It seems the Expelled propaganda machine has added a new trick to its repertoire: pre-emptive lying.
If you have heard of the new documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, opening April 18, chances are you have heard all kinds of distortions and myths about it. So let me set the record straight about some of the most common myths.
Yes, that’s Chuck Colson’s name in the by-line. Apparently, he’s concerned about all the bad publicity that Expelled is getting, and he’s trying to improve things by appealing to people to ignore it all. (Hey, I thought this publicity was supposed to be good for the movie? Why is an expert framer like Colson trying to get people not to listen to it? But I digress.)
So what are these “myths” that Colson doesn’t want people to listen to?
Myth #1: Darwinists interviewed for this film were tricked into participating.
Not so. Each scientist interviewed for Expelled, on both sides of the evolution debate, knew who would do the interview and what it was for. Each of them signed a release, allowing the producers to use the footage of their interviews.
Uh, right Chuck. The fact that they signed releases proves that they weren’t tricked into signing the releases. Meanwhile, back in the real world, the producers of Expelled registered the domain name expelledthemovie.com on March 2, 2007, as a simple WHOIS lookup will show:
Domain name: EXPELLEDTHEMOVIE.COM Administrative Contact: contactprivacy.com, email@example.com 96 Mowat Ave Toronto, ON M6K 3M1 CA +1.4165385457 Technical Contact: contactprivacy.com, firstname.lastname@example.org 96 Mowat Ave Toronto, ON M6K 3M1 CA +1.4165385457 Registration Service Provider: FatCow, email@example.com 888-278-9780 Registrar of Record: TUCOWS, INC. Record last updated on 16-Feb-2008. Record expires on 02-Mar-2009. Record created on 02-Mar-2007.
The following April, they sent PZ Myers an innocuous looking letter, which he posted on his web site.
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”…
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.
Notice, Mathis does not say, “Hello, I’m doing a movie called Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed that tries to make Darwinists look like crypto-nazis out to destroy all that is good and holy by oppressing and censoring the truth about Intelligent Design.” He fed Myers a carefully crafted description that alluded to certain things that were something similar to the truth, while concealing the fact that he was working on Expelled and intended to use the Myers footage to make Darwinists look bad.
In fact, Colson’s own report shows that Mark Mathis is lying when he claims that the movie started out neutral and gradually became hostile. This was intended to be a movie about alleged “censorship” and “oppression” right from the beginning:
The original idea for Expelled, said co-producer and software engineer Walt Ruloff, came to him when he was working on a project with a group of biotechnologists and learned “that there was a whole series of questions that could not be asked.”The prevailing ideology among many scientists—it turned out—he concluded, was keep your mouth shut, take the research money, and publish only the data that fits with “the party line.” The issue that concerns Ruloff and the others behind Expelled is whether the scientific establishment in this country is going to allow genuine “freedom of inquiry,” or simply shut up—and slander—those who do not toe the line.
Given all this, Ben Stein states, “As long as the cause is right, I’m happy to be in an uphill struggle.”
So the producers knew from the start that they were making a movie called Expelled about “the scientific establishment” allegedly trying to stifle freedom of inquiry. But they wouldn’t let PZ Myers know about any of that stuff. Not until it was too late. Muahahahah.
There’s tons of stuff over at ScienceBlogs about the various unethical and dishonest stunts that Ben Stein and company have been pulling in connection with this movie, so suffice it to say that when Colson calls it a “myth,” he’s only adding his own name to the Hall of Shame this movie is building around itself.
Myth #2: The film is anti-science.
Wrong again. Many distinguished scientists were interviewed for this film and given the chance to express their views. Just like their Darwinist counterparts, the advocates of intelligent design and their supporters who are interviewed are there to talk about science, not to dismiss it.
Or more precisely, they’re there to subvert it, not to dismiss it. The goal of creationism, including ID, is to try to appropriate scientific validity for their own superstitious arguments, so naturally they’re not going to try and undermine the authority and credibility of science per se. They want to make science into a yes-man for whatever doctrines they care to preach, but they want it to be an authoritative yes-man, so that it will give believers another reason to believe.
There’s no question, however, that this movie seeks to destroy what science actually does, which is to discern between the things we would like to believe and the things which are actually true. No matter how many Nazi film clips you play while talking about Darwin, the theory of evolution still accurately describes the way in which new species arise via descent with modification from common ancestors. By attacking evolution, Stein and company are most definitely attacking science. But more importantly, by saying you should attack science whenever it contradicts your preconceived ideas, and by calling such attacks a righteous cause, Stein and company are assaulting the very freedom of inquiry that he claims to be defending. It’s hard to be much more anti-science than that!
Having exhausted his list of things he can call “myth” with a straight face, Colson next turns to a bit of jocularity.
Myth #3: Ben Stein, the actor and writer who hosts the movie, has lost his mind.
…I have known Stein well for years, and he is as bright as a button and anything but out of his mind.
“Bright as a button”? Maybe so, but as Forrest Gump’s mama used to tell him, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Maybe he just hasn’t caught on to the Internet yet, or maybe he’s expecting God to divinely intervene to protect him from the consequences of all the lying and deception which he and his associates are busily spreading as part of the meta-plot of the movie. Then again, considering how notoriously gullible Christians are about that whole persecution thing, maybe it’s not so stupid after all.
On a serious note, Stein and his film’s producers explained that the mud that people are flinging at him is just one small example of what happens to people who question Darwinian orthodoxy.
Ah, right on cue. Mud-slinging usually involves slander, which is saying things that are unkind and untrue. The criticisms of the Expelled movie, however, are not untrue, they are documented reports of actual misconduct and dishonesty by the producers and host. Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them,” but apparently that’s not the case if they’re crafty enough to pull the “only Darwinists say bad things about my fruit” ploy. The voice of the prophetic watchdog, who rebukes believers for their sins, has apparently been silenced in today’s Christian church. Gullibility and tribalism reign.
Myth #4: Popular author and atheist Richard Dawkins tells Ben Stein in this film that there could have been a designer of life on earth, but it would have had to have been “a higher intelligence” that had itself evolved “to a very high level . . . and seeded some form of life on this planet.”
Well, actually . . . that one is not a myth. He really did say it—striking admission, though it is.
And out of context, though it is. Here is Richard Dawkins’ re-telling of the incident, with the omitted details re-included:
Toward the end of his interview with me, Stein asked whether I could think of any circumstances whatsoever under which intelligent design might have occurred. It’s the kind of challenge I relish, and I set myself the task of imagining the most plausible scenario I could. I wanted to give ID its best shot, however poor that best shot might be. I must have been feeling magnanimous that day, because I was aware that the leading advocates of Intelligent Design are very fond of protesting that they are not talking about God as the designer, but about some unnamed and unspecified intelligence, which might even be an alien from another planet. Indeed, this is the only way they differentiate themselves from fundamentalist creationists, and they do it only when they need to, in order to weasel their way around church/state separation laws. So, bending over backwards to accommodate the IDiots (“oh NOOOOO, of course we aren’t talking about God, this is SCIENCE”) and bending over backwards to make the best case I could for intelligent design, I constructed a science fiction scenario. Like Michael Ruse (as I surmise) I still hadn’t rumbled Stein, and I was charitable enough to think he was an honestly stupid man, sincerely seeking enlightenment from a scientist. I patiently explained to him that life could conceivably have been seeded on Earth by an alien intelligence from another planet (Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel suggested something similar — semi tongue-in-cheek). The conclusion I was heading towards was that, even in the highly unlikely event that some such ‘Directed Panspermia’ was responsible for designing life on this planet, the alien beings would THEMSELVES have to have evolved, if not by Darwinian selection, by some equivalent ‘crane’ (to quote Dan Dennett). My point here was that design can never be an ULTIMATE explanation for organized complexity. Even if life on Earth was seeded by intelligent designers on another planet, and even if the alien life form was itself seeded four billion years earlier, the regress must ultimately be terminated (and we have only some 13 billion years to play with because of the finite age of the universe). Organized complexity cannot just spontaneously happen. That, for goodness sake, is the creationists’ whole point, when they bang on about eyes and bacterial flagella! Evolution by natural selection is the only known process whereby organized complexity can ultimately come into being. Organized complexity — and that includes everything capable of designing anything intelligently — comes LATE into the universe. It cannot exist at the beginning, as I have explained again and again in my writings.
As a myth-buster, Colson fails so badly that he not only fails to debunk the first three of his chosen “myths,” but he’s even guilty of helping to create a new myth in the fourth example. Amazing how this little movie project seems to taint everyone who tries to defend it, isn’t it?