Biology prof expelled from screening of 'Expelled'
By CHRIS HEWITT, TWINCITIES.COM
Added: Fri, 21 Mar 2008 00:00:00 UTC
Thanks to Glen Davidson for the link.
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It's almost too perfect: P.Z. Myers tried to see the movie, "Expelled," at the Mall of America Thursday.
But he was expelled.
"Expelled," subtitled "No Intelligence Allowed," is the controversial film that argues schools should be teaching creationism as an alternative to evolution. Myers, an associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota-Morris — and, more to the point, a prominent atheist — was interviewed for "Expelled" last April, although he says he was told the film was an evenhanded look at the intersection of science and religion and was to be called "Crossroads."
Myers was in the Twin Cities this week for the American Atheists Conference 2008 in Minneapolis and, coincidentally, he learned there was to be a free screening of "Expelled" at the Mall of America Thursday night. So he registered to attend with his wife, Mary, along with what Myers called "a whole parade of atheists," including internationally famous science writer, Richard Dawkins, whose books include "The God Delusion."
They all got in, but Myers did not.
"The filmmakers had been advertising it. They'd been sending out e-mails to people who subscribed to their Web site and all you had to do to go was click on the site and tell how many guests you were going to bring," said Myers, who did just that. "I wanted to be completely above-board. I signed under my own name and I didn't think they would object because, after all, I am in the movie."
At about 7:15 p.m., 15 minutes before showtime, Myers was informed that "Expelled" was expelling him. Myers believes Mark Mathis, who interviewed him for the film "under false pretenses," and who was in attendance at the Mall of America, recognized his name and barred him from attending (attendees had to show identification before being admitted).
"It shows off the hypocrisy of these people, as well as their outright incompetence," said Myers, who reports that his blog — www.scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/ — had an all-time high-traffic day Friday. "I could not imagine a better result for this. They've shown themselves to be completely dishonest and that they're trying to hide the truth about their movie, which is to my advantage. And they've shown themselves to be such flaming idiots."
Ironically, Mathis did not recognize Dawkins, who also is in the film and who says Mathis "tricked" him into an interview.
"What surprised me is it is a really lousy film, even if you happen to agree with it," said Dawkins, who took advantage of a question-and-answer session after the screening to ask why Myers wasn't allowed in. "P.Z. is in the film extensively. If anyone had a right to see the film, it was him. The incompetence, on a public relations level, is beyond belief."
Although he hasn't seen the movie, Myers said his wife confirmed what he has heard about it: "She said they would have a biologist talking about evolution and they would intercut that with lots of shots of the Nazi Holocaust, so it's a blatant appeal to emotions. It's propaganda, and it's trying to associate us with acts that, obviously, neither Richard Dawkins nor I would call good or would associate with science."
Representatives of Motive Marketing, a specialist in marketing such faith-based films as "The Passion of the Christ" and "The Chronicles of Narnia," did not return phone calls about Myer's claims and about his barring from the film (they had previously attempted to bar Orlando film critic Roger Moore from a screening, but he got in, anyway). In any case, Myers will probably have to wait to see himself on-screen until the movie opens April 18, nationwide.
In the meantime, Myers is entertained by this irony: "Expelled's" closing credits include a thank-you to him. So he knows the filmmakers are grateful for the couple of hours he gave them last year. Just not grateful enough to let him see their movie.
Chris Hewitt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-228-5552.
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