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Reviews of Expelled - Comments

mundusvultdecipi's Avatar Comment 1 by mundusvultdecipi

I am constantly amazed that there is not more of a backlash whenever the holocaust is invoked in such a cavalier manner, is it just me or does anyone else find it incredibly offensive to play fast and loose with such an horrific historical event ? We saw it invoked again, recently, with that eccentric UK bishop who thought books critical of christianity were somehow akin to holocaust denial.

Anyway - at least ONE group appears impressed by the film:

Wed, 09 Apr 2008 23:02:00 UTC | #150121

Apemanblues's Avatar Comment 2 by Apemanblues

I'm happy to see that the movie (and 'Intelligent Design' in general ) is being resoundly trashed for the nonsense that it is, but it's sad to see the poor and uneducated of the world once again being targeted by parasitic religious con-men.

Wed, 09 Apr 2008 23:23:00 UTC | #150124

j.mills's Avatar Comment 3 by j.mills

FOX NEWS doesn't like it?! If that isn't proof of evolution, what is?! :)

Wed, 09 Apr 2008 23:58:00 UTC | #150135

alan baylis's Avatar Comment 4 by alan baylis

I am very surprised by the panning of this by Fox News. I wonder if Ailes or any of the other bigwigs saw this honest review before it went out. If not, will we see some rowing back?
I hope my cynicism of Fox is wrong in this case, because this is one review in particular which Stein and Co. will not like one little bit!

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 00:08:00 UTC | #150137

Daniel Palmer's Avatar Comment 5 by Daniel Palmer

Anyway - at least ONE group appears impressed by the film

Wow... prime example of doublethink!

Intellectual dishonesty is the fugliest type of self-delusion, this reviewer seems to revel in it.

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 00:09:00 UTC | #150139

Ian's Avatar Comment 6 by Ian

Well I do have to thank Expelled and Michael Shermer for answering an open question: Just how long the Cambrian Explosion actually took - 80 million years.

Those paeleontologists do deal in large timescales, don't they?

Anyone want an airbag which inflates in 80 million years?

Which reminds me of a collegue I used to work with in a garage. Blythly, he assured us that airbags do not explode, "It's just that the gases expand really, really quickly."

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 00:24:00 UTC | #150142

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 7 by Richard Dawkins

Somewhere on Pharyngula recently, PZ Myers made the following excellent point. Obvious when you think about it, but it really needed to be spelled out.

What Hitler adopted in his eugenic approach to humans was nothing to do with Darwin or natural selection. Instead, it was the whole principle of ARTIFICIAL selection, which had been known to domestic breeders for centuries, even millennia. Any fool in a farmyard or a pigeon loft could see that artificial selection causes evolutionary change, and that was what Hitler wanted to do with humans. It was Darwin's genius to see that the same principle applied in the wild through NATURAL selection. That was what was Darwin had over garden-variety artificial selection, and that was precisely NOT what Hitler adopted. What Hitler adopted was precisely garden-variety artificial selection, the version that everybody has always known about but prefers not to apply to humans.

I'd like to track down PZ's article on this, because it is really excellent. It must have come out around the time we were all talking about how he was expelled from Expelled. Meanwhile, the above is my own summary of his point.

I would add that if Hitler had thought of natural selection at all, it would have been selection between RACES, not selection between INDIVIDUALS as Darwin thought of it. In other words, a kind of group selection. Darwin's much misunderstood subtitle, "The preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life" used the word "race" in a special sense which had nothing to do with Hitler's sense. Darwin definitely was NOT referring to "races" in the modern sense. We should translate "favoured races" today as "those individuals within a population who possess favoured genes".


Thu, 10 Apr 2008 01:09:00 UTC | #150153

kaiser's Avatar Comment 8 by kaiser

Enter Richard Dawkins. Dawkins, a prominent evolutionist, outspoken atheist and the bestselling author of The God Delusion, is featured throughout the film. In one segment, he sits down with Stein for a heart-to-heart. After dancing around several pointed questions about how life began, Dawkins finds himself at a logical impasse with no surplus of sci-fi rhetoric. He's finally forced to concede that, indeed, an intelligent being may have created life on earth. However, that being could not have been "God," but rather, it must have been some organic, alien life form. Of course, that alien life form has to have been a product of "Darwinian evolution."

Through tears of wild laughter, audience members watch as Dawkins â€" apparently grasping the dizzying nature of his own circular argument â€" turns three shades of red and becomes purply tight-lipped.

Dawkins? ... Dawkins? ...

But apart from space aliens, the general consensus among the evolutionary scientists interviewed was that all life, including human life, likely began when lightening struck a mud puddle (you know, like Frankenstein but without all the prefab body parts). This was then followed by a series of unexplainable, unprovable and totally random events which occurred over umpteen million years, eventually resulting in ... you.


Thu, 10 Apr 2008 01:23:00 UTC | #150156

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 9 by Richard Dawkins

I presume Kaiser is quoting, and does not stand by the ludicrous words that appear to stand in his name (Comment #158027).

As I explained in my own review of the film, my highly improbable science fiction speculation was an attempt to bend over backwards to give Intelligent Design its best shot, in order to demonstrate how unlikely its best shot -- and therefore Intelligent Design itself -- really is. This kind of hypothetical speculation is a well-recognized technique in scientific, and indeed philosophical discourse. For example the late John Maynard Smith used it in his classic attack on Group Selection, in Nature 1964. He set his ingenious mind to thinking of the best group selection model he could find. He called this 'best shot' model the Haystack Model and he then went on to show that the assumptions needed in order to make the Haystack Model work were highly improbable. In other words, he was making a sophisticated argument AGAINST group selection. But the equivalent of a Ben Stein might have misunderstood Maynard Smith by shouting from the rooftops: "Official. Maynard Smith believes group selection happens in haystacks".

The Maynard Smith kind of argument by reductio isn't really so hard to understand, unless you are as thick as Ben Stein apparently is. I hope and believe that Kaiser is not being equally stupid, but he urgently needs to clarify his own motive in posting this remarkably stupid quotation without any explanation.


Thu, 10 Apr 2008 01:43:00 UTC | #150164

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 11 by irate_atheist

9. Comment #158036 by Richard Dawkins -

One argument against Intelligent Design could be the lack of the former aspect amongst it's proponents...

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 01:50:00 UTC | #150169

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 10 by Steve Zara

Comment #158024 by Richard Dawkins

This is probably the post you have in mind

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 01:50:00 UTC | #150168

Jay G's Avatar Comment 12 by Jay G

The claim that Darwin's theory of evolution combined with natural selection gave us the gas chambers of the Nazis is not worthy of serious consideration.

Hatred of Jews which culminated in the Holocaust was a direct result of 1500 or more years of indoctrination BY THE CHURCH. The religious people, who supposedly believed in the Jesus as the Prince of Peace and the Son of God, fanned the fires of Jew hatred. There is a direct line that goes from the Jew-hatred printed in "Der Sturmer" to Luther's writings on the Jews, to say nothing of the writings of the Church Fathers.

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 02:01:00 UTC | #150176

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 13 by rod-the-farmer

In scrolling through some of the links in this article, I found the following

on the Scientific American web site. Not bad. Perhaps quite useful as a source most people would recognise as among the most reputable.

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 02:08:00 UTC | #150181

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 14 by Richard Dawkins

This is probably the post you have in mind

That's the one. Thank you very much Steve Zara.

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 02:11:00 UTC | #150183

Jay G's Avatar Comment 15 by Jay G

If I may ask the following question:

If Hitler's version of Evolution was bad science, why did the scientists in Nazi Germany go along with it?

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 02:16:00 UTC | #150185

Vaal's Avatar Comment 16 by Vaal

Thanks rod-the-farmer

I have bookmarked that. Looks like "expelled" is getting the reviews it deserves, although as already mentioned, it is only aimed at a target audience.

However, it has taken such a battering that it may actually be the greatest own goal that the IDiots have ever undertaken, and will be the butt of jokes for years.

Hopefully Ben Stein will be remorselessly ribbed. I am looking forward to him appearing in South Park, and other irreverent comedies.

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 02:17:00 UTC | #150186

epeeist's Avatar Comment 17 by epeeist

Comment #158058 by yussel123

If Hitler's version of Evolution was bad science, why did the scientists in Nazi Germany go along with it?
Is this a rhetorical question?

Scientists are human as well you know, so the answer is why did politicians, engineers, church goers, fisherman and any other group you can mention go along with it?

You might also ask why Lysenko was so successful in the Stalinist Soviet Union.

If you want answers to why individual scientists went along with it then you are going to have to look at the biographies and psychology of the individuals involved.

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 02:28:00 UTC | #150190

bugaboo's Avatar Comment 18 by bugaboo

"If Hitler's version of Evolution was bad science, why did the scientists in Nazi Germany go along with it? "


Thu, 10 Apr 2008 02:48:00 UTC | #150202

black wolf's Avatar Comment 19 by black wolf

Wow, that Fox review is brutal, and rightly so. It also highlights the fact that the movie is scheduled to open mainly in select rural southern theaters, where, the author suspects, the filmmakers are deliberately targeting the not-so-well-educated (gullible?, indoctrinated? - you decide) populace. Who, judging from easily discernable comments on various message boards and blogs, evidently think that an opinion on educational and science matters is what the pastor tells you to think. Any move submitting decisions on the content of any educationial cultural level, to the consciously and proudly displayed herd mentality of that flock is inevitably bound to be un-American, un-democratic and plainly a huge step backward. This must never happen. I applaud Mr. Friedman for his uncompromising and clear-thinking view.
Michael Shermer concentrates on the ID movement itself, as featured in Expelled. All I can say is, if intellectual and general dishonesty were criminal, the mindbogglingly deceitful creationism/ID folk would be stacking up life sentences by now. Shermer: "Unless God reaches into our world through natural and detectable means, he remains wholly outside the realm of science." While this is perfectly true, the creationists declare that God does influence the world, at least by fiddling people's emotions or messing around with DNA. The ID creed is:"we are science as long as we declare this to happen. just give us the money already and we'll find God's tracks for sure". Given that they've stirred the shot glass a bit and have received countless undeserved but nevertheless incredibly patient replies, they know very explicitly that that is not how science works. They know perfectly well that their definition of science would include phrenology, astrology, alchemy and so on. And they also know that real science has moved past these ideas for dozens of decades. Creationism/ID is a direct jump back into the ideological center of 18th century pseudoscience. They are stuck in their narcisstic hubris and want everybody else stuck with them.

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 03:11:00 UTC | #150217

bugaboo's Avatar Comment 20 by bugaboo

The Nazis also incorporated the weird ideas of Ernst Haekel into their "science". This guy thought that in order to investigate the evolution of life you could stop digging for fossils and look at embryonic development-recapitulation as he called it. I seem to remember that he suggested that by looking at embryos one could prove that jews were further down the evolutionary scheme than dogs. He had read Darwin but had got it totally muddled. You can still see his drawings in fairly recent school text books (1980s at least).The same books that show that famous gradation whereby on the left hand side of the page there is something that looks like a lemur, towards the right a chimp, second from right is an african man and finally a fine specimin of a white european. This was under the evolution section at the end of the textbooks. Really fucked up.

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 03:17:00 UTC | #150221

black wolf's Avatar Comment 21 by black wolf

I own a few books inherited from my grandparents from the Nazi era (auto-biography of Göring, a small book called 'Little Race Study' etc.). It is clear from those sources that the Nazis systematically replaced unwilling evolutionary biologists and countless other undesirable scientists with more incompetent pseudo-scientists. As long as someone had a high school degree and willingly followed Nazi ideology, he was in basically. They let this kind of person write an essay or two, and he was a scientist. The Nazis didn't care if their scientists produced bogus papers, just as long as they supported them. They re-wrote German history, distorted paleontology and archaeology, and they followed the same path in almost all areas of science. That's what happens when the education system gets subordinated to an unscientific and irrational ideology.

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 03:39:00 UTC | #150234

Noodly's Avatar Comment 22 by Noodly

There really is nothing more two-faced than a fundie blaming the holocaust on atheism. The one being, they believe, that could have intervened - didn't. Their god apparently kept out of it in order not to disturb our "free will". Even though god is so keen not to intevene, they spend many hours praying for such interventions - which are "always answered" in some form or other.

Catholics in particular should hang their heads in shame. The Vatican has only allowed extremely limited access to the relevant Nazi era documents and they clearly show that the Pope saw Hitler as a bulwark againt the atheist communists.

The last Pope even appointed the International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission to put the rumours to rest, but they were stonewalled when they asked to see more archive documents and a list of 47 questions remained unanswered:

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 03:55:00 UTC | #150242

Jay G's Avatar Comment 23 by Jay G

Comment #158117

You are correct. The Pope, Pius XI, made a pact with Germany because of his fear of the Communists. He never stopped to think if perhaps the cure was worse than the disease.

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 03:57:00 UTC | #150243

Darwin's badger's Avatar Comment 24 by Darwin's badger

Comment #157991 by mundusvultdecipi on April 10, 2008 at 12:02 am
I am constantly amazed that there is not more of a backlash whenever the holocaust is invoked in such a cavalier manner, is it just me or does anyone else find it incredibly offensive to play fast and loose with such an horrific historical event ? We saw it invoked again, recently, with that eccentric UK bishop who thought books critical of christianity were somehow akin to holocaust denial.

My only surprise is that Stein, Mathis et al didn't attempt to pin the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event upon Darwin somehow. After all, if he's that evil, surely he has the ability to travel in time, wreaking havoc along the way?

Bugger, I've just remembered that they don't believe in 65 million year-old dinosaurs either. That'll be why Darwin escaped. However, I did hear that his time-travelling vehicle-of-choice was a white Fiat Uno, and he had a penchant for Parisian underpasses...

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 05:02:00 UTC | #150262

discipline's Avatar Comment 25 by discipline

As I wrote in another thread, the dismissive, derisive comments about Expelled on this site and other science blogs are irrelevant. In the US, agnostics/atheists/secularists/scientists are a tiny band of underfunded eccentrics in comparison to the mind-boggling financial power of the Christian Right.

The ID movement has hit upon a brilliant PR/marketing scheme: freedom. Check out the Discovery Institute home page, with titles like these:


This is an ingenious "re-branding" of creationism and is perfectly designed to hit Americans in their sweet spot. I predict that even moderate Christians will be swayed by the "freedom" argument. These people are genius marketers. (More evidence of this is the pro-Expelled "Beware the Believers" viral video, which fooled most on this site that it was actually pro-science!)

This film is not only outrageously offensive (exploiting the Holocaust -- wow!) but it's also very, very dangerous. Mocking it in blogs is fun but we need serious, measured, detailed responses to the film in every media outlet possible. The Shermer review is the best example of this I've seen so far.

Obviously, the "god question" was solved centuries ago -- what remains is a tactical/strategic battle.

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 05:55:00 UTC | #150287

eclampusvitus's Avatar Comment 26 by eclampusvitus

Dr. D:

I don't really keep up with movies. Could that be because I live in Hollywood?

Anyway, I learned of this film here, and have kept up with its "progress". I haven't seen it yet, of course, nor will I pay to do so, but from its own website and trailer, it's obviously dishonest.

As if your books weren't enough, this website is an important source of information. It's fun, too.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.


Thu, 10 Apr 2008 05:59:00 UTC | #150291

Daniel Palmer's Avatar Comment 27 by Daniel Palmer

However, I did hear that his time-travelling vehicle-of-choice was a white Fiat Uno, and he had a penchant for Parisian underpasses...

Ooo too soon still... isn't 22.3 years before something tragic becomes funny?

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 06:00:00 UTC | #150292

Sossijj's Avatar Comment 28 by Sossijj

The Scientific American has an interesting podcast of a discussion between the editors of the magazine and Mark Mathis, the associate producer of Expelled. Here's the link:

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 06:32:00 UTC | #150305

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 29 by Dr. Strangegod

"In the US, agnostics/atheists/secularists/scientists are a tiny band of underfunded eccentrics in comparison to the mind-boggling financial power of the Christian Right."

Discipline - Wow are you wrong about that! Take a look at the ARIS survey. Or Mark Silk's books on religion and public life. Or maybe the USA Today map I've posted several times. Do a little math. Funding aside, the number of non-believers in the US is far, far larger than Evangelical Christians. Yes, they've managed to gather more money and political influence recently, but the latter is waning big time and the former, well: How many of these folks do you think are rich? Have you been to a megachurch? Non-believers do not lack numbers or money; just organization and focus. To some degree, we are all engaged in addressing that here.

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 06:45:00 UTC | #150318

Szymanowski's Avatar Comment 30 by Szymanowski

"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.

Golden. Even "epic fail" wouldn't do this justice.

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 07:26:00 UTC | #150343