Dawkins and Myers Discuss the Expelled Incident

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This streaming video reveals the unadulterated stupidity of the religious wingnuts; their poor public relations skills, their artlessness, their shocking lack of creative abilities, along with their unabashed duplicity. Oh, by the way, Happy Easter! [9:30].

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As you have undoubtedly heard, a group of evolutionary biologists and evolutionary biology supporters attended a showing of the movie Expelled, in the Twin Cities, last night. This group included the very famous Richard Dawkins and the only slightly less famous PZ Myers. PZ and Richard, in fact,…
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(How do I know that it is a bad idea to say anything about this. Oh well. Here goes.) ScienceBlogs regulars will know that last week there was a tiny incident involving a prescreening of the movie Expelled! -- a documentary starring Ben Stein purporting to expose the exclusion of pro-Intelligent…
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By Bill the Cat (not verified) on 23 Mar 2008 #permalink

Just one caution. Their speculations about misuse of the Harvard animations are simply speculation, and probably false. The screenwriter for Expelled, Kevin Miller, flat out denies any link. I believe him in this, though he's not a reliable source on a lot of other matters. See this comment at his blog.

It is worth checking this more carefully, but at this point I am expecting that such checking will just confirm that Kevin is right, and that the implications in Myers and Dawkins' video are false.

By Chris Ho-Stuart (not verified) on 23 Mar 2008 #permalink

The screenwriter for Expelled, Kevin Miller, flat out denies any link. I believe him in this

Why? Especially given their history involving that very Harvard video, why would you think they have any credibility left on that subject?
I'm sure it's just different enough to be legal (this time), but to think there's no link is just... why?

In response to the question about why I am inclined to take Kevin's word on originality of the video:

Because ID proponentists have already made other animations like this (used in Unlocking the Mysteries of Life) well before the Harvard animations were made. (Although Kevin ALSO states that the work in Expelled is independent from the animations used in "Unlocking".) But if you are just going to fuss about the idea, then the ID animations from Unlocking have priority over the Harvard animations from XVIVO. Fussing about the idea is really really foolish, and would play right into the hands of the whole theme of expelled. They are WELCOME to make their own representations these processes.

Because Myers and Dawkins are obviously just speculating. Myers didn't see the film and Dawkins didn't recognize the animations.

Because Kevin has shown some integrity in this whole thing. He has apologised very clearly, and pretty fast, for his incorrect statements about Myers being expelled because of lacking an invitation.

Because Kevin has made an effort also to talk to folks at the PandasThumb, where he shows up as very naive, but mostly sincere.

Because this point is one on which he would get very badly burned indeed for lying, and because (unlike his retracted lies about the reasons for Myers eviction) this is a case where he has direct knowledge of the matter.

Because other people who have seen the film have noted that it is not the Harvard animation.

I think Kevin is deluded, and in a transparently ridiculous spin control mode at present; but on this one point I expect he is being truthful. I'm putting my money on independent production.

I think it is worth checking carefully. I think it would be highly counter productive to make any fuss at all about merely reuse of an idea, given the ID already has good animations showing this kind of thing from 2002. I think accusations of plagiarism should not be made until someone actually checks it with a bit of care.

By Chris Ho-Stuart (not verified) on 23 Mar 2008 #permalink