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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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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.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Two "Expelled" Reviews

(Image courtesy of midwifetoad)

Josh Timonen's review is up - he let me see the draft and add my two cents. Thanks, Josh! I pulled out two things that Josh discusses that particularly bothered me in the film:

They interview someone else about evolution, who mentions that science doesn't know how life began. So the film shifts to discussing the origin of life on earth. Philosopher Michael Ruse mentions the theory that organic life piggybacked on crystalline structures (Richard writes more about this in his review). Stein takes the opportunity to ridicule the idea: "Crystals!? On the backs of CRYSTALS!?" The film cuts to B&W video of creepy fortunetellers hunching over crystal balls. Stein's only desire is to oversimplify the theory and make fun of it.

The film mentions the Miller-Urey experiments (I'm pretty sure these were the experiments referred to in the film) done on the mixture of elements likely to have been around at the dawn of life. Stein's voiceover merely states that these experiments were done to replicate the origin of life, and that "Nothing happened" (there is more to this story, of course). Boy, those stupid scientists should have known then and there that they were way off track!

Josh does a masterful job of wading through a film that expels insult upon insult on one's intelligence, and this was more work than I wanted to do on this awful film. I'm not getting paid for this. I've gotten paid for reviewing books/films that I thought were hideous that, as it turns out, were all better than this.

Also, Rev. Barking Nonsequitur also reviews the film. It's interesting that Josh mentions the inferior sound of the film (too much "gain"), because during the screening Rev. Barky, also a sound guy, leaned over to me and said, "The sound is terrible." I couldn't tell.

The film was trying to be a Michael Moore documentary about people being persecuted because they chose to mention the word "ID" but with Ben Stein - who is really not very pleasant to look at. He looks like an emotionless basset hound and his eyes seem to be exuding a viscous fluid much of the time. Of course he comes off very smug all through the film which is interspersed with interviews of supposed victims of the elitist Nazi science academia establishment. Of course when they are interviewing the "evil" people like PZ and Dawkins, there were lots of footage of Nazi and Communist rallies, death camp scenes and retarded people making fools of themselves underscored with malevolent or dopey music to set the mood.

I really enjoyed the point that Richard Dawkins made about the film's technique:

Now, to the film itself. What a shoddy, second-rate piece of work. A favourite joke among the film-making community is the 'Lord Privy Seal'. Amateurs and novices in the making of documentaries can't resist illustrating every significant word in the commentary by cutting to a picture of it. The Lord Privy Seal is an antiquated title in Britain's heraldic tradition. The joke imagines a low-grade film director who illustrates it by cutting to a picture of a Lord, then a privy, and then a seal. Mathis' film is positively barking with Lord Privy Seals. We get an otherwise pointless cut to Nikita Krushchev hammering the table (to illustrate something like 'emotional outburst'). There are similarly clunking and artless cuts to a guillotine, fist fights, and above all to the Berlin wall and Nazi gas chambers and concentration camps.

Now you begin to get an idea of how bad this film is, aside from its message. Ben Stein should go to the privy to expel whatever it is that he ate for dinner that is giving him nightmares about Hitler, and go back to bed. Spare us all his personal hang-ups.

UPDATED: I’ve been asking myself why I have not found much to say about the content of Expelled. I guess it is because I am so flummoxed by this film’s request that I laugh at its incredibly puerile use of stock footage “asides” of people hitting each other, Krushchev pounding a table, things blowing up in a lab, etc. Its humor is on or below the level of the Three Stooges, and I never liked them. As I said, take Michael Moore’s worst moments and string them into a full-length film…

But there’s something else. This film is empty. It is devoid of content – everything is chopped up, including the interviews of the intelligent design theorists. Even they get short (very short) shrift.
When I saw how bad this film was, I was relieved – but I’m still stunned at how incredibly artless this film is. What is there for me to say? Perhaps this was how (since Godwin’s Law has been trashed by now) Hitler’s art teachers felt when they saw the future Fuehrer’s talentless art.
UPDATED: More reviews.
And Julia Sweeney weighs in.
Ben Stein and the producers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed held a press conference. But hardly any questions were allowed.

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Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitur said...

To be fair, the technical problems were most likely due to the playback setup. Mathis mentioned something about it being played back off a laptop through a system designed for film projection and that it might be a bit dark. But then he said that they got thinks worked out and that it should play back "beautifully" in the theater - well, it didn't. It was very dark in parts and the sound was pretty bad. If you try to play your laptop into a piece of audio gear at full volume, you may overload the inputs and it will be distorted. You usually have to tweak things a bit to find levels that will work ok.
From a technical standpoint the film looks like it was produced by professionals even though the creative elements seem to have been done by church ladies.

March 26, 2008 9:54 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

It would be interesting to survey sympathetic moviegoers to see what they remember about this film. “Well, scientists are being expelled for saying God created the universe, and evolution leads to Hitler.” “Who was expelled?” “Well, I can’t remember their names. Richard Dawkins is in it, though.” It’s been fifteen years, and still the average person doesn’t know who Dembski, Behe, Meyer, Wells, or Berlinski are. :-) And fifteen years from now, the average person still won’t know who they are because these people really have nothing to show for themselves.

March 26, 2008 11:41 AM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitur said...

More reviews from the faithful:

"The sound was awesome - better than the amazing new Bose "Wave" sound system and the movie was so bright I thought my life was passing in front of my eyes."

"Surely God has a hand in making this miraculous film - its better than The Bible."

"I want To have hot monkey sex with Ben Stein and bear his man-child"

"Those horrible Atheists I saw at the theater had fangs and horns and claws for hands - I saw it with my own eyes!"

"My beautiful children may be delusional and ignorant after seeing this movie but at least they will have a better chanced at being raptured - which is going to happen really really soon! - hello? - anyone?"

"I read "Mein Kampf" and I smell my own farts."

March 26, 2008 12:03 PM  
Blogger Hipple, Rev. Paul T. said...

It may interest you to know that some Christians are beginning to question whether Speechwriter, Economist, Actor Ben Stein is as fully committed to Conservative (Republican) Christian (Economic) Values as he pretends in that film.
Award winning interblogger
(too numerous to mention)

March 26, 2008 12:51 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitur said...

I think Stein did this film mostly for the exposure - he's a ham and I think he likes the idea of being the Conservative Michael Moore. After watching the movie, I felt that the producers made the film more extreme than Stein would have been comfortable with - the endless images pitching scientists as Nazis and Communists drove home this point when later in the film Stein points out that he doesn't think that scientists are responsible for the holocaust - but the producers seem to. Stein is a Jew so his visits to the concentration camp museums seem appropriate, but ID is a product of Christian Dominionist ideology - a view that Christians alone should govern civil society according to Biblical law. So it seems inconsistent that one who identifies as a Jew should be an apologist for folks who believe in a "second coming".

March 26, 2008 1:40 PM  
Blogger Spirula said...

Sounds like Mathis may be wishing he'd taken the "Alan Smythee" route.

March 26, 2008 5:15 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Well, unfortunately for him, Hollywood discontinued that after Eric Idle made a film in which he is a director whose name is Alan Smythee. :)

March 27, 2008 9:03 AM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitur said...

The first known movie to use the Smithee pseudonym was Death of a Gunfighter (1969). During its filming, Richard Widmark was unhappy with director Robert Totten. He arranged to have Totten replaced by Don Siegel. When the film was finished, neither Totten nor Siegel wanted to be credited with the result. Richard Widmark just died a few days ago.

March 27, 2008 9:33 AM  
Blogger freelunch said...

Luckily for the reality-based community, the anti-science crowd doesn't have a Leni Riefenstahl working to further the cause.

Some, such as Phil Johnson, may have been brilliant in their own field, but are completely out of their depth when it comes to discussing science, or understanding what science professors are expected to do.

March 27, 2008 2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should point out that my 'why it's a load of bunk' entry is not so much a review of the film itself (I have not yet seen it - I doubt it will ever make it to Australia) but more a critical examination of the tactics, which range from the intellectually lazy to outright dishonest, used to make the film.

Of course, it doesn't in any way lessen how horrible the film itself is. Heh.

March 27, 2008 9:04 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitur said...

The one good thing about seeing the film (through a critical lens)is that if you are unclear about what the Discovery Institute is trying to do, it unveils their message and strategy. ID itself is not explained at all, but it is used as a football in a game of "tear down the establishment".

March 28, 2008 10:52 AM  
Blogger Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Now appearing at talk shows near you!

March 29, 2008 12:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ID itself is not explained at all, but it is used as a football in a game of "tear down the establishment".

For them, it's more effective to act as if ID were something well-known and accepted, rather than implicitly cast doubt on it by arguing for it.

March 29, 2008 4:31 PM  
Blogger Peter L. Winkler said...

"It is devoid of content."

Do you know how apt you are? George Gilder, himself a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, said, "Intelligent design has no content."

March 29, 2008 5:07 PM  
Blogger breakerslion said...

And now, my review of this movie, sight-unseen.

"Now who can tell me why anyone should listen to a has-been lawyer and one-note character actor on the topic of biological reality? Anyone? Beuler? ... Jesus? ... Santa? ... Dr. Dino? Dr. Fine? Dr. Howard?"

"For Duty and Humantiy! Whoop whoop whoop-whoop-whoop!"

March 29, 2008 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder, would a public school teacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, be allowed to say the following:

"It is interesting to contemplate ... [all the many forms of life on earth] ... so different from each other, have all been produced by laws acting around us. ... There is grandeur in this view of life, HAVING BEEN ORIGINALLY BREATHED BY THE CREATOR INTO A FEW FORMS OR INTO ONE; and that from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."

Just imagine a public school teacher who says those words: that God creates life and places it on the earth in a few forms, and then that life evolves according to the physical and natural laws that God put into place in the universe.

Would that be allowed?


Why? Because the quote is from: On the Origin of the Species, Chapter XV, Recapitulation and Conclusion, By Charles Darwin.

If you are going to teach Darwin's theory of evolution in public schools, you should teach what Darwin actually wrote about it.


If you believe in God, you really have only two choices:

1. God created all life on earth like a carnival magician, or the Amazing Kreskin: a wave of the hands and poof! there was life. That's Creationism. (I dont believe God does his handiwork like a second rate magician.)


2. God created all the processes, chemistry, mathematics, and physical laws that govern the universe with an end in mind - the creation of life. It's a belief in God as powerful and intelligent on a grand scale. In this belief, evolution IS intelligent design. Evolution is not random, though it may have random elements. The goal was to create man.

Doesn't all of science - everything we have learned so far - leads us to this view? It is not an incompatible view. I recall that AT&T/Bell Labs scientists won the Nobel Prize for "hearing" the remaining noise of the Big Bang - the origin of the Universe. But what the scientists couldn't tell us - and no scientist can yet tell us - is where did the original matter come from, and how did life get breathed into it?

Einstein proved that space and time are related, and postulated that the Universe is expanding, but finite. What is beyond the finite universe?

I am an engineer by training, and have always enjoyed science and scientific inquiry. I believe that scientific inquiry only leads to one thing: the discovery and understanding of the rules of the Universe - the rules that God created, the way God decided the Universe would work.

Year by year, decade by decade, and century by century, we discover and understand more of God's "scientific" design of the Universe. His "rules."

That leaves us with one really important question: Why?

And THAT is the right question.

Michael S. Class

Anthony and the Magic Picture Frame: The History Book with a Message for Today's Young Americans

Read the book. Remember the truth. Share it with your children.

Web Site:


April 09, 2008 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Imagine - a bunch of Kool-Aid Darwinists giving the movie a bad review. I'm just a stupid creationist and I could see that one coming from a mile away.

If the movie is bad, I want to know. What I don't care anything about is this whole, "the movie is bad because I disagree with it."

And creationists aren't as bad about that kind of thing as you guys are (of course, you all want to be Richard Dawkins so bad you can't stand it, so why should I expect any kind of civility in a movie review about ID).

I'm no global warming nut, but I watched Al Gore's film. As much as I disagreed, I was still intellectually honest enough to say it was a compelling piece of cinema.

So is the movie bad because its bad? Or is is bad because it doesn't promote your view? There is a difference and maybe you'll evolve enough to figure it out one day.

Sorry for the terse presentation, but you guys are the one's setting the tone for the conversation these days. I feel like every time I listen to an evolutionist, I am hearing a bad Dawkins/Harris/Hitchens impression.

April 17, 2008 4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who cling to the big bang theory are the same as those who cling to their faith in God. Both believe they are right, and both make their assumptions based on their beliefs and pre-existing world view. However, it is impossible for an atheist to admit to the plausibility of intelligent design because then there must be an intelligent designer. It is not impossible for a person who believes in God to accept parts of evolutionary theory. Like a previous poster pointed out, the two are NOT mutually exclusive. The problem with what is happening in our schools, is that a THEORY is being tauted alone, paramount to fact. Completely ignoring ID is like ignoring the subject of Christ in studying world history, it is laughable at best. Whether it makes you happy or not, it is part of history. You can discuss various viewpoints and that is fair. But it does not seem to matter to Darwinists to be fair. And Darwin has not lead to all good my friends. When Linneaus began cataloging all the different species and genus he came up with names of all the things on earth, he used social darwinism to purport the belief that caucasians were the superior race. This allowed people to scientifically "prove" that African people were not really people and that they were meant for slave work. Because they were not as "evolved". I agree that Darwinism when carried to the extreme can be a dangerous thing. it already has been. The associations with Hitler stem from Nietzche and a belief in social darwinism.

April 18, 2008 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you arguing against Darwinism or Social Darwinism? Evolutionary theory is a wonderful way to explain the diversity of life and a terrible way to run a country. Even your arch-nemesis Richard Dawkins will tell you that.

Scientists understand and teach how a bee colony works, but I have heard no one propose we should all follow the bees' example.

Science is science. It is not religion or philosophy. That doesn't mean some scientists are not religious or philisophical. It just means when they are, they are no longer being scientists. There is no implied morality or immorality in evolutionary theory.

Just because the world IS this way, doesn't mean it OUGHT to be this way. This would be why many scientists try to preserve species that are on the verge of extinction. How un-Darwinian of them!

April 20, 2008 9:02 AM  
Blogger LosingMyReligion said...

I wonder, do we cling to the big bang theory because we are bitter about losing our indutrialized jobs to globalization?


April 20, 2008 9:09 AM  
Blogger LosingMyReligion said...

industrialized - sorry -

Kids, always use 'preview post' when your typing skills are as pittiful as mine...

April 20, 2008 9:16 AM  
Anonymous Bones said...

One comment I haven't heard on this film: while the film itself is almost devoid of facts, their website is also devoid of facts. There's no information about the "expelled", and no information on ID, either.

The lack of rigor of this movie is demonstrated by the website . It actually discusses the "expelled" individuals from the film; there is no mention on the site.

Any complete review of this film should mention their categorical failure to back up the claims of the film on their website.

April 21, 2008 1:10 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

I feel like every time I listen to an evolutionist, I am hearing a bad Dawkins/Harris/Hitchens impression.


I guess you can just go listen to yourself from now on, huh?

Yeah, what do I know. I only used to get paid to review films myself.

I don't need a quote-mine backed up with some clip from a B-movie, underscored with cheery (or ominous) music, thanks. I'm not 5 years old - the apparent target audience for this film. Some of us "Kool-aid" drinkers as you put it are really drinking whiskey, but you wouldn't know that.

If you were paying any attention to this blog, I note that this film is so bad, it gives the creationists themselves short shrift in the interviews. I know who they are, but if the audience doesn't already know, the talking heads run into each other, and the captions indicating their names and institutions aren't repeated. I also said at AtBC that if this style of film had been made to promote the theory of evolution, I would have been very angry.

That's shitty filmmaking.

April 21, 2008 11:47 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

People who cling to the big bang theory are the same as those who cling to their faith in God.

Um, I hate to burst your bubble, but I don't necessarily "believe" in the Big Bang. Here's an interesting book that I recommend:

The Big Bang Never Happened. And this guy does not believe in God, either.

There's no point in "believing" anything when you don't know everything. I don't "believe" in much - I accept some explanations as more likely (often far more likely than others). An adult accepts that much of life is uncertain, and deals with that. I am not a young girl (as some of the trolls who come here will remind you) and I've found that the more "beliefs" you have, the less able you are to travel, experience different cultures, or handle the unknown.

I handle the unknown very well - in fact I thrive on it. So don't ever label me, honey. I will always surprise you, because I'm part of the unknown.

April 21, 2008 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually agree about -some- of the directing tactics, noteably cuts to shots of people hitting each other or pounding on decks or the crystal ball shot. Those seemed very underhanded and an attempt to undermine or make laughable another view or disparage someone else's character -and that is bad directing.

The shots of the wall or the sequence about how ideas go through the various checkpoints to the people - I thought those were quite apt.

Because the movie was not supposed to be about whether ID or darwinian evolution is true, but the wall between them.

As early as third grade I had a teacher accuse me of 'trying to bring God into the discussion' and hold me after class when I asked 'where the matter in the sky came from' while she was teaching on darwinian evolution. I told her then that I had no such intention, I was merely curious because no teacher had ever answered the question. (As to where the first particle or energy came from)In our private meeting later, she broke down crying and told me not to ask such provocative questions because she would *lose her job* if she taught on anything that could possibly be construed as pointing 'to God'.

Funny - answering a valid scientific inquiry automatically equates to God?

The pattern was repeated through middle school, high school, and college. Dissent was not allowed from the text book or curriculum if one wanted a good grade, even if contrary proof or scientific studies were shown. Even when I showed that the textbooks were out of date the teachers claimed it was ok to teach from things that had been accepted as wrong even by evolutionists because the basic theory was just as 'true as gravity'. I could go on and on, but Expelled makes a very important point...

Students are *indoctrinated* in the worldview of evolution. (And one can hardly call it a valid scientific theory in regards to origins either, considering it is neither observable, falsifiable, or replicatable. One can use it as a worldview to come up with hypothesis to test things now - but darwinian evolution itself is not a valid scientific hypothesis by the definition of the term - its a worldview just as much as Intelligent Design or creationism or theistic evolution.)

I am rather glad the movie was made, if it at least will get discussion going. I hated that valid scientific questions were never allowed in the classroom if they challenged darwinian thought because of the circular reasoning that 'darwinian evolution must be true, so therefore any competing view must be unscientific'.

April 22, 2008 1:42 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Oh, baloney about the "indoctrination" into an "evolutionist worldview." There's no such thing.

You want "valid scientific arguments that challenge Darwinian thought"? ("Darwinian" meaning natural selection, and not the prejorative, quasi-ethnic hate term that the ID coined it to be.)

There's Lynn Margulis's Endosymbiotic Theory.

There's the neutral theory, explained to me by Dawkins himself (the first time I had heard of it).

There's sexual selection.

There. Teach those to schoolkids if you want. You're going to find that these still need a firm grounding in mainstream evolutionary theory. The rest has no evidence to back it up and it does not belong in school.

Bioethicist Art Caplan calls Expelled "immoral". Think I'm cranky? He says:

"To lay blame for the Holocaust upon Charles Darwin is to engage in a form of Holocaust denial that should forever make Ben Stein the subject of scorn not because of his nudnik concern that evolution somehow undermines morality but because in this contemptible movie he is willing to subvert the key reason why the Holocaust took place — racism — to serve his own ideological end. Expelled indeed. "


You want controversy? Larry Moran and Richard Dawkins disagree about the nature of evolution - whether it is mostly random, or mostly nonrandom. Since Dawkins will admit some "directed" (not God-directed) mechanisms, Moran chewed him out - and this after Stephen Jay Gould also lambasted Dawkins for placing too much emphasis on natural selection.

We don't need phony controversies. Let's talk about real things when we're talking about science.

I learned mostly about Mendalian heredity in junior high. Are you against that, too?

April 22, 2008 7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mendel's tests were observable, replicatable, and were falsifiable. (There was the possibility of his hypothesis being wrong depending on observed outcome) This is valid science.

Macro-evolution can hardly make the same claims. (We do not see it, we cannot replicate it, and it is not falsifiable since it is assumed to be true regardless of observed outcome) Neither can any theory regarding the origin of man be observed or replicated or indeed falsified, since invariably every origin theory makes at least one assumption. *None* of those are valid scientific theories. So if one is going to say 'bad science!' for one, they need to use the same ruler for all.

April 22, 2008 8:34 PM  
Anonymous gw said...

You define your mission as s "Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance." Yet your Darwinian views are as mainline and predictable as dirt.

Scientific "consensus" has ALWAYS tried to quash the introduction of new theories, often to the point of persecuting scientists who challenge the consensus. The comparisons Stein makes to Nazi rule are on the money. But these attempts at scientific genocide will fail. Today, we know the names of Ignaz Semmelweis and Joseph Lister, for example, even though they went against "consensus." Semmelweis' persecution was extreme because his politics were also "incorrect."
Hmmm. Strangely familiar.

I would challenge you: rather than mocking the lack of artistry of the film, or making lame comments regarding the stupidity of ID proponents, to honestly take on the scientific arguments people like Behe and Dembski make. You must be afraid and/or unable to do so, or you would have by now...

April 23, 2008 5:48 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

You must be afraid and/or unable to do so, or you would have by now...

You should read the rest of my blog before making that ignorant and arrogant statement. So, you want another “Darwinian” to “challenge” the mainline and predictable as dirt so-called ID theories? You got it, baby.

You set them up and I’ll knock them down. This is fun.

Behe: The bacterial flagellum is not “irreducibly complex.” Behe came to the Univeristy of Minnesota to give a speech and I was there. When confronted by PZ Myers and another U of M scientist, the “great” Michael Behe backed off of his stance and admitted that the bacterial flagellum had an earlier use as a secretory mechanism. Then he redefined intelligent design (as he continually does) to fit his sudden acknowledgement of the evolutionary history of the flagellum.

So much for irreducible complexity! You should read his “expert testimony” at the Dover trial, too. That man redefined intelligent design to the point that I expected him to say it was random mutation plus natural selection.

Irredible complexity is a semantic shell game. So is "specified complexity" (aka complex specified information, or CSI) and Dembski’s “math.” Are you so credulous and/or innumerate that you cannot see that Dembski’s numbers do not add up?

Dembski claims that one can rigorously apply No Free Lunch theorems but cannot rigorously apply them in his own works, and in addition he misrepresents the work and results of others, particularly Orgel’s definition of “specified complexity” to distinguish what we call living obejct from what we define as inorganic. Dembski mixes precise scientific terms with natural language to confuse already confused people like you.

Complex specified information, as Orgel defined specified complexity, is precisely what evolution creates – Dembski says it can’t because he says it can’t. Wow, big deal. Who is this William Dembksi to make these proclamations? Apparently they impress you. They don’t impress people who know their stuff.

Natural selection is a branching function, not a smooth function as Dembski claims in his book to prove that no new information can be generated by natural selection. And as a staticician, he sucks! For pity’s sake, he claims that the universally upward bound for evolution-generated patterns, like the flagellum (which he asserts must arise completely by random, which is just stupid!) is 10 to the 150th power – yet if you toss a coin in the air 1000 times and record heads or tails each time, the likelihood of it being heads on, say, the 998 time is 10 to the 300th power! Is he nuts? Who is Dembski trying to kid? People like you, apparently.

Interestingly, Dembski’s Explanatory Filter could be used for scientific purposes – to help distinguish intentionality versus nonintentionality in living things (i.e., animals), but Dembski, along with the rest of the intelligent design crowd, shows no interest in the only testable hypothesis/method that intelligent design has produced, because it would fit very well into the framework of evolutionary theory.

Hey, maybe when I get out of grad school I’ll take his EF and run with it? I’m not a biologist, but I am moving in the area of information science (not information theory, although that interests me too) and how evolutionary patterns affect information-gathering in humans. I think it’s a small step to use Dembski’s EF in this area and see if it yields anything worthwhile. Does that sound “scared and incapable” enough to you?

Had enough? Can I go to work now? I have a job. (Do you?)

And don’t try that reverse-pop-psychology “You sound just like all the others” on me again. You’re here because of the same reason the other creationists are, to talk to a Real Belly Dancer. Naturally you think I can’t argue at this level. I’m used to those insults, and your little trick is not going to work on me.

Anyone who thinks I’m “just like the others” deserve the shock I eventually give them.

By the way – do you know that I challenged William Dembski to a bet? He made the reckless statement on a radio show that intelligent design would replace evolutionary theory in fifteen years (this was before his even more reckless 10-year prediction). I e-mailed him and challenged him to a bet. He was intitially interested, but after seeing my terms, he never responded again.

Very scientific.

You’ll be reading my research someday, anonymous, and your ID heroes will slip from history’s view. Bye, now.

April 24, 2008 9:17 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

But by all means, follow the piper who implies that, “God keeps the planets from falling down” (falling down to what, pray tell?) if you want to. Follow a man who lies to you. Sternberg never “lost his job.”

Sometimes I think we should just let the ID advocates have this country. Yeah, let’s have some good old “Goddidit” at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Katrina will pale in comparison to that tragedy, but since people are so angry at the science that has saved their lives, maybe they should get what they want. I've got mine - I know how to take care of myself, and frankly I’m sick of being treated like shit for being intelligent and inquiring “just like all the others.”

Oh yeah, small town provincialism was a real bastion of individuality, I tell you. They didn’t like me there, either. A girl being smart? It was like I had a disease, so don't ever accuse me of “being like all the others” because the one consistent criticism I have gotten all my life was that I was “not like the others” - they wanted me to be boy-crazy and in trouble (so they could “save” me), not a low-maintenance bookworm who was never a discipline problem and was always on the honor roll.

So be happy, maybe you’ll get what you want. It's certainly my goal to beat it out of this country before I retire, and being in my forties, I'm beginning to worry about how this politically conservative nation treats older people (rather like the Darwinian horror that Stein describes) in comparison to atheistic Europe. But just remember what Eric Hoffer said: “Those who bite the hand that feeds them will usually lick the boot that kicks them.”

April 24, 2008 9:56 AM  
Anonymous missouri said...

Cheer up, Kristine - Yoko is suing Expelled's producers.

Another woman they underestimated.

April 24, 2008 10:21 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Now it's my turn to ask the questions, Anonymous.

I posted this at AtBC: A Mathematical Theory of Citing, by Mikhail V. Simkin and Vwani P. Roychowdhury. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(11): 1661-1673, 2007.

You can read the whole thing here. (I have a subscription to JASIST.)

I'm in the midst of finals and haven't been able to work through the entire model yet. Maybe you can. It proposes a "Darwinian fitness" parameter for the citation of scientific papers (and for the sudden "resurrection" of old ones.) This is information science, my field, and it also makes use of evolutionary theory! Does intelligent design offer something better? After all, the scientists citing these papers are "intelligent agents" are they not? (Or are they? Maybe we should study how Ben Stein cites papers. I am certainly working on researching how ID theorists cite. It could prove enlightening.)

April 24, 2008 11:47 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Cheer up, Kristine - Yoko is suing Expelled's producers.

Yoko Ono is the one person who could make me come down on the side of the producers of Expelled! (Another reason for me to not like her.)

1. Yoko Ono is majorly annoying.
2. She has a case - only because copyright laws are patently absurd in this country.
3. I hear the song "Imagine" one more time, I'm never going to stop puking!

Here's a real conspiracy: the reason that copyright has been extended from 50 to 75 years or whatever it is, is due to Walt Disney. Mickey Mouse was about the enter the public domain. Can't have that!

So yes, Yoko has a good case, but no, I'm actually not happy about it. Copyright laws need to be changed in this country, no matter who makes a film.

April 24, 2008 3:59 PM  
Blogger Amonite said...

One could theorize the reason the repitition of citing a source does not always exponentially grow is because other factors come into play. Writers can think for themselves, for one. When I am writing a paper, I do not just randomly pick out papers to cite. I look intentionally for papers, old and new, dealing with the topic at hand. Now, if a topic/article has had articles that have subsequently refuted it to the point where it is too easily argued against, I will not quote from it. Otherwise, the age of an article does not matter to me, except that I do try to incorporate a lot of recent citations in my work as well.

Now, where the model does make sense is that I *do* look at the references of a source I am looking at. They become quite invaluable, as it is often hard to find written sources or know about obscure texts in this internet age, so I will often look through the references of a source and if I find that indeed one is relevant and useful to me, I will include it as well. More often than not, however, these tend to be found from older sources.

There is very little need for me to go reference hunting from newer sources, since anything I need can usually be found online or a reference to where to find it online.

The point of that is - my choices are not completely random, like I drew citations out of a hat just because they were on a list. Statistically, it might appear people are doing so because invariably topics will cross over and relate to each other if they share common elements.

Another point is, media plays a huge role. A huge point in the movie Expelled was that there is a bias in the scientific community that includes the media.

Now, if the scientific community were frowning on certain articles or schools of thought, invariably those articles *would* go to the bottom of the heap as scientists would take a greater risk to cite from them.

Also, some articles stop in growth because of change in thought, new discoveries, or simply that there are better articles written. But throughout history, there has always been a tendency that the prevailing scientific thought gets the biggest voice. (Earth the center of the universe, etc)

April 26, 2008 12:17 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

I found the “random” citing of papers problematic as well – I wonder if scientists actually pick papers from random and cite them. This was actually the sequel to another paper, which I have not read yet.

Expelled is problematic in that it frames its discussion in terms of “free speech,” then knocks down anything other than intelligent design, which it defines as “God created the universe” in violation of the Discovery Institute’s “no-it-could-also-be-aliens-or-a-time-traveling-biologist” feint. But not to worry, it looks like the film is tanking anyway.

I’d love to see a Weismanesque, cinema verite documentary of some of those science conferences. If people think that scientists march in lockstep and never question natural selection, they’re in for a big surprise.

April 28, 2008 9:14 AM  
Blogger Ojalanpoika said...

Ben(jamin) Stein is under heavy artillery for 'exaggerating' or 'going easy' on the influence of evolutionism behind Nazism and Stalinism (super evolution of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Russia). But the monstrous Haeckelian type of vulgar evolutionism drove not only the 'Politics-is-applied-biology' Nazi takeover in the continental Europe, but even the nationalistic collision at the World War I. It was Charles Darwin himself, who praised and raised the monstrous German Ernst Haeckel with his still recycled embryo drawing frauds etc. in the spotlight as the greatest authority in the field of human evolution, even in the preface to his Descent of man in 1871. If Thomas Henry Huxley with his concept of 'agnostism' was Darwins bulldog in England, Haeckel was his Rotweiler in Germany.

'Kampf' was a direct translation of 'struggle' from On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859). Seinen Kampf. His application.

Catch 22: Haeckel's 140 years old fake embryo drawings have been mindlessly recycled for the 'public understanding of science' (PUS) in most biology text books until this millennium. Despite factum est that Haeckel's crackpot raging Recapitulation/Biogenetic Law and functioning gill slits of human embryos have been at the ethical tangent race hygiene/eugenics/genocide, infanticide, and Freudian psychoanalysis (subconscious atavisms). Dawkins is the Oxford professor for PUS - and should gather the courage of Stephen Jay Gould who could feel ashamed about it.

Some edited quotes from my conference posters and articles defended and published in the field of bioethics and history of biology (and underline/edit them a 'bit'):

The marriage laws were once erected not only in the Nazi Germany but also in the multicultural states of America upon the speculation that the mulatto was a relatively sterile and shortlived hybrid. The absence of blood transfusion between "white" and "colored races" was self evident.

The first law on sterilization in US had been established in 1907 in Indiana, and 23 similar laws had been passed in 15 States and sterilization was practiced in 124 institutions in 1921 (these were the times of IQ-tests under Gould's scrutiny in his Mismeasure of Man in 1981). By 1931 thirty states had passed sterization laws in the US. Typically, the operations hit blacks the most in the US, poor women in the Europe, and often the victims were never even told they had been sterilized.

Mendelism outweighed recapitulation (embryos climbing up their evolutionary tree through fish-, amphibian- and reptilian stages), but that merely smoothened the way for the brutal 1930’s biolegislation - that quickly penetrated practically all Western countries. The laws were copied from country to country. The A-B-O blood groups, haemophilia, eye colours etc. were found to be inherited in a Mendelian fashion by 1910. So also the complex traits and social (mis)behaviour such as alcoholism, schizophrenia, manic depression, criminality, rebelliousness, artistic sense, pauperism, racial differences, inherited scholarship (and its converse, feeble-mindedness) were all thought to be determined by one or two genes. Mendelism was "experimental" and quantitative, and its exaggeration outweighed the more cautious biometry operating on smaller variations, not discontinuous leaps. Its advocates boldly claimed that these problems could be done away within a few generations through selection, persisted (although most biologists must have known that defective genes could not be eliminated, even with the most intense forced sterilizations and marriage restrictions due to recessive genes and synergism. Nevertheless, these laws were held until 1970's and were typically changed only when the abortion legislation were released (1973).

So the American laws were pioneering endeavours. In Europe Denmark passed the first sterilization legislation in Europe (1929). Denmark was followed by Switzerland, Germany that had felt to the hands of Hitler and Gobineu, and other Nordic countries: Norway (1934), Sweden (1935), Finland (1935), and Iceland (1938 ). Seldom is it mentioned in the popular media, that the first outright race biological institution in the world was not established in Germany but in 1921 in Uppsala, Sweden. (I am not aware of the ethymology of the 'Up' of the ancient city from Plinius' Ultima Thule, or the secret organ Thule Gesellschaft that introduced Adolf, however.) In 1907 the Society for Racial Hygiene in Germany had changed its name to the Internationale Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene, and in 1910 Swedish Society for Eugenics (Sällskap för Rashygien) had become its first foreign affiliate. Today, Swedish state church is definitely the most liberal in the face of the world.

Hitler's formulation of the differences between the human races was affected by the brilliant sky-blue eyed Ernst Haeckel, praised and raised by Darwin. At the top of the unilinear progression were usually the "Nordics", a tall race of blue-eyed blonds. Haeckel's position on the 'Judenfrage' was assimilation and Expelled-command from their university chairs, not yet an open elimination. But was it different only in degree, rather than kind?

In 1917 the immigration of "defective" groups was forbidden even in the United States by a law. In 1921 the European immigration was diminished to 3% based on the 1910 census. Eventually, in the strategical year of 1924 the finest hour of eugenics had come and the fatal law was passed by Congress. It diminished immigration to 2% of the foreign-born from each country based on the 1890 census in order to preserve the "nordic" balance in population, and was hold through World War II until 1965.

Richard Lewontin writes:“The leading American idealogue of the innate mental inferiority of the working class was, however, H.H. Goddard, a pioneer of the mental testing movement, the discoverer of the Kallikak family,
and the administrant of IQ-tests to immigrants that found 83 % of the Jews, 80% of the Hungarians, 79% of the Italians, and 87% of the the Russians to be feebleminded.” Regarding us Finns, Finnish emmigrants put the cross on the box reserved for the "yellow" group, until 1965.

Germany was the most scientifically and culturally advanced nation of the world upon opening the riddles at the close of the nineteenth century. And she went Full Monty.

Today, developmental biologists are anticipating legislation of laws that would define the do’s and dont’s. In England, they are fertilizing human embryos for research purposes and pipetting chimera embryos of humans and monkeys, 'legally'. The legislation should not distract individual researchers from their personal awareness of responsibility. A permissive law merely defines the ethical minimum. The lesson is that a law is no substitute for morals and that dissidents should not be intimidated.

I am suspicious over the burial of the Kampf (Struggle). The idea of competition is innate in the modern society. It is the the opposite view in a 180 degree angle to the Judaeo-Christian ideal of agapee (contra epithumia, eros, filia & storge) (ahava in Hebrew), that I personally cheriss. The latter sees free giving, altruism, benevolence and self sacrificing love as the beginning, motivation, and sustainer of the reality.
Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)

May 01, 2008 2:31 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Give it up, bub. Your facts are wrong.

Stalin had his evolutionary biologists shot because he considered genetics to be corrupt and western and bourgeois.

Lysenkoism was not based on evolutionary biology, but on grafting, which didn't work, and on some romantic idea of proletarian design.

Now, grow up.

May 05, 2008 9:16 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

However, it seems that your Ben Stein is claiming that Germany kills people today. Why don't you go hyperventilate over there?

P.S. I've read Mein Kampf, and I can tell when people who haven't read it cite it. Hitler's struggle in no way refers to Spencer's "fittest" crap. (Darwin hated the phrase "survival of the fittest," and so does Dawkins, and so do I.)

Now, go over there and save Germany!

May 05, 2008 9:32 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Today, developmental biologists are anticipating legislation of laws that would define the do’s and dont’s.

We already have them.

They're called "Defense of Marriage" laws.

Hitler killed homosexuals, too. Or is that too inconvenient a fact for you?

"I think Paul Ojala is a spam bot. He posted the exact same message on Blake Stacey's blog."

Spam, off-topic comments, and bots are not allowed at my blog. Bye.

May 05, 2008 11:50 AM  
Blogger Jaakonpoika said...

"Darwin hated the phrase "survival of the fittest," and so does Dawkins, and so do I."

I guess Darwin had those feelings, since he plagiated Alfred Wallaces terms, it seems, even in the case of "natural selection". Are you not aware of the full title of Darwin's book even? It was NOT Origin of species.

It was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the STRUGGLE FOR LIFE.

Indeed, why don't you guys EVER be honest even in this basic premisse?

Regarding the Soviet Union, even Lenin was very fond of Haeckels Welträtsel (Riddle of the Universe) in 1909 book "Materialism and criticism of empirism".

Have YOU ever read the Riddle? It was was one of the most incredible publishing successes of all times. I scanned it to here:
scanned and retrievable in Finnish by me in

During the first year after its appearance, Weltraethsel sold more than a hundred thousand copies in Germany alone. It went through ten editions by 1919, and was translated into all “civilized” languages (30 of them, Sander 2002) although its science was already outdated. By the strategical election year of 1933, almost half a million copies had been bought in Germany (Milner 1990, p. 206; Gasman 1971 p. 14). No technical details or illustrations were needed in this work, anymore. The book included 20 chapters, and its arrogant extrapolations reached chapters like "The embryology of the soul", or "The phylogeny of the soul" posing as on a factual basis. Utter materialism. Scientific basis for atheism for the Soviet leaders.

Lysenkoism was a form of extreme evolutionism. It embraced even the inheritance of acquired characteristics. BUT would you be surprised if you heard that even Charles Darwin in his later days emphasized the "Lamarckian" notion of extremely fast evolution? Well, he did. And he never made a strong atack against it even in his hype in 1859. Actually, in 1920 the concept of selection was next to extinct. Evolution was argued even by spontaneous generation before the birth of neoDarwinian theory. Thats why it was NEO Darwinian. Since Darwinian selection was believed by none as the main motor for evolution. See Eric Nordenskiöld, History of Biology from 1919. The most important book on the matter from that time, though the writer was Finnish. Many English reprints.

I edited a longer defense on my argumentation (now over 50 pages with 199 references in

Maybe I should talk about it from the national viewpoint of Finland:
Stalin had stated in 1939 that the safety of Leningrad was the main reason for his territorial demands for Finland. Upon the 900 days long siege of Leningrad, the great command for the "struggle for life" (Kampf) to ANNIHILATE the whole city together with its 3 million inhabitants (soldiers and civilians alike) did not get a response from the Finnish leaders. They harassed the brotherhood of arms by trying to avoid the responsibility of closing the line of maintenance and supply (Skyttä 1971, pp. 136-141), in the Finnish record of the history. Finnish troops did participate in the siege in the north, but had critical reservedness.

In Finland, Einar Fieandts underestimation of the volume (960 cm3) and weight (872 g) of the brains of the Bushmans and Wedda's and the facial angle of negroes (in contrast to the Europeans) iwas an evident Haeckelian concept.

Harry Federley was a personal friend and correspondent of Haeckel. Federley was the first docent and professor of genetics in Finland. He also launched the biolegislation in 1935 in Finland. But the worst moment happened in the occasion of the Finnish Civil War when Federley widely wrote to newspapers, demanding executions of the "Mongolian" Finnish proletariat on an evolutionary basis: The difference between Western statesman and Australian aboriginal was greater than the gap between ape and the native. Even among the nations with the flag of higher culture, there were individuals that did not rise above the men of the wild but were closer to the primates. The category of the adherents of Finnish socialism was evident between the lines. The industrialization happened in a sequence destined by the genotype, the worst scum of the earth surrending to the manufacturing institutions first. The proletariat mass was passive, collective and genetically unable so the general rights to vote was unnatural and even a danger to the society (although the tramps, wards, prostitutes and red rebels were already without that civil right!). The natural selection did not function under the artefactual industrialization and emerging welfare system. It was no surprise that the masses were vulnerable to the revolutionary agitation prior to the Civil War. The brains of a public servant weighted 1500 grams in average, whereas craftsman's brains weighted 1450 grams and hired men's 1400 grams. Mattila does not seem to apprehend, how evident is the link to Ernst Haeckel's biased (if not deliberately fraudulent) drawings of the brains of the unequal human races. The gap from Haeckel's "Wedda's", "Acca's", or Australian aboriginals to Goethe or Darwin were "much wider" than to gorillas (1914a).

See the drawings of brains, skulls and faces in

May 10, 2008 12:51 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

"plagiated"? What the hell is that?

Why are you going on and on about Haeckel? No one gives a shit about him. Darwin used the word "struggle" and Hitler used it in German? Whoopie-ding-dong.

"Lysenkoism was a form of extreme evolutionism." Oh, what bullshit!

Answer my questions or get lost. If I'm "never honest" what are you doing here anyway, Legion-of-monikers who joined Blogger in April 2008?

Get a life. Go kiss a girl. You don't have any chance with this one.

May 12, 2008 9:04 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Here, go bother her. "I am evolution."

May 12, 2008 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the fuck is that guy even talking about? You have more patience that I would Kristine.

May 13, 2008 8:58 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Hey, my suffering is vindicated!

The Discovery Institute extolls eugenics.

What self-righteous, phony fucks. They do believe in eugenics, and all their lip-flapping about Darwin is just their efforts to breed a "pure" race - their way!

May 14, 2008 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're annoying.

June 06, 2009 3:42 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Yeah? Well, you're anonymous. How brave.

No one's making you come here, after all. This isn't a restaurant in which you already happened to be dining - this is my blog. "Annoying?" More like "interesting," apparently.

June 07, 2009 12:40 PM  

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