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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25887 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2009 :  22:02:40  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I saw Expelled a couple nights ago, so you won't have to. What follows isn't so much a review as a summary, following the "chapters" on the DVD (the titles are as written on the DVD, too). In fact, when good summaries exist elsewhere, I'm going to link to them rather than re-invent the wheel.

Chapter 1: No Intelligence Allowed

Lots of shots of the Berlin Wall being built during the opening credits. Then Dawkins, Dennett, Myers, Atkins and someone else all shown unnamed in single-sentence clips saying things related to the Intelligent Design (from here on, "ID") "debate" while we see shots of Ben Stein getting ready for the famous Pepperdine University Speech.

Chapter 2: Freedom is the Essense of America

Freedom is awesome! America is fantastic! Did I mention that freedom is awesomely super-cool?

Oh, but freedom is being lost in science. At least according to Ben Stein.

Chapter 3: The Expelled

Richard Sternberg claims he did what he did because he wanted the questions posed by ID to be "placed on the table." Just nevermind the fact that ID's questions have been on the table for 200 years or more.

Michael Shermer is brought in after discussion of Sternberg's case. Stein clearly offers Sternberg as a hypothetical, but lies about it by asking in this fashion: "What if you try and try and roll up your sleeves and work your butt off and they say, we're going to fire you if you even mention the word intelligent design?" Shermer responds, with reasonable disbelief, "where is that happening?"

Cut to George Mason University and Caroline Crocker. Then the film segues to Dr. Michael Egnor. And a quick-cut to Dr. Robert Marks. And then onto Guillermo Gonzalez.

Finally, Stein claims "many more" anonymous ID supporters who've suffered for their beliefs, and then he claims that Shermer is wrong. But wrong about what? He asked where such persecution is happening, he didn't state (at least not in the film) that it doesn't happen.

Chapter 4: What's So Bad about Intelligent Design?

Shown in quick succession (still without names) are Dawkins, Myers (twice), Dennett, Hitchens, Atkins, Ruse, Provine and someone else whose name I never learned, all saying bad (but correct) things about ID. Dennett is then given more time, and he's given a name. Myers then gets more time, and a name as well. Eugenie Scott gets her name right away, and a bunch of time to explain what's wrong with ID and the Discovery Institute.

Chapter 5: The Pentagon of Intelligent Design

Stein is shown allegedly lost and wandering in Seattle, looking for the Discovery Institute. He asks a couple of random people if they've ever heard of it, and gets negative replies. He finally finds it, and makes a big deal of thinking that people with big mouths and bad ideas must have offices "like the Pentagon." Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, claims that they're "like the little boy who said the emperor had no clothes."

More important to the rest of the film, Chapman also claimed in no uncertain terms that ID is not a religious argument. But then Chapman sends Stein on his way, saying that Stein doesn't want to learn about the science from Chapman.

Chapter 6: Everyone's a Critic?

So Stein goes to Paul Nelson, who says, ironically, "It's a funny thing that questions that aren't properly answered don't go away." He doesn't mention any specific questions, but claims that at "scientific meetings," if you get evolutionary biologists liquored up nicely, they'll say things like, "this theory's got a lot of problems." No specific problems are mentioned, either. Nelson also defines evolution, creationism and ID, and does so pretty poorly.

Stein goes to visit William Dembski, who says, ungrammatically, "Evolution is a - from an intelligent design perspective - is perfectly acceptable if the sense is that how did the design get implemented." Dembski also claims that Darwin's big mistake was applying evolutionary theory to all life.

Stein goes to visit Stephen Meyer, who's main claim is that there exist evidence-based counterarguments to Darwin's ideas. And then on to Jonathan Wells, who claims that Darwinists "distort" and "corrupt" the evidence (what evidence isn't stated, of course).

Stein goes all the way to Paris to talk to David Berlinski... or at least to Berlinski's knees. I know this has been said before, but sheesh! Berlinski is nearly laying down during his interview, slouched so far in his chair with one leg kicked over the other. It looks half the time like he's a head with a shin where his neck should be. Anyway, Stein sets up Berlinski as a huge authority figure, getting him to list off the universities he's taught at (yawn). And then Berlinski doesn't say all that much. He says Darwinism is a mess. "We don't even know what a species is!" he laments. Anyone with a bit of understanding of evolution should see right through that little issue.

And then, Dawkins is given a name! Stein claims that Dawkins says that evolution is a fact, therefore God doesn't exist. But why bring up religion? The film then goes on to show a clip of Dawkins stating that he's an atheist because there's no evidence for a god or gods, so Stein's claim of 30 seconds ago was nothing more than a blatant lie.

Chapter 7: Cosmic Origins

Stein here starts making fun of science's admitted "gaps." He then lies about the intent of Miller's famous 1952 experiment (leaving Harold Urey out of it altogether). Miller and Urey didn't create life in their test tubes because they weren't even trying to. You'll never hear Stein say that, though.

And then Michael Ruse is given a name! Stein makes fun of him for explaining the "life might have started on crystals" hypothesis.

Dr. Walter Bradley starts off the argument from improbability. We're treated to a stupid cartoon called "Casino of Life," which ends by sophmorically lampooning Dawkins. Dr. Doug Axe and Dr. Gerald Schroeder continue the argument from improbability.

Dr. Francis Crick and his "Directed Panspermia" hypothesis are, of course, ridiculed as "aliens did it." Stephen Meyer then claims that science will examine any possibility on the origin of life except "one that is guided" (in Stein's words). Nevermind where the evidence leads (or where it doesn't).

Chapter 8: What is a Cell?

Berlinski, Sternberg and Nelson all basically say that cells are really complex compared to what Darwin knew. Duh. Axe claims that cells are factories (and/or computers) and contain information. This is where the stolen XVIVO video is, if that's still it in this DVD version (I don't recall hearing Lennon's "Imagine," though).

Berlinski talks some more about information in cells, and Dembski claims that such info can't be explained by "materialist" processes. Where did that adjective come from? It never comes up again, so far as I heard. Dr. John Lennox wonders where the information in cells came from. Dr. Marciej Giertych claims that natural selection reduces information. And some unnamed guy basically claims that the information in cells has an intelligent source.

Chapter 9: Streng Verboten

Berlisnki, another unnamed guy and Sternberg introduce science as a non-democratic process in which to get money and support, you've got to be a good comrade.

Chapter 10: The Academy

Scientists as Soviets. Representative Mark Souder talks about the alleged horrors he discovered while investigating the Sternberg case. Reporter Larry Witham claims that nobody can question the prevailing paradigm. Sternberg claims that scientists fear questioning of one little thing because it might unravel whole theories.

Chapter 11: Watchdogs

Under "Watchdogs," we're treated to Eugenie Scott discussing the National Center for Science Education and its mission. Dawkins calls it a "science defense lobby," and Witham complains that liberal theists will "side with anyone" against the fundies. Witham claims that atheism is implicit in evolution, and Dawkins says that he's bad for court cases because evolution led him to atheism.

Under "The Media," Representative Souder claims that the media always side with mainstream science (ha!), and Chapman complains that reporters saying that the designer is God is a "wanton distortion of our position." Witham calls that position "boilerplate," and says that reporters are pressured against ID. We're introduced then to Pamela Winnick, who claimed that even just writing about ID means "you're finished as a journalist." Stein's voiceover claims that anonymous "other reporters" say the same thing.

Under "Courts," we get to hear Stein misrepresent Dover as the settling of a scientific question. Dr. Marciej Giertych says the same, and also claimed that "censorship" of questions about Darwinism has always been greater in the U.S. than in Poland due to "political correctness." But then Dembski comes along and destroys the idea that scientists are using the courts to settle scientific questions by saying, "court cases don't decide anything" (which he illustrates by noting that the pro-science side lost the Scopes Trial).

All pretense at there being a scientific question about ID is lost at this point in the movie. Lots of war images are shown, Stein claims that the hostility against ID must be because ID "must threaten something at the very core of the Darwinian establishment," and then we're treated to a section about the "Conflict of Ideas."

Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz claims that the evolution debate is a religious war. Stein says that scientists attack religion in order to "stamp out ID at its source." Bruce Chapman must be aghast.

Dawkins says that his book, The God Delusion, is a full assault on religion, and Alister McGrath (author of The Dawkins Delusion) says that Dawkins is naive and that science doesn't answer questions of purpose. Berlinski says that Dawkins is wrong, and calls him a "little bit of a lizard."

But then they've got a clip of Dr. Lennox saying that it can't be a battle between science and religion, because two groups of scientists are arguing. And Axe says that both sides have philosophical implications (which I only find to be true if you assume that evolutionary theory is prescriptive, which it's not).

(Now imagine that you're a person who hasn't been following the Culture Wars very closely. You go see this movie, and by this point, you've been treated to "it's not religion," "it is religion," and now "it's not religion" again. Someone familiar with creationists would know this is par for the course, but good grief! I feel a certain pity for people whose brains were mushified by this.)

Interestingly, here began a segment with which I mostly agreed. Dr. John Polkinghome said, basically, that scientism is metaphysics (sure is). Lennox claimed that worldvies come first, and influence the direction of science (I don't agree with that so much).

The award for irony in this movie must go to Alister McGrath, who says:
My deep regret is that some people are so deeply entrenched in their own worldviews that they will simply not countenance alternatives.
Very well said, Mr. McGrath. Bravo! I agree completely with that sentiment, especially when aimed at creationists.

But to continue with the stuff I agree with, Dr. Steve Fuller says that the idea that people must leave religion to do science is bad. Axe claimed that early scientists believed that their faith made it easier for them to do science. Fuller said that theists can do good science. And Lennox said that admitting biases is the best way to have a rational discussion (a runner-up for the irony award).

Chapter 12: A Disturbing Side of Darwinism

Stein claims that he's seen the effect that unquestioning devotion to Darwinism has had on science, and wonders if there are "other consequences." Dr. Will Provine gets a name, and describes his slide from theist through learning about evolution to atheist to hopeless realist. Provine claims that the absence of free will and the lack of "an ultimate foundation for ethics" are "deeply connected" to an evolutionary perspective. This is presented as if it's the mainstream. Myers and Dawkins get to talk about how science eroded their faith. Stein's voice-over claims that "most" evolutionary biologists share those views, and that "it appears that Darwinism does lead to atheism, despite what Eugenie Scott would have us believe." Myers and Dawkins get another couple quotes that people will take as "religion is fairy tales."

Dr. Peter Atkins get a name! And continues the previous theme. "Religion is - just fantasy." He also says that religion is devoid of explanatory content... and evil (with a giggle)! A Bill Maher clip is shown where he's saying that rather than regulating drugs or firearms, we should regulate religion as a societal danger.

Then come PZ Myers' famous knitting comments. Basically, religion should be a hobby, and not the focal point of people's lives. That's not what most people will take away from the clips, though.

Stein questions whether eradicating religion (which nobody in the film had advocated) will lead to a "modern utopia" (which nobody had suggested). Stein's voice-over says that he'll try to imagine it, using history as a guide, as we are treated to black-and-white video of a Soviet parade...

Chapter 13: The Descent of an Idea

...and a smiling Stalin (I think).

Cut to Berlinski's knee again, with him talking about the "connection" between Darwinism and Hitler. He claims that Darwinism is a necessary but insufficient condition for Naziism. This is, of course, ridiculous, as eugenics is clearly artificial selection, which is an idea that's even older than Genesis 30:31-43.

Chapter 14: A Dark Legacy

Stein goes to Germany. Mostly Hadamar. A tour guide tells Stein that the doctors there used Darwinism. Dr. Richard Weikart tells Stein all about Darwin's link to Hitler. Eugenics are discussed, as is Planned Parenthood. They go to Dachau. Darwin devalues humanity is the lesson that's drilled into us.

Chapter 15: The Birth of an Idea

Stein visits Down House. We get the famous quote-mine of Darwin, and then Stein wanders around for a while.

We go back to the Berlin Wall, and Stein's U.S. jingoism. He decides to go talk to the people who did the expelling of the people mentioned earlier, and is disappointed when he can't get them to crack and just say that their religious bigotry was at fault. Poor guy (not).

Back to the Berlin Wall, and Stein talks with a standing Berlinski and Schwartz. They make it sound like ID questions have never been entertained by any evolutionary scientist, ever.

Chapter 16: The Wall

This begins with the famous "Dawkins gets make-up" scene. Stein asks Dawkins to put odds on God's existence. Dawkins does so. Stein is shocked that Dawkins would do so. Dawkins reminds Stein that Stein just asked him to. Then some more boring badgering of Dawkins.

Finally, we get another freedom speech from Stein, interspersed with clips from Ronald Reagan, Schwartz, Sternberg, Gonzalez, McGrath, Crocker, Provine, Nelson and another unnamed guy. Yawns all around.

Oh, and Stein does his obligatory reference to Ferris Bueller's Day Off right before the credits roll.




Some notes:

Through reading other reviews and comments about the movie, I was prepared for a distortion of science and the lack of any interesting ID proposals. However, I wasn't prepared for the fact that the only time that real post-1859 science is mentioned at all is to allege that the Miller-Urey experiment failed because it didn't create life. There isn't an iota of modern science discussed elsewhere in the film, unless you count the "life might have started on crystals" speculation. The film really is an argument against Darwinism, utterly failing to acknowledge that science has moved on and improved since the publication of On the Origin of Species. Not even the scientists are allowed to say otherwise, on either side of the "debate."

And of course, there is nothing put forth to support ID. If you're one of the believers in the false dichotomy, then the "support" for ID comes in the flavor of the argument from really, really big denominators from chapter 7 and the argument from bad consequences found in almost every other chapter on the DVD. ID is never defined well.

Also, while Stein and Weikart say that Hitler justified his actions with Darwin's ideas, at no time do they suggest that it was entirely inappropriate for Hitler to do so, and of course they don't mention that Darwin himself spoke out against what would later be called "social Darwinism."

And coincidentally to my seeing the film, it turns out that one of its producers, Walt Ruloff, has admitted to lying about their intentions while making the movie. "Crossroads" my aunt Fanny. Ruloff also admits that the film hasn't made back the investment, but he won't say what that investment was.

Stein doesn't do most of the talking in this film, and isn't as deadpan as one would think (nowhere near as annoying as he is in The Fairly OddParents as the Pixies). He actually stresses some words more than others. Sometimes.

By the way, my "gets a name" comments in the summary are there to indicate an interesting bias. Pro-ID people in this film are identified as soon as or before they're first seen, and tend to be identified very prominently. Unless you're already familiar with anti-ID faces, or you're going back-and-forth in the DVD, you will miss a lot of the names of the anti-ID people.

Finally, I'm going to be keeping the DVD for a few more days, in case anyone's got any detailed questions. Just ask in the comments.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13368 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2009 :  23:47:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's pretty telling that they bring up Dover in the movie but fail to mention that the case revolved around the school board's problem with a science textbook on evolution that just happened to be written by a theist.

I suppose if one of the points of the movie is to contend that "Darwinism" leads to atheism, it would not do to mention Kenneth Miller to make the point fly.


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2009 :  23:59:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you, Dave, for the fairly exhaustive review.

It seems like Expelled is a rare bird. Though it uses just about every form of propaganda technique and rhetorical fallacy, it is so sloppy that it gets off message, as with the "it's about religion/it's not about religion" confusion.

Basically, the movie seems to be designed simply get like-minded/close-minded fundies together in a theater. And people like that, whose ingrained modus operandi is cherry-picking the most horrific and bigoted parts out of the Bible to support their cultural reaction, are not people likely to notice or complain about contradictions or inconsistencies.

To fundies, LOGIC is simply shorthand for Leviticus, Obadiah, Genesis, Isaiah and Corinthians.

ID Creationism won't get anywhere if it's not defined, and it certainly won't make headway with a movie that seems to be one long, rambling sermon to the choir. Even sending Sunday School kids to the Creation Museum is probably a more effective form of brainwashing, as at least Ken Ham keeps everything there fairly consistent.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 01/05/2009 00:06:33
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 01/05/2009 :  03:09:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You managed to sit through all that? Yow! I certainly hope you had some soothing substances handy to keep your brain from becoming emulsified.

What strikes me, part of it, anyway, is the amateurishness of the production. Did they not have some sort of script or plot or something to follow, or did they just wing it through the whole thing?

Did they ever throw any pies?

As 'mooner has pointed out, it is merely a piece of poorly done propaganda that has not come up with any new arguments in favor of the failed conjecture of ID. It has used the same, tired nonsense that we've been hearing, and ridiculing, for decades. It has/will convince no one but the already convinced. Sad, really, that the valuable time of a number of serious people was so frivolously wasted. On the plus side of it, coffins need nails and this thing makes a good one. I suspect that it has done more damage to ID than benefited it.

Thanks for the commentary, Dave. It was an enlightenment as well as a confirmation.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25887 Posts

Posted - 01/12/2009 :  10:43:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ben Stein got 32nd place in The 50 Most-Loathsome People, 2008.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 01/12/2009 :  11:44:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Ben Stein got 32nd place in The 50 Most-Loathsome People, 2008.
What?! Damn! I've been busting my balls to get on that list all year long, and what do they do? They select an unfunny comedian (that's a grievous sin, I'll concede) and inveterate liar over me. Either they just don't know loathsome, or the fix is in. Bastards!

They must infested with neocon Republicans, I'm beginning to suspect, 'cause except for a few, token liberals, it looks like they favor hardly anyone else for their precious list. I'd write my congressman about it, I would, if I thought the cretin could read!




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Edited by - filthy on 01/12/2009 11:47:51
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25887 Posts

Posted - 09/03/2013 :  09:37:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Resurrecting this ancient thread, because Expelled Writer Kevin Miller Is Expelled. Seems his ideas about hell didn't match up with those of the doctrinal statement of the university at which he was going to teach, so the university cancelled his film-making class.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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sailingsoul
SFN Addict

2830 Posts

Posted - 09/03/2013 :  11:36:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send sailingsoul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
How could he not see that coming, if he reads the Bible?

Galatians 6:7

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

There are only two types of religious people, the deceivers and the deceived. SS
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13368 Posts

Posted - 09/03/2013 :  12:29:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Resurrecting this ancient thread, because Expelled Writer Kevin Miller Is Expelled. Seems his ideas about hell didn't match up with those of the doctrinal statement of the university at which he was going to teach, so the university cancelled his film-making class.
Ha!

I posted this on our fb page.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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lilianjie
Spammer

USA
2 Posts

Posted - 10/22/2013 :  00:57:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send lilianjie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Generally, the film seems to be developed basically get [xxxxx] like-minded/close-minded fundies together in a cinema. And individuals like that, whose ingrained modus operandi is cherry-picking the most dreadful and bigoted areas out of [xxxxx] the Holy scriptures to [xxxxx] back up their social response, are not individuals likely to see or grumble about contradictions or variance.

[Spam links deleted - Dave W.]
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Roddy
New Member

Panama
48 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2016 :  20:21:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Roddy's Homepage Send Roddy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
this topic is old, but geez, Expelled is perhaps the worst documentary ever conceived, with so many logical fallacies, it is painful to sit through it.
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