HollywoodJesus.com: Pop Culture From A Spiritual Point of View
MoviesDVDsMusicBooksComixTVGamesSportsThe Hit ListWeekly Sweeps at HJHWJ Blogs
Contact Us | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy | Subscribe | About

HJ Live!  Search HJ Live! Advanced SearchLogin
 
Share This!

Featured  
Attractions  
Click Icon >>

Christmas Movie Eliminator
The Galactic Gazette: Star Wars News at HJ
Focus on the Force: Star Wars Commentary and Analysis at HJ
The Pipeline: What's In Store for Faith and Film
Film Festival Roundup
HJ's iON Comic-Con
Bagshot Row Bulletin: News of the film, commentary about the book
    
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
P.Z. Myers: Right and Wrong
More on Invites, Telecon, and Crashing

Now with regard to yesterday’s telecon: as I mentioned to start with, Myers does have some legitimate complaints. His personal bias in the whole situation, though, has (I feel) blinded him to certain facts; perhaps he just isn’t listening well any more. And that would be understandable, to a degree. So below I’ll cover in bullets the issues he commented on over at Pharyngula yesterday:

  • Myers calls Lauer’s assertion that “the Minneapolis event was a private screening” a lie because the RSVP form “was publicly linked on the web, where any idiot could get to it.” Just because an idiot can get to something on the web doesn’t make it public. By that logic, hacking into someone’s blog database is okay just because you found out how to get into it. Not the same thing as being given the password directly by the db owner. Now, granted, as I’ve noted above, Motive’s RSVP system isn’t secure, and I agree that the way in which these screenings have been promoted and managed has been rather sloppy; but that’s the norm in this industry! I attend several promotional and press screenings each week, and there’s nothing unique about Motive in this regard. Myers is simply unfamiliar with how these things work in general; and journalists of all stripes are familiar with being “uninvited” and “barred” from particular screenings for seemingly arbitrary reasons. Neither exhibitors, nor publicists, nor studios are obliged to let anyone and everyone into such screenings. End of story.
  • Myers points out that Lauer’s spin that “their blog was #1 on blogpulse” over the weekend is untrue. Myers is right on this score. Motive’s press release about the Minneapolis screening also spins the truth in that regard. Pharyngula is the site was that ran to the top of the blogosphere, not any of the sites or blogs associated with Expelled.
  • Myers doesn’t buy the producers’ claims about how the interviews with Myers were obtained, and repeats his assertion that Mathis had to “lie to get interviews.” Obviously, I wasn’t in on any of that, so I can defend neither Myers nor Mathis. But in the telecon, Mathis said that he felt his dealings with Myers (and others) had been “completely above board” and that they had been “treated very fairly.” He directly addressed Myers’ objection that the name “Expelled” had already been registered as a domain even while the production was billing itself as “Crossroads” by pointing out that the Crossroads clearing house still exists as a business entity, and that the producers had “entertained as many as fifty or sixty different names for the film.” I can understand why Myers’ blood would boil as he listened to all that. But again, based on my extensive and lengthy first-hand experience at tracking what goes on in the film industry, Mathis’ explanations strike me an entirely plausible, and more than reasonable from a business perspective. Myers’ jumps to all kinds of conclusions about motivations and truthfulness, I think, based on a certain level of ignorance about the ways in which the film industry conducts business. (At the same time, I do think the question is worth asking, and having answered: did the producers register domain names other than Expelled, and if so, when?)
  • Myers points out that, in response to one question, Stein said that not only was he proud of the movie’s Nazi-related sequence, but that he “wanted more goose-stepping Nazis all over the place.” I don’t think that’s a completely accurate quote (I didn’t jot that one down, myself), but it certainly does capture the gist of Stein’s reply. Stein reiterated that he has no objection to Darwinian evolution being taught in schools or even as legitimate science; but he called it “only a partial solution” to the question of origins, “and a very dangerous partial solution” at that. And as far as he’s concerned, the brand of Darwinian science being promoted by Dawkins, Myers, and others is “politics masquerading as science.” I’ve heard those close to the production say, though, that there were conscious efforts made to limit the Nazi-related content in the film, so I believe Stein’s assertion that he wanted a greater portion of the film devoted to the subject; and given that he’s Jewish, I can understand that.
  • Myers’ assertion that the Darwinian influence on the holocaust is the entire point of the film is just flat wrong. I’ve seen the film, and that connection is peripheral at best. The primary assertion of the film is that the scientific establishment is employing intimidation to squelch dissent. And while the film doesn’t prove that’s the case, it does present evidence that it may be happening in certain cases, and it does highlight the level of hostility associated with militant anti-Creationists like Myers. And you only have to drop in to Pharyngula (or Panda’s Thumb, or any website being attacked by that crowd) to understand a thing or two about group-think and hostility. There is no room but anything for the party line at those sites, any more than there is no room for anything but the party line at many churches. So to me, Myers is far too often a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Is there intolerance in the Christian community? Oh, yeah. But there’s a hell of a lot of intolerance (with a ton of hatred and vulgarity thrown in) in Myers’ camp, too.
  • Myers jumped in specifically to question his perception that the film (which he hasn’t yet seen) argues that “the Holocaust was a consequence of evolutionary theory.” The hosts of the event rightly pointed out that they had already addressed that issue. They had already reiterated that, in Berlinski’s words, it was “not a sufficient cause, but a necessary cause.” Stein commented that Nazis “thought that they were carrying out Darwinian ideas,” an assertion that the subtitled documentary footage use in the film bears out. (Granted, it’s entirely likely that the Nazis used that merely as an excuse rather than as a justification; but that’s also true of the Scripture they trotted out to get the Lutheran Church to fall into line, too. And Myers, btw, also has a very nice post on the subject today at Pharyngula.) Stein went on to say that saying such a thing about Nazis is not the same thing as “saying Dr. Dawkins is” a Nazi sympathizer. The production team were very clear, I thought, in clarifying that they were not attempting to paint Dawkins or Myers as neo-Nazis. Their point, as I see it, and as the film presents it, is that you can’t exactly take Darwinian science out of the recipe for Nazi Germany and still expect to come up with the holocaust. And I agree with that. For the holocaust to happen, you have to get the Church, the politicians, the common man, and the Academy all on board with the program of ethnic cleansing; and it certainly seems the case that Darwinian thinking cleared the decks for the Academy to jump on board. That’s how the pogroms turned into the holocaust. Without intellectuals signed up for the final solution, genocide would have happened, but not on that scale. (At least, I think arguing the point in that way is not intellectually dishonest.) So yes, Myers is right in pointing out that “anti-semitism has a long history in Germany that preceded Darwin.” But he’d be just as wrong to argue that Hitler and Darwin are disconnected as to argue that Hitler and the Church are disconnected. The holocaust has many sins to atone for, and they’re spread around pretty liberally. (It’s worth pointing out, of course, that the film doesn’t look at any other of the contributing causes of the holocaust, and that’s why I call it a very “unfortunate choice” to “raise the specter” of Nazi Germany in the context of this film. It clouds the real issues.)
  • Another blog made mention of Mathis’ assertion that Dawkins’ appearance in the film will be “damaging to his career.” It’s worth pointing out that Stein didn’t subscribe to Mathis’ triumphalism on that score, specifically saying that he doubted it would have any impact on his popularity.
  • One thing that hasn’t cropped up on any of the detractor sites yet, that I can tell, and an item that I’m surprised Myers didn’t mention: in connection with Myers being denied access to the Minneapolis screening, Mathis outright said, “This is personal thing for me.” Mathis expressed personal offense at the words and tone publicly used by Myers about Mathis since Expelled was officially announced. (This got to the heart of the question that I submitted to the moderator just moments before Myers cut in, but which was not selected for the Q&A.) I was surprised to hear Mathis admit that he’s taken the whole thing personally rather than purely professionally; and I think Mathis (and Myers) would be well advised to get that in check. This is a business and entertainment thing; and if there really are deceptive business practices and/or libel involved, both sides has best just take it to the courts. The personal-level bickering and publicity stunts are harming both Mathis’ credibility… and Myers’.


63 Responses to “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”

  1. Kristjan Wager  

    Just to be a bit more precise - PZ Myers is part of the Panda’s Thumb, and has been so since its start. So by sending the invitation to the Panda’s Thumb, they actually sent it directly to Myers (as well as the other members of the team).

  2. Greg Wright  

    Wasn’t sure about that based on the story as reported on Panda’s Thumb. The post there indicated that he did not initially receive the invite directly from Rogers & Cowan, but that it had been forwarded to him. From that, I inferred that he was not actually “part of” Panda’s Thumb… So thanks for the clarification!

  3. Boo  

    “Their point, as I see it, and as the film presents it, is that you can’t exactly take Darwinian science out of the recipe for Nazi Germany and still expect to come up with the holocaust.”

    I’m sorry, but this is simply ludicrous on several levels.

    Firstly, eugenics has a very long history predating Darwin. The Spartans were throwing sickly babies off of cliffs thousands of years before Darwin was born.

    Secondly, IDists and creationists always make a point of saying that they accept “microevolution.” Stein himself apparently said so in the call. “Microevolution” is defined as change within existing species. So… pop quiz: what was Hitler trying to accomplish with the Holocaust? 1- Create a new species? Or 2- Create what he regarded as improvements in the human species? The answer, of course, is 2. Which is microevolution. Which Stein and all the other creationists/IDers say they accept. Which by their own logic makes them all Nazis.

    Thirdly, the argument is based on a fallacy even if it was true- the fallacy of “appeal to consequences.” Describing reality and causing action are two very different things. If an idea is true, then it’s true regardless of what someone wants to do with it. You’re trying to derive “ought” from “is.” Evolutionary theory makes no claims about whether certain organisms, human or otherwise, “should” be selected against. Do you blame bathtub manufacterers for Andrea Yates drowning her chldren?

    Fourthly, the Nazis were intelligent agents acting to produce a designed outcome. That sounds vaguely familiar. Refresh my memory, isn’t there some guy named Behe who makes arguments along those lines? Maybe a Demb… Dembski? Is that his name? Philip Johnson? Anyone? Bueller?

    Fifthly, do you really think Hitler was a fan of the idea that Aryans and Jews shared a common ancestor?

    As Myers pointed out, animal breeding to produce characteristics has been around for thousands of years. Darwin’s insight was simply that the environment can act to create the same kind of selective pressure, and that these changes can accumulate over time. That’s all it was.

  4. Yo  

    “If an idea is true, then it’s true regardless of what someone wants to do with it.” Boo makes a good point. Here’s some truth; Jesus Christ lived, died and then rose from the dead to live again. These are factual truths that don’t change, so the question is; what should we do about them? It would seem that resolving the issue of what to do with the man who claimed to be God is more important than debating whether or not God created man. Resolve the first issue, and eventually you’ll resolve the other.

  5. Mark Sommer  

    I agree with you to a point, “Boo,” but I think you are setting up a bit of a straw man. I think you have missed the main point. The Nazis did not get their ideas from Darwinism, but used Darwinian ideas as an excuse to push through their agenda. I don’t think that Greg is asserting that this was a logical thing to do. Just that the Nazis did it.
    I do think that it probably would not have mattered if the Nazis were believers in ID (assuming the scientific consensus at the time favored ID). They would have just found another excuse. (Through the years, many who have called themselves Christians have found excuses to be antisemitic.) However, if they had believed the biblical assertion that all people are one race, that might have made a difference.
    “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth…–Acts 17:24-26 NKJV
    By the way, I find your irony about the Nazis using Intelligent Design hilarious. (I assume you intended it to be humorous to some degree.) However, what the Nazis did might rightly be called Design, but not Intelligent. ;)

  6. Greg Wright  

    Boo, I think you’re arguing against a ghost. You cherry-pick my comment without addressing my explanation, and then offer up a bunch of arguments against what somebody else is saying, not what I’m saying.

    If you take, say, the salt out of a batch of biscuits, you no longer have biscuits; you have something else. Without Darwinism, Nazi Germany still would have arisen and done atrocious things. But if you take out any one of the ingredients that went into building up steam for the holocaust — whether it’s the Church or Darwinism of various sorts — it would have worked itself out in very different ways… though still horrific, and maybe even more so.

    I just don’t see how a rational assessment that a recipe for disaster’s ingredients are “necessary” can be so objectionable. That’s like saying “salt is a necessary but not sufficient cause for biscuits” is false or offensive.

    Salt doesn’t cause biscuits; THAT would be an is–>ought argument. It still takes an act of will from a human agent to make biscuits from salt… plus a whole bunch of other ingredients.

    Saying that biscuits aren’t biscuits without salt is simply a fact.

  7. Boo  

    “The Nazis did not get their ideas from Darwinism, but used Darwinian ideas as an excuse to push through their agenda. I don’t think that Greg is asserting that this was a logical thing to do. Just that the Nazis did it.”

    Really? Which “Darwinian ideas” did they use? The idea that if you kill people off they won’t exist in your population anymore? Cause people already knew that long before Darwin.

    The idea that human subjective judgement determines reproductive fitness? Cause I don’t think you can find that anywhere in Darwin.

    The idea that human evolution ought to be directed towards a particular subjective end? Cause I don’t think you can find that anywhere in Darwin.

    The idea that culling out part of a population with characteristics you don’t want will leave more of the population with characterstics you do want? Cause animal breeders developed those ideas thousands of years before Darwin.

    The idea that killing off people you regard as unfit will keep them from polluting your community’s bloodlines? Cause the Spartans and assorted others were doing that thousands of years before Darwin, and I don’t think they had a time machine to go pick up Origin of Species, and I don’t think you’ll find any ideas like that in Origin of Species anyway.

    What made the Holocaust unique was the application of large-scale industrial methods, which had nothing whatsoever to do with evolution, or even “Darwinism.”

    Farmers don’t like insects eating their crops. Demand for pest-control methods led to the development of insecticide. Which led to the creation of Zyklon B. Which was used to gas Jews. Therefore farmers were a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the Holocaust.

    Hitler breathed oxygen. Let’s blame oxygen for the Holocaust too! There are all sorts of crazy ways we can trivialize the Holocaust if we just let imagination be our guide! It’s like playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, only with complete moral bankruptcy!

    “However, if they had believed the biblical assertion that all people are one race, that might have made a difference.”

    Or maybe even the Darwinian assertion that all people share a common ancestor.

    Read your C.S. Lewis. You can’t get “ought” out of “is.” What are they teaching them in the schools these days?

  8. Greg Wright  

    Boo, if you’re not going to address the content of my article, please go elsewhere to make extended arguments about things we can all agree with. Otherwise, you’re just going to confuse people by making them think I’m saying something that I’m not. I’m not trying to blame anything on Darwin. I’ve got no problem with Darwin.

    But we refer to his ideas as “Darwinian” because he first brought them to intellectual respectability, and into the vernacular; otherwise, we’d still be referring to those ideas as “folk wisdom,” or some other pejorative term.

    Boiling down the holocaust to the “application of large-scale industrial methods” is frighteningly simplistic, though.

    Inferior technology was not the only thing that had previously stopped Germans from trying to wipe out Jews, Slavs, and Gypsies. Didn’t the Depression play a role? Didn’t the Versailles treaty? Didn’t the American steel industry? Didn’t the Lutheran Church? Didn’t culpability on the part the Catholic Church, which they have since admitted and apologized for? Didn’t complicity from the German scientific community?

    It was a complex recipe, and it makes no sense to try excuse any facet of it, Boo.

  9. Mark Sommer  

    …the Darwinian assertion that all people share a common ancestor.” On this point, I agree with Darwin 100%!

    Boo, here’s exactly what Greg said:

    “Stein commented that Nazis “thought that they were carrying out Darwinian ideas,” an assertion that the subtitled documentary footage use in the film bears out. (Granted, it’s entirely likely that the Nazis used that merely as an excuse rather than as a justification…”

    Note: The Nazis THOUGHT they were carrying out Darwinian ideas. Whether they really were Darwinian ideas is beside the point (that Greg was making–it’s certainly NOT beside the point that “Expelled” is trying to make.). I should have said, “The Nazis did not get their ideas from Darwinism, but used what they claimed were Darwinian ideas as an excuse…”

    As Greg said, you are cherry-picking and arguing with ghosts. We are trying to agree with the majority of what you are saying, but you are making it difficult for us to do so!

    Please also note that Greg has said: “It’s worth pointing out, of course, that the film doesn’t look at any other of the contributing causes of the holocaust, and that’s why I call it a very “unfortunate choice” to “raise the specter” of Nazi Germany in the context of this film. It clouds the real issues.”

    Thank you for helping to show this assessment was correct!

  10. Erik  

    I just found a site that links Hitler with Darwinism. One of the ways it was established was through the work of Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, and one of his ardent supporters, German eugenist Albert Ploetz. Check it out:
    http://www.wasdarwinright.com/hitler&darwinism.htm

  11. Boo  

    Mark- please refrain from cherry-picking when you accuse others of cherry-picking.

    Here’s some more of exactly what Greg said:

    “Their point, as I see it, and as the film presents it, is that you can’t exactly take Darwinian science out of the recipe for Nazi Germany and still expect to come up with the holocaust. And I agree with that. For the holocaust to happen, you have to get the Church, the politicians, the common man, and the Academy all on board with the program of ethnic cleansing; and it certainly seems the case that Darwinian thinking cleared the decks for the Academy to jump on board.”

    He said that the producers say that “Darwinian science” was a necessary part of the Holocaust, AND HE AGREES WITH THAT. He said it. It’s right up there. He even confirmed it in the comments when he said it was part of the “recipe.” Again, these are his words. Please do not accuse me of making up straw men when I am responding to things that Matt said openly.

    “Note: The Nazis THOUGHT they were carrying out Darwinian ideas. Whether they really were Darwinian ideas is beside the point (that Greg was making–it’s certainly NOT beside the point that “Expelled” is trying to make.). I should have said, “The Nazis did not get their ideas from Darwinism, but used what they claimed were Darwinian ideas as an excuse…””

    Then do you agree that Expelled’s use of all those Nazi images and constant attempts to link Darwin to the Holocaust are shamelessly dishonest and manipulative?

    “Boo, if you’re not going to address the content of my article, please go elsewhere to make extended arguments about things we can all agree with.”

    I have addressed the contents of your article. Are you now retracting your previous statements that you agree that “Darwinian science” was a necessary ingredient to the Holocaust? I can only go on what you’ve actually said so far. And so far you’ve said you do agree with that claim. Again, these are your words, not mine. Having read your statement that you agree with the claim that “Darwinian science” was a necessary ingredient to the Holocaust, I quite reasonably asked you exactly which “Darwinian” ideas you’re talking about. If Mark is correct and the Nazis were in fact mistaken that their ideas were “Darwinian,” then shouldn’t you retract those statements about how they were? After all, if they got the ideas wrong, then the ideas were not a part of the recipe. If the recipe calls for sugar and you mistakenly use vinegar instead, then it’s incorrect to claim that sugar is a necessary ingredient in your cookies tasting so bad.

    “Boiling down the holocaust to the “application of large-scale industrial methods” is frighteningly simplistic, though.”

    I did no such thing. I said that was what made it unique. There had already been genocides carried out in human history. What made the Holocaust different from previous genocides was the use of large-scale industrial methods to enable the killing on a much larger scale than was previously possible.

    So to clear up the confusion, two simple questions:

    1- Do you stand by your previous statements that “Darwinian science” was a necessary ingredient to the Holocaust?

    2- If so, can you tell me exactly which principles of “Darwinian science” you’re referring to?

  12. Mark Sommer  

    I don’t think you are correctly interpreting what Greg is saying, but I will let him address that himself. If I am reading your post correctly, there is one question addressed to me, and the numbered ones at the end are for Greg.

    “Then do you agree that Expelled’s use of all those Nazi images and constant attempts to link Darwin to the Holocaust are shamelessly dishonest and manipulative?”

    I don’t know. I have not seen the film myself, so I do not know how this was presented. I do know that the this is not the first time the two (Darwinism and the Holocaust) have been linked. The idea did not originate with the makers of this film. According to Greg, the Nazi films give evidence to the link. I have no idea what is in those Nazi films, so, again, I will have to let Greg address that, also.

    I am sorry (to both of you, Boo and Greg) if any of my own misconceptions about what Greg is saying have caused further confusion. It would be best for me to stay out of this until I see the movie myself.

    I do thank you, “Boo” for piquing my curiosity about what Darwin really said about people being all of one species. I am convinced that most ID-backers and Creationists do not know what Darwin said–probably most Neo-Darwinists don’t know either. Time for me to read “Origin of Species” and “The Descent of Man,” and stop depending on second-hand information.

  13. Greg Wright  

    For the record, Boo, it’s not accurate to say that you “reasonably asked” which Darwinian ideas I was talking about. You rhetorically gave me a list of things to choose from, and since none of them applied to my line of argument and the answer would have been “none of the above,” as you gave the options, I incorrectly assumed that you were arguing with some other person in the room. Sorry…

    Of course I stand by my statement; but in no way did I argue that any aspect of Darwinian theory results in Nazi policy. My argument is much more impressionistic than that (or, imprecise, if you prefer); and apparently my metaphor hasn’t worked for you.

    My first assumption (which I believe is a historical fact, and not just something I’m making up) is that the Nazis met no organized opposition from the German academy, and in fact got the vast majority of them to cooperate with the program in a very hands-on sort of way. Why didn’t the German academy revolt? First, the Nazis managed to exile, isolate, intimidate, or murder those scientists who openly opposed Nazi social principles. Second, there was a whole lot of cultural baggage that predisposed the German people toward hatred of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, and others. Third, the Nazi propaganda machine, as all good propaganda machines do, used jargon and buzzwords that sounded an awful lot like accepted scientific theory (in conjunction with a whole ton of paranoia and fear) in order to leverage that cultural baggage and get scientists to think “Well, what they’re doing is actually kind of compatible with what I’m doing.”

    Now, I’m neither a scientist nor a science historian, so I couldn’t possibly supply details about how they did that, if in fact they actually did. (Though, as I remarked, the documentary footage used in the film sure smacks of that.) But I have studied the history of the Church in connection with Nazi Germany, and know that’s exactly how the Nazis got the German Church to go along with the program.

    Now, I’m willing to listen to other theories about how the Nazis got the academy to go along with the program. (What’s yours, for instance?)

    I just don’t see what’s so offensive or ridiculous about asserting that the Nazis got Darwinists (and lots of other scientists) to get on board.

    Can you help me out on that?

    Remember, I’m not defending that section of the movie. I think it’s a red herring, and confuses the debate.

  14. KayBo  

    Greg,

    What an interesting discussion here. Just wanted to point out on the side that also much of what enabled the Holocaust to play out in Germany was the unwillingness of virtually every other nation to look “on the bright side”, believing Hitler was the man of peace he claimed to be. Just finished Manchester’s biography of Churchill and I was aghast at the complacency he documented. So keep thinking and talking, everyone!

  15. Boo  

    “For the record, Boo, it’s not accurate to say that you “reasonably asked” which Darwinian ideas I was talking about. You rhetorically gave me a list of things to choose from, and since none of them applied to my line of argument and the answer would have been “none of the above,” as you gave the options, I incorrectly assumed that you were arguing with some other person in the room. Sorry…”

    Oh no no no no no, that is not what I did. I rhetorically gave you a list of ideas that I thought might influence someone to support genocide (probably not a very good list, as I don’t have a lot of practice in the supporting-genocide department). And I pointed out how each one was most definitely NOT from Darwin. You said that “Darwinian” ideas support genocide. The only genocide-supporting ideas I could think of had nothing to do with Darwin. Ergo my original question: what Darwinian ideas went into the Holocaust?

    “My first assumption (which I believe is a historical fact, and not just something I’m making up) is that the Nazis met no organized opposition from the German academy”

    Well, they did, but mainly from Jews who ended up fleeing the country or getting disappeared. On the plus side, we got Einstein.

    “I just don’t see what’s so offensive or ridiculous about asserting that the Nazis got Darwinists (and lots of other scientists) to get on board.”

    Oh no no no no no, that is not what you originally asserted. You said you agreed with the movie’s claim that “Darwinian science” and “Darwinian thinking” was part of the recipe for the Holocaust. There is a VERY BIG difference there. A person can compromise their ideas. An idea can’t compromise itself, or it’s no longer the same idea.

    To say that many German Christians went along with the Nazis because they compromised their Christian ideals is a very different kettle of fish from saying that Christian ideals were part of the foundation of the Holocaust. One is a true statement. One is disgusting slander.

    So, which is it? Are you talking about people who happened to work in evolutionary biology in German universities and ended up going along with the Nazis for whatever reason, or are you claiming that “Darwinian science” and “Darwinian thinking” themselves were part of the foundation for the Holocaust? Because Expelled seems to be saying the latter, and so far you’re on record agreeing with them.

  16. Greg Wright  

    Hey, Boo. I’m glad you got to the bridge first while I was approaching it from the other side. I just sat down to suggest how you might be misunderstanding me, and there it is.

    I am talking about evolutionary biologists who bought into Nazi propaganda for a whole host of complicated reasons. I’m not arguing that biological Darwinian ideas (moreso than any number of others) specifically support or advocate genocide. (And I didn’t say that, either, btw.) It was a “perfect storm” of myriad circumstances that led to a very specific genocide.

    And I don’t think the film is arguing that, either, btw — though it’s obvious from a lot of stuff being published on the web (including that Stuart Blessman piece on the Expelled site) that people are drawing that conclusion.

    And, as I continue to repeat, it was very poor decision to include that stuff in the film.

    Thanks for persisting, Boo.

    (Aside to Kaybo: yes — and I think, to a degree, that the complacency Manchester documented could also be laid at the feet of both the Church and social Darwinism; so that doesn’t distinguish us from Nazi Germany at all. The entire world was complicit. I ran across an American play written in 1932, I think it was, that laid out the Nazi program and its probable consequences… So the world knew what was up; but there was this little thing called the Depression that everyone preoccupied.)

  17. John  

    Greg, you wrote:
    “Myers is simply unfamiliar with how these things work in general; and journalists of all stripes are familiar with being ?uninvited? and ?barred? from particular screenings for seemingly arbitrary reasons. Neither exhibitors, nor publicists, nor studios are obliged to let anyone and everyone into such screenings. End of story.”

    You’re missing the points (and avoiding the real story) by a mile here.
    1) Myers is not a journalist. He was IN THE MOVIE.
    2) The story has nothing to do with whether it is legal or common to uninvite or bar people from screenings. The story is the incredible hypocrisy of claiming (falsely, btw) that people have been expelled from science for scientific dissent, while expelling people who dissent with your misrepresentations (and lying about the events and reasons afterward). Jesus said nothing about evolution, but he had some choice rants on hypocrisy.

    “The primary assertion of the film is that the scientific establishment is employing intimidation to squelch dissent.”

    Which is utterly false. None of the people highlighted were fired or expelled. Moreover, the ID movement is about the rejection of the scientific method, because they work very hard to deceive the lay public into thinking that science is about arguments and critiques. The central fraud of the ID movement lies in the fact that ironically, not a single ID proponent has sufficient faith to put an ID hypothesis to the test. For example, I disagree with a (nonevolutionary) hypothesis put forth by a former collaborator. If I merely wrote a critique, I would deserve to be mocked. As a real scientist, I do experiments that test predictions that differ between the two hypotheses. No one in the ID movement will EVER do anything of the sort, so they deserve to be ridiculed as pseudoscientific frauds.

    “For the holocaust to happen, you have to get the Church, the politicians, the common man, and the Academy all on board with the program of ethnic cleansing;…”

    Why? Because you say so?

    “… and it certainly seems the case that Darwinian thinking cleared the decks for the Academy to jump on board.”

    It doesn’t seem that way to me. All you have are empty assertions.

    “That?s how the pogroms turned into the holocaust.”

    I thought that it only SEEMED that way to you.

    “Without intellectuals signed up for the final solution, genocide would have happened, but not on that scale. (At least, I think arguing the point in that way is not intellectually dishonest.)”

    Well, I do, particularly given the intellectual dishonesty that riddles every other aspect of this film.

    “But he?d be just as wrong to argue that Hitler and Darwin are disconnected as to argue that Hitler and the Church are disconnected.”

    “…that?s why I call it a very ?unfortunate choice? to ?raise the specter? of Nazi Germany in the context of this film. It clouds the real issues.)”

    It’s simply dishonest.

    “And while the film doesn?t prove that?s the case, it does present evidence that it may be happening in certain cases,”

    Really? Evidence, or hearsay? What does the Bible say about using hearsay?

  18. Greg Wright  

    Hey, John. I believe that the Bible says “two or more witnesses,” and doesn’t approve of hearsay. (I did say “may be happening,” not “is happening.” The film’s premise may indeed be false; but I don’t have evidence that’s definitively the case, either, just more assertions that I can’t personally confirm.)

    That biblical guideline is also with reference to legal disputes, not to films, so I’m not sure if technically it applies… Though I’d sure argue that it should, if the filmmakers want to be above reproach.

    To be clear, I’m not a fan of this school of filmmaking. But to be fair to Expelled, it’s nowhere near the worst of its kind, either, and I see tons of such, hmmm, non-fiction films.

    I’m also not defending the film, its makers, or its choices. I’m calling things as I see them, that’s all. And I don’t expect others to agree.

    I don’t think I have anything to add on the Nazi stuff, so if you still think I’m off base after reading through the exchange with Boo, I dunno what else to say.

  19. John  

    “Hey, John. I believe that the Bible says “two or more witnesses,” and doesn’t approve of hearsay.”

    Yet those who claim to be Biblical literalists wrt biology employ hearsay almost exclusively, and eschew producing a single new datum (evidence) from testing their own hypotheses (i.e., witnessing nature directly). Why shouldn’t they be ridiculed, even expelled, even though none of the cases presented in the film were expelled from anything?

    ” (I did say “may be happening,” not “is happening.””

    You also said, “That’s how the pogroms turned into the holocaust. Without intellectuals signed up for the final solution, genocide would have happened, but not on that scale.” No qualifications there; just a straight assertion of fact.

    “The film’s premise may indeed be false; but I don’t have evidence that’s definitively the case, either, just more assertions that I can’t personally confirm.)”

    Do you dispute the fact that real scientific disagreements are resolved by new data instead of rhetoric? Do you dispute the fact that virtually everyone in the ID movement accepts Darwinian evolution within a species, which is the only type of evolution that could possibly be tied to Holocaust rationalizations?

    “That biblical guideline is also with reference to legal disputes, not to films, so I’m not sure if technically it applies… Though I’d sure argue that it should, if the filmmakers want to be above reproach.”

    They are anything but. They are pathological liars.

    “I’m also not defending the film, its makers, or its choices. I’m calling things as I see them, that’s all. And I don’t expect others to agree.”

    You are defending the film and its makers when you describe Myers as an “anti-creationist.” That’s one of the most elementary and sleazy rhetorical tricks. The ID movement rejects science itself, while lying to the public in claiming to be scientific. They are the antis, not us scientists (btw, unlike Myers, I am a practicing scientist, and I am not an evolutionary biologist).

    “I don’t think I have anything to add on the Nazi stuff, so if you still think I’m off base after reading through the exchange with Boo, I dunno what else to say.”

    Well, you could offer some evidence to support your assertion that you were “talking about evolutionary biologists who bought into Nazi propaganda for a whole host of complicated reasons.” To which particular evolutionary biologists do you refer? Did any of the Jewish ones buy into Nazi propaganda? Are you trying to invoke the creationist myth that Darwin’s work isn’t applicable to every field of biology?

    What about the preeminent German paleontologist of that era, Otto Schindewolf? In addition to being a jerk who stifled dissent, did he agree or disagree with Darwin?

  20. Greg Wright  

    Hmmm… Ya got me stumped on that “anti-Creationist” comment. I really hadn’t realized that was something people didn’t like to be called, so I’ll formally apologize to Myers for that the next time I exchange emails with him. If he doesn’t object to it himself, I’ll be sure to let you know.

    I haven’t presented myself an expert on history, on ID, on science in general, or on evolution… And I’m not going to start now. My area of expertise is film and pop culture — and that’s the level I’m commenting on this film.

    Now, that naturally leads me into the boundaries of regions that I don’t know enough about to offer summary judgments about… I’m not in a position to dispute or affirm a lot of the things you’re asking me about. And that’s where folks like you come in, and why we’re open to comments. (It’s clearly a presumption on my part that evolutionary biologists were among the scientists in the Nazi party and their supporters; am I wrong there? Did they all repudiate Naziism?)

    But you know, John, you make a lot of unsubstantiated claims about people you don’t know, too. So ease up a bit, okay? I can’t invoke creationist myths because I don’t know them; I don’t follow that stuff.

  21. Norman Doering  

    Mark Sommer wrote:
    “The Nazis did not get their ideas from Darwinism, but used Darwinian ideas as an excuse to push through their agenda. I don’t think that Greg is asserting that this was a logical thing to do. Just that the Nazis did it.”

    Calling Hitler a Darwinist is like calling Deepak Chopra a quantum physicist (or a Bohrist, after Niels Bohr).

    Is Niels Bohr responsible for Deepak Chopra’s quack medicine because Deepak uses terms Bohr also used?

    Just because Deepak, like most people of our time, can ramble on about quarks and Schrodinger’s cat doesn’t make anything he says or does real quantum physics. And just because Hitler could talk about laws of nature and selection doesn’t make him a Darwinist nor the things he does Darwinian, nor was it even good “artificial selection” as practiced by animal breeders long before Darwin. Darwin’s theory was simply part of the knowledge base and the jargon of that time, and new enough to still be used as attractive bullshit to support older prejudices.

    Just like there is no relationship between what real quantum physicists do and Deepak Chopra’s “quantum healing,” there is also no real relationship between an attempted genocide of the Jews and the theory of evolution. What in Darwin’s theory would tell us the Jews were inferior, parasites, etc.. All that comes from religious history and religious intolerance. Darwin says nothing about Jews.

    Martin Luther was one of the people who promoted antisemitism in Europe. Luther in turn was influence by anti-Jewish theologians like Lyra, Burgensis, (and John Chrysostom, before them). Luther’s 1543 book, “On the Jews and their lies” proposed setting fire to Jewish synagogues and schools, to taking away their homes and forbidding them to pray or teach. Luther wanted to “be rid of them” and he wanted the government to deal with them. He requested preachers to issue warnings against the Jews. He goes so far as to say; “We are at fault in not slaying them” to avenge Christ’s death. The Nazi government of the 1930s and 40s fit Luther’s desires to a tee.

    In discussing racial purity and “race-mixing,” Hitler chooses not the words of evolutionary biology or eugenics, but of religion without even a light touch of eugenic pseudo-science. Aryan blood, lower peoples, racial mixture, racial poisoning, those are the concepts you find in Mein Kampf.

    I’ve got more information here:
    http://normdoering.blogspot.com/2007/04/if-hitler-was-darwinist.html

  22. NP  

    Oops…my last response got eaten up by the HTML code.

    I was addressing the Nazism issue, and challenging the claim that Darwinism was necessary for the Holocaust. It may have helped the Nazis to employ it in their propaganda, but how can one be sure that it was necessary when genocide has happened both before Darwin and later in places like Rwanda where there was no clear link to Darwinism? The concept of genocide really doesn’t require an understanding of evolution at all; it’s present in the Old Testament!

    But more importantly, the whole issue is a red herring as far as the validity of the theory of evolution is concerned. After all, genocide is a misappropriation of Darwinism and saying otherwise would be to commit the is-ought fallacy. In fact, it is a strong argument for the proper teaching of science in schools; science is descriptive, not prescriptive. Do we claim that nuclear physics is incorrect or should not be taught in schools because of Hiroshima?

  23. Norman Doering  

    Greg Wright wrote:

    “the Nazis met no organized opposition from the German academy, and in fact got the vast majority of them to cooperate with the program in a very hands-on sort of way.”

    There was opposition, but the end result was pretty much just a mass exodus from Germany:
    Click for Reference

    “Why didn’t the German academy revolt?”

    Because there were political purges of the German universities and scientific research institutes going on before there was anything else to revolt against.
    Click for Reference

    Second, there was a whole lot of cultural baggage that predisposed the German people toward hatred of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, and others.

    Yes, all of that much older than Darwin.

  24. Boo  

    “I am talking about evolutionary biologists who bought into Nazi propaganda for a whole host of complicated reasons. I’m not arguing that biological Darwinian ideas (moreso than any number of others) specifically support or advocate genocide. (And I didn’t say that, either, btw.) It was a “perfect storm” of myriad circumstances that led to a very specific genocide.”

    *sigh*

    I want to believe you’re an honest person who’s simply misguided. I really do. But you make it hard.

    Once again, your own words:

    “Darwinian science”

    “Darwinian thinking”

    You specifically said that it was the science itself that “cleared the deck” for scientists to come on board. Your words. Right up there. And you still haven’t actually repudiated them. Instead, you’ve tried to pawn it off as my misunderstanding. And yet I can read. Is it a nit I’m picking? On any other topic, maybe, but it’s phreaking Hitler. Pretty much the worst accusation you can make against anyone or anything is to accuse them or it of being in collusion with Hitler.

    So one last time: you specifically said in the article that you agree with the assertion that “Darwinian science” was part of the Holocaust. Your words. If that’s not what you meant, fine. Say so. Say that YOU made the mistake, don’t try to pawn it off as my misunderstanding. And the ethical thing to do would be to go back to the article text and insert a disclaimer about what you really meant at that point.

    C’mon buddy, personal responsibility. We’re Christians. Higher standards n’ such.

  25. Boo  

    And on a semi-related note, I’m told the movie tries to use the Berlin Wall as a metaphor. For a movie about how people are supposedly getting kicked out of academia because of their views. When the point of the Berlin Wall was to keep people in.

    It’s almost like they’re getting everything bass-ackwards.

  26. Greg Wright  

    Look, Boo, I’m not worried about you concluding that I’m a dishonest person. People do that all the time, in spite of my best efforts and intentions. If looking at history the same way and drawing the same conclusions is a necessary basis for being honest, we’ll just have to disagree on that score.

    You challenge me “one last time: you specifically said in the article that you agree with the assertion that ‘Darwinian science’ was part of the Holocaust.” So one last time I’ll try to explain, and then move on. But this time I’ll use Norman’s words in the next two paragraphs, because it seems he think the same thing I do:

    “Darwin’s theory was simply part of the knowledge base and the jargon of that time, and new enough to still be used as attractive b.s. to support older prejudices.”

    As with the Church, “there was opposition” to Nazi policies from the Academy, “but the end result was pretty much just a mass exodus from Germany.” Hence there was no revolt once the extermination actually began “because there were political purges of the German universities and scientific research institutes going on before there was anything else to revolt against.”

    And it’s an assumption on my part that there were still some Darwinian scientist accomodationists remaining, just as I know that there were a lot of Christian accomodationists remaining.

    So there it is. I don’t see how saying any of that contradicts or conflicts with what I said earlier. Honestly. And so far, no one has offered any evidence of my assumption being incorrect.

    And I do label it an assumption; moreover I still don’t see how that assumption could possibly be insulting, or used to conclude that genocide “requires an understanding of evolution,” as NP seems to think I’ve claimed. I didn’t say that, imply that, or think that privately while saying something else.

    And again, whatever the filmmakers may have intended, I don’t read the film as making that argument, either (though Stuart Blessman and others obviously do… but I’m not responsible for their thoughts).

    I see nothing to repudiate, or label with a disclaimer. Sorry.

    When I interviewed Myers, btw, he completely agreed with your assessment of the issue, but didn’t express that my view of it was “dishonest” or anything, as long as it was clear that Social Darwinism was a completely different animal from biological Darwinism. Hopefully, we’ll get that interview published later today.

    I expect to interview Berlinski closer to the film’s release, too, and hopefully can get a clarification from him on the whole “necessary vs. sufficient” issue, too.

  27. Chad  

    About 700 years before Darwin was even born, Jews were forced to wear what was known as “judenhuts” or Jewish Hats that were once ceremonial garb. The hats themselves were conical arrangements that helped distinguish jewish men. In about 1200 CE, various European communities forced Jews to wear these distinguishing hats outside of the jewish ghettos for the purpose of identifying them.

    Of course that only points out a serious problem for anyone attempting to equate evolution to the holocaust. The jews for the most part had been integrated into the community to such a degree, they were racially indistinguishable for the most part. So, 700 years before Darwin was even born, 750 years before Origin of Species was published, and 850 years before the holocaust jews often couldn’t be racially segregated from their neighbors.

    So in any claim where we are going to associate in very badly defined terms evolution to darwinism to social darwinism and then to nazisim, we need exactly terms in which the ‘divider’ for the genocidal act. Was it race? No. Jews and non-jews were sent to concentration camps. Was it political? Yes, political opponents were either murdered or sent to the same camps. Was it religious? Yes, all jews that could be identified either racially or culturally were sent to the concentration camps.

    The point of expelled isn’t to educate, it isn’t to tell us about the danger of a foolish and implied unscientific inquiry. Its only purpose is to demonize and dehumanize a percieved social group for religious and political reasons. Its only audience are conservative religious evangelicals who already believe the implications made in the film. The films perceptions and the blog accompanying the film both contain misinformation and fraudulent claims that lack the support of credible argumentation. They avoid facts, avoid definitions, and avoid anything that would require them to take themselves seriously.

    This is christian inspired hate speech.

  28. Norman Doering  

    Greg Wright wrote:

    And it’s an assumption on my part that there were still some Darwinian scientist accomodationists remaining, just as I know that there were a lot of Christian accomodationists remaining.

    It’s words like “Darwinian” and “Darwinist” that are throwing off your ability to communicate, if not understand, the problem. Among scientists you don’t tend to attach the inventor of a theory’s name to his theory until it’s proven wrong, as in Lamarckism or Lysenkoism:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamarckism
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism

    “Darwinian” and “Darwinist” are dishonest frame words invented by the creationists. No one who does biology is slavishly devoted to Darwin in some religious way. Darwin’s words are not gospel. Biologists are not following Darwin, Darwin just came up with a theory that has gotten a lot of heavy duty confirmation from genetics and the fossil record — and now computer science (google genetic algorithms and evolutionary programming).

    Not only is it absurd to call Hitler and the Nazis “Darwinists,” it’s also absurd to call any modern physicist a Bohrist. Having that rare spark of creative genius that lets you discover a lasting scientific theory doesn’t make everything you say correct or politically enlightened.

    There were a lot of things Darwin was wrong about, for example, Darwin didn’t know about DNA and his speculations on the mechanisms for inherited change were wrong.

    Also, during the time of the Nazis Darwin wasn’t as highly regarded as he is today. There were still Lysenkoists around, especially in Germany.

    There is even evidence that the Nazis at times included Darwin’s books on their list of books to be burned:
    Click for Reference

  29. Greg Wright  

    I find your explanations and insights very helpful, Norman. I am not at all familiar with the loaded language involved in this controversy, though I am familiar with the general history of it. I simply have not been a partisan, and am coming to it all rather naively, I suppose.

    Myers didn’t object to the use of the term “Darwinian,” so I thought it was widely accepted on both sides of the debate.

    But is it really true that “‘Darwinian’ and ‘Darwinist’ are dishonest frame words invented by the creationists”? Shaw uses the term “Neo-Darwinian” pretty freely as early as 1904 or thereabouts, and he was no Creationist; further, I got the impression from his intro to Back to Methuselah that Neo-Darwinians were self-styled.

  30. John  

    Greg, you wrote:
    “I am talking about evolutionary biologists who bought into Nazi propaganda for a whole host of complicated reasons.”

    If you’re talking about them and you claim to be looking at history (instead of hatemongering propaganda), you should be able to offer multiple examples.

    “Ya got me stumped on that “anti-Creationist” comment. I really hadn’t realized that was something people didn’t like to be called,…”

    Really? You don’t see the framing there, or the framing in labeling people who follow the evidence (biologists) as followers of a man (Darwinists)?

    “I haven’t presented myself an expert on history, on ID, on science in general, or on evolution… And I’m not going to start now.”

    You’ve explicitly claimed to be talking about “evolutionary biologists who bought into Nazi propaganda” without offering a single example. You don’t see a problem with that?

    “My area of expertise is film and pop culture — and that’s the level I’m commenting on this film.”

    That’s simply false, Greg–go back and read what you wrote.

    “(It’s clearly a presumption on my part that evolutionary biologists were among the scientists in the Nazi party and their supporters; am I wrong there? Did they all repudiate Naziism?)”

    It’s not clearly a presumption to a naive reader. And it’s YOUR responsibility to look at evidence, not mere hearsay, before making a claim. Why don’t you read up on Schindewolf for starters?

    “But you know, John, you make a lot of unsubstantiated claims about people you don’t know, too.”

    I do? Then why not provide an example instead of using an ethical fallacy to excuse your endorsement, no matter how tepid, of hatemongering.

    “So ease up a bit, okay?”

    I don’t see why we should ease up in the case of hate speech supported by despicable lies, okay?

    “I can’t invoke creationist myths because I don’t know them; I don’t follow that stuff.”

    You sure have the framing down pat.

    “I simply have not been a partisan, and am coming to it all rather naively, I suppose.”

    Your language is utterly partisan.

    “Myers didn’t object to the use of the term “Darwinian,” so I thought it was widely accepted on both sides of the debate.”

    The term Darwinian is used by real scientists to describe mechanisms. There are many non-Darwinian mechanisms that the creationist/ID side either ignores or falsely attributes to Darwin because the truth would muck up their dishonest framing. Can you name a non-Darwinian mechanism, Greg?

    “But is it really true that “‘Darwinian’ and ‘Darwinist’ are dishonest frame words invented by the creationists”?”

    Darwinian to describe mechanisms, no.
    “Darwininan,” “Darwinist,” and “Darwinism” to describe people? Absolutely, because honest biologists understand and accept utterly non-Darwinian mechanisms.

  31. Greg Wright  

    Okay, John, I’ve gone back and read what I wrote. I can find only one paragraph where I address anything related to the cultural claims of the film, and none where I make any assessment of the science involved. And in the one paragraph where I do address the Nazism presented in the film, I respond to it at a pretty darned pop-culture level — that is, really shallow. And I present my impression as my own, actually differing with some of the assertions of both Myers and the filmmakers.

    In later comments, I make it quite plain what my assumptions are.

    If the language I use comes off to you as “utterly partisan,” it’s not because I actually am a partisan. And either you believe me on that score, or you don’t. But there are logical leaps there that you actually have to prove, not just allege.

    So when you call the filmmakers “pathological liars,” or call my comments a “hatemongering” “endorsement,” you are indeed making unsubstantiated claims about people you don’t know.

  32. John  

    Greg wrote:
    “I can find only one paragraph where I address anything related to the cultural claims of the film,…”

    Yes, that’s the one to which we object so vehemently.

    “… and none where I make any assessment of the science involved.”

    Your assessments of the science are implicit in your use of deceptive frames. Please note that I’m not claiming that YOU intend to deceive, but that those frames were created with the intent to deceive lay people–a direct and deliberate violation of the Ninth Commandment.

    “And in the one paragraph where I do address the Nazism presented in the film, I respond to it at a pretty darned pop-culture level — that is, really shallow.”

    I completely agree that your approach is shallow. ;-)

    “And I present my impression as my own, actually differing with some of the assertions of both Myers and the filmmakers.”

    We are disagreeing with your impressions and challenging you to present evidence to support them.

    “In later comments, I make it quite plain what my assumptions are.”

    Only partially, because you’re not acknowledging many insidious and implicit assumptions you are adopting.

    “If the language I use comes off to you as “utterly partisan,” it’s not because I actually am a partisan. And either you believe me on that score, or you don’t.”

    Perhaps you should abandon partisan language.

    “But there are logical leaps there that you actually have to prove, not just allege.”

    I agree. That’s why I’m challenging you to support your claims. The fact that you crammed them into a single paragraph isn’t relevant:

    “The hosts of the event rightly pointed out that they had already addressed that issue. They had already reiterated that, in Berlinski’s words, it was “not a sufficient cause, but a necessary cause.””

    But is that true? Note that you are depending entirely on hearsay.

    “Stein commented that Nazis “thought that they were carrying out Darwinian ideas,” an assertion that the subtitled documentary footage use in the film bears out. (Granted, it’s entirely likely that the Nazis used that merely as an excuse rather than as a justification; but that’s also true of the Scripture they trotted out to get the Lutheran Church to fall into line, too. And Myers, btw, also has a very nice post on the subject today at Pharyngula.)”

    But their use of Christianity was orders of magnitude more frequent and explicit than their use of Darwinian theory. In fact, Hitler explicitly denied common descent in Mein Kampf: “Even a superficial glance is sufficient to show that all the innumerable forms in which the life-urge of Nature manifests itself are subject to a fundamental law–one may call it an iron law of Nature–which compels the various species to keep within the definite limits of their own life-forms when propagating and multiplying their kind.”

    How could a refutation of the film’s premise and your position be any more explicit than that, Greg?

    “Their point, as I see it, and as the film presents it, is that you can’t exactly take Darwinian science out of the recipe for Nazi Germany and still expect to come up with the holocaust. And I agree with that.”

    Do you have any evidence for that?

    “For the holocaust to happen, you have to get the Church, the politicians, the common man, and the Academy all on board with the program of ethnic cleansing;…”

    Have you provided any evidence to support this claim wrt the Academy?

    “… and it certainly seems the case that Darwinian thinking cleared the decks for the Academy to jump on board.”

    But Greg, did the Academy jump on board? Then, you went to a much more specific claim: “I am talking about evolutionary biologists who bought into Nazi propaganda for a whole host of complicated reasons.”

    How can you talk about the actions of a group of people when you produce zero evidence that such a group ever existed? The fact is that the most famous German paleontologist disagreed with Darwin. Unlike many other evolutionary biologists, he did not leave Germany, but he could not be described as an active Nazi collaborator. Still, he was not purged. Why was he not purged, if Darwinism was a necessary condition for the Holocaust?

    One paleontologist that was a proud Nazi was Karl Beurlen, who claimed that evolution was controlled by vitalistic forces. Does that sound Darwinian in any way to you, Greg?

    “That’s how the pogroms turned into the holocaust. Without intellectuals signed up for the final solution, genocide would have happened, but not on that scale. (At least, I think arguing the point in that way is not intellectually dishonest.)”

    Arguing entirely from hearsay is intellectually dishonest. You haven’t presented a single case (much less an example) of an actual scientist in a relevant who agreed with fundamental Darwinian mechanisms who signed up, while I’ve pointed out two that disagreed with Darwin, one of whom was a Nazi and the other who remained in Germany through WWII.

    “But he’d be just as wrong to argue that Hitler and Darwin are disconnected as to argue that Hitler and the Church are disconnected.”

    No, he wouldn’t, as Hitler himself clearly denied common descent, while he invoked Christianity repeatedly.

    “…(It’s worth pointing out, of course, that the film doesn’t look at any other of the contributing causes of the holocaust, and that’s why I call it a very “unfortunate choice” to “raise the specter” of Nazi Germany in the context of this film. It clouds the real issues.)”

    Come on, Greg. It’s not merely an “unfortunate choice,” it’s intellectually dishonest.

    “So when you call the filmmakers “pathological liars,” or call my comments a “hatemongering” “endorsement,” you are indeed making unsubstantiated claims about people you don’t know.”

    In the first case:
    1) I am aware of the relevant facts in each alleged expulsion and I know that Mathis (and Kevin Miller) have changed stories about the screening at least twice, so at least two of the stories are false; PZ’s story hasn’t changed and has been corroborated in every detail.

    2) I know that ID proponents generally do not dispute evolution within a species, so there’s nothing specific to Darwin that could be applied, even wrongly, to eugenics or the Holocaust.

    3) I know that Hitler explicitly denied common descent, putting him much closer to the ID camp than to any camp that accepts Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms.

    In the second case, you are misrepresenting what I wrote; I didn’t claim that your position was a “hatemongering” “endorsement,” I claimed that you were endorsing hatemongering, albeit tepidly, and to that I would add likely unknowingly. There’s a world of difference in the order of the terms.

  33. Greg Wright  

    Very sorry if I don’t draw sufficient distinction between “endorsement of hatemongering” and “hatemongering endorsement.”

    I know Kevin Miller personally, and he’s not a pathological liar. I’ve communicated to him personally what I think about the use of the Nazi stuff in the film.

    I don’t endorse the film. I don’t condemn it, either.

    I’m not qualified to lecture on the specifics of who, to a man, supported the Nazis and who did not, so I don’t try.

    At this point, you’re beating a dead horse. I stand by my assessment of the film as a B- example of its type, and am on the record that I am not a fan of this type of film in general because of they way they spin facts.

    But this is still a film, complete with all its limitations and inherent manipulations, and is not attempting to be an unbiased assessment of the controversy. So I’m not about to criticize it for what it is not; as a critic, my role is to critique it for what it is, and what it attempts to do.

    As an editor, my goal is to give equal airtime to opposing views and those the film features. I don’t take the film’s word for anything, and I’m not asking anyone to take my word for anything, either.

  34. John  

    Greg wrote:
    “I know Kevin Miller personally, and he’s not a pathological liar.”

    I’d agree. I only included him parenthetically, and he had the integrity to admit that he was wrong to endorse Mathis’s initial lies about the screening. Still, it’s clear that Kevin didn’t bother to learn enough about Darwin, or science, or the alleged explusions to be writing the script for this film. IOW, he clearly made judgments based entirely on hearsay, which ain’t very Christian.

    “I don’t endorse the film. I don’t condemn it, either.”

    The latter is too bad, as the film is intellectually, theologically, and scientifically dishonest hatemongering.

    “I’m not qualified to lecture on the specifics of who, to a man, supported the Nazis and who did not, so I don’t try.”

    Baloney. You already did try very hard to claim that a group of people supported the Nazis without a smidgen of evidence: “I am talking about evolutionary biologists who bought into Nazi propaganda for a whole host of complicated reasons.” I’ve shown you that Hitler explicitly rejected the idea of common descent, and that two of the most prominent German evolutionary biologists rejected Darwin’s theory; one of them remained in Germany, and the other was an active Nazi.

    “At this point, you’re beating a dead horse.”

    I know.

    “I stand by my assessment of the film as a B- example of its type, and am on the record that I am not a fan of this type of film in general because of they way they spin facts.”

    Greg, this film does not merely spin, it simply lies.

    “But this is still a film, complete with all its limitations and inherent manipulations, and is not attempting to be an unbiased assessment of the controversy. So I’m not about to criticize it for what it is not; as a critic, my role is to critique it for what it is, and what it attempts to do.”

    But as a Christian, what is your larger duty to truth?

    “As an editor, my goal is to give equal airtime to opposing views and those the film features.”

    Why would you have such a pomo goal? Are all views on every issue worthy of airtime?

    “I don’t take the film’s word for anything,…”

    Come on, Greg!

    You took the film’s word for every point on which Boo, Norman, and I are challenging you. You swallowed and regurgitated its framing: “Their point, as I see it, and as the film presents it, is that you can’t exactly take Darwinian science out of the recipe for Nazi Germany and still expect to come up with the holocaust. And I agree with that.”

    “… and I’m not asking anyone to take my word for anything, either.”

    Then why would you make claims about “evolutionary biologists who bought into Nazi propaganda for a whole host of complicated reasons,” when you clearly have zero knowledge of which biologists did and whether they agreed or disagreed with Darwin? Hitler explicitly rejected common descent, the most fundamental aspect of Darwinian theory. How could it possibly be necessary?

  35. Yo  

    I can’t remember the last time I saw so much space used to say so little. My frustration with this whole “controversy” is that it skirts the real issue; is there value and meaning to life? Darwinism doesn’t answer that question, no does Intelligent Design. The only place we find an answer to that is in the Bible. The fact that a loving God created us in His image tells us that there is meaning and value to human life. It’s valued because God loves us, something completly absent in Intelligent Design and Darwinism. It has meaning because we can know this loving God in a personal relationship through Jesus Christ. Thus far, those facts have been completely absent in the discussions prompted by this controversy. I applaud the need for intellectual freedom in acedamia as trumpeted by this movie Expelled, but the real need isn’t for more scientific theories to be endlessly debated, but for people to hear that they have worth and they’re lives have meaning because a loving God created them and did everything possible, including dying on a cross and rising from the grave, in order to enjoy a personal relationship with each one of us. Without that as a part of the equation, all we’re debating over is two views that leave no room for any value for human life or existence. Quite frankly, that’s depressing. We need hope, not head knowledge. We need salvation, not intellectual excuses for ignoring the responsibility we have to decide what we’re going to do about that loving God who created us. Hey, I love a good debate as much as the next person, but this has gotten so far off of what really matters that it’s time for us to remember what’s really at stake; eternity -and where people are going to spend it.

  36. Norman Doering  

    Greg Wright wrote:

    Shaw uses the term “Neo-Darwinian” pretty freely as early as 1904 or thereabouts, and he was no Creationist; further, I got the impression from his intro to Back to Methuselah that Neo-Darwinians were self-styled.

    “Neo-Darwinian” isn’t Darwinian and would be a better choice for labeling any modern biologist. In fact the “neo” part is a partial killing off of Darwin’s old theory, but it has nothing to do with Intelligent Design. We now know what Darwin didn’t, that natural selection acts on genetic variations within individuals in populations. It’s “neo” because there have been a lot of changes, new mechanisms besides just natural selection. A synthesis of the old Darwinism with genetics and things like endosymbiosis theory etc..

    But in the end, this about a very important theory, not the man who came up with it, and not what the theory was in the 19th century.

    But you’re right, a lot of people who should know better do you use the term “Darwinism” and they shouldn’t - in my opinion.

  37. John  

    Yo wrote:
    “…the real need isn’t for more scientific theories to be endlessly debated…”

    That’s right, because that’s not how science works.

    If one has faith in one’s hypothesis, one is eager to test its predictions. This produces new data, advancing science, whether the hypothesis is wrong or right.

    ID proponents and creationists lack the faith to put any ID hypothesis to the test. That’s why they have never (and will never) produce any new evidence, only dishonest rhetoric and hearsay.

  38. Greg Wright  

    As a Christian, what is my larger duty to truth? To call lying what it is when I see it. And I feel I’ve done that, and am doing it, on the various posts I’ve made on SteinWatch at HJ. I feel I’ve been pretty even-handed. Please don’t reiterate that you disagree, and why. I know that you disagree, and why.

    And why would I have such a “pomo goal” as giving airtime to opposing views? Because I haven’t yet seen a film that tells the whole truth about any subject, so I have no illusions about the strengths or limitations about the form. So, given that I also can’t be an expert on any one of them, when the situation is appropriate, I’ll provide links to Myers, Miller, Dawkins, and Expelled so folks can do their own digging and come up with their own answers — since I don’t have them.

  39. Mark Sommer  

    John said: “If one has faith in one’s hypothesis, one is eager to test its predictions. This produces new data, advancing science, whether the hypothesis is wrong or right.

    ID proponents and creationists lack the faith to put any ID hypothesis to the test. That’s why they have never (and will never) produce any new evidence, only dishonest rhetoric and hearsay.”

    I’m confused. What evidence do you have that ID proponents are unwilling to test their hypothesis? And what evidence have macro-evolutionists (I assume that is a specific-enough, and safe-enough word to use.) produced through testing to prove their hypothesis is correct? The only recent “evidence” that supports macro-evolution that I know of (I admit my knowledge is very limited.) is Lucy. But she was not a result of testing; she is existing “evidence” that was found–not the result of a test.

  40. Norman Doering  

    Yo wrote:

    …is there value and meaning to life? Darwinism doesn’t answer that question, nor does Intelligent Design.

    So, if you didn’t believe in your religion your life would have no value and meaning?

    The only place we find an answer to that is in the Bible.

    And what about all those people who found an answer in the Koran, the Book of Mormon, the Hindu Scriptures like the Bhagavad-Gita, Scientology’s book; Dianetics, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Arul Nool, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Pali Canon, the Principia Discordia, the Pyrgi Tablets, the Shunyasampadane, the Ginza Rba, etc…

    …we can know this loving God in a personal relationship through Jesus Christ.

    Seriously, does he come over to your house and share tea with you and tell you how his day went? Just how personal is your relationship?

    Thus far, those facts have been completely absent in the discussions prompted by this controversy.

    And what makes you think those are facts?

    …but this has gotten so far off of what really matters that it’s time for us to remember what’s really at stake; eternity -and where people are going to spend it.

    Have those kinds of Christian threats and promises ever worked for you with anyone who was older than five?

  41. Norman Doering  

    Mark Sommer wrote:

    what evidence have macro-evolutionists (I assume that is a specific-enough, and safe-enough word to use.) produced through testing to prove their hypothesis is correct?

    There are labs testing microbial evolution:
    Click for Reference

    Richard E. Lenski does that too:
    Click for Reference
    Click for Reference

    The are experiements with fruit flies:
    Click for Reference

    Danny Hillis tested it by evolving computer programs:
    Click for Reference

    And more…
    Click for Reference

    Need more?

    The only recent “evidence” that supports macro-evolution that I know of (I admit my knowledge is very limited.) is Lucy. But she was not a result of testing; she is existing “evidence” that was found–not the result of a test.

    Well, if that’s all you know about, then you probably don’t really want to know.

  42. Boo  

    “And it’s an assumption on my part that there were still some Darwinian scientist accomodationists remaining, just as I know that there were a lot of Christian accomodationists remaining.”

    Again, don’t want to be forced to the conclusion that you’re simply dishonest, but you keep hemming me further and further in.

    So, one more time after what I hoped would be the last time. Please try to follow me here, it’s really not that complicated:

    You are bait-and-switching me. Hopefully not intentionally, but if you posess the power of literacy, I’m not sure what other explanation is possible. Once more I will quote your own words from your own article, as I have repeatedly already:

    “Their point, as I see it, and as the film presents it, is that you can’t exactly take Darwinian science out of the recipe for Nazi Germany and still expect to come up with the holocaust. And I agree with that. For the holocaust to happen, you have to get the Church, the politicians, the common man, and the Academy all on board with the program of ethnic cleansing; and it certainly seems the case that Darwinian thinking cleared the decks for the Academy to jump on board.”

    That is from your article. You wrote it. I didn’t. I copied and pasted it in. Word for word, it’s yours. I will now pull out the relevant phrases:

    “you can’t exactly take Darwinian science out of the recipe for Nazi Germany and still expect to come up with the holocaust. And I agree with that.”

    and

    “it certainly seems the case that Darwinian thinking cleared the decks for the Academy to jump on board.”

    from here, I will now pull out the relevant specific words:

    “Darwinian science”

    Note the second word above which you wrote. It says “science.” It does not say “scientist” or “scientists.” You are trying to claim that you only ever spoke of scientists, yet the above quote of your own words from your own article shows this is incorrect. You said “science.”

    and the second:

    “Darwinian thinking”

    Note again the second word: “thinking.” You did not say “thinkers,” you said “thinking.”

    The above statements in plain english indicate an association of the SCIENCE and THINKING of “Darwinism” helping lead to the Holocaust. I have asked you repeatedly, since you did in fact say you agreed with this assertion in the film, to tell me exactly which part of Darwinian science or thinking helps lay the groundwork for the Holocaust. Your response has been to attempt to rewrite what you have said, while still leaving it up there in plain english, and claim you actually said “scientists,” when you clearly said “science.” “Scientists” and “science” are two different words, with two different meanings, and you quite clearly said the latter in the paragraph I cited, not the former. Do you understand the definitions of these two words, and how they differ?

    Saying that scientists went along with Hitler is an historical fact. Saying that the science itself played a part is slandering an entire discipline. If you did not mean to say that it was the science itself, then say so, in plain English, without equivocating, without trying to shift the blame to me for not understanding the words which you yourself wrote and still sit serenely up in your article for all the world to see. And again, the ethical thing to do would be to at the very least go up and change “science” to “some scientists” and “thinking” to “some thinkers” or something similar.

  43. Mark Sommer  

    Norman, please. Has Yo ridiculed what you believe? You do realize this site is called Hollywood Jesus, don’t you? What did you expect us to believe?

    BTW, I am 10 times older than five, and God’s promises work just fine for me every day. It is certainly your right to believe that we are deluded and that they don’t work. But you don’t need to treat him like a child.

    Yo did not make any “Christian threats.” He only shared what he believes. He did not ridicule anyone while he was doing it.

  44. Greg Wright  

    Think me unethical. Dead horse.

  45. Mark Sommer  

    My horse is dead, too. This has ceased to be of any profit to anyone.

  46. Boo  

    “I’m confused. What evidence do you have that ID proponents are unwilling to test their hypothesis? And what evidence have macro-evolutionists (I assume that is a specific-enough, and safe-enough word to use.) produced through testing to prove their hypothesis is correct? The only recent “evidence” that supports macro-evolution that I know of (I admit my knowledge is very limited.) is Lucy. But she was not a result of testing; she is existing “evidence” that was found–not the result of a test.”

    So far, IDists have yet to actually formulate a single testable hypothesis. (Or if they have, they’ve never told anyone.) If you know of any, please point them out. Very few people in the ID movement are actually practicing biologists. Behe, and… not too many others. The only “science” they ever engage in, literally, is to try and poke holes in evolution. Over a decade after having first been formulated, ID has exactly zero positive content. None. Zip. Zilch, Nada. The same as one, minus one.

    “Irreducible complexity” is not a positive argument for design, it is a negative argument against evolution (and is based on a simple misunderstanding of the way evolution works, and was actually first predicted by biologist Herman Muller in 1918 as an expected result of evolution, only he called it “interlocking complexity”)

    “Specified complexity” is also a negative argument against evolution (and according to real mathematicians and information theorists, is pretty much gibberish)

    The ID method of argumentation is to produce a (usually wrong) criticism of evolution, then proclaim that if evolution can’t explain X, then ID “wins” by default. Essentially, it’s an argument from ignorance. The thing is, if we really don’t understand what evolutionary processes caused something, then the only honest answer is “we don’t know.” Since the ID movement has never made the slightest attempt to actually explain the nature of the designer or the design process or how any of it would have supposedly worked, it’s literally nothing but the argument from ignorance. God of the gaps.

    As for evidence of macroevolution, try these:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html

    The usual response from the creationist/ID crowd is to then shift the goalpost back to saying, oh sure, speciation, but what about “created kinds”? ‘Cept that’s not a legitimate biological term and has no clear definition.

    Then there’s this:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

    Creationists/IDers often try to weasel out of most of those by claiming that it could be “common design.”

    But here’s another fun fact:

    DNA contains retrovirus fragments, which are essentially the broken remnants of viruses that infected the DNA but over time got broken up and became non-functional. Human and chimp DNA strands have many of the same retrovirus fragments in the same places. (I’ve read there’s over 100,000 identical places on the respective genomes, but I haven’t been able to confirm.)

    Essentially, either we all share a common ancestor or God has a very good reason for wanting us to think we all do.

  47. Norman Doering  

    Mark Sommer wrote:

    I am 10 times older than five, and God’s promises work just fine for me every day.

    But when did you first here of them? Do you think there is anyone in America over the age of 5 who hasn’t already heard the incredibly simple rhetoric Yo uses?

    It is certainly your right to believe that we are deluded and that they don’t work. But you don’t need to treat him like a child.

    We’ll see. Sounds pretty childish to me.

    Yo did not make any “Christian threats.”

    You don’t consider this a threat: “remember what’s really at stake; eternity -and where people are going to spend it.” Like we don’t all know he’s talking about Heaven and Hell.

    He only shared what he believes. He did not ridicule anyone while he was doing it.

    But he didn’t share any good reasons to believe it.

  48. John  

    Mark wrote:
    “I’m confused. What evidence do you have that ID proponents are unwilling to test their hypothesis?”

    1) The fact that they have money, facilities, and (a few) sufficient expertise.
    2) The absence of a single datum of this type in the entirety of the primary scientific literature (this means new data).
    3) The fact that they engage in nothing but rhetoric.

    “And what evidence have macro-evolutionists (I assume that is a specific-enough, and safe-enough word to use.)…”

    Not really. “Evolutionists” is silly too. How about “productive biologists,” Mark?

    “… produced through testing to prove their hypothesis is correct?”

    Literally gigabytes of data. Every sequence that is mathematically compared/contrasted with all the other sequences, for example. The amazing thing is that you can do this for yourself, as all the sequence data and analytical tools are free to all on the Web.

    “The only recent “evidence” that supports macro-evolution that I know of (I admit my knowledge is very limited.) is Lucy.”

    The sequence data are far more rigorously and objectively analyzed. That’s why ID proponents and creationists lie about these data and claim that they represent mere “similarity.” Do you realize that the nested hierarchies of protein families are superimposible on the nested hierarchies of organisms? There’s no existing set of designed objects for which that is true, and there’s no credible reason for an intelligent designer to anything of the sort.

    In addition, the overlapping functions of members of these families create huge problems in figuring out what each one really does. In a successful effort to use genetic manipulations to circumvent this problem, I’ve incidentally done more to test the hypothesis (falsely presented as fact) underlying all the ID “arguments” involving probability, particularly Dembski’s, than the ID and creationist movements combined. Would you like to hear more?

    But if fossils are your preferred way to go, what about Tiktaalik? All the new fossils in the whale lineage that have been found in the last decade?

    “But she was not a result of testing; she is existing “evidence” that was found–not the result of a test.”

    Yes she was, Mark. This is why I point out that the ID movement rejects science itself: testing hypotheses is about testing their predictions of future OBSERVATIONS.

    Whether those observations are of past events (fossils) is irrelevant; what matters is that the evolutionary and geological theory predicted where a fossil like Tiktaalik would be found, which is precisely what happened. Do you think paleontologists dig randomly?

    For the sequence data, there are crystal-clear predictions (with allowances made for technical limitations and errors) about where new sequences will end up in the nested hierarchies for both protein families and the organisms that contain them. I’m not an evolutionary biologist, but I’ve directly tested Darwinian and non-Darwinian theories by analyzing the sequences I’ve contributed.

    In other cases, hypotheses and theories predict the results of experiments that have yet to be performed.

    The bottom line is that changing dogma is the pinnacle of achievement for any scientist. You have been blinded by creationist propaganda to think that changing dogma can be achieved by presenting mere arguments and cherrypicked existing data to laypeople in books and movies. Real scientists who change dogma produce data, not apologetics. Would you like some examples?

  49. John  

    Mark, I forgot reason #4:

    The ID movement has its own journal. They haven’t published an issue in over 2 years, but even when they published it, none of the papers contained a test of an ID hypothesis or a single new observation:

    http://www.iscid.org/pcid.php

  50. John  

    Greg wrote:
    “So, given that I also can’t be an expert on any one of them, when the situation is appropriate, I’ll provide links to Myers, Miller, Dawkins, and Expelled so folks can do their own digging and come up with their own answers — since I don’t have them.”

    How can folks possibly come up with scientific answers from mere opinions and publicity stunts, Greg?

    Why would Myers be relevant? Do you realize that Myers hasn’t published in the primary literature in over ten years? He’s a teacher and a blogger, not a working scientist.

    Do you realize that Dawkins hasn’t produced any new data in a while, either?

    Have you paused to consider the views of (and more importantly, the evidence produced by) actual working scientists?

  51. John  

    …and I’m characterizing your goal as “pomo” because you don’t seem to care about the relative thought and effort put into your “opposing views.”

    Pretending that there are only two sides to every issue is the laziest (yet highly prevalent) form of journalism.

  52. Mark Sommer  

    Interesting, John. As I said, “I admit my knowledge is very limited.” Unfortunately, I do not have time to research all of this. I have spent too much time on this already. I work about 80 hours a week on my three jobs, and have a family that need some of my time, too. I will keep what you said in mind for study perhaps some day in the future.

    Norman: Yo did not threaten to send you to Hell. And if you read him carefully, he does not threaten Hell to anyone who believes in evolution. He says that it’s just not that important whether you believe in evolution or not. That’s not childish. That’s wisdom. Yo believes because he has found that it works for him. He has experienced God. You don’t have to believe that. But just because it has not been your experience does not make it impossible.

    I am done contributing to the comments on this page. I just don’t have time for this any longer.

  53. Greg Wright  

    Truly grateful for all the links posted here, and for the additional perspectives provided. Truly. Definitely in keeping with the spirit of the site.

    But this conversation is getting way, way off topic — which is movies (not science!), Expelled (which is a particular form of entertainment, not education or history), and P.Z. Meyers’ opinion of Expelled.

    I think the purpose of the post and comments have been served. If there’s something new to add, by all means do so. But let’s keep it on topic, make sure it’s new.

  54. Norman Doering  

    Greg Wright wrote:

    If there’s something new to add, by all means do so. But let’s keep it on topic, make sure it’s new.

    Actually, there is quite a lot to add.

    Are you aware of Allen MacNeill’s comments on Panda’s thumb that further indite the Expelled film maker’s agenda:

    …unlike PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins, the interviews with Will [Provine] and I were not included in the film. Why not? Because (as many posters at this site are well aware), we regularly invite ID proponents (such as Michael Behe, John Sanford, Hannah Maxson, and Phillip Johnson, among many others) to make presentations in our evolution courses at Cornell. But this fact would clash in an unfortunate way with the premise of the film, which is that “Darwinists” unfairly discriminate against ID supporters and creationists.

    In other words, “Expelled” is a propaganda piece, pure and simple, as are virtually all of the public pronouncements of the Discovery Institute and their supporters. Scientists don’t make propaganda movies (although we are sometimes invited to participate in them under fraudulent pretenses). No, we go out into the field and the laboratory and investigate nature.

    Click for Reference

    Also, this review:
    Click for Reference

    has comments from Michael Shermer indicating how he was repeatedly asked the same question as if the Expelled crew wanted to get a different answer.

  55. Greg Wright  

    Hadn’t seen the MacNeill item yet. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. Will check that out, and probably feature that in a news item today.

    Rather than bury that stuff at the end of this comment thread, can you get that stuff to me through the contact form, or my direct email (which I think you have)? Also, send me a good link for the science issues to add to the others in the SteinWatch sidebar.

  56. Boo  

    Since you decided to put me on moderation for trying to hold you accountable, I recognize there’s a good chance this won’t get through, but what the heck:

    “But this conversation is getting way, way off topic — which is movies (not science!), Expelled (which is a particular form of entertainment, not education or history), and P.Z. Meyers’ opinion of Expelled.”

    This doesn’t quite wash. Documentaries are not pure entertainment. They purport to be about informing as well as entertaining. You can’t exactly put Ken Burns’ The Civil War on the same footing as Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. No one except schizophrenics is going to come out of Rings thinking that immortal elves once trod the earth.

    The Expelled makers are not attempting pure entertainment, they are trying to convince people of certain claims. Whether those claims are in fact true is very much germaine to the issue.

  57. Boo  

    Well, apparently not on moderation any more. So in the intersts of accuracy strike that first sentence above.

  58. Greg Wright  

    Here’s a certifiable fact: the only comments that have been held for moderation (except that one of yours) are Norman’s, due to the number of embedded links (it’s an unintelligent anti-SPAM measure) — and I emailed him to explain why. I’d have emailed you, too, except I can’t.

    Regarding the issue of entertainment, well, this is an area I am actually an expert in. Michael Moore, with Roger and Me, almost single-handedly changed the public perception of what documentaries could be; and initially, he was attacked pretty strongly by critics of all stripes, not because of politics but because of what he was doing to public perception of the art: drawing to their attention to the artifices of documentary filmmaking, causing them to doubt its integrity. (Moore knew his film history, though, and knew the lid had been pretty much blown off that theory by the supposedly cinema verite docs of the sixties; once you put a camera on someone, objective truth is completely destroyed. Hence “reality” TV, which is really just unscripted [read: “cheaply produced”] fiction.)

    In an interview with Harlan Jacobson in Film Comment (Nov-Dec 1989, p. 16-26) Moore defended himself not by claiming objectivity, but by appealing to The Wizard of Oz. “Every piece of journalism manipulates sequence and things. Just the fact that you edit, that certain things get taken out or put back in.” About his approach in particular, he said, “We are not talking about objectivity. We’re talking about a style.” (Emphasis his.)

    In the last twenty years, of course, Moore’s documentaries have gotten even less objective. And this is the style of film that Expelled tries to be. Ergo, there’s the standard you’ve got to measure Expelled against; and on the Moore scale of subjectivity, I’d put Expelled somewhere between Michael and Me and Bowling for Columbine.

    So if all films are more or less propaganda, and Moore’s style of documentary is the least objective form of film, then sure: Expelled is propagandistic. But if that bugs you, then its the artform that bugs you (as it does me); but Expelled is no more (and in many ways less) egregious than its brethren (who are Legion).

    So education about the nature of the artform — both its lack of subjectivity and its power — is something of a passion of mine. Expelled, from that standpoint, is an excellent teaching opportunity, because both its fans and its detractors are failing to understand how Expelled functions as a film. It’s not a textbook, or a sermon, so it shouldn’t be taken (or reacted to) as such.

    I go into a lot more detail on this subject here.

    (If you want to know my opinion of Burns’ Civil War documentary sometime, feel free to contact me personally. I could walk you through the ways in which it is not at all objective.)

  59. Jon Price  

    While this is a very interesting discussion, and one that needs to be continued, I would suggest that it be put on hold until the film has been viewed by everyone. The discussion is just going in circles because everyone is responding to things that they haven’t seen first hand.

    I would also suggest that those of you who love to use sarcasm in your posts, please refrain. In debate, sarcasm is not an acceptable rhetorical device. It makes it hard to understand what’s really being discussed and debated, and clouds the issues. Most of you come across as just wanting to be right, not really caring about true dialogue and the sharing of ideas. This is what I find troubling about modern blogging etiquette. You may find your tactics amusing and fun, but you are not adding to the discussion at all, and make it extremely difficult for others to participate on an intelligent level. By using juvenile tactics you show how little you are willing to listen to the other side. You just show that you want to be heard, no matter what the cost. That is not debate that is called narcissism.

  60. John  

    Jon,

    Why would the film need to be viewed by everyone if it fails to introduce a single piece of new evidence?

    1) For example, Hitler denied common descent, just as most IDers and creationists do. Darwin hypothesized common descent, and virtually all practicing biologists agree that all of the evidence supports common descent.

    2) Most everyone agrees that evolution can occur within a species by both artificial and natural selection.

    So why is the movie claim that Darwin was a necessary component of Hitler’s attempt to practice #2, when people agreed on this both before and after Darwin?

    Why is the movie not mentioning #1? Because it shows that Hitler’s views were closer to those of the moviemakers than they were to those of Darwin himself?

  61. Greg Wright  

    Jon didn’t say “the film needs to be viewed by everyone.”

    He said “shut up until you’ve actually seen it.”

    Why can’t you address the things people actually say? Have you seen the film yet? Or are you just repeating stuff that you’ve heard other people say?

    Your questions are pretty much addressed in comments above. Getting pretty tiresome.

  62. John  

    Greg, you wrote:
    “Jon didn’t say “the film needs to be viewed by everyone.”

    I didn’t say he did.

    “He said “shut up until you’ve actually seen it.””

    And I asked why we should shut up ***if*** the film fails to introduce a single piece of evidence?

    “Why can’t you address the things people actually say?”

    I did, Greg; that’s why I asked an explicitly conditional (made explicit by the words “would” and “if”) question based on extensive experience with the rank dishonesty of the ID movement and with one of the writers of this particular film.

    I’m open to the possibility that my conditional clause is false. You’ve seen the film–does it introduce a single piece of evidence? Even lowering the bar, does it introduce anything you even THINK might be evidence with which I am not already sufficiently familiar? I’m all ears, Greg.

    For example, in the ripped-off animation, are the mechanisms of the molecular motors portrayed accurately, based on ACTUAL EVIDENCE? Do the mechanisms by which those motors convert energy (from hydrolyzing adenosine triphosphate to adenosine diphosphate) to translocation resemble those of human-designed motors? IOW, was the animation they ripped off accurate?

    “Have you seen the film yet? Or are you just repeating stuff that you’ve heard other people say?”

    Greg, you’re the one trying to use hearsay here. I produce scientific evidence for a living. I’ve directly tested Darwin’s most revolutionary hypothesis (the very one that both the filmmakers and Hitler claim is wrong) for myself; it’s been done tens of thousands of times by other molecular geneticists. Each one of us, each time, had the potential to falsify Darwin’s hypothesis. Why would we be dishonest about that, when fame and fortune await scientists who refute current dogma with new evidence?

    I assure you that I take the Biblical admonition against using hearsay very, very seriously. My question is, do you?

  63. Greg Wright  

    I’m pretty sure you know, John, that the film doesn’t present any scientific evidence, nor does it try to. So from where I sit, your “conditionals” take Jon’s statement in a direction neither he nor the film are interested in.

    You also seem very interested in taking me in directions I’m either not interested in or not qualified to address. Reference my comments above about what I feel I’m qualified to address and not address, and my opinions of the film. I’ve nothing new to add there.

    I’m actually very sorry if you (or others) thought I was questioning the integrity of what you do for a living, or as a person in general; that was not my intent, and I can see how my questions could be interpreted that way.

    My questions are about the film itself, and the comments you’ve made here about the film. From what you’ve said, I’m honestly unclear whether you’ve actually seen it or not — though I don’t think you’ve gotten anything particularly wrong.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe without commenting

   

Fantasy  
Coverage  
Click Icon >>

The Hobbit... Whole: Movie and Book
Bagshot Row Bulletin: News of the film, commentary about the book
Hobbit Commentary
The Galactic Gazette: Star Wars News at HJ
Focus on the Force: Star Wars Commentary and Analysis at HJ
Narnia News, with Mark Sommer
Narnia Features
Hogwarts Expressions
The Lord of the Rings, with Greg Wright
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
    

Archived  
Features  
Click Icon >>

From the Top
eMPULSE: What's Hot In Electronic Media
Video Reviews
charActor studies
Sound Off
WWTD: What Would Tebow Do?
The Guide: Video Reviews of Hot Games at HJ
Church at Louie's
KJV@400: Not Just Any Old Book
Pokemon White: Catch 'Em All
Madden NFL Playoff Sims
The LOST Lockup: Archives
The Lost Library
Get Cupped Up: World Cup Coverage at HJ
Fan of the Flame
12 Days of Christmas Music
Broncopalooza
EA Sports Active 30-Day Challenge
Wolverine Spotlight
Galacticana: Melinda Ledman on Battlestar
SteinWatch: News of Ben Stein and Expelled
Tales From The Front Lines: From the set of The Bill Collector
Yo's Animal Crossing Diary
Favre Watch at HJ
The Back Page: The Intersection of Culture and Spirituality
After Eden: Sifting the Gold From the Gutter
Mii Fit: Yo's 30-Day Fitness Challenge
The Blogger Archives
Danger: The Real Missionary Position
The Dark Corner: Philip Pullman at HJ
    

Recommended  
Resources  
Click Icon >>

Reflections for Moviegoers, with Matt Kinne
The Virtual Pew, with Mike Furches
Hollywood Jesus Books