Expelled?


Ugh. I am so sickened by even the previews and hype around this new documentary, “Expelled.” From watching the preview, I get the idea that Ben Stein is trying to tell us all that science is persecuting those that disagree…but the problem is, science isn’t about freedom of speech, it’s about TRUTH. And if you come up with some bullshit that can’t be falsified through tests, then I’m sorry, but you’re not making a scientific hypothesis and scientists do NOT need to respect you. So, the hypothesis that there is a “creator” who is guiding the design of life on earth, well…it’s not science. You can have that hypothesis if you want, and you can tell your children that’s what you believe if you want, but you absolutely 100% do NOT have the authority to make my children hear about it in schools, or to be demand respect from the scientific community.

Dan Whipple writes in the Center for Inquiry‘s publication PSICOP:

Expelled is such a morass of innuendo, untruth, irrationality, and fear-mongering that it’s hard to know where to start dissecting it. While presenting a brief for teaching intelligent design (in university classrooms, at least), the film never says what intelligent design is. Then, at a media telephonic extravaganza on January 22, Stein and co-producer Walter Ruloff said they had no theology to promote.

Said Ruloff, “We really are not validating one particular position, being the intelligent design or the design hypothesis, or creationism or other forms. What we’re really asking for is freedom of speech.” But the movie, or even a cursory review of the film’s Web sites (www.getexpelled.com and www.expelledthemovie.com), shows that this assertion is—how to put this politely?—unsupported. Says the GetExpelled.com site, “For decades now, Neo-Darwinism has maintained a stranglehold within public education, suppressing all other theories on the origins of life—especially those that hint of a ‘designer.’”

And this tidbit from that same piece is a real gem:

ID isn’t explained very well in Expelled and neither is Darwinism. This quote from Ben Stein comes from the movie’s telephonic promotional extravaganza. It’s not in the film itself, but the theme is pervasive in the film:

“Darwinism as I understand it—and maybe I don’t understand it,” Stein said, “but Darwinism holds that life began by something like lightning striking a puddle and inorganic matter was converted into living matter. And from that, after four-and-half-billion years, came the form of life that we now know.”

Well, clearly he doesn’t understand it. He made a documentary that’s on the big screens and made top 10 at the box office last weekend, and he didn’t even bother to research what Darwinism is! Evolution and natural selection make no claims about how the first life began, only how it evolved after that point. While the origin of life is a fascinating question that scientists are investigating, the various theories on how life could have begun naturally are still being developed and data is still being gathered. The fact that we haven’t yet pinpointed exactly how the first living organisms began doesn’t negate the evidence for the truth of evolution, the science of how all of the species and organisms living today descended from that first life.

The article in CSICOP directed me to another interesting piece in Scientific American, Six Things in Expelled that Ben Stein Doesn’t Want You to Know. One of these things I had already heard of:

3) Scientists in the film thought they were being interviewed for a different movie.
As Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, Eugenie Scott, Michael Shermer and other proponents of evolution appearing in Expelled have publicly remarked, the producers first arranged to interview them for a film that was to be called Crossroads, which was allegedly a documentary on “the intersection of science and religion.” They were subsequently surprised to learn that they were appearing in Expelled, which “exposes the widespread persecution of scientists and educators who are pursuing legitimate, opposing scientific views to the reigning orthodoxy,” to quote from the film’s press kit.

Pretty deceptive of the filmmakers, huh? I bet then they probably selectively cut interviews to show those scientists as unfavorably as possible. Again, ughhh.

I also found that Scientific American has a whole slew of articles on the the documentary, which you can check out at this page: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed–Scientific American’s Take.

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7 thoughts on “Expelled?

  1. The fact that we haven’t yet pinpointed exactly how the first living organisms began does negate the evidence for the truth of evolution, the science of how all of the species and organisms living today descended from that first life.

    did you mean to say ‘doesnt’ neglect? just curious. It just sounded weird.

    Secondly, you should watch the movie before passing judgment.

    The movie is about having academic freedom to discuss the issues. You just admitted that Darwinian Evolution doesnt claim to answer the question of the origin of life. good. fine. i agree. then why do you have a a problem with ID which tries to answer this question?

    The movie is about scientists and others that are getting hammered for even suggesting that there is a creator, something that you admit to saying Darwinian evolution isnt even tryint to answer.

    “Evolution and natural selection make no claims about how the first life began, only how it evolved after that point. While the origin of life is a fascinating question that scientists are investigating, the various theories on how life could have begun naturally are still being developed and data is still being gathered. ”

    uh…yeah…and one of the them is ID. let them in the conversation.

    “You can have that hypothesis if you want, and you can tell your children that’s what you believe if you want, but you absolutely 100% do NOT have the authority to make my children hear about it in schools, or to be demand respect from the scientific community.”

    why is evolution heard about in schools then? where do they get that authority?

    The better answer is to teach children to be discerning, not indoctrinated.
    Present the various major views…..evolution, creation, ID, etc. ….and let the kids decide. This is a fair and wise way to do this. Let the IDers in the discussion.

  2. Thanks for pointing that out, I did intend to write “doesn’t,” and now it’s been fixed!

    You asked “then why do you have a a problem with ID which tries to answer this question?”

    My answer is as I stated earlier in the post – I take complete issue with the fact that you cannot disprove ID. If you can’t prove it false, then it’s not falsifiable, which means that you can’t construct a proper test and it ISN’T SCIENCE. Therefore it’s just conjecture and I should be able to talk about my flying spaghetti monster ideas for how life evolved too.

    And the movie being supposedly about academic freedom is all misguided too, for the above reason. It’s not science, it doesn’t belong in academic science, and no one can claim a lack of academic freedom. There are rules to how science is conducted, and we all must follow them. If I tried to publish a paper on the flying spaghetti monster you can bet my peers wouldn’t allow that either, but if I took that and went around yelling that I had no freedom of speech, I’d be seriously mistaken. I can say whatever I want, just not in a peer-reviewed forum of the academic world of science, which follows the scientific method. In the science community, truths and facts must be rigorously proven before they are accepted as truth, and it should stay that way.

    And of course, it logically follows from this that evolution is heard about in schools because it HAS been proven and accepted by rigorous following of the scientific method.

    You also said: “The better answer is to teach children to be discerning, not indoctrinated. Present the various major views.”

    I also agree to teach children to be discerning, not indoctrinated. That’s why I think all children should learn about all of the world’s major religions and their impacts on history and society. With those tools, they will be able to make their own decisions as to whether to believe in religion or not. But teaching them true science in science class is not indoctrination, it’s the only reasonable thing to do. They can learn about creationism and ID in their class on the history of the world’s religions.

    If we asked every person to re-invent the scientific method before we started teaching them any truths, however, society would not progress. And without teaching them truths and the scientific method, they won’t have the tools they need to determine for themselves what to think.

    Already I fear that the American public’s current religious fervor is impeding our nation’s ability to remain at the forefront of technology and development…and we mustn’t discount how much of an impact that has had in our reaching and maintaining the level of superpower that America is currently at. If we don’t wake up and start funding and encouraging real science, we will fall behind the nations that are eager to move forward technologically and scientifically.

  3. Good article, Flicka Mawa, and good refutation of bullbullock’s points. I get so frustrated with the way people try to slip their religion into the science curriculum under the guise of “academic freedom.”

  4. I saw Expelled. It left a bad taste in my mouth afterwards but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what I didn’t like about it. The articles you linked to and quoted put everything in perspective. I thought Ben made some good points but they were lost in his poorly put, rude documentary. He actually links Darwinism with Adolf Hitler and I feel he tires to say if you believe in evolution you agree with the natzis. OMG. I think my favorite point was about scientists being marginalized, which you didn’t seem to agree with. It doesn’t have to be ID but scientist have been outed for not going with the flow at times. He talks about an ID paper by Meyers (?) which I wanted to look up. I guess it was peer reviewed and then the editor who published it was fired. But now that I think about it, the paper was likely peer reviewed by other ID people. Hm. It’s a fascinating converse. As soon as I finished my PhD I want to read Darwin’s book. I tried to in the past but couldn’t get into it.

  5. Rebecca, Thanks! I get so frustrated too.

    Hi Jennie,

    Actually, the paper by Meyers was not peer reviewed. You can read about this in one of the Scientific American articles. The editor of the journal chose to review it himself only and publish it, which he was reprimanded for. He also was already scheduled for that to be his last issue of the journal and to pass the editorship to someone else, according to the source I read.

    I’ve read part of Darwin’s book, but I don’t think it’s necessary or even that worthwhile to try to read the whole thing. There has been a lot of progress on the science of evolution since then, and evolution today being portrayed as sort of a “cult of Darwin” (as a questioner at the Richard Dawkins talk I went to put it) is not a good thing. Evolution is a science and much has happened since Darwin. I completely respect and am in awe of him, but we don’t talk of people who believe we have DNA inside us as Watson-Crickists, etc. I hope to read The Ancestor’s Tale by Dawkins sometime soon, that might be a good modern day read on the science of evolution.

    I do think that sometimes scientists can be marginalized because they don’t have the prestige and pull of someone with a bigger name and an opposing theory, but I don’t think the application of this to IDers makes any sense. IDers have had lots of press and chance to air their views, and huge numbers of real scientists have analyzed their arguments and refuted them as theological instead of scientific.

  6. I understand what you are saying, but I could make a case that Darwinian evolution is not falsifiable either in the sense that you or anyone you have either, …no one….ever….has personally seen mutations from one species to another. It has NEVER been proven.

    Only microbiology has ever been proven and what that is is adaptations to environmental characteristics WITHIN a species.

    Evolution has not been proven. It is a belief. Just like ID. so we need to discuss them both together. And whether your commentor likes it or not, it they are honest, people that believe in evolution are slipping their religious views in as well.

    Also, your presuppositions are wrong in that what is at issue here is how the earth and everything in the universe was created. And you’re working off of the presupposition that if I cant falsify something or rather if I cant prove it in a laboratory, then it must not be true. This modernistic framework has a lot of holes in it, namely because there are plenty of things in the universe that are true that you cant prove in a laboratory.

    Can you prove love in a laboratory? real love?
    Can you prove the beauty of a sunset in a laboratory? (maybe the reactions to it, yes, but can you scientifically prove what is beautiful? No, of course not. But we all know that some things are definitely beautiful.

    It’s the same problem with philosophers who say something like, ” Only things that can be proven scientifically or mathematically are true”

    the problem with that is obvious….how can they prove their own theory scientifically or mathematically?

    And my point is not to say that there are not things about ID or evolution that can be proven or disprove using science or mathematics, my point is that our jobs as teachers is to teach truth.

    If we are teaching on how the universe came into existence and how life emerged from non-life, then we have a responsibility to present whatever options are plausible and let the students decide. Especially since you have conceded that Darwinian evolution has no answer for either of those topics.(life from non-life and beginning of universe.)

    “Evolution and natural selection make no claims about how the first life began, only how it evolved after that point. While the origin of life is a fascinating question that scientists are investigating, the various theories on how life could have begun naturally are still being developed and data is still being gathered. ”

    point is, when you stand in a class room to teach impressionable minds, you present things honestly and say as fact only that which you KNOW to be true and that which you do not know, you present various options for the kids to decide. And if your statement above is right, #1 evolutionists have been dishonest for years because they have been giving theories of the origin of life that is outside their “scientific” bounds(as you have admitted), and #2 they should have no problem teaching ID along with other theories of how everything began.

  7. As you can see in my later post, I have a very important exam tomorrow, so I shouldn’t even have written this much…but what I want to say is that I have skipped some of your arguments and I have rational responses to each of them, but I just don’t have time to write them all out. In general, I refer you to the many great literature sources on all of the evidence for evolution and other issues you bring up.

    ~~~
    “And you’re working off of the presupposition that if I cant falsify something or rather if I cant prove it in a laboratory, then it must not be true.”

    This is not the case. I’m working off the knowledge that if I can’t falsify something, we have no way of knowing if it is true or not. Because if I can’t falsify something, I have no way of testing it against any other theories that also explain the phenomena. There are an infinite number of untestable explanations that also explain the phenomena (such as that the flying spaghetti monster caused life to evolve on earth), and there is no way to scientifically prove that any of them is more realistic (because no matter what argument you make, I can make the same for my story of how it happened and you can’t prove me wrong either), so why should I give your hypothesis any more weight in the decisions I make than any of the other unprovable hypotheses?

    ~~~
    You say “And if your statement above is right, #1 evolutionists have been dishonest for years because they have been giving theories of the origin of life that is outside their “scientific” bounds(as you have admitted), and #2 they should have no problem teaching ID along with other theories of how everything began.”

    Sure, they have been giving theories. But their theories are TESTABLE. And if their theories are not testable (like some of the current theories of the origin of the universe that won’t be testable until better technology is built), then they are generally only taught to people who specialize in that field or if the idea is appealing enough for whatever reason, to readers of popular science magazines and books. As such, both types of theories also meet certain criteria that ID theory does not meet. Theories that are taught to people that specialize in that field are usually based on mathematical proofs and/or that manage to explain new or outlying phenomena not explained by previous theories. Theories that make it into popular print forms may be the same as the former type, or they may be especially appealing enough to members of the public to sell.

    ~~~
    This part: “point is, when you stand in a class room to teach impressionable minds, you present things honestly and say as fact only that which you KNOW to be true and that which you do not know, you present various options for the kids to decide.”
    I of course agree with.

    ~~~
    You said: “Can you prove love in a laboratory? real love?
    Can you prove the beauty of a sunset in a laboratory? (maybe the reactions to it, yes, but can you scientifically prove what is beautiful? No, of course not. But we all know that some things are definitely beautiful.”

    As a matter of fact, I can do well enough. Studies have shown that two people who are in love have their brain chemistry altered. And you can’t prove beauty because it’s in the eye of the beholder, but you can prove that humans react to things they believe to be beautiful. All of this is neuroscience… it’s the neurochemistry in our brains providing these amazing sensations, emotions, and feelings. That doesn’t make it any less beautiful. In fact, I argue that it makes it MORE beautiful, because the chances of this…out of the millions of ways that your brain could be made up, you are this person and you are THIS combination of sensations and feelings and thoughts, you are YOU, and you are sentient, and you can feel love and see beauty and learn and create, and that is beautiful.

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