Reviews of Expelled
By SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, MICHAEL SHERMER, JOHN RENNIE, FOX NEWS
Added: Tue, 08 Apr 2008 23:00:00 UTC
City Beat Review
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Not Even Fox Likes It.
Ben Stein: Win His Career
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,348468,00.html (scroll down the page to "Ben Stein: Win His Career")
After seeing a new non-fiction film starring Comedy Central's Ben Stein, you may not only be able to win his money, but also his career.
Stein is that whiny little guy with the monotone voice that makes him seem funny and an unlikely "character" for TV appearances. But that career may be over come April 18, when a movie he co-wrote, narrates and appears in, called "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," is released.
Directed by one Nathan Frankowski, "Expelled" is a sloppy, all-over-the-place, poorly made (and not just a little boring) "expose" of the scientific community. It's not very exciting. But it does show that Stein, who's carved out a career selling eye drops in commercials and amusing us on sitcoms, is either completely nuts or so avaricious that he's abandoned all good sense to make a buck.
To wit: Stein, Frankowski and pals say in "Expelled" that perfectly good scientists and educators are being stigmatized for wanting to teach their students creationism and "intelligent design" — in other words, junk science — in addition to or instead of conventionally accepted Darwinism. You see, Stein, like some other celebrities, finally has shown his true colors and they aren't so pretty.
The gist of Stein's involvement is: He's outraged! He believes in God! God created the universe! How can we not avail our students of this theory? What do you mean we're just molecules?
What the producers of this film would love, love, love is a controversy. That's because it's being marketed by the same people who brought us "The Passion of the Christ." They're hoping someone will latch onto an anti-Semitism theme here, since there's a visit to a concentration camp and the raised idea — apparently typical of the intelligent design community — that somehow the theory of evolution is so evil that it caused the Holocaust. Alas, this is such a warped premise that no one's biting.
The whole idea of Stein, a Jew, jumping on the intelligent design bandwagon of the theory of evolution begetting the Nazis is so distasteful you wonder what in — sorry — God's name — he was thinking when he got into this. Who cares, really, if "Expelled" is anti-Semitic? It will come and go without much fanfare.
But Stein is another matter. Can he really be amusing selling eye drops or acting like a nebbish on game shows if we now have this new insight into his thinking?
You know Ben Stein from his voice. He used it to intone Ferris Bueller's name iconically at the beginning of that 20-year-old Matthew Broderick movie. His laconic delivery and deadpan presence have given him a benign celebrity — until now.
But this is what he wrote last fall on the "Expelled" movie Web site:
"Darwinism is still very much alive, utterly dominating biology. Despite the fact that no one has ever been able to prove the creation of a single distinct species by Darwinist means, Darwinism dominates the academy and the media. Darwinism also has not one meaningful word to say on the origins of organic life, a striking lacuna in a theory supposedly explaining life.
"Alas, Darwinism has had a far bloodier life span than Imperialism. Darwinism, perhaps mixed with Imperialism, gave us Social Darwinism, a form of racism so vicious that it countenanced the Holocaust against the Jews and mass murder of many other groups in the name of speeding along the evolutionary process."
In a word: Urgggh. Suddenly Stein is not so amusing anymore. I want my eye drops from someone else.
PS: Following "The Passion" release pattern, "Expelled" will open wide on the 18th, but mostly in rural and poor neighborhoods. It's got just one theater in all of New York City, in Times Square, none in places like Beverly Hills or wealthier, better-educated urban neighborhoods where more "evolved" people might live.
According to the film's Web site, the producers are in a whopping 45 theaters in North Carolina, and a mere seven in Massachusetts, 35 in Georgia, 11 in New Jersey, four in Connecticut and one in Vermont. And so on. There are huge numbers of screens in Florida and Texas taking the film, particularly seven in San Antonio. If I lived in the Deep South, I'd boycott the filmmakers for thinking of me as this gullible and unsophisticated.
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed--Ben Stein Launches a Science-free Attack on Darwin
by Michael Shermer
In 1974 I matriculated at Pepperdine University as a born-again Christian who rejected Darwinism and evolutionary theory—not because I knew anything about it (I didn't) but because I thought that in order to believe in God and accept the Bible as true, you had to be a creationist. What I knew about evolution came primarily from creationist literature, so when I finally took a course in evolutionary theory in graduate school I realized that I had been hoodwinked. What I discovered is a massive amount of evidence from multiple sciences—geology, paleontology, biogeography, zoology, botany, comparative anatomy, molecular biology, genetics and embryology—demonstrating that evolution happened.
It was with some irony for me, then, that I saw Ben Stein's antievolution documentary film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, opens with the actor, game show host and speechwriter for Richard Nixon addressing a packed audience of adoring students at Pepperdine University, apparently falling for the same trap I did.
Actually they didn't. The biology professors at Pepperdine assure me that their mostly Christian students fully accept the theory of evolution. So who were these people embracing Stein's screed against science? Extras. According to Lee Kats, associate provost for research and chair of natural science at Pepperdine, "the production company paid for the use of the facility just as all other companies do that film on our campus" but that "the company was nervous that they would not have enough people in the audience so they brought in extras. Members of the audience had to sign in and a staff member reports that no more than two to three Pepperdine students were in attendance. Mr. Stein's lecture on that topic was not an event sponsored by the university." And this is one of the least dishonest parts of the film.
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Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed--Scientific American's Take
You wouldn't expect Scientific American to take a particularly positive view of a movie that espouses intelligent design over evolutionary biology. Then again, you wouldn't expect the producers of said film—in this case, Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed—to offer the editors of said magazine a private screening.
Associate producer Mark Mathis showed up at our offices with a preview of Expelled in hand. That's right, the unexpected screening happened. The unexpected positive reviews did not.
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Ben Stein's Expelled: No Integrity Displayed
A shameful antievolution film tries to blame Darwin for the Holocaust
By John Rennie
In the new science-bashing movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Ben Stein and the rest of the filmmakers sincerely and seriously argue that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution paved the way for the Holocaust. By "seriously," I mean that Ben Stein acts grief-stricken and the director juxtaposes quotes from evolutionary biologists with archival newsreel clips from Hitler's Reich. Prepare for an intellectual night at the cinema.
No one could have been more surprised than I when the producers called, unbidden, offering Scientific American's editors a private screening. Given that our magazine's positions on evolution and intelligent design (ID) creationism reflect those of the scientific mainstream (that is, evolution: good science; ID: not science), you have to wonder why they would bother. It's not as though anything in Expelled would have been likely to change our views. And they can't have been looking for a critique of the science in the movie, because there isn't much to speak of.
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