[ExI] LA Times and NY Times: Expelled
pjmanney at gmail.com
Mon Apr 21 20:20:53 UTC 2008
I had a good laugh this weekend when I saw the newspaper ads for
"Expelled". The only "critics" they could drum up to promote it were
Rush Limbaugh and a guy who works for the Washington Times, an
ultra-right wing paper owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
The whole thing just makes me want to take a shower to rid myself of the filth.
>From the Los Angeles Times
'Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed'
By Mark Olsen
Special to The Times
April 18, 2008
Someday, perhaps, it will be possible to look back on "Expelled: No
Intelligence Allowed" as a relic and reminder of the rhetorical logic
employed during the era of George W. Bush. Until then, it should be
seen simply as a tiresome ideological bludgeon, an attempt to deceive
audiences into believing it is one thing when it is, in fact, quite
Entertainer, pitchman and political commentator Ben Stein begins the
film by intoning that there is a growing conspiracy within the
academic and scientific communities blocking out proponents of
"intelligent design" as a means to explain the origins of life and
human development in favor of lock step enforcement of Darwinist
theories of evolution.
By setting the argument up in this way, one which is never fully
pursued or proven, Stein has, of course, attempted to utilize a
textbook Karl Rove-ian tactic to "reframe" the discussion, putting it
in terms by which his side seems the valiant underdog, suppressed and
belittled by its opponent, while turning notions of right and wrong,
freedom of speech and even the meaning of science upside down.
A movie review is, of course, not really the forum for debating the
ins, outs and what-have-yous of intelligent design, but it certainly
can be said here that if a film like "Expelled" is meant to be the
vanguard action for turning public opinion, the movement has a long,
long road ahead.
Directed by Nathan Frankowski and co-written by Stein and Kevin
Miller, the film follows -- gamely but charmlessly -- the Michael
Moore playbook, with its hapless everyman guide, ironic use of
antiquated educational films and even showing host and crew
half-heartedly kicked out of the Smithsonian.
The film quite pointedly never particularly makes the case for
intelligent design, also never fully explaining how the concept is
not, as its detractors would have it, simply shoehorning a space for
faith-based creationism within the boundaries of science.
All this is without even touching on the most risible sections of the
film, in which Stein visits a Nazi sanitarium and concentration camp,
attempting to draw a line from Darwin to Hitler to Stalin to (really)
In some ways, "Expelled" is itself an afterthought, a formal necessity
toward the ultimate aim of mobilizing and propagating a specific
As a work of nonfiction filmmaking it is a sham and as agitprop it is
too flimsy to strike any serious blows.
"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." MPAA rating: PG for thematic
material, some disturbing images, brief smoking. In general release.
April 18, 2008
Resentment Over Darwin Evolves Into a Documentary
By JEANNETTE CATSOULIS
Published: April 18, 2008
One of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time,
"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" is a conspiracy-theory rant
masquerading as investigative inquiry.
Positing the theory of intelligent design as a valid scientific
hypothesis, the film frames the refusal of "big science" to agree as
nothing less than an assault on free speech. Interviewees, including
the scientist Richard Sternberg, claim that questioning Darwinism led
to their expulsion from the scientific fold (the film relies
extensively on the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy — after this,
therefore because of this), while our genial audience surrogate, the
actor and multihyphenate Ben Stein, nods sympathetically. (Mr. Stein
is also a freelance columnist who writes Everybody's Business for The
New York Times.)
Prominent evolutionary biologists, like the author and Oxford
professor Richard Dawkins — accurately identified on screen as an
"atheist" — are provided solely to construct, in cleverly edited
slices, an inevitable connection between Darwinism and godlessness.
Blithely ignoring the vital distinction between social and scientific
Darwinism, the film links evolution theory to fascism (as well as
abortion, euthanasia and eugenics), shamelessly invoking the Holocaust
with black-and-white film of Nazi gas chambers and mass graves.
Every few minutes familiar — and ideologically unrelated — images
interrupt the talking heads: a fist-shaking Nikita S. Khrushchev;
Charlton Heston being subdued by a water hose in "Planet of the Apes."
This is not argument, it's circus, a distraction from the film's
contempt for precision and intellectual rigor. This goes further than
a willful misunderstanding of the scientific method. The film
suggests, for example, that Dr. Sternberg lost his job at the
Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History because of
intellectual discrimination but neglects to inform us that he was
actually not an employee but rather an unpaid research associate who
had completed his three-year term.
Mixing physical apples and metaphysical oranges at every turn
"Expelled" is an unprincipled propaganda piece that insults believers
and nonbelievers alike. In its fudging, eliding and refusal to define
terms, the movie proves that the only expulsion here is of reason
"Expelled" is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). It has smoking
guns and drunken logic.
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