Richard Dawkins: Lying for Jesus?

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Clinton Richard Dawkins describes his personal experience of not being ‘expelled’

It’s quite a blistering response to a PR fumble.

Richard Dawkins Wrote:

The blogs are ringing with ridicule. Mark Mathis, duplicitous producer of the much hyped film Expelled, shot himself in the foot so spectacularly that the phrase might have been invented for him. Goals don’t come more own than this. How is it possible that a man who makes his living from partisan propaganda could hand so stunning a propaganda coup to his opponents? Hand it to them on a plate, so ignominiously and so UNNECESSARILY.

Richard Dawkins Wrote:

In a desperate effort to scrape some of the egg off their faces, the creationist wingnuts are spinning the story to make it look as though PZ and I were ‘gatecrashers’. The ill-named ‘Discovery’ Institute heads its web article, “Richard Dawkins, World Famous Darwinist, Stoops to Gate-crashing Expelled.” The article says that I “apparently acknowledged that I was not invited”. Mark Mathis himself said something similar about PZ in the Q & A after the showing, when I publicly challenged him to explain why he had expelled him, claiming that this performance was by invitation only, and PZ had not been invited. But, as many commentators have pointed out, this was most certainly not an invitation-only affair.

I find it similarly fascinating that the Discovery Institute found it necessary to release a press release accusing Dawkins of ‘gate crashing’. However the facts clearly show that the RSVP site for these showings gave little indication that one needed to have been invited. In fact, quite a few sites provided links and what appeared to be an ‘open invitation’ to attend.

Richard Dawkins Wrote:

The way to get into this showing of the film was simply to go on the Internet and apply. This was exactly what PZ did. He went on the Web and put his name down for a place at the showing, just like everybody else, including several others from the American Atheists annual conference in Minneapolis. Not a man to hide behind a false name or false beard, PZ openly sported his own. Like many other people, including his daughter and Kristine Harley (see her Amused Muse website), PZ took advantage of the generous offer to let him book guests in as well, and then kindly invited me to be one of them. There was no request to give the names of guests, and no machinery to do so, which was why my name did not appear on the list.

Now about the tone of the movie and its narrator, who is apparently little known outside the US.

Richard Dawkins Wrote:

The whole tone of the film is whiny, paranoid – pathetic really. The narrator is somebody called Ben Stein. I had not heard of him, but apparently he is well known to Americans, for it is hard to see why else he would have been chosen to front the film. He certainly can’t have been chosen for his knowledge of science, nor his powers of logical reasoning, nor his box office appeal (heavens, no), and his speaking voice is an irritating, nasal drawl, innocent of charm and of consonants. I suppose that makes it a good voice for conveying the whingeing paranoia that I referred to, so maybe that was qualification enough.

about the movie itself

Now, to the film itself. What a shoddy, second-rate piece of work.

and perhaps anticipating John “Discovery Insitute Fellow” West’s leap in logic that “Dawkins Flip-Flops on Link between Darwinism and Fascism”, Dawkins writes:

My own view, frequently expressed (for example in the The Selfish Gene and especially in the title chapter of A Devil’s Chaplain) is that there are two reasons why we need to take Darwinian natural selection seriously. Firstly, it is the most important element in the explanation for our own existence and that of all life. Secondly, natural selection is a good object lesson in how NOT to organize a society. As I have often said before, as a scientist I am a passionate Darwinian. But as a citizen and a human being, I want to construct a society which is about as un-Darwinian as we can make it. I approve of looking after the poor (very un-Darwinian). I approve of universal medical care (very un-Darwinian). It is one of the classic philosophical fallacies to derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. Stein (or whoever wrote his script for him) is implying that Hitler committed that fallacy with respect to Darwinism. If we look at more recent history, the closest representatives you’ll find to Darwinian politics are uncompassionate conservatives like Margaret Thatcher, George W Bush, or Ben Stein’s own hero, Richard Nixon. Maybe all these people, along with the Social Darwinists from Herbert Spencer to John D Rockefeller, committed the is/ought fallacy and justified their unpleasant social views by invoking garbled Darwinism. Anyone who thinks that has any bearing whatsoever on the truth or falsity of Darwin’s theory of evolution is either an unreasoning fool or a cynical manipulator of unreasoning fools. I will not speculate as to which category includes Ben Stein and Mark Mathis.

45 Comments

Something tells me that “Expelled” is never going to win an Oscar.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Richard Dawkins and PZ Meyers for this wonderful episode. All the blog posts and commentary have provided a welcome respite from the endless election horse race coverage.

Holy crap! I’m not sure if anything has ever been pwned* quite like Professor Dawkins has just pwned this movie or any person involved in its production.

Damn, its times like these that regret having the instinct of empathy. I actually hurt for the recipients of this scathing… for a moment. :)

*Novice user of this term. Comments welcome.

s1mplex:

You did just fine. I refer you to urbandictionary.com:

pwn (vt. or vi.) 1. to defeat (someone)thoroughly or to a great extent 2. to outdo or outmatch (someone) past tense - pwnt or pwned (leet speak/gaming terminology p + (o)wn)

“I totally pwned.” “That was pwning.” “You got pwnt!”

Waldteufel and others, using references to Nazism whether by ID proponents or used against ID proponents are inexcusable. If you insist on repeating such nonsense, then feel free to visit the bathroom wall. I have little patience for such nonsense.

Are any of those references to Darwinism being responsible for Hitler in that Expelled movie drawn from the DI stuff that has been used by the Coral Ridge Ministries?

I’ve seen that Coral Ridge program, and it had acknowledgements to the Discovery Institute and footage of DI people making these arguments.

Much has been posted here and elsewhere about the movie in general and the specific incident in particular. However, I think what we all want to know is: has SteveSteve been to a showing?

Little side note about all this Darwinism/Nazi nonsense… I been taking an American History course at my local community college. According to the text book, in the 1860’s Social Darwinism was used to justify limited government and unrestrained free market. I thought that was pretty funny since IDers/Creos are usually conservative republicans. So if I called a creo/ider a social Darwinist would I be right? :)

I HAVE been taking…

From mathismedia.com/mm.htm:

“Mark Mathis is that rare speaker who leads you to the obvious and then shows you powerful truth that you somehow overlooked. When he speaks, you find yourself in the midst of an amazing treasure hunt—inside your own brain. Mathis demonstrates that most of what you need to understand about attracting great publicity, delivering excellent quotes, or managing a media crisis you already know. You just have to learn to put it to work in a systematic way to attack any publicity project or problem. Mark challenges your intellect, but does it in a fun and lively setting. One minute you’re engaged in high-level thinking and the next you’re laughing at your own naïve assumptions. His ideas, philosophies, and communication skills will make you think about familiar concepts in a new way. With Mark’s method you’ll actually increase your media knowledge while decreasing mental clutter. It’s a liberating experience.”

“Mark Mathis is that rare speaker who blah, blah, blah…”

Such modesty in one so talented is rare.

Some reflections in no particular order:

- Dawkins referring to the is/ought fallacy is GOOD, since it is efficient to point back to an example that prominent biologists don’t necessarily take evolution as an imperative for organizing society. [Probably most every biologist makes this point at one time or other.] Going through the science to debunk the connection to biology proper takes somewhat longer…

- I hate to mention it since it is inflammatory (and I have been inflammatory enough here) but Dawkins himself highlights the movie’s argumentum ad Nazium by making comparative labels (“some unnamed Gauleiter”).

Dawkins is criticized on his own blog, but to me it seems perfectly appropriate for the context of his article. The problem is that it opens up a can of worms for subsequent debate of it.

- The Bad Astronomer Phil Plait IIRC points out that the Nazi fallacy is the real elephant in the room and should be dragged out in the light as the foul Creation it is. Dawkins repetitive and somewhat reflexive strong defense for biology detracts IMHO from noticing what IDC has been reduced to. He couldn’t leave it out either, and the article is a grander pwn than I could even imagine, so this can be but a minor complaint in the context.

.…innocent of charm and of consonants.

Not since Evelyn Waugh tweeked Yank faux sincerity in “The Loved One” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Loved_One has such a lucid measure of wankerishness been put in English.

Given that Ben Stein is the latest spokesman for creationism, and since creationism all along has been about interpretations of the OT (evolution no; global flood, maybe), wouldn’t “Lying for Noah” be more realistic?

From mathismedia.com:

“When he speaks, you find yourself in the midst of an amazing treasure hunt—inside your own brain.”

Yea, I’m sure that that’s where all of the answers are to be found, within your own misconceptions. Why not go on a treasurre hunt looking for scientific knowledge instead? Maybe all of the answers aren’t inside your brain. Maybe there is some evidence you should examine. Just a thought from inside my own brain.

I thought that I would repost this here so that it is on record, just in case William Wallace doesn’t approve it on his website:

The link that Glenn Davidson provided to the “private” events has “special” in the URL:

http://rsvp.getexpelled.com/events/[…]ial/expelled

The cached version of the RSVP for the Bloomington event has “events” in place of “special”:

rsvp.getexpelled.com/events/events/rsvp/193

I have screen shots of the RSVP list and the form on my computer that I was able to find through the main website, inviting anyone to request a place, from the night that this happened. Surprise, surprise, when I clicked on the RSVP button for a particular showing it took me to exactly the same page and address that the cached version shows.

Both the page that showed all of the dates, and the individual page where you signed up had “events” in the URL, not “special”.

I will host both pages showing this if necessary.

In any case, William, you are going to have to explain why so many people who went through exactly the same process as PZ, at various locations, were all sent confirmation emails, turned up, and were let in? If it was invitation only, they would have known who they had sent invitations to, wouldn’t they? You should stop trying to smear a man who has done no wrong.

As to your claim about what PZ said in that video, if you would like me to go and find 1000 comments that you have made that have neither been substantiated or retracted, I could probably arrange that in no more than an hour. Stop being a hypocrite. It may not be true that those invited were gatecrashers but, by your own definition, anyone who went through the same channel as PZ is a gatecrasher. I challenge you to prove that everyone else had an invitation by showing each and every one of the invitations for each and every person that has been to a showing.

You are better than this nonsense, William. Of that I am sure.

He has been spreading this misinformation on all manner of ID and creationist websites, which I take serious issue with. It is one thing to be ignorant of biology and to argue from that position, but it is entirely another to spread misinformation about someone who has done nothing wrong, and I am not convinced that it is at all an innocent act. I expect better, frankly.

Eric asked:

So if I called a creo/ider a social Darwinist would I be right? :)

It’d be a nice slam if it was accurate. Unfortunately, it’s probably not. The economic aspect of “social Darwinism” is properly called “laissez-faire economics,” and the only people who believe in it these days are Libertarians and crooked businessmen. American history teaches that laissez-faire economics was a mistake, and _some_ government regulation is necessary. Economic conservatives tend to want less government regulation of business, but as far as I know, few want to return to the days of monopolies and robber barons. I’m not sure that creationists even care all that much about economics – most creos are social conservatives and focus on attacking government’s role in social issues, while ignoring or in some cases even advocating government intervention in economic issues.

The social side of “social Darwinism” is also generally frowned on, IMX. Some creationists might still be pushing it, but more as a symptom of their particular sect than of creationism itself.

Damian,

A friend of mine went to a 3/18 viewing at Trinity International in Deerfield, IL. He had no reservation and simply showed up, presented ID, signed the non-disclosure and went in.

I have also registered for a Milwaukee, WI showing without an invite, got the email confirmation and (so far) no retraction of the showing.

The “gatecrashing” and “party crashing” accusations of creationist press and the self-delusional bloggers you noted remain mendacious props to their users points of view.

I doubt that even a notarized sworn statement of the facts would convince such detractors. They’d only accuse us of lying for Darwin.

Science Nut:

I doubt that even a notarized sworn statement of the facts would convince such detractors. They’d only accuse us of lying for Darwin.

They already did. They protect their own egos by assuming and proclaiming that we are no better than them. It’s so pathetic it’s not even funny!

On UnCommon Descent, Sal Cordova makes the following statement

SCordova Wrote:

I was filmed for the movie as well…

The ID side were given the same line that this was for the documentary “Crossroads”.

I felt uncomfortable with the way they secured the interviews as it did not seem completely forthright and appeared deceptive.

however in typical Sal fashion he continues

Although, at this point, if there is a question of the ethics of how evidence was gathered, it will probably increase the publc interest to see the movie. Have I ever lost interest in a journalistic piece because the journalist lied in order to acquire facts (like Celeste Biever)? I can’t recall that I ever had less interest as a result…

JPCollado spins it

Your statements, scordova, completely annihilate the unfounded assertion that the motives of the producers were propagandistic in nature, and at the same time show that ingenious interview techniques were democratically used to get at the bottom of an emotionally-charged amd polarizing issue. These tactics are similar, I guess, to how researchers use placebo pills.

How their words speak even louder than their actions…

Do you think SCordova was telling the truth? Are we going to hear a chorus of “Yeah, that’s what I was told too! “ ??

hoj, you obviously don’t read very much of Panda’s Thumb. Scientists and friendly bloggers get critisized all the time if facts are found to contradict them. ID boggers are attacked with facts, and evidence is demanded of them. So, hoj, evidence please. You can start with any evidence to support the Movie, “Expelled”.

Actually, I read a lot more than I comment. I’m well aware of the games that IDiots play. However, I believe it was just last week ,sometime, that even though most everyone was in disagrement with what SCordova had to say - he WAS complimented on his honesty.

wolfwalker: It’d be a nice slam if it was accurate.

Okay, it may not be entirely accurate, but I swear I see some similarities. At least thats what kept popping into my head when I was reading about it.

Cedric Katesby:

“Mark Mathis is that rare speaker who blah, blah, blah…”

Such modesty in one so talented is rare.

“Credit that you give yourself is not worth having.” -Irving Thalberg, “Boy Wonder” film producer

Something tells me that “Expelled” is never going to be nominated for an Oscar.

The economic aspect of “social Darwinism” is properly called “laissez-faire economics,” and the only people who believe in it these days are Libertarians and crooked businessmen. American history teaches that laissez-faire economics was a mistake, and _some_ government regulation is necessary. Economic conservatives tend to want less government regulation of business, but as far as I know, few want to return to the days of monopolies and robber barons. I’m not sure that creationists even care all that much about economics – most creos are social conservatives and focus on attacking government’s role in social issues, while ignoring or in some cases even advocating government intervention in economic issues.

I’m going to have to qualify this. “Laissez-faire” in American history has almost always been accompanied by government intervention, which is why I put quotes around the term. Incidentally, it is government regulation that most often leads to big business thriving at the expense of small business owners. People like to look at Bush, Cheney, and the oil biz and point to how “laissez-faire” would allow those crooks to profit without government regulation when in reality the business has been subsidized even before the oil cronies were in office. Part of me is really sad that people are so misunderstood on this; I feel almost the same way as when I watched that video of the kids at the museum on Pharyngula.

“EXPELLED” producer Mark Mathis has admitted to Denyse O’Leary that he had expelled PZ Myers only because he wanted him to pay for his admission ticket. He also admitted that he allowed Michael Shermer to see it for free since Shermer was writing a review of it for Scientific American:

http://post-darwinist.blogspot.com/[…]unteers.html

What a DI IDiot Borg drone Mathis is for his abysmal conduct towards PZ (Ditto for O’Leary too for publishing his confession on her blog.).

Cheers,

JK

P. S. Shows you how much O’Leary is suffering from an acute case of verbal diarrhea. A more astute writer wouldn’t post Mathis’ e-mail confession. This also merely demonstrates just how unprofessional Mathis is as a would-be promoter of his quite inane, extremely mendacious, flick.

P. P. S. This was posted originally at an Amazon.com science forum earlier today; I am reposting it here for your benefit.

Shows you how much O’Leary is suffering from an acute case of verbal diarrhea. A more astute writer wouldn’t post Mathis’ e-mail confession.

So you wanted O’Leary to NOT provide everybody with factual first-hand information regarding why Mathis did what he did? You wanted her to cover up the confession instead of reporting it?

(You evolutionists get kind of confabucombobulated sometimes, no?)

FL :)

O’Leary’s publication of Mathis’ confession shows him to be a petulant child, and undermines the goals of your fellow creationists. It’s good news for people who are actually concerned with the truth, but O’Leary is not one of those people. This was an utterly IDiotic thing for her to do. It hurts her cause, and makes the dishonesty of her allies ever more obvious.

If someone publishes a private e-mail without permission, it shows that she is unable to keep a confidence, and her friends shouldn’t tell her any secrets. I mean, when someone tells you a secret from someone else, you would be foolish not to wonder what this same person is telling others about you.

If it was invitation only, they would have known who they had sent invitations to, wouldn’t they?

Actually it would be error prone to have two independent ways of registering, so chances is that this was the only way. And as Troy Britain points out, claiming that the RSVP form asked for name, address, e-mail, and phone number, it doesn’t look like they used a clunky invitation list-to-RSVP registration either as DaveScot apparently hides behind. So there was probably no a priori list.

Btw, I note that the RSVP page has been rendered defunct by putting Done status on all remaining showings. First, probably because Mathis is a control freak. (What could possible make the situation worse?) Second, probably because the revealing form is disused.

In any case, the movie may have been taken out of the market for a while. Good show, Richard! (Plus you know who.)

FL … Duh! I can now guess what “F” stands for, but “bonkers” aren’t correctly spelled.

That was nearly WW class in a display of social ineptness formed by cognitive dissonance. But in dark moments I suspect fundies are not the cognitive misers they appear; they are not up to the “cognitive” part …

“bonkers” aren’t correctly spelled.

Aaargh! Well, at least it wasn’t a spelling mistake. :-\

The producers of Expelled are offering yet another excuse for expelling PZ Myers- it was to teach him a leason in morals.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/go[…]325006175/en

Is this LyingSackOfShit version 4, or 5?

The narrator is somebody called Ben Stein. I had not heard of him

I must confess, until I’d heard of this film, neither had I !

I approve of universal medical care (very un-Darwinian). It is one of the classic philosophical fallacies to derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’.

So do I, of that I wholeheartedly agree with Richard Dawkins. I thank God for the NHS in this country, something I’ve had to make use of due to various ailments/medical conditions that have befallen me over the last few years. I really do feel sorry for the millions of US citizens that either can’t afford medical care or are un-insurable. If I lived in the US I’d probably fall into one of those two groups. Despite it’s problems, the NHS really is the best system in the world.

Hey guys, I was just putting the question on the table. Just seems to me that if I were a PT evolutionist, I wouldn’t petulantly whine about a journalist giving information that presumably lends support to an anti-Mathis rant that I’m all hot and hankering to offer anyway.

But then again, this is PT. Rationality is always an open question in this particular portion of cyberspace.

FL

Hey guys, I was just putting the question on the table. Just seems to me that if I were a PT evolutionist, I wouldn’t petulantly whine about a journalist giving information that presumably lends support to an anti-Mathis rant that I’m all hot and hankering to offer anyway.

But then again, this is PT. Rationality is always an open question in this particular portion of cyberspace.

I don’t think it is a question of being rational. I think it is more a question of being able to consider something from a different viewpoint.

FL missed the point thusly:

Just seems to me that if I were a PT evolutionist, I wouldn’t petulantly whine about a journalist giving information that presumably lends support to an anti-Mathis rant that I’m all hot and hankering to offer anyway.

And if I was a pompous know-nothing creationist, I wouldn’t give that entire game away by making comments that indicate quite clearly that I don’t have a fucking clue what’s going on. Do you think Mark Twain was a racist by chance?

Damn, I said “fuck”, now the framers are going to come after me…

John Kwok! Please come visit us at ATBC! (After The Bar Closes)

You are my hero, ever since you destroyed Behe’s latest “book”.

We even have a seperate blog for Uncommonly Dense (which includes posts about Denyse O’Leary).

http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bi[…]274;st=26340

I can’t keep up. I dub the press release as lie ver 5.01. But, that doesn’t do justice to all the lies the creationists are telling on this one.

V. 1, PZ was “hustling people in line.”

v. 2, PZ was recognized and it was feared he would disrupt the movie.

v. 3, It amuzed Mark Mathis to kick PZ out, and make him pay to see himself after the movie release.

v. 4.1, Myers was kicked out, but Dawkins was let in because Dawkins had been a decent sort, and PZ had said bad things. (v. 4.2 This had all been descided in advance).

v. 5, PZ was kicked out and threatened with arrest to teach him a lessen.

There was also “PZ was kicked out because he didn’t have a ticket” which was the v. 0.0 beta they used while throwing him out of the Mall of America.

The sick irony of that deserves more comment that I have the stomach for right now.

don’t forget “Dawkins used an alias/which happened to be his real name/even though he didn’t sign up at all”

Gary Hurd:

I can’t keep up. I dub the press release as lie ver 5.01. But, that doesn’t do justice to all the lies the creationists are telling on this one.

V. 1, PZ was “hustling people in line.”

v. 2, PZ was recognized and it was feared he would disrupt the movie.

v. 3, It amuzed Mark Mathis to kick PZ out, and make him pay to see himself after the movie release.

v. 4.1, Myers was kicked out, but Dawkins was let in because Dawkins had been a decent sort, and PZ had said bad things. (v. 4.2 This had all been descided in advance).

v. 5, PZ was kicked out and threatened with arrest to teach him a lessen.

There was also “PZ was kicked out because he didn’t have a ticket” which was the v. 0.0 beta they used while throwing him out of the Mall of America.

The sick irony of that deserves more comment that I have the stomach for right now.

Dawkins’ wit is both delicious and razor sharp. Nice read.

When I read Dawkins’ “Lying for Jesus” blog post, he mentioned something about speculation that because of this extraordinary blunder on the part of the creationists that “Expelled” might not even be released. He speculated that the films backers may want to pull out of the project entirely to salvage their reputations.

Is this just wishful thinking on Dawkins’ part or is there something more substantive to these musings? Anyone seen any evidence to lend weight to such speculation?

As for the spin from the Disco Institute on this colossal screwup, I can only say that I am both saddened by their blatant (but all too expected) dishonesty and elated at the irony behind the entire mess.

FL:

Shows you how much O’Leary is suffering from an acute case of verbal diarrhea. A more astute writer wouldn’t post Mathis’ e-mail confession.

So you wanted O’Leary to NOT provide everybody with factual first-hand information regarding why Mathis did what he did? You wanted her to cover up the confession instead of reporting it?

(You evolutionists get kind of confabucombobulated sometimes, no?)

FL :)

So, FL, in what way exactly is pointing out O’Leary’s incompetence in supporting the lies an expression of a wish that she had not done it?

In fact, what we really, really desire is for all you creationists to tell the truth. And by “truth” I mean that which is either an honest account of events (for events within living memory) or verifiable by reference to physical evidence (for events beyond living memory).

Hi J-Dog,

Sure, when I get a chance. PLEASE ask your friends to vote accordingly on my Amazon.com reviews of Behe’s and Dembski and Wells’ mendacious intellectual pornography (Maybe you can enlighten Peter Irons too, since he thinks that my critiques of their work are simply publicity stunts I’ve been engineering on my behalf. Nothing can be further from the truth, since I am utterly repelled by their mendacious intellectual pornography. But I also think that it’s good to deal with them with a little black humor, hence my frequent references to the “Discovery Institute IDiot Borg Collective”, “Klingon Cosmology” and “Answers in Genesis Dalek Collective” (The latter I’ve coined in honor of actress Lalla Ward - Mrs. Richard Dawkins - whom I met during a booksigning for her husband here in New York City years ago.).

Appreciatively yours,

John Kwok

Dear Nigel D.,

Your retort to that IDiot FL was especially well said. For all of her “intelligence”, Denyse O’Leary comes across more often as some Canadian (I do not mean to offend my friends and relatives from Canada; I am just merely noting the fact that she is unfortunately from Canada.) version of an intellectually-impaired Edith Bunker. I believe I have a couple of friends whose dogs have displayed far more intelligence than Ms. Leary has demonstrated so far in her voluminous writings. Maybe if she thought more and wrote less?

Just a thought.

Cheers,

John

John Kwok:

Dear Nigel D.,

Your retort to that IDiot FL was especially well said.

Thank-you!

… Maybe if she thought more and wrote less?

Just a thought.

Cheers,

John

John, I could not agree more. About all of the anti-evolution crowd.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on March 24, 2008 7:22 PM.

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