Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed 2

Ben Stein hosts this documentary which “examines the criticisms and hostilities that exist in today’s scientific field (both academic and professional) towards peers and journalists who subscribe to or even entertain the perspective of Intelligent Design in science”.

I have unfortunately failed to make it all the way through this film as of this writing. At the one hour mark, I set it aside for the time being. The cinematography and editing make it extraordinarily difficult to follow. The interviews with such notables as PZ Meyers pharyngula and Richard Dawkins richarddawkins.net along with Intelligent design proponents at The Discovery Institute www.discovery.org and more are interspersed with black and white film clips from what appears to be the early years of the Berlin Wall. There are other nonsensical clips inserted to act as confirmation of a point that had just been made by an interviewee.

In all honesty this looks like something a first year film student would throw together the night before a project was due while he was still high. Now IF you can get past that, the movie asks a valid question.

According to the narrative, a group of scientists, teachers and a journalist have all either been fired, censured or generally had their careers ruined for bringing up the question of Intelligent Design. Details are sketchy as to the content that led to the censure/firing, etc. The film indicates that in the cases shown, merely mentioning Intelligent Design or writing about it led to the firings. IF this is the case, why were these people censured so severely?

In the film, the main argument for creationism seemed to be that since a single cell is so complex, there must have been a designer. Most of those interviewed shied away from the idea that the designer was the Judaeo Christian god. They instead asked that the concept that “something greater than ourselves” be investigated as a possible theory for the origin of life.

It seems a reasonable request until you consider that they can’t or won’t even define what that “something” might be. They are simply theorizing that because everything is so complex that it could not possibly have happened by chance. Their example of why it couldn’t was an animation of a guy and a bunch of slot machines.

Like I said…stoned first year film student.

I’m bothered by the idea that these people supposedly all lost their jobs and careers, or nearly so, because they discussed an alternative idea. The makers of this film took pains to equate the censures and firings with Nazi Germany. Obviously an extreme example. It poses the question, however, “At what point does freedom of speech cease to be free?’. I hope someone will investigate this further and find out why these people were treated like this..


  1. themysteryof said,

    February 6, 2010 at 10:15 am

    If you follow your local news, you can see examples of this sort of censorship virtually everywhere. Sometimes you have to dig because it’s become so commonplace that it hardly makes the news. One example in my city, is a science teacher who taught the basics of evolution, but let his students know that he personally, didn’t believe in evolution. He didn’t teach design, but he kept creationist material in his desk for anyone who wanted it. Someone complained, and he would have lost his job, if he had not shut up and removed the “offensive” materials. Workers in education and other positions in government lost their freedom of speech long ago.

  2. ianam said,

    February 10, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Such a teacher should lose his job for inserting personal anti-scientific beliefs into a science class.

  3. collinksmith said,

    March 4, 2010 at 2:15 am

    @1: It’s not a matter of it being offensive, it’s a matter of keeping a science class about science. Creationism isn’t science – the science clearly indicates that evolution is true. If this isn’t communicated clearly, then the teacher isn’t doing his job as a science instructor.

    @Original post: There’s also no threat to free speech if people are fired for not doing their job. If an MD insists on using homeopathy despite all evidence that it doesn’t work, a hospital is justified in firing him. Similarly, if a biology professor does bad science and shows no intention of changing, a university is justified in letting him go – he’s simply not doing the job they are paying him to do. He can continue to speak freely, of course.

    For a rebuttal of the specific cases presented in expelled, I recommend http://www.expelledexposed.com. They go over all the cases in the “truth behind the fiction” page. I read the first one, and it seems the person in question wasn’t even fired at all. I think this quote from Eugenie Scott, written in 2004 during the incident, sums up the real issue at hand and articulates their position well:

    “First, above all, we believe strongly that the discussion should not be a referendum on Dr. von Sternberg’s personal scientific beliefs, even though they clearly fall outside of the normal scientific mainstream. Obviously Dr. von Sternberg’s religious beliefs are also off the table. The focus should be on the fact that he allowed into the pages of PBSW a paper that was inappropriate for the journal in both content and quality”

    Bad science doesn’t belong in peer reviewed journals. A paper arguing for a flat earth would be treated with suspicion and looked down upon for the same reason ID papers are. It’s not because there is a *huge* conspiracy among the vast majority of scientists to trick the public into thinking the earth is flat or evolution is true for some strange reason (maybe to promote atheism? But then why would so many Christians be in on it?), but simply because it’s not good science. If you are still inclined to side with the conspiracy theorists (usually not a good choice, whatever the issue), you are welcome to investigate the science yourself, as is anyone. http://www.talkorigins.org is an excellent site dedicated to presenting the scientific evidence for evolution and rebutting creationist claims.

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