I just watched the documentary by Ben Stein “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” I must say the title is prophetic toward content. There was certainly no intelligence to be found in the slant of this “documentary.”
This is essentially another example of right-wing religious propaganda that likes to masquerade as fact. It is at once crucial that readers understand the primary flaw in any argument made by creationists or I.D. advocates: creationism cannot be given equal time as science, since it does not fit the description of science, nor does it hold up to scientific scrutiny. That said, I’ll take a deep breath and continue…
Next, allow me to point out that all those whom Stein interviewed who were summarily dismissed from universities for merely uttering the words “Intelligent Design” were not victims at all. This was a distorted and inaccurate representation of what actually happened. Please read Michael Shermer’s essay on this here: Ben Stein’s Blunder. Shermer was misled and lied to about the content of the documentary, even the very NAME of the documentary, as was PZ Meyers, of the infamous Pharygula. See his blog, The Simple Falsehood at the Heart of Expelled, and just search the word “Expelled” on Pharyngula for other blogs about it. Meyers was even barred from attending a screening of the film Expelled. A police officer told him he was instructed by the producer to be kept out, or he would be arrested. See his blog on this here.
Also, see the Richard Dawkins site, for this article, which I found delightfully delicious in Dawkins’ usual intelligent style of prose. There were other scientists who were railroaded in this documentary, due to their acceptance of the tenets of evolutionary theory.
As if these sins were not sufficient, a particularly heinous effrontery was offered by Richard Sternberg, upon whom Stein spent a good deal of focus. Shermer explains:
Stein, however, is uninterested in paleontology, or any other science for that matter. His focus is on what happened to Sternberg, who is portrayed in the film as a martyr to the cause of free speech. “As a result of publishing the Meyer article,” Stein intones in his inimitably droll voice, “Dr. Sternberg found himself the object of a massive campaign that smeared his reputation and came close to destroying his career.” According to Sternberg, “after the publication of the Meyer article the climate changed from being chilly to being outright hostile. Shunned, yes, and discredited.” As a result, Sternberg filed a claim against the Smithsonian for being “targeted for retaliation and harassment” for his religious beliefs. “I was viewed as an intellectual terrorist,” he tells Stein. In August 2005 his claim was rejected.
According to Jonathan Coddington, his supervisor at the Smithsonian Institution, Sternberg was not discriminated against, was never dismissed and in fact was not even a paid employee, but just an unpaid research associate who had completed his three-year term!(Shermer)
Without question, the most offensive part of the film was the overt message that evolution goes hand in hand with Nazism, and the events during the Hitler Regime. In Stein’s interview of Sternberg, the latter suggests that Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf is clearly an evolutionist document. I have addressed the mistaken idea before that Hitler was an atheist, and therefore atheists are evil. See the excerpt from my book, Supernatural Hypocrisy: The Cognitive Dissonance of a God Cosmology under the blog entry “The A.I. of Theists” where I rebut this claim with the actual text of Mein Kampf). History is rife with corrupt individuals who adapt certain ideas to their own uses. This does not, however, mean the original idea was corrupt.
Stein also offers up the argument that eugenics and euthanasia are patently evil. I wrote about the Eugenics question in a paper I republished here. As for the euthanasia issue, one of those he interviewed said that it was somehow an act of irreverence for human life. I beg to differ and instead assert that it is precisely the opposite. But those types of volatile issues can always be manipulated by emotion and fear by creationists. Creationists come by this method naturally, since they worship a god who also manipulates through emotion and fear. Take, for example the interspersed black and white clips used in Expelled from various historical events like the Nazi gas chambers, bullies beating up a smaller young man, and a scene from the Planet of the Apes where a mean old ape takes a water hose and blasts poor Charlton Heston (Moses, right? a BIBLICAL HERO. The inference is not wasted on me, though its insidious attempt at subliminal propaganda might be lost on those less attentive) Can you say Propaganda? I can. And I will. What Ben Stein has done is nothing less than exploit the Holocaust and all its victims in order to achieve his questionable purposes.
Another alleged victim of the “Nazi-Science machine of evolutionists” in the film was Caroline Crocker. But as the thorough examination of this claim showed in another article by Shermer “Crocker shows either a shocking ignorance of evolutionary science, or a rather shameless willingness to distort the truth.”
Richard Dawkins offers an open letter to a commenter on Shermer’s site, wherein he tries to clear up the awful misrepresentations and outright lies that Expelled represents.
The Devil is in the Doctrine. Be Aware, and Beware, good readers: there are lies being constantly perpetuated by people like Ben Stein. This is not new. But it is infuriating.