Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Expelled! Experience! Part 1 - Live-blogging the worst documentary ever.

How best to capture Expelled!? This horrifically divisive Ben Stein documentary that is less about creationism "Intelligent Design," and more about how biologists = Hitler.

I'd been thinking I wanted to capture my thoughts, frustrations, and rebuttals to this film. Why? Because I need a project... In any event, as soon as the incredibly manipulative opening credits began, I decided I was going to live-blog this mofo. So here it is, I'll be watching this dreck, and whenever something happens worthy of my comment, I'll pause and write about it here...

Oh, And I'm featuring lots of links within to people who have written more extensively on particular topics than me, particularly the NCSE's excellend Expelled Exposed page.

HOLY SHIT! We're 40 seconds into this beast and I already want to scream! The opening credits superimpose film of the construction of the Berlin wall with the names of the film's crew. It's bleak, and though it doesn't show the holocaust itself, the shots shows are clearly meant to evoke the same sorts of reactions... The actual nazi imagery will come later. Remember: this is a movie about biologists and a model they've developed for understanding how species arise. This is outrageous.

00:02:38 - Montage-a-Rama
A few friendly faces: Dawkins, Dennet, PZ Myers, Australian mustache dude...

00:03:34 - BEN STEIN'S SPEAKS!
The first real scene in the film shows a large auditorium at Pepperdine University filled with people who have come to see Ben Stein talk about the evolution/ID "controversy." Some of these people look very much unlike the sort of people you would expect to be interested in hearing a minor 1980's celebrity, famous for his droning voice, talk about science and religion for hours... This probably due to the fact that the audience didn't show up to hear Stein talk, but rather, they showed up to get paid. They're extras, actors paid to appear interested in what Stein has to say. This is the first dishonest thing we see in Expelled!, but I assure you it's not the last.

00:04:45 Montage O'Science
Beautiful montage of all science has brought us in the last century... followed immediately by shots of police brutality with Stein's voiceover saying that "teh ebil scientists r taking away ur freedom!!!!1!1"

00:05:30 - Richard Sternberg
Poor guy. He lost his job with the Smithsonian and became destititute because he dared to publish a peer-reviewed pro-ID paper... Oh, except that's not what happened at ALL. The National Center for Science Education has put together a website called "Expelled Exposed," and this incident is addressed masterfully there. Check it out.

00:08:00 - Go Michael Shermer!
Go Michael Shermer!

00:09:38 - Go Dan Savage!
Okay, filthy-mouthed sex advice columnist Dan Savage does not appear and is not mentioned anywhere in this film... But the background music here served as the theme music for the Savage Love podcast for quite some time. Just think it's funny that the music the Expelled producers chose reminds me of frank discussions of anal fisting and pie fight fetishists.

00:09:53 - Caroline Crocker
Caroline Crocker was a professor at Geroge Mason University until she happened to mention Intelligent Design. As soon as she did, the University immediately hired her and she was blacklisted from working in any American university... Oh wait, except that's not what happened at all. My favorite part of this story is that there's a video featuring Crocker at Coral Ridge Ministries that tells a very different story, and even includes a bunch of slides from Croker's lecture where she touts creationism and ID... Also, when Crocker says her administrator called her into his office and told her "I'm going to have to discipline you," I got a little hot.

00:11:22 - Michael Egnor
Ugh. Michael Egnor. What a tool. Basically, he thinks that peeps in medical school don't need to learn about evolution, and pretty much everyone in the medical communiy disagrees with him, including some vocal bloggers. In this instance, that is indeed pretty much what happened. Anyone who follows developments in the ID movement will know of Egnor, so here's his Expelled Exposed profile.... Also, Stephen Novella, cohost of the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe (yay!) has made several eviscerating critiques of Egnor's postulations... Enjoy!

00:12:00 - "Darwinists"
Okay, seriously. Stop calling people "Darwinists." The other day, someone was talking about the revolution of the planets around the sun. I looked and them with spite in my eyes, said, "You god damn Copernercist!" and walked away in a huff. Also, that story is completely made up.

Okay, That's all I can take of this drivel for now. I'll return later with more.

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