Expelled

I don’t know what masochistic tendency within me compelled me to sit myself down in a theater and watch Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed!

I think that the best way to describe my experience of viewing Expelled is… so much stupid, so little caffeine.

Apparently, the film is only 90 minutes long, but while I was watching it (or studying the ceiling out of tedium, more precisely) it felt like it was much longer. I was being force-fed with so much dumbness that my mind was shutting itself down and all I wanted to do was drift off into a state of sleep, but I forced myself to stay awake. If it weren’t for the earl grey tea I had this morning, I imagine I would still be in that chair, my sub-conscious mind still absorbing all the misconceptions until it exploded in a marvelous display of gore as it splattered the creationist-filled theater.

Actually, when I entered the theater (a few minutes late because my mum was driving to the wrong theater and I had to inform her that the only reason it was showing at the one we were actually supposed to be going to was because a bunch of Christians had bombarded them with phone calls) I can’t have counted more than fifteen people. Most of them were cordial retired people, while I saw two teenagers dragged along by their parents.

I sat down, listening to their first example of an academic losing their job for “questioning Darwinism”. I went ahead a kept a tally, making a total of five marks for examples they used. Five. Oh, that definitely indicates that there is a giant conspiracy in the entire United States, out to get those poor creationists!

Because I’d like to move on to other things, if anybody is interested in the truth behind the academics who lost their jobs, Expelled Exposed has information on what really happened.

Ben Stein continued to say the words “academic freedom” many times throughout the film, yet I don’t think that I ever saw him define it. So, I’ve decided to give it a go…

The first college class I took, fresh out of the eighth grade, was College Composition. The professor didn’t treat it like it was just about writing in college. The professor taught us what it meant to be an academic.

The first day, as she took a lumbering stroll around the room, she told us “here’s my policy in this class… you can say anything that you want as long as you’re prepared to back it up with evidence.” I’ve only been taking college classes for, well, less than a year now, but I think that that is the essence of what academic freedom is.

So, backing up one’s claims with evidence is not only the job, but also the responsibility of an academic. You can’t hire firefighters who are unwilling to risk their lives to save somebody, fire them when they let somebody die for their own fears, and then say that you took their freedom away.

It may not be freedom as is granted to us in the constitution, but it is academic freedom nonetheless. The problem with Intelligent Design is it doesn’t back up its claims with good evidence.

When Stein finally moves on to what he tries to pass off as evidence for Intelligent Design, the best he provides is asking multiple times “how did life get started?”

That’s not evolution, that’s abiogenesis. But hey, creationists love to just avoid evolution altogether and take it far back to something that they think scientists will have trouble explaining. “How did life get started in the first place?” or “how did the universe begin?” Stein says that to have the simplest form of life, you need to have at least 250 proteins.

Alright, sure. Having 250 proteins spontaneously pop out of the primordial soup is far-fetched. But you don’t need to have 250 proteins spontaneously pop out. As Richard Dawkins has shown in at least three of his books, all you really need for selection pressures to take over is a self-replicating molecule. Like… DNA or RNA.

Well, I understand that there’s some controversy over whether RNA came first or DNA came first. But, DNA is truly a very simple molecule. It’s the simplest molecule in the cell. Really, it’s just some hydrogens, nitrogens, oxygens, and carbons joined together in a not-particularly exotic order. However, the evidence suggests that it was actually RNA that came first which really is just as simple as DNA.

Either way, once you have self-replicating molecules, natural selection will play out by “selecting” molecules that are good at becoming more numerous. If having a cell around you to protect you happens to make you better at replicating yourself, then you will get “selected” as well. Since RNA is not as good at copying itself without error as DNA (though you still need to leave room for error to have mutations occur) RNA, or whatever the first self-replicating molecule was, was probably eventually replaced by DNA.

I learned this from a book that was written in the 70’s (The Selfish Gene). Though we’re not entirely clear on how exactly abiogenesis occurred, we have some highly plausible explanations. There is no need to invoke an “intelligent cause” that is many fold more difficult to explain.

Of course, Stein doesn’t tell you that. He talks about crystals, and mocks panspermia (the theory that life was seeded on Earth by aliens, proposed by Francis Crick).

Dawkins mentions it later in the film when Ben Stein asks him if there’s a way that Intelligent Design could be possible. After talking a bit about the whole panspermia business, Stein says “What? Richard Dawkins says that Intelligent Design is a scientific possibility?”

No, dumb ass. He’s talking about a possible way Intelligent Design could be true because you asked him to.

Stein accuses Dawkins of accepting ID as long as the intelligence is not God, ignoring Dawkins when he points out that the origin of the aliens could be explicable naturally. When you invoke the supernatural in science, you have the burden of proof of showing that the supernatural thing exists and explaining how the supernatural thing came into existence. In short, Occam’s razor slices through it like butter.

And of course, there’s the claim that Darwinism is a necessity of Nazism. This was the part where I really wanted to fall asleep. Stein goes to old Nazi labor camps and tours the places where the Jews went through all that suffering. There is nothing but pity in my heart for the victims of that mad-man we call Hitler, but you can’t place the blame on Darwin, for cryin’ out loud.

As PZ Myers has already pointed out, the idea that really supported eugenics (artificial selection) had been around for thousands of years before Darwin. What Darwin did was apply selection to nature. No part of Darwin’s work, however, gave Hitler the idea that Jews were for some reason inferior. That was all personal hate on the part of Hitler.

But let me just humor Ben Stein for a moment and say that Darwin contributed to Nazism. As awful a conclusion that is to draw from a scientific theory (we probably shouldn’t be getting out morals from evolution anyway), it has nothing to do with whether or not the idea is true. Is it still for the good of society to limit academic freedom to explore evolution by natural selection?

Can you spell doublethink (seriously, is it one word or two)?

While I’m on the topic of doublethink, what about that scene where he’s writing “do not question authority” and “do not question darwinism” on a chalk board? What about questioning Ben Stein? How many of the fifteen people in the theater are actually going to think about it and question Stein?

Stein ends the film talking about freedom, of course. He gives a rallying cry for creationists to break down what he calls a “wall” that science has erected to give academic freedom only to people who are on the right side. A lecture hall of extras students stands up and cheers for him. A statue of Thomas Jefferson (a deist… oops) is shown. Etcetera. The movie ended, and I rushed out of the theater like a gust of wind on a summer’s afternoon, and drank in the rays of the setting sun.

Freedom. Freedom from that awful piece of shit.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by bmanhappy on April 19, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    hey, saw this movie too. I totally agree with the above review. The film pissed me off as well. “This is really what is fueling the ID movewment?!?!” I thought to myself as i walked out of the theater. and they call us Atheists dumb.

  2. The term Intelligent Design is one of the biggest oxymorons I’ve come across.

    For stupid retarded religious people, Oxymoron is when one or more words are put together in the same sentence that have conflicting meanings from the whole term.

    Like “Quiet Storm” or “Sincere Christian”.

    Basically, a theory called Intelligent Design needs a fucking bit of Intelligence to begin with!

    It’s so easy to see the religious sheep watching this piece of crap movie and believing it to be true.

  3. Stein is under heavy attack for ‘exaggerating’ or ‘going easy’ on the influence of evolutionism behind Nazism and Stalinism (super evolution of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Russia). But the monstrous Haeckelian type of vulgar evolutionism drove not only the ‘Politics-is-applied-biology’ Nazi takeover in the continental Europe, but even the nationalistic collision at the World War I. Catch 22: The 140 years old faked embryo drawings have been mindlessly recycled for the ‘public understanding of science’ (PUS) in most biology text books until this millennium, although Haeckel’s crackpot raging Recapitulation/Biogenetic Law and functioning gill slits of human embryos have been at the ethical tangent race hygiene/eugenics/genocide, infanticide, and Freudian psychoanalysis (subconscious atavisms). Dawkins is the Oxford professor for PUS – and one of the quilty ones.

    The marriage laws were once erected not only in the Nazi Germany but also in the multicultural states of America upon the speculation that the mulatto was a relatively sterile and shortlived hybrid. The absence of blood transfusion between “white” and “colored races” was self evident (Hailer 1963, p. 52).

    The first law on sterilization in US had been established in 1907 in Indiana, and 23 similar laws had been passed in 15 States and sterilization was practiced in 124 institutions in 1921 (Mattila 1996; Hietala 1985 p. 133; these were the times of IQ-tests under Gould’s scrutiny in his Mismeasure of Man 1981). By 1931 thirty states had passed sterization laws in the US (Reilly 1991, p. 87).

    So the American laws were pioneering endeavours. In Europe Denmark passed the first sterilization legislation in Europe (1929). Denmark was followed by Switzerland, Germany that had felt to the hands of Hitler and Gobineu, and other Nordic countries: Norway (1934), Sweden (1935), Finland (1935), and Iceland (1938) (Haller 1963, pp 21-57; 135-9; Proctor 1988, p. 97; Reilly 1991, p. 109). Seldom is it mentioned in the popular media, that the first outright race biological institution in the world was not established in Germany but in 1921 in Uppsala, Sweden (Hietala 1985, pp. 109). (I am not aware of the ethymology of the ‘Up’ of the ancient city from Plinius’ Ultima Thule, however.) In 1907 the Society for Racial Hygiene in Germany had changed its name to the Internationale Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene, and in 1910 Swedish Society for Eugenics (Sällskap för Rashygien) had become its first foreign affiliate (Proctor 1988, p. 17). Today, Swedish state church is definitely the most liberal in the face of the world.

    Hitler’s formulation of the differences between the human races was affected by the brilliant sky-blue eyed Ernst Haeckel (Gasman 1971, p. xxii), praised and raised by Darwin. At the top of the unilinear progression were usually the “Nordics”, a tall race of blue-eyed blonds. Haeckel’s position on the ‘Judenfrage’ was assimilation and Expelled-command from their university chairs, not yet an open elimination. But was it different only in degree, rather than kind?

    In 1917 the immigration of “defective” groups was forbidden even in the United States by a law. In 1921 the European immigration was diminished to 3% based on the 1910 census.
    Eventually, in the strategical year of 1924 the finest hour of eugenics had come and the fatal law was passed by Congress. It diminished immigration to 2% of the foreign-born from each country based on the 1890 census in order to preserve the “nordic” balance in population, and was hold through World War II until 1965 (Hietala 1985, p. 132).

    Richard Lewontin writes:“The leading American idealogue of the innate mental inferiority of the working class was, however, H.H. Goddard, a pioneer of the mental testing movement, the discoverer of the Kallikak family,
    and the administrant of IQ-tests to immigrants that found 83 % of the Jews, 80% of the Hungarians, 79% of the Italians, and 87% of the the Russians to be feebleminded.” (1977, p. 13.) Finnish emmigrants put the cross on the box reserved for the “yellow” group (Kemiläinen 1993, p. 1930), until 1965.

    Germany was the most scientifically and culturally advanced nation of the world upon opening the riddles at the close of the nineteenth century. And she went Full Monty.

    Today, developmental biologists are anticipating legislation of laws that would define the do’s and dont’s. In England, they are fertilizing human embryos for research purposes and pipetting chimera embryos of humans and monkeys, ‘legally’. The legislation should not distract individual researchers from their personal awareness of responsibility. A permissive law merely defines the ethical minimum. The lesson is that a law is no substitute for morals and that dissidents should not be intimidated.

    I am suspicious over the burial of the Kampf (Struggle). The idea of competition is innate in the modern society. It is the the opposite view in a 180 degree angle to the Judaeo-Christian ideal of agapee, that I personally cheriss. The latter sees free giving, altruism, benevolence and self sacrificing love as the beginning, motivation, and sustainer of the reality.

    You may read more on the matter from my conference posters and articles defended and published in the field of bioethics and history of biology (and underline/edit them a ‘bit’):
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Asian_Bioethics.pdf
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Haeckelianlegacy_ABC5.pdf

    pauli.ojala@gmail.com
    Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-ID.htm

  4. If a comment could be called a tome…

    I’m confused. If you were trying to make a case for evolutionism playing a role in Nazism, you failed to make it.

    Please cite your source that many modern biology textbooks contain Haeckel’s embryos, which were a scientific fraud.

    As for the marriage laws, those were put in place for racist/religious reasons (I wish I could recall which chapter in Genesis said not to inter-marry, but I can’t). You fail to make the connection between evolution and laws against inter-racial marriages.

    And I agree with your Judeo-Christian ideals of altruism, benevolence, and love. IT’S NOT LIMITED TO PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN GOD! First religion that comes to my mind that shares those values would be Buddhism. Humanism pops in second.

    For the last time, evolutionism does not support Nazism.

  5. According to AiG, the verse is actually Acts 17:16, but they refute that by saying marriages should only be Christian to Christian*.

    However, considering that many times a person’s religion is based on their ethnicity, then it ends up dealing with interracial marriage also.

    * – Of course, their only evidence is misrepresenting Dawin’s use of “Race” in the subtitle of Origin, and biblical verses.

  6. Posted by TheEmperor'snewclothes on July 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I see alot of atheists crying about the film, why? you claim to be enlightened, yet one little disagreement and you have to cry about it on a blog. I mean isn’t that the whole idea fueling ATHEISM? The freedom to reject dogma to persue this ideaology of atheism. Yet you act as though anyone who says anything about anything to do with ID and you lose your bloody minds, because it conflicts with… YOUR DOGMA. Get over yourselves, you invented a new religion thats it. It is no more logical then beleiving in the spaghetti monster. You haven’t seen these fossils, yet you put full faith that the people who have seen them are telling you the truth… sounds alot like faith to me. How is that the fossil records show animals appearing, showing almost no change over several hundred thousand years, then disappearing from the record? This is repeated over and over again, with nearly every species. The ones they claim to actualy be “evolving” and have differing bone structures as they “progress” are usually embelished as to the scale, and even chronology they appear in, meaning they may have nothing to do with eachother but simply look as though they remotely do, so scientists think thats a reasonable conclusion to say they are descendants regardless of the obvious size difference in one animal to the next. I’d like to point out we have over a billion small fossils, and 200 million or so complete ones. You would think at least a few of them would be conclusive. Lets not forget the cambrian explosion, not going in depth with it but sufice to say it basicaly disproves evolution. Heres an interesting tibit, So this number the movie used? about the 250 protiens required for minimal life. I don’t remember if it was minimal life but still a self replicating cell or not, or simply just life at its most basic form, which would be closer to bacteria. But the likelyhood of them arranging themselves in the correct order was (I’m not even sure how to write this).
    6 to the power of a trillion! a number with around hundred zeros infront of it. Anyways, The planet is only 4.5 billion years old, however accurate that is, our oldest fossil is of bacteria that is approx. 3.5 billion years old… Your belief is that this figure of a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, only had about 1 billion years maximum to work itself through NOT only that but lets face it the planet wasn’t capable of sustaining life for an entire billion years, so that number is smaller still. ALso, if this can happen by chance, why is it that sceientists, who supposedly know how this happened, can put all the necessary elements together in labs and still cannot produce any result. Lets not forget they have been trying for around 50 years…….
    Some interesting facts about your Dogma isnt it? Bottom line, I can’t stop you from having much greater faith then my own, but for science’s sake don’t act like you have anything over us. Nothing you have that you call evidence is conclusive, or even for that matter not necessarily… you know, real.
    Oh maybe I screwed up some of my facts but the bottom line is theres about a dozen or so more I could have quoted, and no, I do realise that alot of christians out there have almost never read the bible, or have any clue what they themsevles even beleive. My point is this: Not everyone who has faith in God, or at least ID, is stupid. Alot are, but just as many comparitivley who have faith in evolution have almost no understanding how its most basic principals.

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