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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Expelled: PZ, Darwin, and Now, Jackson Pollock

UPDATED: Richard and Greg weigh in. Richard mentions me *shimmy!* and Greg has the equivalent of the Encyclopaedia Britannica of links about Expelledgate (including my characteristically ladylike and demure THOSE FASCIST FUCKS THREW PZ OUT OF THE THEATRE RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! rant.)

I'd like to take this moment to thank those intelligent design theorists who have given me what turned out to be a shitting-bricks-but-ultimately-awesome roller coster ride.
Well, now Mark Mathis has backed off of the “PZ Myers was being disruptive” lie and has confessed to Denyse O’Leary – the biggest information leaker since Robert Philip Hanssen – that the real reason that he expelled PZ from Expelled was money, and his own pettiness.

You should know that I invited Michael shermer to a screening at NRB in Nashville. He came and is writing a review for scientific American. I banned pz because I want him to pay to see it. Nothing more.

Mark Mathis, did you think that this nitwit Denyse could keep a secret? No, Denyse goes and posts this admission on her blog for us to see. Thank you, Denyse. That is precisely how she ruined the screening of the creationist film “The Privileged Planet” at the Smithsonian, by not staying mum about how this is a stealth “documentary” for the intelligent design camp.

*We pause here for a fit of laughter*

But that’s not all, folks. The story just gets better and better. The writer of the film has weighed in at After the Bar Closes.

As I said on my blog, as a documentary filmmaker, I'm under no obligation to be objective.

*We pause here to run to the ladies' room to laugh and, er, expel at the same time!*

But that's not all. It looks like Mark Mathis is padding his audiences with his own staff.

The film was just silly, with virtually zero scientific content, which, of course, is not surprising coming from Ben Stein - a comedian, speech writer and game show host . . . but not a scientist.

I'm hopeful that anyone with the least bit of intelligence (no pun intended) will see straight through the film's hokey attempts to distract viewers from the lack of scientific credibility with appeals to their emotions - like the dark lighting, foreboding music and harsh camera angles that set the scene for Stein's interview with - dun dun dun - biologist Richard Dawkins, an avowed atheist.

Or worse, the countless images and references to Nazis that culminate in Stein dopily wandering through the Dachau concentration camp pondering the ways in which the "Darwinian gospel" was a "necessary but not sufficient condition" for the atrocities that took place there.

But the real silliness came after the credits rolled, when the audience had a chance to pose questions to Mark Mathis, the film's producer.

One woman said it was morally reprehensible to equate the death of six million Jews with Darwin. I clapped, and was astounded when nearly everyone else remained silent.

I shot my hand up to ask a question. "The intelligent design movement has gone to great lengths to argue that intelligent design is not religion, that it's science. And you made a whole film arguing that it is religious. How do they react to that?"

"Well," Mathis said, "I guess it makes them a little uncomfortable."

Some arguing ensued concerning the scientific merits of ID, and someone asked, "Where's the evidence? Where are the peer reviewed papers?" to which Mathis proudly proclaimed, "Actually, there are ten peer reviewed papers."

A guy in the front row scoffed. "Ten papers?" he asked sarcastically.

Mathis told the guy not to interrupt, and then mockingly called him "Mr Darwinist." Zing!

He began calling on others in the crowd, who asked friendlier questions. But Maggie and I quickly realised that we'd seen some of these people before - earlier that evening, in fact, working at the movie's registration table. These friendly audience members worked for the film? Had Mathis planted questioners?

People asked what they could do to help the film succeed, and a young woman in the front row inquired: "How can I pray for you and for the movie?" Mathis grew excited. "We need to start a grass roots movement!" he said, encouraging people to tell their "networks" about the movie and to get as many people as they could to go on opening weekend.

Another man in the front row wondered about the film's premise that supporters of ID are being silenced. He pointed out that a recent trial about the teaching of intelligent design held in Dover, Pennsylvania, gave supporters of intelligent design all the time in the world to make their case, but most of the 'leading lights' of ID didn't even show up.

When Mathis was responding, the guy asked another question, and the producer shot back, "How about you let me finish talking?" Then, a security guard for the film approached the calmly seated man and told him, "I may have to ask you to leave."

"Does anyone else see how ironic this is?" the guy asked.

"Shut up!" someone shouted from the back.

Now that’s what I call honesty and integrity – filling a theatre with plants who yell "Shut up!" and "Darwinist!" at anyone who asks real questions (as opposed to “How should we pray for this film’s success?”) at a film that purports to be about "free academic inquiry."

(Now, I thought it was bad when someone screamed, "Read Mein Kampf!" at me during the Q&A. "I have!" I yelled back. And I have. Whom do I sue to get that part of my life back? By the way - do you want me to name a little kampfing film that broadcasts the "news" of its "struggle" in the same manner as Hitler's ponderous, whining book? Do you? Can you guess?)

I saw this film, Expelled. The reviews are out there at Expelled Exposed, and despite my background as a movie critic myself I don’t have much to add to what has already been insightfully articulated about this astonishingly inarticulate film.

Just let me just add this comment: If the intent of Expelled was to draw a line between Darwin and Hitler, the effect was to make a film that was as banal and inartful as Hitler’s attempts to be a portrait artist. (Did you know that Hitler was a frustrated artist?) If you believe in this film and in prayer, you’d better start praying, because its specious message aside, its construction blows goats.

If the intent was for Stein to be the right-wing Michael Moore, the effect is a right-wing version of whatever ends up (mercifully) on Michael Moore’s cutting room floor. Moore is a blowhard but at least someone is keeping his ego (somewhat) in check. Not so with Stein. Expelled is a mess!

Ironically enough, on Sunday I caught the tail end of a debate between atheist Frank Zindler and conservative Jew Dennis Prager. I don’t care for these debates, but I had no idea who Prager was, and wanted to learn about him. Well, at the end he stood up and, like an old time fire-and-brimstone preacher started railing against little girls who play with trucks (moi?) and the “secularist, nihilist, Nazi-Communistist crap, like Jackson Pollock, that passes for art today – go to any gallery and see the effects of secular atheists on our culture! See the crap that passes for art today!” etc.

Well, I wasn't thrown out this time, either. I walked out. I stomped right out of there. I work in a museum dedicated to education, and the art world doesn’t deserve to be insulted by yet another cultural ignoramus who is scandalized by Haydn. (Apparently this dork who refers to evolutionary theory as a nineteenth century throwback thinks that music reached its nadir in the eighteenth century with Mozart!)

If you don’t like Pollock, or Georgia O’Keeffe, or Klimt or whoever, fine. But don’t deign to make global, purportedly “objective” statements on behalf of humanity about how this stuff is “bad” or “nihilistic” or “destructive to our youth” because you won’t take the time to at least understand it.

Don’t tell me that “atheists can’t be artists.” I am an artist. Just watch me, Bub. I’m writing a poem about what you said yesterday, Dennis Prager.

Remember, Adolph Hitler also wanted to be an artist, but wasn’t one – and his vision of National Socialist art was the kind of thing that conservative Christians would like to see: banal, safe, repetitive, derivative. Does anyone besides me see the irony of conservative Jews (Ben Stein, Dennis Prager, et al) echoing the statements of Joseph Goebbels in his speeches against "degenerate art" also known as "modern art?" Anyone? Anyone?

Um, Bueller?

This is the Alexander Calder Flamingo sculpture at the Federal Plaza as seen in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (while Ferris sings in the parade). Ferris run! Run away from the atheist, nihilistic Calder! Think of your salvation!

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Blogger Gary said...

Beautiful post Kristine!


March 24, 2008 1:41 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitur said...

Yay! First to comment. All you need to do to understand what these people are up to is to listen to what they are accusing others of doing because it is the fashion of their commentaries and debates to use projection as a means to distract an audience from questioning their motives. Accusing your opponent of what you are doing is a good way to confuse people. It turns the scrutiny from you onto them and since it is nonsensical, the audience wastes time trying to figure out what your talking about.
You can find projection right next to Strawman and Ranting on the shelf of your local right wingnut supermarket.

March 24, 2008 1:43 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitur said...

aw shucks!

March 24, 2008 1:43 PM  
Anonymous Janine said...

Goddamn the secularist, nihilist, Nazi-Communistist impressionist artist who made this piece celebrating the works of facsism.

March 24, 2008 2:41 PM  
Blogger BWE said...

You are officially my favorite blogger in the whole world.

March 24, 2008 2:46 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Well, I just took a look at your blog, BWE, and I think I’m going to have to admit my powerlessness to stop laughing. (I’m not sure which post did me in: “God busts Bush, Cheney and Condi doing coke and having a 3-way” or That’s How It Was Done.) You’re on my blogroll.

Actually, the poem I’m writing is quite a delight to me: two opponents who know each other well standing in front of a Pollock painting, with the believer, recently accused of a scandal, projecting his despair and self-disgust onto what he sees, and the atheist giving his interpretation an optimistic twist; the disgraced theist seeking condemnation from the atheist almost by rote, because that’s what he knows, and the atheist unable to condemn, and suddenly seeing a clear definition of species in his human mistake – and included is the famous Hebraic law to “show hospitality to the stranger,” which the atheist points out to the theist that he must now welcome the stranger within himself. (That’s basically what I consider modern art to be about, after all.)

I like it so far. The irony is that in art, your enemy can’t remain simply an enemy when he inspires art.

March 24, 2008 3:09 PM  
Blogger NP said...

This film will just preach to the choir. Any new "converts" so-to-speak will most likely be paranoid conspiracy-theorists, as PZ rightly said. The Hitler angle is not only false and disingenuous, but it does no justice to tragedy of the Holocaust. Comparing the supposed persecution of inept scientists or educators to genocide is absurd and the filmmakers really deserve to be taken to task on this issue.

March 24, 2008 4:24 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I've just come over here from Richard Dawkins.Net. It is great fun - discovering your site. Talking about atheist secular "art" I have composed a little piece of music about "all this". It's called : "EXPELLED - another hole in their socks." and I've posted it on a Music Myspace, created especially ofr "Fleabytes".
Yeah, well it's a long story....You can listen to this at

I've posted it in the official Myspace player, but there is a slightly better-quality mp3 in the standalone player further down the page.

March 24, 2008 4:28 PM  
Anonymous JanieBelle said...

Great post, Kristine.

I read it while in Pennsylvania, and couldn't get the computer I was borrowing to allow me to comment on Blogger blogs.

Sorry I'm late.

While you were undercover, I was flippantly cruising around the Franklin Institute and shameless gorging myself on cheesesteaks in South Philly.

I really should feel guilty...

but I don't. :)


March 24, 2008 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Marc said...

Hi Kristine,

since you mentioned the Zindler/Prager debate and your reactiont to Prager's closing comments, I thought I'd point you to Prager's recounting of this debate on his show on Monday.

One of his fans who was also at the AA conference and on Monday called in to the show and mentioned a woman storming out angrily - after reading your account I thought this might have been you.

In case you are interested, you can find it at time mark 20:10 either here at his website:

or through a direct link to the mp3 file here:

Actually, if you can stomach it, I would really recommend you listen to his whole show - think of it as an exercise in "know thy enemy".
I listen to him quite often because through him I have learned how some of the religious right think. That may seem trivil, but believe me, it isn't.

He is not a thugh and a dimb bulb like Hannity or O'Reilly - he sees himself as a big moralist. I find his elaborations quite useful to sharpen my own arguments AGAINST various form of theist nonsense.

March 24, 2008 7:03 PM  
Anonymous Marc said...

Sorry, the broken mp3-link above shoudl read:

March 24, 2008 7:04 PM  
Anonymous marc said...

Okay, I am useless. Somehow blogger always mangles the link.

Maybe this works:

March 24, 2008 7:07 PM  
Blogger BWE said...

I'm glad you liked my blog posts. They're a bit random but I enjoy making them.

My own personal favorite is

But honestly, I don't make many new posts these days. I'll try to restart for you though.

Have you read much Blake?
If you scroll down to the 4th "A Memorable Fancy" which begins:

An Angel came to me and said: 'O pitiable foolish young man! O horrible! O dreadful state! consider the hot burning dungeon thou art preparing for thyself to all eternity, to which thou art going in such career.'
I said: 'perhaps you will be willing to shew me my eternal lot & we will contemplate together upon it and see whether your lot or mine is most desirable.'

I think that is the most succinct statement I've ever seen on the question you raise in your poem.

Until your poem of course. Whatever flows from your pen is forever guided by the muse. I think Blake's daydream might serve as some background though.

March 24, 2008 9:19 PM  
Blogger BWE said...

link for the antichrist post here, hopefully not broken.

March 24, 2008 9:23 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

and mentioned a woman storming out angrily - after reading your account I thought this might have been you.

Yes, I stormed out when Prager insulted Pollock. I bet I know who the caller was - the ugly skinny guy in brown corduroy with a beard who hovered around me when I was ranting outside about Prager's Darwin to Hitler to Pollock link.

I don't know if I have the stomach for it. *Sigh* These people are prosaic dimbwits. I'll try. But to say that atheists can't be artists - I'm sorry, how much about this twit do I have to "know"? How much do I have to "know" about ugly skinny guys who show up to these events without a female partner, and apparently without a life, to cheer on some guy? Bleh. Go have sex with somebody, Mr. Brown Corduroy.

Have you read much Blake?

Of course! I adore William Blake, and John Donne, and John Milton.

March 24, 2008 11:12 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Oh, I also stormed out because he dissed girls who played with trucks. I played with cars and blocks in nursery school (yes, I remember nursery school), and I entered that play kitchen exactly once - only to turn around and leave.

I never played with the girls, but often the boys wouldn't play with me, so I built things with blocks by myself. Should I have been deprogrammed or something?

Of course not all girls are going to play with trucks and not all boys are going to play with dolls - but can't you leave the ones who do want to alone? Do you have to meddle with them, shame them? Aren't there enough people in the world who are trying to be just like other people? Does it have to be 100% conformity?

Dennis Prager went on at length about children who aren't speaking to their parents, and he thinks the proportion is larger for atheists than theists. Well, in the Galapagos I met a lot of atheists whose family cut them off, wouldn't let them see their grandchildren, wouldn't speak to them if they were female and had careers, etc., ad nauseum. If Prager is having problems with his kids (and it sounds like it), maybe he's partly responsible for driving them away?

And as for that caller, I was dressed pretty nice, and I think he was checking me out.

March 24, 2008 11:46 PM  
Blogger BWE said...

Have you read much Blake??

Of course! I adore William Blake, and John Donne, and John Milton.

I love you. Not in the scary weird kind of way, but in the I'd buy you a drink if I ever meet you and tell the dipshit who accosted you at the movie to be nice to ladies kind of way.

If you're ever in Portland look me up.

March 24, 2008 11:47 PM  
Blogger Bob O'Hara said...

Apparently this dork who refers to evolutionary theory as a nineteenth century throwback thinks that music reached its nadir in the eighteenth century with Mozart!
Whereas all cultured people know the nadir was J.S. Bach. Mozart was the start of the decline that lead to the horrors perpetrated by that vile Austrian, Johann Strauss II.

Dunno if he was a painter too.

March 25, 2008 1:29 AM  
Blogger Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Kristine, I have some more tidbits here, courtesy of a creationist who challenged me to provide evidence that Premiere Media was essentially an evangelical outfit, or one that specialized in evangelical-friendly media.

So I started digging, and I found interesting stuff, and I'm hoping that I can get others to chime in with more info about the people behind the film.

Like it says, by their fruits you shall know them.

March 25, 2008 1:33 AM  
Blogger Chris Noble said...

Did you know that Hitler was a frustrated artist?

I think you can make a strong case that art criticism rather than "Darwinism" lead to Hitler's ascendancy and the Holocaust.

I think all art critics should keep this in mind the next time that they make negative comments about some crap paintings.

March 25, 2008 1:46 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

I think the answer is the dictatorship of the artist. ;-)

March 25, 2008 6:22 PM  
Blogger NP said...

The question about why Intelligent Design advocates did not take full advantage of the Dover trial to be heard is a good one. Despite Expelled's main premise that they are being silenced, it does little to address the fact that there is no empirical evidence whatsoever that lends support to their "theory". The design argument is just animism married to sophistry. I think we'd be hard pressed to find even a proposal for a legitimate experiment that would rigorously test the existence of intelligence in evolutionary processes.

March 25, 2008 9:12 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitur said...

The Discovery institute has abandoned the strategy of legal action since Dover showed them that it won't work. They apparently do not feel this to be an effective argument for them. Instead they have moved on to a strategy they call "Teaching the Controversy". This invloves disseminating propaganda that attempts to discredit the scientific establishment by constructing relationships between a block of obstuctionists they refer to as "Darwinists" to eugenics, Atheists, Nazis and Communists. Then they claim that ID advocates are victims of an evil conspiracy. They are careful not to mention religion of any kind.

March 26, 2008 2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I were there. I caught PZ at about response 200 or so, and apparently the film was still in progress. (Mixed up on time zones.) The blog response has been awesome, and a minor result is I've bookmarked your site. Heard a lot about you before this.

Lawrence Knauss was Lawrence Krauss, right? And you'd better check the meaning of "nadir." (unless you really don't like Mozart) This disaster of a film looks like the apex of nadirs to me.

Bob Carroll

March 26, 2008 6:27 PM  
Blogger Kseniya said...

Yup Knauss = Krauss.

I believe "nadir" was being used sarcastically.

Very interesting post, Kristine. I like blogs that make me feel dumb. It's good for me. :-)

March 27, 2008 9:27 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Yup Knauss = Krauss.

Thank you. Fix'd!

I believe "nadir" was being used sarcastically.

Yes, I really do like Mozart! I'm just a little tired of him. ;-)

Don't feel dumb! It's a wonder I can spell my name after all this.

March 28, 2008 12:47 PM  
Anonymous marc buhler said...

While Ben Stein did do me the favour of putting my family name into a context which aided pronunciation, I wish he had not done this stupid film.

That being said, your post here reminded me of a moment a some years ago when, after having dated a girl for a fair while who "hated jazz" - would not listen to *any* sort of "jazz" music! - I sat down to listen to the radio late one night and it was playing that type of harsh, complex, twisted sort of jazz I could understand someone being turned off by. For a while, I made myself sit there listening as the piece went on, and realized as I listened that the style was familiar. Back in 1971 during my first year in college at Antioch in Ohio there was a visiting music teacher, Cecil Taylor, and sure enough it was one of his recordings I was listening to that night! (Sometimes you just have to stick it out to get the enjoyment from these things.)

April 06, 2008 6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the *MODEL* of mental health:

"Look at the ANGLE OF THE KEY....see that, see that...."

what an idiot this Randi is.....a REAL CRITICAL THINKER.....

for all the victims of Randi's monstrous idea.......


to see how we stopped James Randi's fraudulent MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL challenge.....

watch carefully the consequences of Randi's *idea*…..

For over 40 years James Randi Zwigert (is this even a REAL NAME?) has had total control over who and how the testing was conducted, yet despite all this he has terminated the challenge.

The ONLY REASON why the challenge was stopped is because he lost and refused to pay.

Apparently, Randi likes to break the rules when it serves him:

"14. This prize will continue to be offered until it is awarded. Upon the death of James Randi, the administration of the prize will pass into other hands, and it is intended that it continue in force. "

Great's over......


PS: Almost Forgot: Love the IRONY of the *BULLSHIT* sign over Randi's ugly head....

May 02, 2008 2:07 AM  

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