Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Horror....the horror...

Oh, lookee here! Expelled is online for free now. As you all know, I am a glutton for punishment. And I like to ramble. So, I am going to summarize the film as I go through it. [Deep breath]. Alright, here we go!

Film starts out playing old footage of East Berlin to the sound of a violin while running the credits. Appropriately enough, the last portion of the black and white footage is the film name itself. Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, written on the screen like the title of one of those old, classic, smultzy and factually sloppy films that they would show on projectors to unsuspecting classes of wide-eyed youngsters, who were about to hear how to best duck and cover in the event of a nuke being dropped, or how to know if they have gonorrhea. Oddly appropriate.

Oh no. Now they dramatically get scientists saying that Intelligent Design and positing a deity are not scientifically acceptable ideas. Ben is hunched against a wall, waiting to be called to a podium out as triumphant music plays. Our poor, skulking hero.
"Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom from fear freedom of religion, freedom is the way to equality, America is about freedom" blah, blah, blah. "What happens when we don't have freedom?" (Brief clips from Nazi Germany. Subtle). "We are losing freedom in science. I always thought that scientists were able to explore any realm of inquiry without fear of reprisal." [Pfft. You are. But when you don't have anything to back it up, your work will be rightly dismissed. You are still free to try to delve into such research, but if you cannot pass in something that is up to muster, it will not be offered up to the public, because it is most likely utter crock].

Ben: "You ruined Richard Sternberg's life!!!!" Sternberg is a biologist who "questioned the powers that be" (I am going to be thinking "Bueller? Bueller?" this entire movie). Lost his job because he published a paper "that mentioned that an Intelligent Designer might be a possibility". Sternberg: "people were so upset about it". Whining about how people mentioned the author of the paper's religious and political beliefs, while showing clips of people shoving each other around. "I was viewed as an intellectual terrorist because of giving the topic of intelligent design some modicum of credibility". [Really? Intellectual terrorist? I would have settled for 'moron enabler'].

Michael Shermer talks about how there is an equal lack of evidence for each god. Says that Intelligent Design is unproven, so it is not nonsense but not science either (3/4ths towards the nonsense side). Ben whines about Sternberg publishing a "PEER REVIEWED" research paper in favor of intelligent design and losing his job. [He was fired because it wasn't supposed to pass the peer review process, so he is being disingenuous...I think...].

A corny ad video for "George Mason University". Caroline Crocker "mentioned intelligent design" and her "career came to an abrupt end". Image of a guillotine in process (no head unfortunately). "Blacklisted, unable to find a job anywhere". [Note: same thing has happened to teachers of evolution in some states.]

"Michael Engor" 'attacked' for writing an essay that said that doctors don't need knowledge of evolution to practice medicine. [Whaaa...bloggers were mean to him! Seriously. He is bitching because his essay was criticized on the internet. Where is that violin music!?].

Professor Robert Marks was forced to shut down his website and lose grant money when it was found that there was "a link between his work and Intelligent Design". [Clip from Planet of the Apes, "It's a madhouse"] Talkie talkie. [Clip of a man getting shot in a Western, with the shooter scornfully saying "creationist." If only...]. Guillermo Gonzales was denied tenure, despite "finding several planets" after publishing Privileged Planet. "If you value your career, you better keep quiet about your intelligent design views."
[ Interviews with people who are afraid to lose their jobs so remain anonymous and with shadowed faces. ] "When I write Intelligent Design, they hear creationism, they hear religious right, they hear theocracy."

Ben admits that they wouldn't want to teach I.D. if it were wrong, because you don't want to teach the "Earth is flat and that the Holocaust never happened". [Random clips of criticism. Old clip of dumb creationist talking with his teacher]. He immediately thereafter asks "what's so bad about I.D.", returning to his line about being unfairly tossed aside despite the former.

"Intelligent Design today, school prayers tommorrow" [music: Hallelujah, hallelujah. Me: shudder]. Music: "Love is in the air", scenes from protest against what I assume to be the opening of the Creation Museum (can't tell, but there are a lot of people there, and they have signs protesting I.D.).

PZ Myers says ID is propaganda designed to suck in money. Eugenie Scott making a challenge for ID to present evidence. Boxing match bell rings. Ben Stein walking, looking around Seattle for the Discovery Institute. Asks a half-dozen peole where it is. Finally finds that it is a single floor of a large administrative-type building.

Guy he interviews says that religion is not part of I.D., that it's a red herring, that they have agnostics and people from a variety of backgrounds. [Crock]. He then says: "They claim the debate has been settled". Ben then goes to Biola ("Bible University of Los Angeles"). [Music: "Personal Jesus" as he passes a really creepy, super tall Jesus mural with a very prominent shadow adjacent to Jesus, making him look a little grim reaperish]. Scene of Ben scratching himself with some metal rod during a presentation.

Talks to the head of Biola, asks him if he's accepted money from Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, or if he is a minister (no, no, no, also not a "youth minister"). Mentions that evolutionists will admit flaws in the theory (wow, what a revelation). Pulls the standard separation of evolution into micro and macro (without using those terms). Says I.D. isn't creationism because it doesn't involve the Bible, and that it doesn't necessarily say that God is the creator. "Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature that are best understood as a product of intellgence". Ben still suspects that I.D. is related to creationism. Hunts down Dembski. Country music song about creationism plays. Dumbski says that scientists are sometimes overzealous and apply principles to areas they do not belong. Uses Einsteinian physics addition to Newtonian physics as the example. "Darwin had valid insights but it is not the whole picture".

Ben driving. Talks about how Newton and Darwin are buried right next to each other in the "geniuses corner" of Westminister Abbey. "For every evidence based argument for Darwinism, there is an evidence based argument against it" [Pfft. Except the evidence against it is weak, the arguments even weaker ]. Johnathan Wells: Called a "creationist". I cry for him. "Evidence is being distorted to prop a theory that I think doesn't fit it". [You "think"? Your opinion is irrelevant.] Transition into Paris, French music (accordion sound prominent) playing. Talks to a guy who spouts out his resume. "Is [Darwinian theory] clear enough so that it could be correct?" "Nothing is clearly defined and delineated." [Says it isn't mathematical, like is physics. Why don't you just toss out the whole of biology while you are at it?].

Richard Dawkins with intense music, accompanied by previous television appearance clips of him. "Most people who don't believe in evolution are ignorant". Ben's rebuttal: "But the people I interviewed are highly credentialed scientists" [and yet are probably still ignorant on the subject, at least in some respects]. Back to Johnathan Wells, who says that Origin of Species isn't just about changing in species over time, but how new species can come about and how every species probably came about [acting as if there is no evidence obtained after Darwin's book was written to support that].

Video: [Abiogenesis alert]. Chemical elements are present on Earth, and, oh noez, they said they don't know what the original energetic impetus was for abiogenesis! Stein sad. Then the Miller-Urey experiment is brought up. Frankenstein clip: "It's alive!". Ben says "it didn't work". Ben is vastly oversimplifying, especially since they formed many of the proteins that he will go on to mention in the next segment.

Michael Ruse mentions theory that life "began on the backs of crystals" (Clip of a strange turbaned guy ordering people to look into his "Crystal ball"). Ben: "I don't know how we got from mud to a living cell". Roulette wheel. "What were the chances of life arising on its own?" Guy says 240 proteins needed to form simplest life, so it is improbable for it to occur in a step by step process [Again, pfft.] Enter cartoon world: 'Casino of life!' 'Play the slot machine'. Magoo like guy does so. 'Oh, you have to do that 250 times in the right order!' Me: Hahahaha, way to fail probability forever. Two scientists saying that there is a "1 in a trillion trillion trillion" chance for life to form agree with the cartoon.

Francis Crick mentions "directed panspermia". Ben: "aliens did it" ( footage of old school aliens). "Crystals? Aliens? I thought this was science, not science fiction". [Har, har Ben. You asked for speculation, and you got it. Strawmanning it isn't going to make I.D. more tenable]. "Everybody agrees that it started with a single cell". I.D. guys say that cells are incredibly complicated (comparing it to a factory, cars, and the universe). Awesome images of DNA, and then babbling about the "information in DNA". "Information in a one dimensional form that provides information for a three dimensional form"
Awesome video of signal transduction up to RNA synthesis that they got sued for taking without permission. "Information in the cell that cannot be accounted for by undirected processes. There has to be information source." "Darwin assumed that increased information came from natural selection. But natural selection reduces genetic information." [Stop saying "information", people!]. "Why should we eliminate the possibility that there is an intelligent creator from discussion?" [No proof, and it is a logical and practical dead end.] Berlin wall when talking about limits on "permissible hypotheses". "What about academic freedom?". Guy mentions that science isn't a democratic process "and that there is a consensus view" and Ben talks about how Darwin challenged that consensus, blah blah. [You can only challenge the consensus when you have good evidence against it and for the alternative. Geez]. Goes back to Germany footage when joking about "Idea inspection".

Talk about dissenters, footage of bullying. Whines "if you want awards, you can't challenge the paradigm". [Bullshit]. Ben says that "Darwinists" fear that there will be an unraveling [show Wizard of Oz being revealed behind the curtain...ironic that that scene serves as a such a good metaphor for determining the rule force behind religious entities, like God. i.e. manipulative, deceitful, ordinary people who want to seem more powerful than they actually are].

Eugenie Scott "defending Darwinian gospel" [ughh...hate you Ben...]. Talks about opposition to equal time for creationism. Guy talking about conflict between liberal and conservative Christians. Dawkins talks about needing to tell that there is no incompatibility between Christianity and evolution. I.D. guys talk about "The Establishment", whining about being covered like "outsiders" in the media rather than part of an "even debate" [facepalm. Reality has an evolutionary bias]. Pamela Winnick: claims she wasn't religious, was writing about Intelligent Design, that she didn't take a side, and that she got hate mail and extra scrutiny afterwards. [Scrutiny? Oh, wow. What a tragedy.] "Courts say what you can or cannot teach". Ben summarizes a Polish creationist by saying that "Poland is freer academically than America". Dembski then pops up, saying that "evolutionists" didn't win the Scopes trial, and that Inherit the Wind is "fake history" (it's a frickin' play that even uses different names for the people that it is roughly modeled ater; I don't think anyone would purport it to be anything but creative non-fiction).

"Debate runs deeper than courts and science". More black and white T.V. programming. "Has become a religious war". "Have switched from defending Darwinism to attacking religion". Cites Richard Dawkins' God Delusion as an example. "Are Science and Religion really at war?"[War footage] Alister McGrath: "Dawkins has a charming and interesting view of science and religion and one has to win....a very naive view...ignorant of history" Says that a scientific explanation for formerly presumably divine activity doesn't undermine the religion. [So basically, he says that science isn't at war with religion because the religious people in the past, who weren't dealing with things that potentially contradicted their beliefs, did science, and because fundamentalists just plain old don't exist.] Some random person says stuff about how drawing metaphysical implications from science is not scientific. "people are so deeply entrenched in their own worldviews that they will not countenance alternatives". Early scientists thought that it was easier to do science due to their religious beliefs [ehh?].

Guy on stage. "No gods, no life after death, no alternate foundation for ethics, no alternate menaing in life, no human free will, are all connected to evolutionary worldview." Ben gets dramatic. Guy talks about how his teacher and book didn't give signs of design in biology and how that caused him to give up on the potential for a deity, on hope for emanent morality, and on hope for free will. Guy he is interviewing was diagnosed with a brain tumor and it returned after the interview. Said during the interview that he wanted to be euthanized if he went into remission because his brother was forced to suffer through Lou Gehrig's disease and wanted to be euthanized, but wasn't.

PZ Myers of Pharyngula interview footage again. "Find religion quite comfortable...what led me was learning more about the natural world"
Richard Dawkins: "when I discovered evolution, Darwinism...elegant explanation, that finally killed off my remaining religious faith."
Basically says that there are a lot of atheistic evolutionary biologists therefore evolution leads to atheism. Peter Atkins: "religion is devoid of explanatory content. And is evil as well"
[Clip of Bill Maher talking about how religion is dangerous.] PZ compares religion to knitting in how it brings comfort and is fun. Wants it to affect life less. Bring more science in (image of a Church bell being brought down and shattered).
Goes back to an I.D. guy, then he says that there is a "connection from Hitler to Darwin". So, we finally get to what they reeeaaallly wanted to say.
"Darwinism isn't a sufficient condition for something like Nazism but it is a necessary one".
Ben in a car. Talk about 15,000 handicapped individuals who were killed with a tour guide lady. They were 'after a utopia without illlness and handicaps'. [Shows German propaganda that talks about how the ill and "individuals lower than any beasts" or "inferior life-forms" should not be supported by the rest of society]. "Nazis, they relied on Darwin and German scientists". He continues to be led around empty gas chambers by tour guide-like lady. Says that 70 were killed a day, from Monday to Thursday. Cracks bitter joke about them wanting to take weekends off. Pretending to be solemn.

"Hitler...fanatical Darwinists and wanted to apply Darwinism to society" [which would Darwinism! Which is not supported by actual understandings of evolutionary theory! Which is fail!]. "There were plenty of Americans who were doing similar things". Enter Eugenics (nice looking drawing of Eugenics tree]. Says that were trying to accelerate evolution by sterilizing the feeble minded and prohibiting their marriages [if only they were successful! But, then again, stupid seems to be environmental, not genetic.]. They forcibly sterilized some who were deemed unfit to breed. Ben brings up Planned Parenthood, which is suggested to be based on the same idea as eugenics, and is being directed at lower class [anti-abortionists like making that argument alot]. "Nazis applied eugenics on a massive scale". Sitting on railroad tracks. Guy he is talking to says that Nazis repressed racial and political enemies, which usually overlapped (used justification of biological inferiority for the former group). Guy mentions Jews and Ben covers eyes in distress. Man doesn't say that Hilter was insane, but just took radical solutions. Says Hitler is evil and evil can be rationalized as science. "Hitler thought he was benefiting humanity by driving evolution forward". [He thought he was doing God's work...] Ben visits Dachau memorial to Jews killed. "I know that Darwinism doesn't automatically equate to Nazism" (good). But what if it was used to justify similar stuff to die. "Seems to be an excellent argument for getting rid of useless people". Claim that evolution leads to euthanasia and thinking of people in economic terms, "deprivileging of humans".
"An elite that controls essentially all the research money saying there is no such thing as moral truth and that science will not be related to religion" bitches a living bobble head.

Low key piano music in the background, while the camera is looking at evolution texts, gambling chips, bottles, and religious texts. Quotes Darwin talking about feeble people taken off to asylums, and breeding and saying that doing something comparable when breeding animals wouldn't be prudent. Staring contest between Ben and a statue of Darwin. Ben walks away sadly. "America progressed by allowing freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry". Blah, blah, people died to protect our freedomz. "By what they presume to decide what is and is not science". And then he is kicked out of the Smithsonian by security.

He talked with the guy who didn't renew Caroline Crocker's contract, and he is stiff and semi-responsive. Ben goes back to people crying persecution. A guy who has says he has respect for Guillermo Gonzales, also said that "religious nut jobs must be opposed at every opportunity" [obviously, this was supposed to make their intended audience piss their pants with fear, rage, and the sexual arousal that they have equated with both of the other emotions]. Awesome Graffiti wall is pictured nearby while Ben talks with two others about "tearing down the wall" (clips of Berlin Wall) in academia. [Now a messiah complex. Nice]. Dawkins powdered up while Ben travels. Dramatic instrumental playing all the while. The showdown begins....

Dawkins reads from the beginning of second chapter of the God Delusion about how evil God is. Ben asks him why he spoils it for people who believe in a loving and generous God [pffft...because they associate with a religion that has doctrine that utterly contradict that belief, and, as harmless as their snuggly god is, they still support the evil god that it happens to share a Biblical basis with]. Dawkins, when coaxed to answer, says there is a 99% chance against God, Ben says "why not 97%", and Dawkins says that he doesn't really want to put a number on it. It is unlikely. "Who did create the heavens and the earth". Dawkins points out that this is begging the question. Says that we "know the sort of event involved" but not the details. Says that I.D. has a chance if we were intelligently designed by alien beings, find the signature of some form of designer, but they also need to have come about through an explicable process. Ben starts asking Dawkins about what gods he doesn't believe in. "Any god anywhere would be incompatible with anything I've said". Dawkins asked what he would say if he came face to face with God, and paraphrases Bertrand Russell, asking "why did you take such pains to hide yourself?".

Ben: "God isn't hidden. We may be able to encounter God through science, if we have the freedom to go there" (I.D. doesn't work that way!). Ben is back on the podium he was at the beginning, more Berlin Wall clips.
"There are people out there who want to keep science in a little box, which cannot possibly touch a higher power". Bobble head cries persecution. More Reagan talking about Berlin Wall. "No lie can live forever" [hahahaha, irony]. "We will overcome" [Berlin Wall falls, "All these things that I have done" plays. Ben leaves classroom, talking about needing people left to carry on the struggle. Credits roll.



mac said...

I get a kick out of the idea that if I can't prove my view, then theirs is, by default, the correct one.

But, when re;igionists can't prove their view, we just have to take them on faith.

Faith has no place in science...unless she's a really HOT lab assistant !

Asylum Seeker said...

"Faith has no place in science...unless she's a really HOT lab assistant !"

That is a rule of thumb I can wholeheartedly support!

The Maze Monster said...

Oh my God.

I commend you and give you 1000 brownie points for the patience you have to sit through the whole thing. That makes a saint in atheism I think. I don't think I could watch this without throwing my laptop out the window. Thanks for the overview.

Asylum Seeker said...

It actually wasn't half bad. But, of course, since I was blogging about it at the same time, it mitigated the unique blend of boredom and rage that one would probably feel upon watching it in normal circumstances. It seemed like Ben made a better case than most reviews of the film suggested. Still skirts by actually proving that I.D. is worthy of being presented as science, and the fact that he is given and actually personally presents the counterarguments (Darwinism doesn't lead to Nazism, science isn't democratic, etc.) but just outright ignores them really is annoying. It makes him appear to have some sort of middle ground when really is just supporting idiocy and humoring the criticisms of it while shoving it under the rug after presenting it sheepishly to gain credibility.

Anyway...about that sainthood...

pboyfloyd said...

The church behind the wall shot.

I was disappointed when they didn't fake it being blown up!

Asylum Seeker said...

Wanted them to pull a theatrical version of a Reichstag fire, did you? That would've been interesting...

pboyfloyd said...

Review.. (having seen the first 3 mins.)

Stein does a weak to passable job of pandering to the willfully ignorant.

There just weren't as many as they'd hoped for.

pboyfloyd said...

I loved it when they dragged Steven C. Mier(sp?) back to the days before there was 'color' and punched his face because he was Republican!

(thought)"You can DO THAT?"

Asylum Seeker said...

I loved it when they dragged Steven C. Mier(sp?) back to the days before there was 'color' and punched his face because he was Republican!

(thought)"You can DO THAT?

LOL. They knocked him into last week a few hundred times, and then preceded to punch him around on the silverscreen. That's my view on the matter. Poor, persecuted crazy guy. But, he had it comin'.

pboyfloyd said...

Why, oh why!? Why can't we SEE?

Saying, 'God did it!' is NOT scientific, BUT saying, "Intelligent", sure is scientific because scientists ARE intelligent.

Saying, "Designer!", sure sounds both intelligent AND scientific.

So.. What's so wrong about saying, "Intelligent Designer."


So, we just 'complete the thought!'

"An Intelligent Designer did it!"

If I think that, "God did it!", anyways, why isn't changing the unscientific word 'God' to the very, very scientific sounding, "Intelligent Designer" enough?

It's NEVER enough for you guys, IS IT?

We spent minutes on the computer, changing our Creationism propaganda to very very scientific Intelligent Design propaganda, but it's NEVER enough!

You've taken our freedom to own slaves!
You've taken our freedom to enslave all women!
You've almost taken our freedom to enslave our women!
We don't even have actual freedom to beat up the funny-boys anymore!

America HAS a Constitution you know, it's called the TEN COMMANDMENTS!

(What? It ISN'T?)

Awww FUCK!

You guys ruin EVERYTHING!

GearHedEd said...

How did Ben Stein go from being an actor playing the terminally boring history teacher in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and huckster of eye drops to being an authority on ANYTHING?
I'm always suspicious of entertainers who at some point begin spouting opinions as if their celebrity equates to knowledge. My take on types like that:

"Shut the hell up and entertain me some more."

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Anyone who made a living helping Richard Nixon lie should be forever shunned from public discourse. But I suppose making crap up for Tricky was good practice for his latest movie...

Asylum Seeker said...

You've taken our freedom to own slaves!
You've taken our freedom to enslave all women!
You've almost taken our freedom to enslave our women!
We don't even have actual freedom to beat up the funny-boys anymore!

America HAS a Constitution you know, it's called the TEN COMMANDMENTS!

Full of win.

I'm always suspicious of entertainers who at some point begin spouting opinions as if their celebrity equates to knowledge. My take on types like that:

"Shut the hell up and entertain me some more."

Gotta say, I agree. It doesn't help that when these celebrities get opinions, they always are embarrassingly poor at expressing those opinions. They come off as if they were 3rd graders, who are talking about their daddy's political opinions: stumbling, getting facts wrong, and making your stomach grow tighter as you see them clumsily regurgitate a bizarre facsimile of what they had been told like it were a fact. It is pathetic, and you want them to go back to being adorable and not pretending to be less clueless than they actually are.

Anyone who made a living helping Richard Nixon lie should be forever shunned from public discourse.

But, you see, it wasn't until now that he was actually a problem. He actually seemed pretty moderate and sane, and was an excellent voice actor on random cartoons, and on that game show "Win Ben Stein's money", where he regularly showed his intelligence, and, in retrospect, makes me wish that they had had questions about evolutionary biology, religion, or basic science on the program. Since he fails them all so thoroughly, and seems to actually believe that "science leads you to killing people".

Asylum Seeker said...

Oh, side note: the youtube video version I saw did not have the John Lennon's "imagine" song in it, but I think I remember a portion of the movie where they kept the verbal cue for the song coming up in it. So, they probably kept the relevant segment, but changed the song. Even though I thought that they won that lawsuit...not sure...

pboyfloyd said...

"How can a real scientist claim that Intellignt Design is science?!"

Asylum Seeker said...

Worst. Gong. Ever.

Mandar Malum said...

I really don't have anything to add... everyone has pretty much said everything I was thinking... this is just ridiculous...

Asylum Seeker said...

It was a dead horse long before I even mentioned the film. It's been dead before was even officially released. And it was been flogged relentlessly, considering its relative irrelevance, for a total of 7 months now. So, it doesn't hurt to be redundant. Grab your flail and beat away at the carcass of Expelled and creationism in general. It is incredibly cathartic, and it doesn't matter because, flogging or no, it will just get back right up and gallop away like a zombie with Alzheimer's. [A better metaphor for their movement was never conceived.]