin’s God. Dr. Miller has not been “expelled” in any fashion. When asked why Dr. Miller or any other scientists who feel that evolution doesn’t preclude religious beliefs weren’t in the movie, Mark Mathis (associate producer of Expelled) responded that it “would have confused the film unnecessarily.”
    The movie tries to make the case that “Big Science” is nothing but a huge atheist conspiracy out to silence believers, but only presents a very one-sided look at some Discovery Institute “martyrs.”
    Richard Sternberg “expelled?” No.?Sternberg claimed that he was fired. No. He continued to work for NIH in the same capacity. He claims he was kicked out of his office, and his keys were taken away. No. That was a move of all offices by the Smithsonian announced months earlier. He claims that he was ousted as editor of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. No. His term as editor was up. Of course the movie doesn’t bring up his underhanded tactics regarding the peer review in getting Meyer’s article on ID published in the last issue in which Sternberg served as editor.?http://www.nmnh.si.edu/rtp/other_opps/intern/associates04.html
    Carolyn Crocker “expelled?” No.?Her annual teaching contract was not renewed. Was she “fired” for daring to bring God into research? No. She was hired to teach biology, and she decided to ignore the school’s curriculum and substitute her own curriculum.?http://tinyfrog.wordpress.com/2008/02/15/ode-to-caroline-crocker/
    Guillermo Gonzalez “expelled?” No.?He was not granted tenure. The film doesn’t bring up the fact that in all his years at ISU he had only brought in only a miniscule amount of grant money. Nor does it bring up the fact that he failed to mentor any students through to their Ph.D. at ISU. Nor does it mention that in his career at ISU, his previous excellent record of publication had dropped precipitously.?http://scienceblogs.com/strangerfruit/gg2.jpg
    This movie attempts to influence viewers with dishonesty, half-truths, and its heavy-handed linkage of modern biology to the Holocaust in an utterly shameful way. John Rennie recently wrote in his review Expelled: No Integrity Displayed, “It demands a response for the sake of simple human decency.”
    If a scientist’s research is not accepted by the scientific community, it isn’t because the scientist either believes or doesn’t believe in God, it is usually because they are producing bad science.
    For more information – go to expelledexposed.com

  17. #17 MPW
    April 12, 2008

    As a knitter, I was going to protest the insulting comparison of religion with knitting, but pyramus beat me to it! Knitting is a craft that can showcase remarkable skill, and it can be a wonderfully creative art form. Is religion any of these things?

    C’mon, let’s not turn into cartoon atheists here. We all know perfectly well that religion has inspired, and been an integral part of, countless great works of art over the millennia, including some of my favorite architecture, painting, sculpture, poetry and especially music. I know from previous threads that that’s true for plenty of other non-believers here.

  18. #18 Benjamin Franklin
    April 12, 2008

    James,

    No prob. But I refuse to write his name with Ph.D., Ph.D.

    How pompous can you get?

    But tell me more about Vanity Fair comments. Is it a part of scienceblogs that I’m not familiar with? Or are you talking Vanity Fair magazine? I’m not sure how great it would go next to the slideshow of Madonna – dressed and undressed through the years.

    On the other hand I will be sending it to NCES, they may want to include it on the expelledexposed site.

    I’m no Matzke, but it is not bad.

  19. #19 Jonathon
    April 14, 2008

    “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.”

    Could this be because scientists and laypeople like myself are SICK AND TIRED of dealing with the inane arguments of creationists?

    Look, if someone were to come around over and over and over again telling you that the Earth is flat, that there is a conspiracy to keep flat-earthers out of science journals, universities, etc. and every time you try to assure them that the Earth is indeed a sphere and orbits around our Sun – and provide them with reams and reams of evidence that disproves their therory – they accuse you of being a Nazi, wouldn’t you get tired of it too?

    As much as creationists would like it to be true, this isn’t an argument of religion vs. atheism. This is an argument of science vs. unfounded belief. Darwinism does not equate to atheism. Darwinism does not directly address the origin of life. Those who believe that it is atheism are very, very confused.

  20. #20 nerol
    April 20, 2008

    I can’t tell whether the anger in all this is supported by your Ideology or the other way around.I have studied “Darwinism”, and the beloved touted “Evolution Hypothesis”. I can certainly see where you would defend either from whence you come. However there those who have a different opinion and or “Theory”.I have heard{read}99 44/100s % hatred in this forum. I am totally against theft of others work, and regardless of what Stein and crew have done , his tactics and routine do not reflect thoughts and beliefs of All those who support ID. And after all…..Is this a country where all are free to tout and defend what they believe?? If not we must be in Soviet Russia!!?? You should be more concerned about the Scum in office in DC that are stripping you of your Rights and replacing them with a “Privilege System”.Or maybe {by way of example} : the CPS vermin that steal and kill our children(been there, done that) and or sell them to the highest bidder is a better way of life for us and should be ignored or superseded by those who would silence Anyone that varies in opinion from them??Who is lying to you[us].So what really matters to you???

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