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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.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Expelled: Imagine!

FINAL UPDATE: Heddle has a great post on this whole thingie.

I'm entering the countdown to finals, so have fun here.
Well, folks, where do I begin?

Since all the excitement about PZ’s expulsion from a free screening of Expelled, a lot of things have happened. It's almost too much to recount.

The free screenings and RSVP links disappeared from the website – and only certain people (atheists, skeptics, scientists, etc.) who had already RSVPed to see the movie started receiving e-mails saying that their upcoming screening were “cancelled” when they weren’t. The goal was obviously to have only sympathetic audience members at these advance screenings. (In some cases, the screening times were abruptly moved one hour earlier, angering the sympathetic members of the audience who naturally did not get a cancellation e-mail and thus showed up at the original run time.)

A Scientist and skeptic who received these apparently fraudulent e-mail “cancellations” of Expelled was Evolutionary Biologist John Lynch. (This blog post includes “before and after” screengrabs of the official Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed website showing the screenings “disappear”)

A couple of the commenters on his blog managed to attend the screenings anyway:

Commenter Brad on his experience:

Commenter Ken McKnight on his experience:

More on this story from Troy Britain:
"Expelled Promoters Just Can’t Stop Lying"

Mark in Santa Clara on his experience:
"Expelled Has Gone Truant in Santa Clara"

Meanwhile, this is what happens when you are invited to pay $10 to see an advanced screening of Expelled: you don’t get to see Expelled. You have the "privilege" of getting to see film clips already available all over the internet, and to watch Ben Stein win an award. This is what happened to Troy Britain.

"Expelled! The Movie Rip-off and the Event at Biola", again at Troy Britain's blog.

The producers of Expelled plead for a grassroots effort from its sympathetic audience to “adopt-a-theatre” on opening day, April 18, 2008. How pathetic. Do people really want to [I]rent a theatre[/I] in order to see a movie? (Just like Michael Moore, eh?)

This account is at James F. McGrath’s blog: "Freedom Friday"

Blogger Troy Britain contacted me to learn where I got the Expelled RSVP link to forward to PZ Myers. I told him that I got the link from Glen Davidson’s comment at After the Bar Closes, but that the source for Glen was a Christian blog promoting the film Expelled and exhorting the general public to sign up for these advanced screenings! That’s right, folks, we got this “top secret” URL from a Christian blog on blogger, a public site.

Troy’s blog: "The Expelled RSVP Sites: Getting to the Facts"

Of all the media outlets that have reviewed this flick (despite the producers’ Soviet-style blackout on advanced reviews of Expelled, would you have expected Fox News to pan it? Well, they did. In fact, they tore it to shreds!

Fox News (!) pans Expelled: "Ben Stein: Win His Career"

Man, it must suck to be a conservative when even the conservatives think you suck.

But it gets worse:

Those opening and closing scenes of the movie? In which Ben Stein seemingly addresses an audience of Pepperdine University students in a full auditorium? Where they cheer him at the end? Looks like a real bunch of students think NeinStein is hip and that his message was well-received, right?

It turns out that Pepperdine University students accept evolution, so the filmmakers had to rent the auditorium (it was not an event sponsored by the university), and hired actors to play "the students."

It was with some irony for me, then, that I saw Ben Stein's antievolution documentary film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, opens with the actor, game show host and speechwriter for Richard Nixon addressing a packed audience of adoring students at Pepperdine University, apparently falling for the same trap I did [creationism].

Actually they didn't. The biology professors at Pepperdine assure me that their mostly Christian students fully accept the theory of evolution. So who were these people embracing Stein's screed against science? Extras. According to Lee Kats, associate provost for research and chair of natural science at Pepperdine, "the production company paid for the use of the facility just as all other companies do that film on our campus" but that "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.

The producers/promoters of Expelled, Premise Media, have been served with a cease-and-desist letter, alleging plagiarism of an animation of the inner workings of a cell produced by Harvard University.

ERV’s blog:
"Expelled: Expelled for Plagiarism"


"I Love the Smell of Roasted Creationists in the Morning" (ERV again)

Wesley Elsberry’s blog:
"Okay, Expelled, but Plagiarism Will Do That for You"

PZ Myers’ blog:
"Peter Irons Drafts a Letter"

Panda’s Thumb:
"Will the Public See Expelled?"

The producers of this turdfest that is Expelled have also admitted that they never sought permission to use the John Lennon song, “Imagine”, which is played if the film over some archival footage of Josef Stalin, while Ben Stein screams that liberals want to turn our country into what Lennon (or Lenin?) envisioned, from the administrator of John Lennon’s (not Lenin’s) estate – namely his widow, Yoko Ono.

The Wall Street Journal's article.
(requires subscription)

Entire article available here:
Yoko Ono, Filmmakers Caught in 'Expelled' Flap

At this point, the scandal is growing heads like a hydra. Already everything I posted here is old news, because new news is still coming out. Unbelievable. Un-fucking-believable!

Excuse me, but it’s normal procedure to expell a student for plagiarism, and this is now plagiarism plus stealing.

To add the cherry on the top of this frosted cherry-picking cupcake, the producers sent me a spam e-mail to my school account exhorting the “friends of Expelled to "help the film" in its hate speech against atheists, skeptics, legitimate scientists, and anyone else who doesn’t pass their moral purity test. I informed them that spam was unprofessional and that the only reason they had my address was that they had required it – first for me to RSVP, and then again in the theatre, where I was told that I had to give it again on an “agreement form” not to illegally videotape and distribute the film.

And, being that I was required to give them this information, that should have ended their use of my e-mail address. (I did not give them my snail mail address, though the form asked for it – and interestingly enough, this “agreement form” had no place for a signature, just for my printed name.)

Very, very unprofessional, I must say. Just astonishingly stupid, clumsy, and unethical. Boy oh boy, what an example to the upcoming class of students entering college. These guys have some nerve to preach to the rest of the nation about the state of our educational system.

All I can do is sincerely thank the makers of Expelled for exposing the methods of creationists to the nation at large. For years, these people have operated in secret, allowing only the most controlled speeches and presentations to the public, so that everyone remains on message. Now in complete disarray, their publicity machine has done more to destroy the concept of intelligent design as “science” in the public mind that anything I could have done or said. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for this high-publicity disaster.

At Rotten Tomatoes, the rating for Expelled is 10% (less than Ishtar and Howard the Duck) and falling.

Now, it is evident to all why intelligent design has no place in science classrooms or in academia at large: it is a cheat, and its advocates are cheaters. And cheaters don’t belong in class – let alone teaching in our nation’s classrooms.

But one thing that you don't do - you don't piss off Yoko Ono.

UPDATED: Well, there I was, about to add a comment that I don’t really need to hear “Imagine” one more time in my life, either, because the song has become banal, kitch, the atheist’s equivalent of “Kum-bay-ya” (another song that I wish I could never hear again) – and then Corrente goes and rewrites John Lennon’s famous anthem especially for Ben Neinstein. And it’s hilarious.

Imagine there’s no science
So many people do
Nothing to study or wonder
The end of seeking truth
Imagine all the country
Dumber than a post…

You may say Ben Stein’s a schemer
But he’s not the only one
Many a fool would destroy us
A new Dark Age will have begun

Imagine no progression
Evolution canned
No need for artful discussions
A devaluing of man
Imagine all the children
Burning all the books…

You may say I’m a boomer
And my time will fade away
I hope someday you’ll stand up
And keep ignorance at bay

SECOND UPDATE: Oh for the love of Darwin, now someone over at John Lynch’s site has written “Bensteinian Rhapsody.” (One of my favorites!)

Anyone? I just filmed a sham,
Put some lies into your head,
Libelled Darwin, coz’ he’s dead,
Honor, you know I once had some,
But now I’ve gone and blown it all away-
Anyone? ooooohhhhh
Was it mean to tell those lies?
You’d learn more science by watching Rocky Horror-
Anyone? Anyone? My reputations now in tatters-

Too late, my crime is done,
Dembski told me I did fine-
Behe’s squirming, (he’ll be fine),
Goodbye science lessons-you’ve got to go
Gonna leave your kids behind and hide the truth
Adolf, oooooh (a shame he wasn’t atheist)
I’ll just have to lie,
I’ll just pretend that he wasn’t Christian at all--

guitar solo -

THIRD UPDATE: Ed Brayton weighs in on Expelled. And I notice that anonymous trolls who come here and criticize me (a woman) for speaking up don't have a complaint about them speaking up.

Don't come here and tell me what to say. If you don't like what you see here, leave.

FOURTH UPDATE: I told you it was a hydra. Premise Media, which produced Expelled, is now countersuing XVIVO (which produced the Harvard animation). In other words, it's a SLAPP. And ERV is totally convinced that the fact that Premise, based in Canada, filed its bogus lawsuit in Texas, not in Canada nor in Connecticut, where XVIVO is based, has nothing at all to do with the fact that Texas has no anti-SLAPP laws. ;-) She has issued a challenge to Premise Media.

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Blogger James F. McGrath said...

Thanks for this round-up Kristine!

A student of mine has created a wonderful picture of what happens when Yoko Ono gets mad at Ben Stein. Maybe you have to be a religion professor or student to find it amusing...

April 17, 2008 1:22 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Yes, I saw that. Nice!

You know, I have a Kali statue at my desk (Does that surprise anyone?). You’ve given me an idea…

April 17, 2008 2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, expelled is a propaganda film.

And they used many of the Michael Moore techniques; quote mining, snippets of film to make people look stupid, etc.

But did the liberals complain about Moore's propaganda?

of course not.

That said, why the fuss? Do you really think this film will influence anyone so inclined?

Heres a tip. Really try to educate people, and don't keep telling them what stupid scum they are.

Heck, Dick Dawkins isn't worried about science education. The elite are covered already, he just wants to argue the natural/supernatural gig.

So he ain't helping.

Too bad Gould isn't still around. Now THERE was an educator!

April 17, 2008 3:19 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

But did the liberals complain about Moore's propaganda?

of course not.

WRONG, baby!

I let all of my friends know how much “The Awful Truth” stunk!

I told everyone who brought up “Fahrenheit 911” that Moore was wrong about us funding Osama bin Laden. We never gave any $$ to bin Laden. We funded a mudjaheddin, Gumabudden Hektameyer.

That scene in which Moore confronts the late Charleton Heston in “Bowling for Columbine” is a travesty of Moore’s self-indulgence, and I've said so.

I even said at the screening of “Expelled” that I don’t like and don’t agree with a lot of things Michael Moore does and says. Weren’t you listening? Oh, you weren’t there, huh?

Maybe you should think before you comment.

Please show me where I said "stupid scum." But before that, decloak. It takes no courage to be anonymous.

April 17, 2008 3:42 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Let’s see – how else can I scare anonymous trolls…

I hit the floor laughing when John McCain sang Barbara Streisand tunes on Saturday Night Live. (“If she thinks she can do my job…”)

I laughed when Opera Man sang, over some footage of Al Gore trying to (urk) dance: "Al Gore-o! Al Gore-o! No more-o! You scare-ah the babinos!"

I laughed at the Saturday Night Live episode in which someone (I can’t remember their stupid names) playing Al Gore was looking at a Florida ballot and saying, “I don’t understand—do you lick the dots?”

I look forward to laughing at you.

Looking for liberal stereotypes? Rev. Barky and I were bitching about bleeding hearts only yesterday. Look elsewhere.

April 17, 2008 3:57 PM  
Blogger Von said...

I linked here from Richard Dawkin's blog entry on "Expelled". I'm glad for your updates (although I wish that these updates were even MORE public).

Just the thought of the movie (and reading Dr. Dawkin's review) makes me cringe and recount my traumatic ($20 USD) experience at the Grand Opening Year of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY. Three science grads from physics/astronomy and neuroscience (including me), an MD and a massage therapist went. We felt like spies in enemy territory. (We felt quite attacked).

They had a 10 minute movie that we were required to watch before going through the rest of the exhibits that also bashed science...which I assume was probably better filmed than "Expelled".

P.S. To Anonymous: I agree with that whole "edjumacation" of the masses. Sadly, Discovery Channel can only do so much, and only for those who watch it. Using libel and slander about scientists and science, like "Expelled" or the Creation Museum, is not a way for converting the educated to Christian ways either. It only reinforces misconceptions in the uneducated. That's why US schools ARE trying to educate children. Sadly, introducing intelligent design into science curriculums isn't quite the way to do it.

Ah well, what do I know, I'm only a bleeding heart liberal science Canadian grad student. I also think that Michael Moore stopped being intelligent after "Bowling for Columbine". I "Expelled" him from my movie lists after "Farhenheit 911".

April 17, 2008 8:35 PM  
Blogger steph said...

Further to Kristine's comments to anonymous, (Canadian) liberals also complained about Michael Moore's techniques in a documentary, called Manufacturing Dissent: Uncovering Michael Moore.

April 17, 2008 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check this:

Good Blog!

April 18, 2008 6:13 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Well, I liked Sicko, mostly because Moore stops blatting long enough to let people tell their own stories. Dragging sick people out to Guantanamo Bay though is just ludicrous. Did you ever see the excellent film Howard’s End? “Helen, did you actually drag a starving couple all the way from London to Schropshire?”

I’m approaching Expelled scandal fatigue, but I do think this whole issue is important. Plus, I was a film critic, and have appeared in some independent (very independent) films, and the way that films communicate their messages is important to me. Do we want to just sit around and say, “Ah, Gould, what an educator he was”? Gould is dead, regrettably, and I’m no biologist or paeleontogist. I’m doing what I can.

April 18, 2008 9:00 AM  
Blogger detroitred said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 18, 2008 3:46 PM  
Blogger detroitred said...

I just got turned on to your blog when Richard Dawkins referred to it in his. You are great and hilarious! Much respect.


April 18, 2008 10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From my perspective, all this seems like much ado about nothing.

April 18, 2008 11:10 PM  
Blogger Kia said...

BTW, Screen Rant has a 9/10 score for Expelled.

April 19, 2008 11:16 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Imdb: 3.6 out of 10

Rotten Tomatoes: 9%

Weekend box office take: $3,152,896
Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9-11"'s weekend take (which Expelled was supposed to surpass): $23,900,000.

Ouch. (I hear that Spurlock's flick sucks big time, too. It sounds simplistic.)

April 21, 2008 9:18 AM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitur said...

When Kristine and I went to the Expelled screening there was an intense debate going on in the theater - where R. Dawkins was objecting to the tactics use to interview him - the were a lot of off-hand comments being made. I recall some idiot behind me spouting "Well, Micheal Moore does it" Is that really an excuse for being deceitful yourself? Unlike the ID folks, Moore is not working from a grand scheme to take over the country and establish a Theocracy. The issues he deals with are salient for our time and his material is basically factual. Howeever, they would probably make far less money if he didn't sex them up a bit.

April 21, 2008 1:47 PM  
Blogger Cujo359 said...

Just wanted to thank you for writing this article and the one on PZ Myers being expelled from Expelled. It helped me write an article about the movie, where I tried to put this in some perspective.

BTW, Wesley Elsberry found the article within ten hours of my having published it. While I left links at my usual haunts, I'm pretty sure that's not how he got there. He's really good at finding things...

April 21, 2008 3:00 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Thank you, Cujo359. I'm glad I could help. That's what I intended to do.

Anonymous said: That said, why the fuss? Do you really think this film will influence anyone so inclined?

Does this answer your question?

"On 18th April, the day Ben Stein's infamous film was released, Michael Shermer received the following letter from a Jew (referencing a past article that Shermer had written debunking the Holocaust deniers) whose identity I shall conceal as 'David J'.

'Now I truly understand who you atheists and darwinists really are! You people believe that it was okay for my great-grandparents to die in the Holocaust! How disgusting. Your past article about the Holocaust was just window dressing. We Jews will fight to keep people like you out of the United States!'"

Heres a tip. Really try to educate people, and don't keep telling them what stupid scum they are.

Here's a demand. Come back here and apologize, Anonymous.

April 22, 2008 9:58 AM  
Anonymous paragwinn said...

Does this answer your question?

Thanks, Kristine, for that last comment and link. I have been following the Expelled issue since your first post regarding the private screening that you attended. I have been overcome with Expelled combat fatigue and was about to come to the same conclusions as Anonymous until I read the article. Thanks for the fighting spirit.

April 22, 2008 4:19 PM  
Anonymous patrick said...

just saw Expelled myself; Ben Stein's goal in making this flick (i gather) was not to win any popularity contests (this by itself helps to validate his message)... his goal was to promote free thought, especially more thinking about motivations that drive American academia and a lot of other behind-the-scenes worldview that we tend to take for granted.

April 23, 2008 2:02 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

If your definition of "free thought" is distorting history of WWII, presenting no description of intelligent design (didn't that bother you?), and giving false stories of "oppression" (Sternberg didn't get fired for subverting the peer review process, Crocker's contract was up, Dembski was kicked out of Baylor for unprofessional conduct, etc.), then Stein did that.

If you do believe in "free inquiry," don't be so credulous yourself. Do a little digging. You might not like what you find.

P.S. I wouldn't take any of his NY Times columns on finances to heart, either. He's making a fool of himself.

April 23, 2008 9:00 AM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitur said...

"Ben Stein's goal in making this flick (i gather) was not to win any popularity contests"

Seriously, we have been studying this whole ID scam for quite a while - we have attended ID lectures with key actors involved this, blogged endlessly and debated science vs non-science. Kristine is a freaking expert on the personalities and motivations behind ID. We can say with confidence that ID is intentionally deceptive. The notion that all these folks want is to have an equal voice in the marketplace of ideas is pure propaganda. Free thought does not include calling people Nazis when they don't agree with your statements.

You were red with the first sentence. Ben Stein is a Ham - as are all actors. He is doing this because he likes being known. Even if its for being a spokesperson for eye drops. Why is he suddenly such a proponent for ID just as he happens to become a star in an ID movie?

April 23, 2008 3:10 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Evolution, smevolution. I don't understand all this fuss over science. A couple people claiming to have been rejected for tenure or fired for their beliefs does not a conspiracy make.

The REAL censorship in this country is in Math. And nobody is talking about it. Have you seen anything in the mainstream media about the suppression of alternative theories of math? No!? Not a word. Look at any popular blog on the internet - Christian, Creationist, Darwinist, Evolutionist, ScienceBlogs, Left-wing, Right-wing, ACLU - all silent. I mean, come on people, wake up, this is a huge cover-up.

The foundations of basic math, taught in schools world-wide, is based on lies and deceit. One plus one does NOT equal two. I know it with certainty, because God told me in a dream. But this alternative theory of math is being squashed by Big Math. I mean, if the basic foundations are flawed, the whole house of cards comes crashing down. All their precious spin-offs, String Theory, Quantum mechanics, Chaos Theory, all worthless.

Besides, traditional math is evil. I mean, just look at the numbers: 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust; 20 million Russians killed by Stalin, not to mention over 4000 dead American soldiers in Iraq. These are huge numbers, and we all know where numbers come from... you got it, Math. None of this would have been possible without math.

We have got to get our heads out of the sand and take a stand! Just say no to math.

PS. This sounds like a great movie. Where can I get a copy?

May 08, 2008 10:03 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Um. ;-) The producers of the movie are being sued for copyright infringement. By Yoko Ono. So they cannot distribute the film to any new theatres or cut any DVDs. (Yoko Ono is as hideously boring to me as Ben Stein, plus even more irritating.)

Since you are a connoisseur of math controversies, I recommend this blog.

May 08, 2008 3:53 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Thanks Kristine. I've read some of Mark's blog. I particularly like his take on the science "framers" framing fiasco following PZ's expelled expulsion.

The lawsuit notwithstanding, I don't think the film will be screened down where I am. Despite (or maybe because of) the pans by intelligent folk, I'd like to see the movie for myself. And for the possible twisted entertainment value, show it to a few friends.

At this point I think what's good for the goose is good for the gander, and have no moral qualms about "stealing" from the thieves or "lying" to the liars.

May 08, 2008 9:45 PM  

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