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Expelled and ID: Part II section A, Expelled

March 27, 2008

Yes, I’ve had to section this one out due to length.

Hopefully in Part I, I’ve successfully imparted the fact that intelligent design is not science and therefore does not belong in the science classroom. Now, it is time to move on to discuss the Premise Media movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed and how, before it has even been released, this most wretched propaganda piece has exemplified every aspect of the lies, ignorance, and misdirection that the ID leadership exhibits to further their cause.

Expelled is a pro-ID movie produced by Mark Mathis that purports to shed light on the active expulsion of pro-ID “scientists” by the monolithic and atheist (ooh, scary) “Big Science”. It presents multiple cases of people who have supposedly lost their jobs and standing in the scientific community due to their support of ID.

Interviews with several notable scientists and skeptics are featured in Expelled, including Richard Dawkins, PZ Meyers, and Eugenie Scott. What came to light just recently is that these people had been asked by the Expelled crew to interview for a movie called Crossroads, which was pitched to the scientists in April as “an examination of the intersection of science and religion” and produced by Rampant Films. From PZ Meyer’s Pharyngula:

Last April, I received this nice letter from Mark Mathis.

Hello Mr. Myers,

My name is Mark Mathis. I am a Producer for Rampant Films. We are currently in production of the documentary film, “Crossroads: The Intersection of Science and Religion.”

At your convenience I would like to discuss our project with you and to see if we might be able to schedule an interview with you for the film. The interview would take no more than 90 minutes total, including set up and break down of our equipment.

We are interested in asking you a number of questions about the disconnect/controversy that exists in America between Evolution, Creationism and the Intelligent Design movement.

Please let me know what time would be convenient for me to reach you at your office. Also, could you please let me know if you charge a fee for interviews and if so, what that fee would be for 90 minutes of your time.

I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Sincerely,

Mark Mathis
Rampant Films
4414 Woodman Ave. #203
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
www.rampantfilms.com

(link)

At no time was it discussed with the interviewees that the film was a pro-ID film, and Dr. Meyers did not find out about the pro-ID movie, Expelled, until he saw his name in a press release in August. This subterfuge was defended by Mark Mathis as use of a working title, even though the internet domain used for Expelled was reserved a month prior.

This inauspicious beginning foretells the lies, deceit, and outright incompetence that have plagued the Expelled crew since the movie began to preview. The producers of Expelled have tried to skew public opinion of the film by only inviting parties that would be sympathetic to the premise. Dan Whipple of Colorado Confidential was invited to such a screening and his impression of the film was fairly critical:

“Other presentations of “Expelled” display intellectual dishonesty. For instance, most evolutionary biologists do not deal with the origins of life. Evolution acts on organisms that already exist. The question of how life came about is not something that Darwinian evolution deals with. “Expelled” acknowledges this, then proceeds to ignore this acknowledgement and fault evolutionary theory for misinterpreting the origins of life. Sigh.”

“”Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” may be the first volley in the next battle by creationists to give their movement intellectual weight. But its cartoon version of evolutionary theory, Its remarkable lack of evidence for its case, its unbalanced and hysterical portrayal of the “martyrs,” its dismal and depressing musical score, and its lack of genuine humor will persuade only the already persuaded.”

Whipple also discredits what he refers to as the “poster boy” case of scientific bashing of ID-supporting scientists, Richard Sternberg:

…whom the movie says was ousted from his position at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, and from his editorship of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington when he published in that publication a peer-reviewed article of scientific evidence that supports intelligent design.

The allegations made in “Expelled” are wrong. Sternberg never worked for the Smithsonian, so the Smithsonian couldn’t threaten his job there. He was a visiting scholar with research privileges, assigned an office. He still has both the office and the research privileges. He wasn’t deprived of his editorship. His term as editor had expired so he was stepping down anyway in favor of another editor when the controversial ID article was published.

After Whipple’s devastating article, the Expelled crew took the step of making viewers of the screenings and press conferences sign non-disclosure agreements, but Roger Moore with the Orlando Sentinel pulled some James Bond shit (hehe) and got into a screening even though he refused to sign the NDA. He was also unimpressed:

Expelled makes good points about academic freedom and the ways unpopular ideas are shouted down in academia, the press and the culture. But not offering evidence to back your side, where the burden of proof lies, makes the movie every bit as meaningless and silly as that transcendental metaphysical hooey of a couple of years back, What the Bleep Do We Know?

In Stein’s case, you really do wonder what he knows, or what he’s willing to claim he believes just to make a buck off the Scopes deniers.

Oh, and keeping your movie from the public because you’re afraid of ridicule is just gutless. Put it out there, let people have time to chew on your arguments. Your fans will buy tickets. And plenty of folks will emerge to tear it apart. Even Michael Moore has the courage to do that.

Ouch.

We come back to Dan Whipple who, although he wrote such a critical article on the film, was invited again by mistake to a phone press conference for the film.

Freedom of expression is unseemly at an Expelled press conference. There was no give-and-take, no open marketplace of ideas, in fact, scarcely any questions at all. Ruloff and Stein batted one softball after another out of the park from those posed by Paul Lauer, a representative of the film’s public relations firm. Questions from non-employees had to be submitted by email. Lauer (or somebody at his firm) screened them.

The questions that made it through the screening were from: Listen Up TV, a Christian program; the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention; Focus on the Family; and the Colorado Catholic Herald. Four outside questions in 50 minutes of press conference, only two of which can be described as “press.”

In other words, the Expelled crew, whose movie decries suppression of ideas in the film, were not allowing unscreened questions from the invited press. The only four that made it through were from sympathetic parties. Wow. One wonders how far they will crumble when the general populace is allowed to watch their rubbish in April.

Stay tuned for Section B of Part II!

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