Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lying Liars: Ben Stein

Ben Stein lies about Richard Sternberg, one of the "victims of Darwinists" portrayed in the "hack-flick" Expelled. And Ed Brayton of Dispatches catches him doing it. Wanna know who else caught Stein lying? The Smithsonian Institution. Says who? The Smithsonian Institution, in a letter to the editors of Newsweek. (See For The Record, the last letter on the page).

One question:

If you made a movie aimed at showing that ID scientists/thinkers are victims of persecution by the "Darwinian establishment" wouldn't you want to make damn sure that the cases you present of alleged persecution stand up to scrutiny?
(Answer: not if your movie is about intelligent design, because you rely on the fact that the crowd you preach to is already predisposed to believe any horrible things you tell them about "Darwinists" without actually taking the time to check them. Let's be clear: this is not a crowd who holds facts in high regard in the first place.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another Creationist Fired?

This is the case of an Ohio teacher who has been ordered to remove all religious items(including the Bible and the Ten Commandments) from his classroom. But, as Pharyngula maintains, the teacher should be fired, not simply because he proselytizes in class, but because he teaches bad science.

Can Expelled 2: The Apocalypse be far away?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Leader's Guide" Creationism

There is great article out on the blogsphere that demystifies the claim that intelligent design is not creationism in new clothes. It begins so:
While doing research for an earlier post I ran across a document called a “Leader’s Guide” on one of the official Expelled web-sites. This little bit of propaganda was created “to assist you with promoting the issues surrounding the film Expelled“, is filled to the brim with rhetoric, misinformation, out of context quotations, and half-truths that have been staples in the antievolutionist literature from long before the latest version, “intelligent design” evolved from it’s parent species “creation science” in the late 1980’s. To demonstrate the evolutionary link between these ideologies I will often follow quotes from the Guide (in blue for clarity) with quotes from pre-ID movement, “creation science” sources making identical, or nearly identical, statements.

You may read the rest of Expelled’s intelligent design theory - this IS your daddy’s creationism (Part I) here.

Once again, thanks to Pharyngula for pointing it out.

With Reviews Like These...

You can spare yourself the trouble of sitting through Expelled if you read these very detailed reviews/articles on the movie and its dishonesty. Thanks to Pharyngula for highlighting them.
By the way, in recent posts I have referred to the movie as a hick-flick. I understand that, *unfortunately*, some of those who will see it and endorse its contentious, illogical, and false contents are not hicks. But the movie's intended audience, I suspect, is indeed a community of hicks, the vast number of evangelicals who have been persuaded that Jesus rode on a dinosaur's back (metaphorically speaking; their real understanding, that dinosaurs and humans have lived in cohabitation, is not much more comforting), that the Grand Canyon is the result of a forty days and forty night long deluge, that pairs of unevolved animals have trotted happily on Noah's ark and lived happily together on it (herbivores right next to carnivores), and so forth, all of which beliefs can be happily taught by reckless parents to many educationally abused children.

To those who are rejoicing in the quasi-flop of Expelled in movie theaters I say: what until the DVD comes out, then you will have a sense of exactly how many people have bought into the divisive, dishonest and deceitful rhetoric dished out to a largely scientifically illiterate public by the likes of Discovery Institute and its minions.

Hick-flick? Most likely. Hack-flick? Certainly.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Response To Dr. Groothuis's "Break Down The Wall"

This is a point by point response to Dr. Groothuis's "Break Down The Wall", his thoughts on the movie Expelled, which he published on his own blog. Due to the length of my response, I have decided to post it here, so as to not "bog down" Dr. Groothuis's readers who may not be interested in my counterpoint.

P.S. Dr. Groothuis has already "updated and corrected" his post a couple of times, so it is possible that the quotes I give here are not the ones in the current version of his article. If you are interested, I have a copy of the version of the post that this response refers to.


Dr. Groothuis:

I have read "Break Down The Wall" on The Constructive Curmudgeon, and I have found several passages that I find to be highly debatable, misleading, or in need of further scrutiny. Since your review is long, and my counterpoint is longer, I have quoted passages below (in bold). Readers can find the full text of your review here.

1. We should break down the wall of censorship, intimidation, and retaliation that keeps intelligent design theory out of the academy.

False premise. You assume a wall that does not exist; at the very least, its existence has yet to be convincingly proven. Expelled does not live up to the task.

As repeatedly shown and substantiated by detractors of intelligent design, ID is just the latest incarnation of creationism, and does nothing more than attempt to smuggle God into the world of science, in spite of the claims by the Discovery Institute that "unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text." This claim is directly refuted by the famous Wedge Strategy (pdf), which is the brainchild of Phillip E. Johnson of the Discovery Institute and which clearly states that one of its goals is "to replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God".

So which is which? This seems to me a pretty fundamental piece of dishonesty by the men behind the Intelligent Design movement. The designer that the Discovery Institute and the scientists it parades in support of Intelligent Design is certainly the Christian God, which may explain the derision poured on Dawkins's suggestion in Expelled that the Intelligent Designer could be extraterrestrial intelligence, if we are willing to admit a designer. For Ben Stein, and for supporters of ID, the designer must clearly be God.

So, really, the only wall at issue here is the wall of separation between church and state, which creationists have tried to breach several times, most recently in circumstances that led to Kitzmiller v. Dover Board of Education, the trial that pitted a group of parents in a Pennsylvania town against the majority of the Dover Board of Education, intent on introducing intelligent design into the district's curriculum. Judge Jones, the Bush appointee who ruled for the plaintiffs in a trial which saw Michael Behe, of whom later, take the stand on behalf of the defendants, attached the unflattering judgment of "breathtaking inanity" to the Board's decision to push an "imprudent and unconstitutional policy" on the children and the parents of the Dover school district. (You can read Judge Jones's full opinion here.) The trial and its players are beautifully summarized in the documentary Judgment Day, for which PBS's Nova has won a Peabody award (one thing Expelled is sure not to win, since it hardly qualifies as a documentary.)

2. America has honored and must honor free speech if it is to remain America. That is the message of “Expelled”.

Another false premise.

There are whole websites, none too scientific to be honest, devoted to the promulgation of the ideas of intelligent design. Churches and pastors promote ID in church. You, Dr. Groothuis, are frequently found supporting the unscientific premises of intelligent design on the web, on radio stations and even in newspapers (the much-maligned media, which, according to you, is conspiring against ID). The fact that intelligent design does not find the room you seek in the mainstream media or in classrooms and universities, or that it does not earn the funding reserved instead for what you call "Darwinism", stems not from a conspiracy to suppress intelligent ideas, but from an attempt to prevent the contamination of the scientific process by religion, a combination that has had infamously poor results for science and for mankind (as my compatriot, Galileo Galilei, would readily attest.)

On funding, in particular, I trust the free-market to work well (proof that I am not a communist who is seeking to destroy America's economic system). If ID were a true scientific theory, it would attract serious scientific funding. Universities, pharmaceutical companies, biolabs, the agribusiness, all would rush to help ID if it held any promise of improving science. Perhaps even if it didn't, at least in the case of pharmaceutical companies, who could then fuse the placebo-like quality of many medications with the faith-based effect thereof.

Bear in mind that protection of free speech in employment is not absolute. If a Ford dealer said to customers that Ford engines are irreducibly complex and that they have been designed not by Ford engineers but by God, requiring a new engine to be dropped from the maker of the universe instead of the old one being repaired by Ford mechanics, the Ford Motor Company would do well to fire him with cause, and courts would uphold the company's decision, because that dealer's ideas, though protected to some extent by free speech, are not more important than the reputation of the car manufacturer*. The same goes for universities. When professors are hired, they agree to teach a curriculum, not to advance personal views that conflict with what they are supposed to teach. Universities, scientific publications, etc., have a sacrosanct right to defend their reputation by expunging crackpottery from their classrooms and their pages.

To the extent that universities are guilty of prejudging those who support ID as unfit to teach, the blame rests on the poor and scientifically unconvincing research proposed by supporters of ID as evidence.

* Now I know that this is a bad examples, because the reputation of American car companies is not exactly stellar, and sometimes it does look like the only one who knows how their engines work is God. But you get my point.

3. A reoccurring theme is that of the Berlin Wall keeping out Western ideas of freedom and keeping its prisoners locked into a dead and deadening ideology--Communism.

False premise. See 1, above. And also poisoning the well and guilt by association ("Darwinism is another dead and deadening ideology, like Communism.")

4. Those who have advocated ID or even allowed its ideas some voice in their classroom [sic] or in their journals have been excommunicated by the Darwinian priesthood. That language is strong, but utterly apt.

False premise.

First of all, the only priesthood in play here is the real one: the religious one. I find a certain irony in the fact that Dr. Groothuis uses the priesthood as an undesirable association for Darwinism. (The irony is analogous to the involuntary irony in the choice of a tagline for the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I couldn't agree more.) [Emphasis mine.]

Secondly, his implication that science is a religion shows either a profound misunderstanding of the mechanisms by which science advances our knowledge of the natural world, or, worse, a willingness to mislead his more naive readers. Science, regardless what Dr. Groothuis thinks, does not thrive on dogma, particularly in the today's highly competitive global environment, where other nations would be only too happy to reap the fruits of America's choice to seed ignorance in its universities.

Science is built on observation, prediction, and experimentation.
Religion asks us to base our knowledge on a "sacred" text, which is subject to many different interpretations, depends on which translation we read, whose credibility (the credibility we as human beings afford it) rests largely on where we are born and not on the validity of the arguments in support of one religion over another, and, most of all, on the willingness to believe in that which cannot be proven.

5. A biology professor’s teaching contract is not renewed after she mentions ID in her class. Another professor’s web site is censored by Baylor (a Baptist school) because it advocated ID. The editor of a science journal is fired because he supervised the publication of an article by Stephen Meyer defending ID. Professor Guillermo Gonzalez, despite a stellar academic record as an astronomer (he discovered several new planets and wrote a textbook), was denied tenure because his book, The Privileged Planet, which argues that earth was designed. I will not give all the details here, but these stories are true and indicative of the sociology of knowledge at work.

The only reason that I cannot give you full details of why Dr. Groothuis's examples, taken from Expelled, are dubious at best, if not altogether indefensible, is that a point by point refutation would require an amount of space not suitable for this already long post. Therefore, I will refer my readers to this link, which contains a rebuttal for the cases of the allegedly persecuted individuals portrayed in Expelled. You can read more here, if interested.

6. The Darwinists... are seldom open to honest give-and-take debate; instead, they typically reject ID as anti-scientific and ban it from public forums. I have observed this for years.

The implication here seems to be that, by trying to keep ID, a theory which opens the door to God and does nothing to promote the advancement of science, is equal to banning ID from public fora. This, of course, is disingenuous.

The main reason why many scientists refuse to engage in debates with supporters of ID is that debates are a great spectators' sport, but they hardly an effective way to measure the validity of one scientific theory (evolution) v. an unscientific one (creationism, a.k.a. intelligent design). This also makes your subsequent claim that "good evidence needs the proper venue to be seen as such" quite ironic, because you seem to imply that the proper venue is the court of a largely biased public opinion, and not the science lab.

If we accept your premise that ID is science, then you should not have a problem with letting science prove its worth in the lab, instead of claiming persecution on the silver screen.

7. The scientific case against Darwinism (yes, there is one) ... the scientific case for ID (yes, there is one) ...

Not, for example, according to the many scientists (Shanks and Joplin, Ussery, Dunkelberg, Dorit, Orr, Miller and a host of others) who have scathingly shown Behe's claims of irreducible complexity not to hold water. But Dr. Groothuis says that he has read The Flagellum Unspun (Miller's article) and he is not persuaded, so I guess all is well on the ID front.

Perhaps there is a scientific case to be made against the theory of evolution (and in fact several aspects of the theory have been submitted to scientific scrutiny), but so far it has not materialized in any of the objections moved against it by intelligent design proponents.

8. [In Expelled] we never heard of “irreducible complexity” (think of Michael Behe’s argument concerning the bacterial flagellum) ... Michael Behe, the most important practicing scientist of the ID movement (who, strangely, did not appear in the film)

Perhaps the reason why Michael Behe did not appear in Expelled is that the Ben Stein and the producers preferred not to establish an association between "the most important practicing scientist of the ID movement" and their movie, given the fact that opponents of ID could have easily pointed to the trouncing Behe's theory received both from the scientific community and in the Kitzmiller v Dover Board of Education 2005 trial which all but dismantled, one by one, his arguments in support of ID as a scientific theory, or to any of the articles I listed above. Or, perhaps, Behe did not want to suffer a repeat of the humiliation he endured in the Dover trial by associating himself with another ill-conceived attempt to give ID scientific credibility. Who knows?

9. One computer-generated scene shows the complexity of the cell, but little is explained.

Funny you should bring this up, Dr. Groothuis, because there is ample evidence (not to mention a pending lawsuit against the movie's producers) that the makers of Expelled plagiarized the video without permission from Harvard, who produced the original XVIVO video.

10. Dembski and Nelson briefly comment that one can believe in some aspects of evolution and still support ID, since the key claim of ID is that aspects of nature require design to be explained. This doesn’t rule out considerable development after the design has been introduced by an intelligent cause.

This is the old micro- v macro-evolution argument (in disguise), which assumes a complete misunderstanding of what macroevolution is and how it works. This is not surprising, coming from a philosopher (Groothuis) who backs a mathematician, a.k.a. Professor of Theology and Science, (Dembski), who was described in expert testimony (pdf) submitted for the above-mentioned Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in these unflattering terms: "By any reasonable standard, Dembski is not a scientist."

Of course, Dr. Groothuis would rather blame the expert witness's testimony on "the wall of censorship, intimidation, and retaliation that keeps intelligent design theory out of the academy."

11. [S]ocial Darwinism flows from biological Darwinism. Contra The New York Time's sneering and unserious review, social and biological Darwinism are of a piece ... The stronger must prevail—period.

Ad-hominem and red herring.

There is a well-known dislike among conservatives (and many liberals) for the New York Times. What does that have to do with whether social Darwinism flows from biological Darwinism? Where is such evidence, Dr. Groothuis? Most importantly: how does this strengthen the validity of intelligent design? And even then: "the stronger must prevail", as you say in the conclusion of your paragraph, shows a confusion between social Darwinism and the theory of evolution that should raise a red flag for admirers of your line of reasoning. The theory of evolution does not reward the stronger, it rewards the best adaptation to a changing environment and the ability to reproduce. And so-called "social Darwinism" precedes in time Darwin's "On The Origin Of The Species."

12. (Yes, there are theistic Darwinists, but the film largely explores Darwinism as a naturalistic worldview. This is, in fact, how it is taught in the vast majority of public institutions today.)

I suspect instead that the reason why the film chooses to ignore theistic Darwinists, who believe in God AND evolution, is that they would have weakened the movie's assumption, that there is a conspiracy aimed at unjustly suppressing alternatives to Darwinism. In fact, this is borne out in a conversation that John Rennie and Steve Mirsky of Scientific American recently had with Expelled's producer, Mark Mathis.
Mirsky: ... Why not also include comments from somebody like Ken Miller?
Mathis: ... Ken Miller would have confused the film unnecessarily. I don’t agree with Ken Miller.

NOTE: At this point, I am getting tired of defending "Darwinism", aware as I am that by using the term Darwinism, creationists are disingenuously trying to establish guilt by association with other -isms: Nazism, Leninism, Stalinism, scientism (?!?) etc. These Luntzianisms are typical of a type of neo-conservatism and Rushdoonyanism that portrays everything it opposes as a form of liberal fascism (see what I mean?)

13. Darwinism, in itself, does not provide any refutation to Hitlerian ideology.

Poisoning the well.

The obvious refutation is that Hitlerian ideology is not a naturalistic ideology, and that it followed The Origin of the Species by 70 years or so. Conversely, Hitlerian ideology, if meant as an ideology aimed at the elimination of the Jews from planet earth, did not need Darwin as an inspiration, given the long history of pre-Darwinian anti-Semitism, regardless of whether the view that Hitler used Darwin as a justification for his indefensible actions is correct or not (see From Darwin To Hitler, Or Not? Part II). See 14, below. (By the way, Hitler also used God as a justification for exterminating Jews.)

14. Nazism needed Darwinism for its ideology, but it needed other false considerations (of race and history) as well.

Here is an intelligent article that exposes the rational fallacy of Dr. Groothuis's argument.

15. My take is that if Darwinism is true—the entire biosphere can be explained on the basis of undirected, natural causes (or by chance and necessity)—then theism is much less likely to be true. This is because biology is denuded of any evidence for a designer, when, in fact, Christianity (and other forms of theism) claim that evidence for God can be found precisely there (see Romans 1:18-21).

So, Dr. Groothuis, this is really the crux of your argument: you oppose Darwinism not because of any alleged and completely unsubstantiated deficiencies in the theory, but because it would make theism "much less likely to be true." I am afraid that the honesty of the admission does little to redeem it from its flaws. The rest of the argument (Christianity claims that proof that the Christian view of nature is right can be found in ... Christianity's handbook--Romans 1:18-21) is circular reasoning, and has nothing to do with science.

16. Stein, however, did help reveal the absurdity of Michael Ruse’s idea that life began by riding on the back of crystals by simply repeating the bizarre idea several times in an incredulous tone of voice.

This is an argument from personal incredulity, hence unscientific by definition.

17. While the major news outlets are viciously attacking Expelled as creationist propaganda (and they didn't have to actually see it to say that), the fact is that it reveals a systematic, unfair, and deeply un-American suppression of ID thought in the academy. The Darwinian inquisitors make Joseph McCarthy look like a girl scout.

Guilt by association, mit ad-hominem, and an unsubstantiated attack on the mainstream media (how do you know that movie reviewers didn't actually see the movie? Just because I refused to--with cause. I am not the mainstream media, anyway). Except, of course, that Darwinists are WORSE than McCarthy himself, as you state in...

18. The Darwinian inquisitors make Joseph McCarthy look like a girl scout ... McCarthy was not entirely wrong, although he has become a whipping boy of the sound bite crowd.

This bears repeating: in essence, you are saying that McCarthy is better than the major news outlets who are viciously attacking Expelled not because it is bad and dishonest but because they are part of a worldwide conspiracy to keep ID out of the public discourse. In fact, McCarthy was a true patriot, a victim, "a whipping boy of the sound bite crowd." (And the lives he destroyed are just acceptable collateral damage, just as Guantanamo Bay is a necessary evil in these times, right?) Are you an admirer of McCarthyism, I wonder?

And, as an expert on Christianity, don't you think that the association of Darwinists and inquisitors is hyperbolic? When you say inquisitors, it conjures images of the Spanish Inquisition, perpetrated not by scientists but by regular church-goers. Pretty ironic, if you ask me. I don't remember any examples in Expelled of ID supporters being executed like Giordano Bruno or being sentenced to house arrest like Galileo, but perhaps it happened after the movie hit the movie screens.

19. Communists were genuinely dangerous to the American experiment.

And so are "Darwinists"? Because? Because "if Darwinism is true—the entire biosphere can be explained on the basis of undirected, natural causes (or by chance and necessity)—then theism is much less likely to be true." Is that why?

20. ID thinkers, however, are no threat to science or to any American ideal. Yet they are a threat to Darwinism, which has become a largely unchallengeable orthodoxy in America.

On this count, Dr. Groothuis, I believe you are dangerously misleading your readers. ID thinkers are indeed a threat to science, though not in the sense you imply.

ID thinkers are a threat to science because they seek to bend science to their wishes instead of submitting themselves to science's findings, wherever they may lead (ironically, you seem to agree that "follow the empirical evidence wherever it leads in the search for truth", as you wrote in Intelligent Design and the State University. But science's goals are not as lofty: it does not search for truth, just for plausible explanations of physical phenomena). ID thinkers are indeed a threat to science because they seek to redesign science to fit with their ideology, not in pursuit of better, more accurate, more reliable science. They are a threat to science because they are seeking to demolish the evidentiary, predictive foundations of science by introducing an element which defies evidence and prediction, whose only evidence can be found in one of many centuries old sacred texts, which happens to be, by sheer coincidence, the one you believe in. They also threaten not only science, but human lives as well, as lucidly argued by Alonzo Fyfe in his ethical review of Expelled. I will quote here a passage that I find particularly amusing and distressing at the same time, bearing in mind that many supporters of ID (in which group I am not including people like Behe and Dembski, though perhaps I should) hold the beliefs that Fyfe exposes in their naked absurdity:
The better we are at understanding the real world, the better we will be at avoiding the death and suffering that nature would otherwise inflict on us ...

Theocrats want to argue that we can control the severity – even the existence of hurricanes by passing laws against homosexuality, putting prayer in school, and closing down abortion clinics. They have got the fanatical belief that these variables somehow influence the nature of hurricanes.

Now, we can test these types of claims. We can come up with theories that determine relationships between the frequency and course of hurricanes based on number of abortion clinics, presence of laws against homosexual acts, and the numbers of state-sponsored school prayers. Yet, in 400 years of science, these types of relationships do not hold up. The people who advocate these types of solutions will add to the total amount of human suffering (the suffering imposed on people as a result of these laws) without doing any good whatsoever.

Once again, you can read the rest of Fyfe's article at the link provided above.

This is the threat that ID thinkers represent for science. It is the same kind of threat that we have grown accustomed to in the seven years of the Bush presidency, and which a member of the Bush administration summarized for journalist Ron Suskind as follows:
[You live in] what we call the reality-based community . . . [people who] believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality... We're an empire now," he said, "and when we act, we create our own reality. We're history's actor's, and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Favorite Quote On Expelled To Date

It is not hard to find unfavorable reviews of the hack-job, hick-flick Expelled. Among the many, here is one paragraph which captures the essential lie behind the movie.
The premise of Expelled is that proponents of 'intelligent design' have been shunned, denied tenure, and even fired because of a conspiracy to quash the scientific evidence supporting their theory," said Dr. Keith Lockitch, resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. "But the truth is: there is no evidence supporting their theory. Intelligent design is completely devoid of any positive scientific content, and consists of nothing more than a religiously motivated attack on evolution. To the extent intelligent design advocates are facing obstacles in academia it is because they are not doing real science: they haven't been 'expelled' they have flunked out of the scientific community, just as a faith healer would flunk out of medical school. (Emphasis added.)

You can read the whole article, "Expelled Gets An F", at--of all places--the Ayn Rand Institute.

Friday, April 18, 2008

My Point ,Exactly.

Before you post your ungrounded, indefensible defense of Expelled, and Intelligent Design on this, or any other blog ask yourself this question:

"Should every cosmology department have someone who believes the Earth is the center of the universe?"

Then read the article the quote is from. If your answer is yes, if you still believe that ID is science (it isn't) and that Expelled is a momentum-changing event in the history of science (it may be, for reasons contrary to what you might believe), get down on your knees and pray to God that he gives you common sense. That's all you need: not a degree in biology, no knowledge of epistemology, no philosophical foundation: common sense is all you need to understand that ID is a ruse that creationists use to circumvent the separation of church and state.

The Reviews Are In!

Expelled, the hick-flick about the much-alleged, still unproven academic conspiracy to keep the (un-)scientific theory of Intelligent Design out of science, was released today among much evangelical hype. And finally, the reviews are in. Here is a sampling of critics' quotes from on Rotten Tomatoes (each by a different reviewer):

"One of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry."

"Surely the film's greatest offense is the utter shamelessness with which it exploits the Holocaust."

"No intelligence allowed, indeed, as Ben Stein misguidedly crusades against what he perceives as the science community’s slavish devotion to natural selection."

"It shows us bogus security files, as if some cabal is spying on everyone. It shirks the facts. And it madly edits images to equate Darwin with Hitler, and Ben Stein with -- yes -- Ronald Reagan. Typical of all propaganda, it also distorts language."

"Stein's credibility is blown on this poorly constructed diatribe, and you'd be smart to save your bucks."

"The movie itself is an example of design by faith and emotion rather than intelligence, defined as rationality grounded in proof."

"Expelled may prove to be as controversial as the producers hope, but the reactions will be more entertaining and elucidating than the film itself."

And, my favorites:

"Stein claims to denounce the tyranny of dogma, then browbeats us with his own."

"For a film about American freedom of expression and the necessity for open dialogue, it's hard to imagine Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed being more one-sided, narrow-minded, and intellectually dishonest."

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see the dishonesty in the hick-flick.

Freedom Fries and Freedom Friday

Oh, the sweet haplessness of the Expelled PR machine!

I just found this email, reported on Thoughts in A Haystack. It reads:
This Friday, April 18th, is FREEDOM FRIDAY!

You will no longer have to live in fear of the Darwinian Thought Police and their power to ruin your career! They are about to be ‘publicly exposed’ by the new documentary movie, “EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed”!

EXPELLED,” starring Ben Stein, is opening in 1,000 theaters nationwide. Smart students and their parents can’t wait to see it! They have all heard the Darwinists’ side in the debate over origins. Now they will determine if the Darwinists have acted properly by censoring the scientific data and evidence from students, teachers and parents that opposes Darwinian evolution and points to the reality of God!

"FREEDOM FRIDAY?" Seriously, how far removed from the "reality-based community" do you have to be to miss the irony in the expression "Freedom Friday", for its uncanny resemblance with another idiotic slogan, "Freedom Fries", which kinda backfired on its creators once it was evident that the French were right, and they were wrong?

The Darwinian Thought Police? Is that the modern day equivalent of the Copernican/Galilean Thought Police?
The geocentric view had been dominant since the time of Aristotle, and the controversy engendered by Galileo's opposition to this view resulted in the Catholic Church's prohibiting the advocacy of heliocentrism as potentially factual, because that theory had no decisive proof and was contrary to the literal meaning of Scripture.

Sounds familiar? There is a certain continuity throughout history in the views and the tactics of religious ignoramuses and proponents of sacred, anti-intellectual fantasies, isn't there?

But the tactics have now been flipped by proponents of Intelligent Design, as they try to make their pathetically weak case that they are the ones being persecuted by the godless scientific establishment. To this end, they parade the self-avowed atheist scientists Richard Dawkind and PZ Myers on screen, whom they deceived into participating, then they intersperse images of Nazi salutes and Stalinist purges with their disingenuously edited statements, all the while while omitting to represent the views of people like Ken Miller, Francis S Collins and Francis Ayala, just to mention three very well known religious scientists who fully support evolution.

These delusional ID supporters claim that "Darwinist" "ignoranticist elitists" [sic] are trying to censor "the scientific data and evidence [...] that opposes Darwinian evolution and points to the reality of God", in spite of the fact that their hick-flick offers factually incorrect data in support of the alleged censorship and no evidence pointing to the reality of God. They do this while sweeping under religion's rug real evidence of the suppression of dissenting views and of silencing anything which conflicts with the fantastic drivel that fills sacred texts (much more drivel-ly when taken literally than allegorically) .

Also, a short review, sweet and to the point, from the "ignorant elitists" at the NY Times, and an article that highlights some of the dishonest tactics employed in this hick-flick.

Every day gives us new reasons for bewilderment.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

How Do You "Teach The Controversy..."

How do you "teach the controversy" when there really isn't one? This op-ed, published by The Guardian in 2005, is perhaps the best explanation of why you shouldn't. Regardless, proponents of intelligent design are wasting our time and our money, and they are putting the future of science education, and of your children's education, in jeopardy. All in pursuit of the fantasy that an unscientific religious theory becomes respectable and worthy of equal time just by donning a lab coat. Remember that, if you are dragged into a movie theater by a creationist friend when Expelled is released.

Intelligent design no more deserves equal time in science classrooms than those who claim they can explain the origins of life to us after binging on peyote and magic mushrooms.

What Do They Have In Common?

Expelled, the disingenous diatribe that supporters of ID will fill movie theaters to see, makes the feeble-minded case that Darwinism is a "condicio sine qua non", without which there would have been no intellectual justification for the Holocaust. Besides the obvious fact that one could make the same (or a stronger) link between religion and the Holocaust, here is an interesting post that compares the tactics of Holocaust deniers and evolution deniers.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

About Expelled, So You Don't Have To See It

Interesting point about why certain famously religious scientists have not been included in Expelled!.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Intelligence Expelled, Dishonesty Refuted

Expelled!, the shamefully made, intellectually dishonest, and totally unintelligent movie about the alleged persecution of creationist scientists ("oxy-moron", anyone?) by the scientific community, is scheduled to be released on April 18th (don't be surprised if the release is postponed). Some suggest ignoring it, lest it should enjoy undeserved publicity. Some others say it is just too dangerously dishonest to be ignored. One such voice is that of Scientific American's editor-in-chief John Rennie, who says
Unfortunately, Expelled is a movie not quite harmless enough to be ignored. Shrugging off most of the film's attacks—all recycled from previous pro-ID works—would be easy, but its heavy-handed linkage of modern biology to the Holocaust demands a response for the sake of simple human decency.

Read the rest of the article here.

Do not spend money to go see this movie. Buy a "truth ticket" instead (as a stupidity offset for people who will go see it).

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Talk About Freedom Of Expression

Busy, busy, busy. So busy I have not had time to post anything these days. But this caught my eye, and Mr. Olbermann's choice of worst person in the world is a) quite appropriate and, b) a reminder of what some religious people would like to turn this country into (all while brazenly claiming that religious people are victims of persecution even though the vast majority in this country has some kind of religion affiliation.) Watch.

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