Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I've blogged before about the dishonesty behind the Expelled movie with Ben Stein. As Austringer notes, it must really suck if Fox News pans it:

Directed by one Nathan Frankowski, "Expelled" is a sloppy, all-over-the-place, poorly made (and not just a little boring) "expose" of the scientific community. It’s not very exciting. But it does show that Stein, who’s carved out a career selling eye drops in commercials and amusing us on sitcoms, is either completely nuts or so avaricious that he’s abandoned all good sense to make a buck.

To wit: Stein, Frankowski and pals say in "Expelled" that perfectly good scientists and educators are being stigmatized for wanting to teach their students creationism and "intelligent design" — in other words, junk science — in addition to or instead of conventionally accepted Darwinism. You see, Stein, like some other celebrities, finally has shown his true colors and they aren’t so pretty.

I won't be lining up to see a fake documentary juxtaposing footage of Nazis alongside cuts of PZ Myers and company lifted out of context by second rate video producers who have to lie to their on-screen subjects in order to get them to participate.

I don't mind saying, with over 20 years experience producing, mostly for the education market--that what's truly pathetic is these jerks couldn't make the effort to find real scientists and philosophers to participate and engage with the non-theists in the program they're so frightened of. No, it was easier to just lie.


Clayton said...

In the interest of a true spirit of scientific inquiry, I recommend seeing the film before analyzing it.

Something about working with the actual evidence...

Clayton said...

Ben Stein and the producers did respond to the charges you mention at the DGA Hollywood screening on March 28. According to Ben and team, the claims are false.

Since we can't know what happened one way or another, let's stick to the film itself. The thesis is not that one must believe there is a Creator behind the universe. The thesis is that the scientific community is stuck in correcthink that disallows the possibility of inquiry that would support intelligent design.

A faculty member at UCLA spoke after the screening and spoke of an instance in which a portion of the evidence -- I believe it was 20% -- from a particular research project was thrown out, solely for the reason that it could provide evidence of intelligent design.

I think this is bad for science.

John Farrell said...

Clayton, thanks for writing. I wish saying "According to Ben and team, the claims are false" was sufficient. Sadly, the ID crowd shot their credibility long before this episode.

Here's some evidence that they're lying. The evidence is explicit. PZ Myers was approached about appearing in a movie called Crossroads:

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.


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

He goes on:

Why were they so dishonest about it? If Mathis had said outright that he wants to interview an atheist and outspoken critic of Intelligent Design for a film he was making about how ID is unfairly excluded from academe, I would have said, "bring it on!" We would have had a good, pugnacious argument on tape that directly addresses the claims of his movie, and it would have been a better (at least, more honest and more relevant) sequence. He would have also been more likely to get that good ol' wild-haired, bulgy-eyed furious John Brown of the Godless vision than the usual mild-mannered professor that he did tape. And I probably would have been more aggressive with a plainly stated disagreement between us.

I mean, seriously, not telling one of the sides in a debate about what the subject might be and then leading him around randomly to various topics, with the intent of later editing it down to the parts that just make the points you want, is the video version of quote-mining and is fundamentally dishonest.

Besides denials, in the interest of 'true scientific inquiry' may I ask you what Ben Stein or his producers can show to counter this?

I work for a major publishing company. We produce dozens of videos every semester--many are documentary cases on companies and individuals. If it were ever established that we misled IBM, or Microsoft, or Starbucks Coffee, about what we intended when we set up our cameras on their property and interviewed them for our videos, we WOULD BE SUED. Ben Stein and these second-rate amateurs will be lucky if they don't get sued.

Sorry. My low opinion of their dishonest tactics stands.

CrimsonCatholic said...

My wife thought the movie sounded interesting given some positive feedback from conservatives who made it out as if the universities were trying to discourage people from having religious beliefs. However, once I explained it to her that it was about evolution, she summarized the Catholic position quite pithily with the words of Fr. John Giles during a visit to her undergrad evolution class: "evolution is just change." She agreed with me that there's no reason to trash evolutionary biologists who legitimately study material change with the scientific method. Unfortunately, I doubt that there are going to be as many people out there who are as swift as my Ph.D.-holding missus.

Off topic, my emails to you keep bouncing for some reason, but I think this thread might be of interest to you regarding my take on moral theology contra some others.

John Farrell said...

I doubt that there are going to be as many people out there who are as swift as my Ph.D.-holding missus.

Ain't it cool being married to girls with advanced degrees?


Clayton said...

Someone else just posted a web link on my site that shows how the filmmakers selectively quoted from Darwin to make it look like he supported eugenics.

This is unfortunate.

After the screening on March 28, one of the principals said (quoting CS Lewis, I think): "The Truth doesn't need a defense; it just needs to be let out of its cage."

I am beginning to wonder if they believe it...

John Farrell said...

Indeed. BTW--I noticed you have three blogs. I admire your energy.