Sunday, 16 November 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence At All

I just finished watching 'Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed'.

My initial response?

Gods that was BORING. Seriously! Ben Stein has the most monotonous voice in the world, devoid of any emotion or even inflection. Gods. Couldn't they have found someone else to do the voice-over parts? Ugh. I literally was on the verge of sleep throughout this 'movie'.

Now. Seriously. I'm not going to talk about the validity of the 'expulsion' claims, because other people have done that already, so we all know they're crap. I'll just talk about the film itself.

To put it bluntly, this film is the biggest piece of biased, unintelligent, misdirecting pieces of crap I've ever seen. It's also badly written and incredibly boring. The only 'good' things about it were the cinematography, digital animation and the sound-track (which included one of my old favorites, 'Spirit In The Sky') so kudos to the people involved in those parts of the film.

The film consists of badly edited conversations with talking-heads, video clips from black-and-white films about World War 2 and the Berlin Wall, unfounded claims with no back-up evidence, attempts to debunk evolution, plenty use of the term 'Darwinism' or 'Darwinists', wilful misunderstanding of really rather easy to understand theories, equating 'Big Science' to Communism, stupid questions and equating Darwinism to Eugenics and the Holocaust.

Stein went through the whole film trying to exude an air of confused amiability and a truthfully questioning nature. But he doesn't really pull it off, first because he is an incredibly bad actor, with one of the most monotonous and apathetic voices ever and secondly, because he kept asking the most ridiculously stupid questions about subjects even a ten year old understands at a basic level.

The 'expelled' people Stein spoke to never once offered any real evidence for their supposed expulsions, and certainly never showed anything more than tenuous connections between their expulsions and their belief in ID. Toward the end of the program, they did try to talk to a few of the employers - but it was quite evident that they only managed to get three or four of them to talk to them (one of which did say that ID played a part in the expulsion - but understandably so in that case!)

For some reason, a whole five minutes was spent in following Stein around as he tried to find the Discovery Institute, with Stein being constantly surprised that A: it was hard to find, B: it was only on one floor of a multi-story building and C: that it was actually only one suite on the one floor.

Why? I honestly don't know - was he trying to show them as the Underdog perhaps? But they try to claim that the 'ID/Evolution debate' is not a religious debate! Apparently they want to have all the available evidence made clear in science classes, so the debate can be made. (Which is patently stupid, as we all know, because the only evidence for ID is religious and religion should not be taught in the science classes.)

He then went on to ask if the people working at some Bible college, or whatever it was, were Ministers, Priests etc, seemingly amazed when they said they weren't. Then he went on to ask if various famous Creationists had given them money and again was surprised when told 'no'.

Throughout the film, the ID people he speaks to, every last one of them talks about 'other theories' or 'lack of evidence' to prove evolution, without offering any evidence to back up these claims. They even at one point talk about the whole theory itself being 'cloudy' and 'distorted' - one proponent of ID mentions evolution as 'misinterpreted' - that as 'Change Over Time' it can be believed, but as 'change in the genetic composition of a population during successive generations, as a result of natural selection acting on the genetic variation among individuals, and resulting in the development of new species' it cannot!


For some reason, one of the people Stein talks to is a Journalist! They talk about Dawkins not having the credentials to talk about ID, but for some reason, it's perfectly fine for Stein to get a Journalist's thoughts on the subject matter? Even if she was fired for writing about ID in a favorable light, it still doesn't make her qualified to talk about this subject. Now, either they stop using this woman as one of their spokespeople, or they stop claiming Dawkins et al don't have the credentials.

There is an awful lot of Argument From Authority in this film - a lot of the talking heads make mention of the various Science Greats from the past, the ones who were Christian. They were careful to gloss over the fact that these people tended to live in periods where there really was no other option, happily harping on that if these people, who were great scientists, were still Christian - why should scientists now ignore any other scientist who is?

The most annoying part of the whole film, to me at least, was Stein's ridiculous and wilful misunderstanding of one of the theories of the origin of life. The theory that life may have started out piggy-backing on the backs of crystals - a sound and interesting theory. Stein just goes on and on, refusing to see what he's being told: 'I don't get how you go from muuuud to a living cell'.

My disgust in that particular scene, is closely followed by my disgust in the little cartoon 'The Casino Of Life' which features a small cameo that I think is supposed to be Professor Richard Dawkins. It's just so stupid!

However, trumping everything else in the film that disgusts me, is the section where Stein et al start making allusions to Hitler and Eugenics, as if these two things tarnish the whole Field of evolutionary biology as immoral. Now Ben, really, as a Jew, you aught to know better than to use your own peoples history like that. Not only was that a despicable thing to do, it also proved nothing!

Now, the final conversation, between Stein and Dawkins was horrendous. Stein was again playing the idiot, asking really rather stupid questions, positing Pascal's Wager and all around getting on both my and Dawkins' nerves. The opening shots of the conversation, of course, tried to show Dawkins in a bad light, with people fussing around him, applying make-up and so on, while Stein simply stepped out of his car and straight (my arse) onto the set.

Over all - it was an incredibly bad, incredible boring, incredibly badly thought out and badly researched, incredibly biased film. I pretty much spent the entire film wanting to slap Stein upside the head for being a complete twat.

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