Folks, there's a new weapon in the Creationism/Intelligent Design arsenal, Ben Stein's new movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The movie purports to champion academic freedom on behalf of those who have been, in the words of the press kit, "persecuted" for believing in Intelligent Design. And the ground work is being laid now, out of public view.
The company marketing the film also marketed Mel Gibson's
How the Jews Killed Jesus The Passion of the Christ, and are going about it the same way. They are offering free screenings throughout the country to conservative Christian audiences to generate buzz and keeping both critics and mainstream reviewers out. And anyone not a Real True Christian gets in, they launch a defamatory PR campaign to discredit the critic.
The most amusing and celebrated of these incidents occurred in Minnesota where producers expelled (yes, they really did) biologist, blogger and activist PZ Myers, but overlooked another member of his party, Richard Dawkins.
All of that helped make Gibson's pestilent passion play critic proof, though it's a harder sell when the premise of the movie is intellectual freedom. If, as Stein insists, the argument is about allowing access to all points of view, he and the producers can't justify keeping the points of view against the film out of the theater.
So far the best resource on all things Expelled is "Expelled Exposed" a website maintained by the radical, leftwing National Center for Science Education.
The story thus far raises some concerns in addition to those raised above. Among them:
- There is considerable evidence that the producers misrepresented themselves to scientists who agreed to be interviewed on camera.
- The movie as a whole recasts the intelligent design debate as one between people of faith versus atheists. This is a change of tactic for ID proponents, and one that attempts to divide people of science from people of faith, despite the fact that many people embrace both.
- Stein heavily plays the Nazi card -- claiming that Darwinism is responsible for the Holocaust.
- Meanwhile, on the science side, some are questioning the utility of PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins as spokepeople against the film, given that both are atheist activists, playing into the "religion vs. atheist scientists" frame the film producers want.
- Oh, and let's not forget that the whole ID project is a bunch of crypto-fundie hooey.
In April the movie opens to mainstream premiere. People who care about maintaining the integrity of science education would do well to keep abreast of what happens between now and then. Right now the debate is happening, but only one side is invited.