Ben Stein gets Smack Down by the public at large!

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  • 5go

    Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is a controversial 2008 film [2] [3] hosted by Ben Stein. The film claims that what it calls "Big Science" suppresses criticism of the scientific theory of evolution, [4] [5] while portraying that theory as having contributed to the rise of the NaziHolocaust, communism, atheism and Planned Parenthood. [6] The film also claims that American educators and scientists who believe that there might be evidence of intelligent design in nature are being persecuted for these beliefs. [7]

    While a number of conservative and Christian media outlets have given it favorable reviews, the general media response has been largely unfavorable, and the science community's response to it has been unanimously negative, asserting that it is propaganda. The Chicago Tribune's conclusion was "Rating: 1 star (poor)", [8] while the New York Times described it as "a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry." [9]

    Promotion of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution

    The film claims that intelligent design deserves a place in academia and refers to examples of what it calls a "design approach". The Discovery Institute's Paul Nelson describes "design theory" as "the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as a result of intelligence". [14] Stein says in the film that "Intelligent design was being suppressed in a systematic and ruthless fashion", although the National Center for Science Education says in response that intelligent design has been scientifically unproductive and has not produced any research to suppress, having failed to find any way of testing its claims. [14] In a review of the film, Scientific American editor John Rennie comments on the vagueness of intelligent design's proposals, describing it as "a notion which firmly states that at one or more unspecified times in the past, an unidentified designer who might or might not be God somehow created whole organisms, or maybe just cells, or maybe just certain parts of cells—they're still deciding and will get back to you on that." [15]

    In a scene in the film, Stein interviews Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute, and accepts his assurance that its support for teaching of intelligent design in science classes was not an attempt to sneak religion back into public schools. [15] The film responds to the outcome of the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial with Stein saying he thought science was decided by evidence, and not the courts. [10] The trial resulted when a public school district required the presentation of "Intelligent Design" as an alternative to evolution, and the court ruling concluded on the basis of expert testimony and the testimony of leading intelligent design proponents that intelligent design was a creationist religious strategy and was not science. [16] [17] [18] The court rejected the Discovery Institute's claims that intelligent design was not religiously motivated, [19] [20] [21] and rebuffed the attempt to introduce it into public school science classes as a constitutional violation. [15] [22] [23] [24] [25]

    A Fox News review of the film describes intelligent design as junk science. [26] [27] The consensus of the scientific community is that intelligent design is not science but pseudoscience, [28] [29] [30] [31] with organisations including the US National Science Teachers Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science taking a stand against it. [32] The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has stated that "intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life" are not science because they cannot be tested by experiment, do not generate any predictions, and propose no new hypotheses of their own. [33] The scientific theory of evolution is opposed for religious reasons by proponents of intelligent design and other forms of creationism, but is overwhelmingly accepted by scientists. [28] According to one estimate, "99.9 percent of scientists accept evolution." [34] The film portrays this as an end to debate and alleges that those who dare to question "Darwinism" will quickly be silenced. In fact, there is vigorous debate on many aspects of evolution, and the scientific status quo is frequently successfully challenged by ideas supported by sound research and evidence. [14] [35] The view of the scientific community and of science education organizations is that there is in fact no scientific controversy regarding the validity of evolution and that whatever controversy exists is solely in terms of religion and politics. [36] [37] [38] [39]

    In its 1998 "wedge document" the intelligent design movement set out a strategy of opposing evolution and turning the public against scientific materialism as the first step toward making society more politically conservative and theistic. [15] The first phase was to have included as an essential basis for following phases “Research, Writing and Publication” of "scientific, academic and technical articles", but they have failed to do that work. The second phase included "production of a … documentary on intelligent design and its implications…. [to] focus on influential opinion-makers, ... build up a popular base of support among our natural constituency, namely, Christians. ... and equip believers with new scientific evidences that support the faith, as well as to 'popularize' our ideas in the broader culture." Expelled is part of the agenda, but is unsupported by research or scientific publications. [14]

    Portrayal of science as atheistic

    The film alleges that scientists and the scientific enterprise (which it calls "Big Science") are dogmatically committed to atheism, [44] and that intelligent design proponents are "suppressed in a systematic and ruthless fashion." It alleges a previous commitment to materialism in the scientific establishment as the cause of this "persecution". [14] Stein contends that "There are people out there who want to keep science in a little box where it can't possibly touch a higher power, and it can’t possibly touch God." The film represents scientists who are atheists as representative of mainstream scientists, ignoring the many prominent scientists who are religious and thus setting up a false dichotomy between science and religion. [44] In an interview with Scientific American , the associate producer of the film Mark Mathis said they had excluded scientists who are religious, such as the devout Roman Catholic biologist Kenneth R. Miller, because their views would have “confused the film unnecessarily". Mathis also questioned Miller's intellectual honesty and orthodoxy as a Catholic because he accepts evolution. [45]

    In a review of the film, the Waco Tribune-Herald described its "failure to cover how Christian evolutionists reconcile faith and science" as "perhaps the film's most glaring and telling omission", and that the film rather "quickly dismissed [such proponents of theistic evolution] by a chain of quotes that brand them as liberal Christians duped by militant atheists in their efforts to get religion out of the classroom." [46] Defending the movie, the producer, Walt Ruloff, said that scientists like prominent geneticist Francis Collins keep their religion and science separate only because they are "toeing the party line". Collins, who was not asked to be interviewed for the film in any of its incarnations, said that Ruloff's claims were "ludicrous". [4]

    The film portrays the scientific explanation of evolution as a theory, committed to and refusing to accept ideas with a theistic component like intelligent design. The National Center for Science Education states that this ignores the many scientists who are religious but do not bring God in as part of their theories as testing requires holding constant some variables, that no one can "control" God, and that therefore scientific explanations are restricted to the natural causes that are testable, regardless of the religious views of the scientists. [47]

    Charles Darwin quotation issue

    In support of his claim that the theory of evolution inspired Nazism, Ben Stein attributes the following statement to Charles Darwin's book The Descent of Man: [89]

    With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

    Stein stops there, then names Darwin as the author in a way that suggests that Darwin provided a rationale for the activities of the Nazis. However, the original source shows that Stein has significantly changed the text and meaning of the paragraph, by leaving out whole and partial sentences without indicating that he had done so. The original paragraph (page 168) (words that Stein omitted shown in bold) and the very next sentences in the book state: [90] [89]

    With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

    The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. [91]

    The Expelled Exposed website also points out that the same misleading selective quotation from this passage was used by anti-evolutionist William Jennings Bryan in the 1925 Scopes Trial, but the full passage makes it clear that Darwin was not advocating eugenics. The eugenics movement relied on simplistic and faulty assumptions about heredity, and by the 1920s evolutionary biologists were criticizing eugenics. Clarence Darrow, who defended the teaching of human evolution in the Scopes trial, wrote a scathing repudiation of eugenics. [48]

    Box office

    Expelled opened in 1,052 theaters, earning $1.2 million at the box office in its first day and earned $2,970,848 for its opening weekend ($2,824 theater average). [124] Originally, Walt Ruloff, the movie's executive producer, "said the film could top the $23.9-million opening for Michael Moore's polemic against President Bush, "Fahrenheit 9/11", the best launch ever for a documentary." [125] Reviewing Expelled's opening box office figures, Nikki Finke of the Los Angeles Weekly wrote that considering the number of screens showing the film, the ticket sales were "feeble", demonstrating "there wasn't any pent-up demand for the film despite an aggressive publicity campaign." Finke further wrote, "So much for the conservative argument that people would flock to films not representing the "agenda of liberal Hollywood". (Just for comparison purposes: left-wing Michael Moore's most recent Sicko made $4.4 million its opening weekend from only 441 theaters, and his Fahrenheit 9/11 made $23.9 million its opening weekend from 868 venues.)" [126] Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly said the movie "was a solid top-10 contender" and "[t]hat's a very respectable total for a documentary, although non-fiction fare rarely opens in 1,052 theaters." [127] In contrast, Lew Irwin (StudioBriefing) wrote that the film "flopped", and "failed to bring out church groups in big numbers". [128]

  • 5go

    'Expelled': No intelligence allowed

    Droning funnyman Ben Stein monkeys around with evolution with the new documentary, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," a cynical attempt to sucker Christian conservatives into thinking they're losing the "intelligent design" debate because of academic "prejudice."

    "Expelled" (which was No. 9 at the box office last weekend) is a full-on, amply budgeted Michael Moore-style mockery of evolution, a film that dresses creationist crackpottery in an "intelligent design" leisure suit and tries to make the fact that it's not given credence in schools a matter of "academic freedom."

    Using loaded language and loaded imagery, Stein and Co. (Nathan Frankowski is the credited director) equate evolution with atheism, lay responsibility for the Holocaust at the feet of Charles Darwin, interview and creatively edit biologists and others (scientists "cast" for their eccentric appearance) to make them look foolish for insisting that science, not religion, can explain creation.

    Stein and friends use animation, amusing chunks of B movies and even "The Wizard of Oz" and classic propaganda techniques to undercut 150 years of peer-tested research. Their goal? Create just a sliver of doubt about evolution.

    Stein, a Nixon administration functionary who reinvented himself as a movie and TV buffoon after "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," seems closer to his latter persona in this disingenuous and dishonest doc about something so silly you really wonder if he

    himself believes it. Or is the former host of "Win Ben Stein's Money" just trying to add to Ben Stein's money at the expense of the gullible?

    The "experts" Stein hurls up against evolution are disgruntled, under-credentialed academics dismissed from lesser colleges, they say, because they wanted to teach creation rather than science.

    Credentialed scientists who also describe themselves as Christian have attacked the film for suggesting they are persecuted for their beliefs. They say they aren't. Others interviewed for the film have complained of dishonest editing, misrepresentations and about not having the pleasure of having actually met Stein.

    'expelled: No intelligence allowed'

  • STARRING: Ben Stein, Richard Dawkins, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler
  • DIRECTOR: Nathan Frankowski
  • WHERE: At Bay Area theaters
  • RATING: PG for thematic material, some disturbing images and brief smoking
  • RUNNING TIME: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Billy the Ex-Bethelite
    Billy the Ex-Bethelite

    Too bad God didn't make an appearance in Ben's movie. Maybe the crowds would have been better. But I suppose God has his reputation to think of and didn't want to be associated with this piece.

  • 5go

    Heck, why did the Discovery Institute pull their witnesses from the Kitzmiller v Dover case?

  • 5go

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