Grey Thoughts
Expelled The Movie
There is a lot of buzz in both the Intelligent Design camp and some creationist writers about a new documentary coming out next year called Expelled. The synopsis of the film is exposing the crushing of dissent in the debate over Darwinism. I've only just heard about it, and was looking forward to it providing a very public presentation of the unscientific attitude and actions of many zealous evolutionists.
From PR News Wire
Ben Stein, the lovable, monotone teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Wonder Years is on a journey to answer one of the biggest questions ever asked: Were we designed or are we simply the end result of an ancient mud puddle struck by lightning? Stein, who is also a lawyer, an economist, a former presidential speechwriter, author and social commentator, is stunned by what he finds on his journey. He discovers an elitist scientific establishment that has traded in its skepticism for dogma. But even worse, along the way, Stein uncovers a long line of biologists, astronomers, chemists and philosophers who have had their reputations destroyed and their careers ruined by a scientific establishment that allows absolutely no dissent from Charles Darwin’s theory of random mutation and natural selection.

Sounds like it would be good. But I was very disappointed to find that it seems they have interviewed some evolutionists, like PZ Myers, under false pretenses. It appears that they told Myers they were filming for a different documentary. Underhanded tactics like this are a poor way to operate, especially if you are trying to take the moral high ground (of course that never stopped Michael Moore).

P.S. At one point in his post, PZ Myers refers to the infamous Dawkins pause in the documentary 'A Frog to a Prince'.
By filming under false pretenses, much like the example of the case of Richard Dawkins' infamous "pause", they've undercut their own credibility … not that that will matter. I suspect their audience will not question whatever mangling of the video that they carry out, and the subterfuges used to make it will not be brought up.

Just to be clear. There was no mangling of video in the Richard Dawkins interview. In fact, the editors shortened Dawkins pause to 11 seconds (from 19) and then switched off the cameras to allow him to think about the answer. Then taped his answer when he said he was ready.

If you read the link above, Dawkins tries to claim this pause was due to him realizing he was duped into doing an interview with creationists as "It is the kind of question only a creationist would ask in that way". Yet, the unedited tapes show clearly that when this question was asked, Dawkins had already known he was talking to creationists and had already agreed to continue. See this timeline for the details.

Whilst the interview was probably obtained under false pretenses (I've seen nothing that actually contests that point), Richard Dawkins is not being honest about it.

Update: As PZ Meyers himself would have probably known. Ed Brayton, another strident creationist and ID critic, has posted about how Richard Dawkins recollections were flawed and there was no alterations made that cast any additional negative light on Dawkins' response.

Kudos to Ed Brayton regarding his post.
The documentary sounds very timely. It reminded me of a comment by Rodney Stark (a very respected Princeton sociologist and historian presently seeking to correct some revisionist historiography concerning both the rise of Christianity and the positive influence of Monotheism - primarily Christianity - across the centuries):

"To adequately understand the real basis of the long-standing conflict over evolution, we must see that the aggressive public certitude of Darwinians has been in almost direct proportion to the shortcomings of the theory. Problems that were obvious even to Darwin have not been overcome after more than 150 years of effort. My reluctance to pursue these matters is based on my experience that NOTHING CAUSES GREATER PANIC AMONG MANY OF MY COLLEAGUES THAN ANY CRITICISM OF EVOLUTION" (p176).

Then, in the accompanying endnote #179:
"I was advised by several colleagues that to criticize evolutionary theory would damage my 'career.' This merely hardened my resolve to suffer no more of this arrogant occultism" (p394).

If only more scholars like Stark would pluck up the courage to take on this threatening Goliath.

These excerpts were taken from the 'must-read' chapter 2 "God's Handiwork: The Religious Origins of Science" (pp. 121-199) of his 2003 book "For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts, and the End of Slavery" (Princeton University Press) ... very worth a read.
"If only more scholars like Stark," blah blah blah

If you're going to appeal to an authority, maybe you should quote a biologist, not a historian.

"Problems that were obvious even to Darwin have not been overcome after more than 150 years of effort."

This is not very specific. A Nobel Prize awaits someone who really finds something fundamentally wrong with the Modern Theory of Evolution.

"God's Handiwork: The Religious Origins..."

Sounds like a historian, not a scientist. A scientist wants reproducible results, not a history lesson about what happened hundreds of years ago.
They offer to "bribe" schools to bring their kids:

But hurry to register - there's a limited amount of bribe money. Last come - not served.
One question remains: What will happen to the credibility of Ben Stein's intelligent designer when (not if) science discovers the NATURAL processes behind abiogenesis?

This movie just reinforces the belief that the Christian god is just another god-of-the-gaps.

The movies's main argument relies on the fact that natural processes behind abiogenesis fall in CURRENT gaps of our scientific knowledge. I submit to you here that it is only a matter of time before science fills those gaps and do to Ben Stein's Intelligent Design what Darwin's theories did to Young Earth Creationism.

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