Even More Journalists Review Stein’s Expelled! Movie …And Pan it

This latest pan comes from Felix Salmon at Condé Nast Portfolio (a relatively new business magazine). He notes yet another “martyr” story that turns out to fall apart rather quickly when you look past what the movie tells you:

My favorite bit, unsurprisingly, was when the film quoted Pamela Winnick thusly:

If you give any credence at all to Intelligent Design, you are just finished as a journalist.

Not at the New York Times you’re not, clearly.

Winnick is presented in the film for all the world as a diligent journalist – a Jewish journalist, no less – who just happened to mention Intelligent Design, en passant, in one of her columns, and ended up getting fired.

Omitted from the film: any indication that Winnick is the author of “A Jealous God: Science’s Crusade Against Religion,” published in 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Or that in her journalism for the newspaper from which she was fired she talked of Darwin’s influence on eugenics and Hitler, and “the serious people –scientists included — who continue to challenge his theories.”

That’s actually even understating it a bit: Winnick is something of a polemicist who took a fellowship grant from a conservative think-tank to write about “why there seems to be little tolerance for teaching creationism in America.” Her repetition of creationist talking points throughout her writing is not exactly subtle (she calls evolution a “secular religion”), and she’s apparently an avid quote miner. As with Carolyn Crocker, the “just one tiny little mention” implication is simply ridiculous when you start to look into the facts.

After reading a lot of these sorts of reviews, it really seems the film is unlikely to break out of core demographic of evangelical Christians. It doesn’t seem to make any serious case against evolutionary theory: or even for Intelligent Design. It just assumes that its audience will buy accusations of witchhunts, gasp at atheists, and tearfully condemn “Darwinism” for making the Holocaust a reality, and just generally all nod in understanding, knowing intrinsically that evolution is ridiculous without having to have it demonstrated to them.

Mainstream journalists and movie-critics have almost universally cringed at the craven manipulation, particularly its exploitation of the Holocaust, and pretty much all of the glowing reviews have come from either right-wing talk show hosts or the very sorts of evangelical religious publications and organizations that have been on board and promoting the film from the start.

Which is not to say that even all conservative Christians are or will be convinced by it either.  It’s one thing to initially win over an audience that’s receptive to your overall message and accusations right from the start.  It’s quite another thing when viewers start digging deeper, beyond the big screen.

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8 Responses to Even More Journalists Review Stein’s Expelled! Movie …And Pan it

  1. Jay says:

    Hmm…I wonder if the target audience of this film will dig deeper. I kind of think this film will only be preaching to the choir.

  2. Lisa says:

    Most evangelicals have dug deeper already and are aware of all the lies and skewing that come out of the media. If you are interested indigging deeper (I challenge you), try answersingenesis.org and read some of these books. I guarantee you will it will make a serious case against evolutionary theory: and for Intelligent Design. Answers In Genesis doesn’t “just assumes that its audience will buy accusations of witchhunts, gasp at atheists, and tearfully condemn “Darwinism” for making the Holocaust a reality, and just generally all nod in understanding, knowing intrinsically that evolution is ridiculous without having to have it demonstrated to them”, but scientifically will prove how Intelligent Design is more than just plausible, it is the only theory that is. But if you are too scared to have your idol of evolution knocked off it’s fake pedestal, put there by secular humanists, don’t visit that web site. If you are truly interested in scientific truth, it is one awesome, serious case for ID.

  3. Bad says:

    I actually agree that a place like answersingenesis, unlike Expelled, really does attempt to make a scientific case against evolution. That’s at least something.

    However, that doesn’t mean that it makes any sort of competent case, or that reading it qualifies as “digging deeper.” And AiG isn’t really an Intelligent Design source per se: they are openly Biblically creationist. The fact that their arguments are so bad is really just another sign of how many people just need to hear something that confirms their feelings that evolution is wrong or an enemy to their beliefs, even if that something doesn’t hold up to critical scrutiny.

    But if you are too scared to have your idol of evolution knocked off it’s fake pedestal, put there by secular humanists, don’t visit that web site. If you are truly interested in scientific truth, it is one awesome, serious case for ID.

    You’re making the presumption that I and countless others are somehow unaware of AiG or the arguments is makes. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are not only aware, not only have read it and virtually every bit of major creationist claims, but we’ve responded. The debate doesn’t end at some creationist site claiming that evolution is full of holes. It continues on to real scientists explaining in detail why those claims are false or misleading.

    And I know it will mean little to you coming from me, but the arguments and claims that AiG and other such sources make really just don’t hold up if you spend time looking into the evidence. There is no pedestal for evolution, and it was not put their by “humanists.” It’s put there by evidence. And in my experience, the vast majority of creationists cannot even explain what evolution is or says, much less understand the evidence. The whole reason a source like AiG can sound plausible to laypeople is because it can play off a general lack of specific scientific knowledge, gliding over all the caveats and details that completely undermine its claims.

    But if you really think it is such a great source, you are more than welcome to sum up any of its arguments that you think are particularly powerful and compelling, and I’d be more than happy to discuss them.

    And isn’t it telling that creationists feel that they have to lump all their imagined enemies into a single conspiracy? Very few of the major figures in evolutionary biology, from Darwin on, have been “humanists” and its prominence and wide acceptance in the scientific community has virtually nothing to do with humanism. But humanism is evil, and evolution is evil, so they MUST all be part of the same plot!

  4. Craig says:

    I don’t want to put down someone else’s belief system, but a quick browse of the AiG website is enough to see that it is all about starting from a set of deeply held beliefs and trying vainly to work it back to science. It just doesn’t work, at all, on any level.

    There is not a shred of science or scientific thought presented. What you find are a lot of attention grabbers (“Modern science proves Bible is right and Darwin wrong!”) and ads for resources for home schoolers (“World History from Creation (4004 BC) to the Present”). This stuff is fiction parading as fact.

    To accept what Lisa and the AiG crowd is selling requires is (a) complete acceptance of a Fundamentalist ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalism) interpretation of the Bible (which is certainly not the universal interpretation); (b) almost complete ignorance of modern science: evolutionary theory, genetics, physics, to say nothing of archaeology; and (c) and the inability (or refusal) to think critically.

    What’s worrisome is the extent to which, in this country, the AiG view is believed.

  5. Nullifidian says:

    Lisa, since nobody asked, and although I doubt you’re going to come back to answer, you made reference to “these books” but cited none in your post. If we have read the creationist texts you recommend, and were unimpressed by them, would you reconsider their merit?

    Here’s an offhand list of the ID/creationist books I’ve read, which will not be complete:

    The Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Morris
    The Twilight of Evolution by Henry Morris
    Buried Alive by Jack Cuozzo
    The Lie: Evolution by Ken Ham
    Evolution: The Fossils Say No by Duane Gish
    Bones of Contention by Martin Lubenow
    The Creation Hypothesis ed. by J.P. Moreland
    Mere Creation ed. by William Dembski
    Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe
    The Edge of Evolution by Michael Behe
    Evolution: A Theory in Crisis by Michael Denton
    Nature’s Destiny by Michael Denton (in which he repudiates his anti-evolutionary arguments made in E:ATiC and goes for a fine-tuning argument instead)
    Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells
    The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design by Jonathan Wells
    Darwin on Trial by Philip Johnson
    The Wedge of Truth by Philip Johnson
    Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds by Philip Johnson
    The Origin of Species Revisited by Wendell Bird
    The Atlas of Creation by Harun Yahya (a.k.a. Adnan Oktar)
    Intelligent Design: The Bridge between Science and Theology by William Dembski
    The Design Inference by William Dembski
    No Free Lunch by William Dembski

    There are more out there whose titles and/or authors I cannot recall offhand, like Walt Brown’s book, and there are doubtless some obvious ones I’m missing. What I don’t think I’m missing is any lack of knowledge of the argument they’re making. So, what is it in these books that you find convincing and you’d like us to be looking for?

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