First off, thanks to the commenter who linked to my first Expelled post, and welcome FDLers. It's my intention to continue monitoring the story on the science blogs and offer a conduit between that blogosphere and the Ohio left.
The big development this week was a PZ Myers' questionable participation in a conference call presser the Expelled producers put on to let journos talk to Ben Stein. Because of course, the person journalists should speak to about evolutionary science is a finance expert with a droll speaking
The good part of the story is 1) we know the main thrust of both the movie and the PR campaign -- that Darwin is responsible for the Holocaust, and 2) that Myers offered the journos an opposing view and a source when odds are they would have simply stenographed the story.
The bad part of the story is Myers learning how to unmute his phone and interrupting the call.
The ethics of all this have been a hot topic on the Panda's Thumb thread. The ethical arguments are essentially in equipoise. Certainly what Dr. Myers did was not nice, but it doesn't somehow make up for the problem on the other side that they are pretty much making up the case that Darwin is responsible for Nazi horrors.
(There's a broader question about whether one can be an activist atheist without simultaneous being an obnoxious dick. It seems too often one goes with the other, though Village Green has partially restored my faith in the faithless. Still, it's not always easy finding oneself on the same side with the Myers/Dawkins/Hitchens axis.)
Back to Expelled and the Nazi argument. Much of the scientific argument against the film's premises is beyond the knowledge of this blogger. The arguments about the interaction of science and policy, that's social science, an area where your blogger finds himself on somewhat firmer ground. As noted in my previous post, the film draws battle lines. While it postures itself as an argument for intellectual freedom, it is in fact a broadside by religion against science. Consider for example this quote from auteur Stein, courtesy of Stranger Fruit:
- I believe God created the heavens and the earth, and it doesn’t scare me when scientists say that can’t be proved. I couldn’t give a [profanity] whether a person calls himself a scientist. Science has covered itself with glory, morally, in my time. Scientists were the people in Germany telling Hitler that it was a good idea to kill all the Jews. Scientists told Stalin it was a good idea to wipe out the middle-class peasants. Scientists told Mao Tse-Tung it was fine to kill 50,000,000 people in order to further the revolution.
In the meantime, I'll be working on the historical arguments against Stein & Co.'s thesis. Remember that the movie erupts into the mainstream on April 18. You can find out where on their theater locator page.