Jun. 25, 2008 - Issue #662: Eamon McGrath Releases the Wild Dogs
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
There’s lies, damn lies and then there’s Expelled
Stein’s mastery of ideological warfare and rhetoric is displayed in Expelled, anti-science propaganda masquerading as a Michael Moore-ish fool’s journey, full of disingenuous ploys, cheap tricks, and outright mendacity to sway public opinion against the factual concept of evolution and allow religion to dominate science debate through the Trojan horse of Intelligent Design (ID)—the belief a busybody creator intimately engineers natural processes.
Expelled follows Stein as he pretends to struggle with doubts about “Darwinism” (rhetoric equating a concept key to 150 years of progress with one man, setting biologists up as devotees to a cult of personality) while manufacturing a divide that doesn’t exist by talking to scientists who claim their careers were ruined by Darwinists. Prominent figures on both sides are interviewed, like evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and Jonathan Wells (who was told by Rev Sun Myung Moon that God chose him to destroy Darwinism from within by earning a biology degree).
The evolutionists are made to look foolish (beyond unflattering filming and editing, good science isn’t conducive to soundbites) while anti-evolutionists are portrayed as heroic Davids working against a Goliath system.
Stein’s journey takes him to the borderlands of taste as well as sense, culminating with shots of rippling American flags, heart-rending visits to Holocaust sites and accusations that the idea of evolution is responsible for Hitler. (Why science? Why not corporations, since Faber and IBM directly participated in the Holocaust? Why hasn’t Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will tainted the entire art of movie-making?)
The film concludes that if evolution is upheld unopposed, we’re headed for another Holocaust, with rampant euthanasia and abortions, and ends with a call to activism.
It’s skillful, stealthy and sophisticated cinematic manipulation as well as completely fabricated hysteria. Stein appropriates language of intellectual freedom (“Why can’t we have a debate?”; “Why’s Big Science silencing people?”), mixes it with a score evoking righteous purpose (Yoko Ono tried to have “Imagine” taken off the soundtrack, but lost to fair use laws that protect satirists) and a barrage of riveting imagery.
What’s curious is that the film never actually argues either side, and neither evolution nor ID is even fully defined. That’s their poisonous cleverness: the point is simply to introduce doubt, not to make an argument, because the argument is un-winnable. It’s based on ideology, not evidence, and as such has zero place in scientific debate.
To understand Expelled as a cultural artifact, you need to know it’s a manifestation of the “wedge strategy,” a marketing plan developed by the Discovery Institute (one of Stein’s faux sources) that seeks to re-establish religious values in American life by introducing the concept of a creator in science classrooms. This is an old conflict, with ID merely the latest guise in a war on secular life.
Both the wedge and Expelled have been extensively documented and dismantled, and ID was discredited in the recent well-documented Dover case (see our website, vueweekly.com, for a complete list of resources). Instances of so-called “discrimination” have been refuted, and the movement has been extensively analyzed. Evolution, in contrast, continues to bear fruit in all areas of biology.
The biggest lie in Expelled is its conclusion. It fancies itself authority enough to fantasize an endpoint of embracing the concept of evolution, but fails to articulate its own endpoint: invoking a creator instead of a natural process as the basis of science means an end to asking questions, because it’s a threat to the notion of absolute morality. That’s the “intellectual freedom” anti-freedom, anti-intellectuals ultimately seek—to imprison everyone in their ignorance. V
Opens Fri, Jun 27
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
Directed by Nathan Frankowski
Written by Kevin Miller, Walt Ruloff,
The following DVDs are available at Edmonton Public Library:
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