Expelled! Coming to a TV Near You: Southern Baptists to Air 30-Min Promotion for Creationist Documentary

March 31, 2008

According to Blue Collar Scientist and HJ Live a half hour Expelled! infomercial is now slotted for FAMNET, the cable television ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.

If you’re prepared to tune in at approximately 3:30am EST, I’m sure you’ll be in for a whirlwind of conclusive scientific evidence stock footage of Nazis.

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Roving Bands of Eunuchs Seek to Steal Your Johnson: We Thought We Had it Bad With “Gay Panic”

March 31, 2008

I didn’t understand half the cultural concepts mentioned when I first read this article: why there are roving bands of eunuchs in India at all, what a “male issue” is (an elaborate term for baby boy?), and why, exactly a group of eunuchs would forcibly chop off some poor kids’ private parts. To be honest, it sounded much like yet another element of the so-called “penis panics” that have from time to time erupted in some Asian cultures.

But from this news of the weird tidbit I stumbled onto yet another intriguing wrinkle in culture and sexuality I’d been completely ignorant of.

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I’m Done With Hillary Clinton: Two Unavoidable Unacceptables for a Democratic 2008

March 31, 2008

I’m a Democrat. I give money. I’ve work campaigns, both as a volunteer and as paid staff. I’m realistic and critical of my party (and open to criticism in return) but when it comes to fellow Democrats, candidates and activists, loyalty still matters a great deal to me. The party doesn’t reflect everything I believe in the way I believe, but it is the direction I want the country to head, and that’s what it comes down to. I have no apologies.

No matter what, I will vote for a Democrat this November: Clinton, Obama, whatever. I began this political season almost irritated that I had to make a choice between two candidates that rated about even in my book in nearly every way. Both have unique strengths and correspondingly worrisome weaknesses. I could have staked a claim on either one of them.

But at this point, I’m simply done with the Clintons. Not just for this race, but period. No matter what happens from here on forward, I’ve just had enough. I have friends who are dedicated to her, and whose political careers are linked to her fate. And it’s been truly difficult to get to this point.

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Why Ben Stein’s Expelled! Documentary is a Waste of Your Time: A Christian Anti-Review

March 31, 2008

The producers of Expelled! have done a masterful job of insisting that their film speaks dangerous and important truths that have been silenced. They all but imply that unless you shill out 10$ to see their film, you’re part of the conspiracy, or scared to face their challenge.

It’s easy to forget that this stance is, simply, ridiculous. The film doesn’t contain even a single allegation or argument that hasn’t already been debated to death elsewhere. It certainly, in 90 minutes of running time, cannot present ANY side of any issue issue in anywhere near the amount of depth found in books or blogs: even purely pro-Intelligent Design websites contain more detailed content in a single days’ posting than the film can squeeze in alongside its “edgy” (i.e. inexpensive padding) deployment of stock footage and musical montages.

The only thing particularly unique about Expelled! is that it is bizarrely oblivious to the devastating objections already raised against its core arguments, in some cases decades ago. It’s as if none of these arguments (the vast majority of which, coincidentally scientists won pretty decisively) ever happened. The producers have even had, in the face of the movie’s selectively enforced ignorance, the incredible gall to brag that no one had responded to their substantive arguments… before yet again scrambling in fear when someone actually tried to respond.

So why should anyone bother paying to see the film? Henry Neufeld, who calls himself a moderate Christian, makes the best case Ive seen so far as to why most people should not, utterly regardless of whether they are interested in its subject matter or what side they support. In doing so, I think he sums up the core problems with the film better than any anti-Expelled blogger I’ve yet seen, including myself (I’ve been struggling unsuccessfully to boil it all down into a nice press primer for some time). Here’s the overview of his basic objections, each of which is well argued in more detail on his blog, and any of which are damning flaws.

  1. Misrepresentation of evolution
  2. First amendment issues are badly confused
  3. Academic freedom doesn’t guarantee you a job or tenure
  4. The problem for intelligent design is not that it hasn’t been considered
  5. The connection of evolution with Hitler
  6. The lie that accepting the theory of evolution is the equivalent of atheism

Back when the film was first announced, the producers scoffed at all the early criticism they received, making fun of folks that would dare characterize a film they had yet to see. And yet, now that the film has been seen and reviewed several times over, there seems to be little reason to question our original low expectations. All of our predictions were, if anything, too generous.

Personally, as a student of political pushback and as someone that wants to be able to pick apart the film’s claims in detail for others, I’ll be seeing the movie. As a good capitalist, I’ll even pay for the odious privilege. But unless you have my bizarre collections of interests and ambitions, save your money.

The movie is nothing more than the real life version of a messageboard troll. And what’s the cardinal rule of dealing with trolls? Do. not. feed.


Science Is Unspeakably Cruel!

March 31, 2008
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Curse you, science.


PZ Myers Finds an Expelled! Party He Can Crash: Gonzo Creationist Call Outs

March 28, 2008

What if you held an on-message conference call to promote your movie, and everybody came?

Well, the producers of Expelled did just that, and amongst everybody was the last person they wanted to hear from: PZ Myers. Myers listened to them go on and on, but when they started claiming that no one had ever “addressed the content of the movie,” he couldn’t let that stand, and he spoke up and jumped all over them.

Now, this sort of thing isn’t quite my MO, but in this case, I’m with Myers all the way. The Expelled producers have been presenting themselves as brave truth-tellers just looking for a debate, but in reality they’ve been hiding in a tightly controlled bubble of evangelical adoration and press releases. They deserve to get called out on this hypocrisy. I’ve been trying to call them out on this cowardice for some time.

Anyone who’s been reading this blog, or nearly ANY science-friendly blog that’s covered this movie has seen countless posts addressing the claims Stein and his cohorts make in this movie. We’ve covered all of their subjects in FAR far more detail than they have. And we’ve seen almost nothing in return. It’s the standard creationist crackup: they throw out a huge list of plausible sounding but ultimately cynically false claims and then can’t be bothered to stick around and seriously defend them. Instead, they just rush on to the next venue and repeat the same stuff all over again as if no one had ever pointed out their duplicity.

For a concrete example, just compare and contrast something for me. Here’s PZ Myers objecting to the film’s Darwin = Hitler hokum and one of Stein’s rambling anti-Darwin blogs. Here’s the response from the producers.

Who is dodging “substance” here? Myers takes their arguments to pieces, specifically and directly. He’s certainly not nice about it, but he doesn’t dodge their claims, he cuts right into them. Their response? Not to address his points. Not to defend their arguments. Instead they spend thousands of words hinting about the “thought police” and making fun of Myers for actually spending time responding to their harmless little posts!

We’ll see how long they can keep up this little game. We’ll see how long they can keep ignoring the arguments of their critics and hopping from one right-wing think-tank ego-strokefest to another. We’re waiting.

Update: Rebecca over at SkepChick has the audio of the conference call in question.


Best Review of Intelligent Design Film Expelled! Yet

March 27, 2008

Quidam, over at the deceptively named Antievolution messageboards, has decided to review the gallantly Godwinizing creationist film Expelled! in the form of interpretive photoshop:

My next movie will take on the pernicious influence of Sauerkraut!

Brilliant, boyo.