Roger Ebert on Expelled

| 39 Comments

Two thumbs way, way up. That’s my review of the review, of course. Not Ebert’s review of the movie. Here’s a nice quote for you:

This film is cheerfully ignorant, manipulative, slanted, cherry-picks quotations, draws unwarranted conclusions, makes outrageous juxtapositions (Soviet marching troops representing opponents of ID), pussy-foots around religion (not a single identified believer among the ID people), segues between quotes that are not about the same thing, tells bald-faced lies, and makes a completely baseless association between freedom of speech and freedom to teach religion in a university class that is not about religion.

Someone should probably swing by Disco with a mop and clean up all the exploded head debris.

(HT: Bad Astronomy)

39 Comments

“Someone should probably swing by Disco with a mop and clean up all the exploded head debris.”

If only, Mike. Nah, the Disco crew will wave this away as they wave away all criticism of their Holy Cause. Still, it’s a very nice, surgical takedown that may help some folks start questioning Creationist tactics and dogma.

“Someone should probably swing by Disco with a mop and clean up all the exploded head debris.”

Oh, c’mon. They’ll just claim Mr. Ebert is part of the wide-spread conspiracy to discredit ID. Like, maybe some scientist paid him to write a negative review in order to discourage people from going to see the movie, thus keeping the public from learning about how evil we evolution believers are.

I’m probably using the term a little differently than you’re used to. I meant that they’re going to be so pissed off that it’s going to make their heads explode, not that it would somehow force them to change any of their beliefs.

I’d predict that an indignant reply is going to be forthcoming from someone (probably Luskin or Crowther) within the next few days.

But did he like it?

I’m thrilled Roger Ebert is healthy enough to weigh in finally on Ben Stein and his inane involvement with that risible piece of cinematic mendacious intellectual pornography known as “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”. It’s a pity however that no other film critic of Ebert’s stature has opted to tear that loathsome piece of dreck into metaphorical shreds.

In regard to the claims made in expelled regarding eugenics, it was Governor James Frank Hanley of Indiana, who, in 1907, signed the first eugenical sterilization law in the world, paving the way for similar laws in more than thirty other states and nearly a dozen countries around the world. He was a Republican, and a Christian.

John Kwok said:

I’m thrilled Roger Ebert is healthy enough to weigh in finally on Ben Stein and his inane involvement with that risible piece of cinematic mendacious intellectual pornography known as “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”. It’s a pity however that no other film critic of Ebert’s stature has opted to tear that loathsome piece of dreck into metaphorical shreds.

I can’t find a copy of the review at the moment, but Richard Roeper tore it apart.

A mop? More like a shovel.

At the Movies with Ebert and Roeper co-host Richard Roeper wrote today (Thursday) that he has been accused of “liberal bias” for not reviewing the “intelligent design” documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed on the TV show. In his column in the Chicago Sun-Times Roeper insisted that no liberal conspiracy was involved in the omission. “Expelled wasn’t screened for us,” he wrote, but given the attention the film has received he finally managed to see it. “Wow,” he concluded, “What a piece of garbage.”

Source

John Kwok said:

I’m thrilled Roger Ebert is healthy enough to weigh in finally on Ben Stein and his inane involvement with that risible piece of cinematic mendacious intellectual pornography known as “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”. It’s a pity however that no other film critic of Ebert’s stature has opted to tear that loathsome piece of dreck into metaphorical shreds.

Why should they bother? Doing so would be unlikely to convince anyone either way. Moreover the film hasn’t been that successful so it isn’t clear why any prominent movie reviewer should bother.

John Kwok Wrote:

It’s a pity however that no other film critic of Ebert’s stature has opted to tear that loathsome piece of dreck into metaphorical shreds.

Sorry to break it to you, but Gene Siskel just wrote a very favorable review. And it’s up to you “Darwinists” to prove to me that he didn’t. ;-)

Joshua Zelinsky Wrote:

Why should they bother? Doing so would be unlikely to convince anyone either way. Moreover the film hasn’t been that successful so it isn’t clear why any prominent movie reviewer should bother.

I’m not so sure about that. Here’s why: From various sources I estimate that ~25% of the public is so hopeless that nothing could make them concede evolution. But ~45% answer those poll questions with not just doubt of evolution, but apparently favoring a “young life” model that even most DI fellows reject. And another ~20% accept evolution (or what they think is evolution) yet still think it’s fair to teach the DI’s propaganda in science class. Many people, myself included, changed their mind when carefully considering the evidence - both that for evolution and that for how anti-evolutionists use every trick in the book to mislead.

John Kwok said: It’s a pity however that no other film critic of Ebert’s stature has opted to tear that loathsome piece of dreck into metaphorical shreds.

John, Here’s a link to 13 major newspaper and magazine reviews of Expelled. None of the reviews are positive.

http://www.metacritic.com/film/titl[…]d?q=expelled

Frank J said:

John Kwok Wrote:

It’s a pity however that no other film critic of Ebert’s stature has opted to tear that loathsome piece of dreck into metaphorical shreds.

Sorry to break it to you, but Gene Siskel just wrote a very favorable review. And it’s up to you “Darwinists” to prove to me that he didn’t. ;-)

So I guess that makes Siskel the L. Ron Hubbard of movie reviewers.…

I doubt that most professional movie reviewers have a greater than average knowledge base in science. What I like about the Ebert review is that it demonstrates pretty well that any reasonably intelligent non-scientist with critical thinking skills can easily see right through the deceptive nature of Expelled. So though the religionist base that the movie caters to will lap it up no matter how bad it is, it is not likely to draw many other people into the creationist/ID camp. It may even repel some people that have been here-to-fore fence-sitters on the issue.

“Someone should probably swing by Disco with a mop and clean up all the exploded head debris.” It occurs to me that a broom and dustpan might be more appropriate, as the debris is likely to consist predominantly of thick skull fragments, and not much actual brain tissue. Sorry, I know it’s mean, but I couldn’t resist.

Frank J said:

John Kwok Wrote:

It’s a pity however that no other film critic of Ebert’s stature has opted to tear that loathsome piece of dreck into metaphorical shreds.

Sorry to break it to you, but Gene Siskel just wrote a very favorable review. And it’s up to you “Darwinists” to prove to me that he didn’t. ;-)

Joshua Zelinsky Wrote:

Why should they bother? Doing so would be unlikely to convince anyone either way. Moreover the film hasn’t been that successful so it isn’t clear why any prominent movie reviewer should bother.

I’m not so sure about that. Here’s why: From various sources I estimate that ~25% of the public is so hopeless that nothing could make them concede evolution. But ~45% answer those poll questions with not just doubt of evolution, but apparently favoring a “young life” model that even most DI fellows reject. And another ~20% accept evolution (or what they think is evolution) yet still think it’s fair to teach the DI’s propaganda in science class. Many people, myself included, changed their mind when carefully considering the evidence - both that for evolution and that for how anti-evolutionists use every trick in the book to mislead.

Considering that Gene Siskel died in 1999, his review of Expelled must be being beamed in with zero frequency photons. Can you provide a link to where you read the review, Frank?

marilyn said:

It may even repel some people that have been here-to-fore fence-sitters on the issue.

I don’t think anybody needs to be a rocket scientist to get suspicious when people are screaming “WOLF! WOLF! NAZI! NAZI!” in their face. “We’ve seen this game before.”

I even get annoyed with “Team Darwin” (I kinda like that phrase) when they compare Darwin-bashers to Holocaust Deniers: “They’re bogus, folks, but come on, they’re not THAT bogus.” Hmm, I might want to put together a TEAM DARWIN logo. Any suggestions on what it might look like? Don’t have good ideas for the moment.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

iml8 said:

Hmm, I might want to put together a TEAM DARWIN logo. Any suggestions on what it might look like? Don’t have good ideas for the moment.

I don’t know about a logo, but the slogan should be “Evolve, dammit!”

David vun Kannon Wrote:

Considering that Gene Siskel died in 1999, his review of Expelled must be being beamed in with zero frequency photons. Can you provide a link to where you read the review, Frank?

I can’t of course, but since ID can accommodate all the results of dead people writing reviews, maybe the DI can help. ;-)

Off topic, and for PvM, since I know it’s a topic he likes: did you know that Dembski has said he’s given up on the explanatory filter? Turns out that actually chance, law, and design aren’t mutually exclusive. Who could have guessed?

eric said:

John Kwok said: It’s a pity however that no other film critic of Ebert’s stature has opted to tear that loathsome piece of dreck into metaphorical shreds.

John, Here’s a link to 13 major newspaper and magazine reviews of Expelled. None of the reviews are positive.

http://www.metacritic.com/film/titl[…]d?q=expelled

On Rotten Tomatoes, Expelled got a stunningly bad 10% tomatometer rating-only 4 out of 36 reviewers liked it, and it grossed about $7.5 mil. In contrast, Bill Maher’s movie, Religulous, grossed nearly $13 mil though it was released in about half as many theaters as Expelled, and got a 71% tomatometer rating. Even if you think movie reviewers are mostly biased liberals, Expelled had to be really bad to get waxed by Religulous, when you consider the proportion of creationists to atheists in the general US population.

Venus Mousetrap,

Thanks for this:

Venus Mousetrap said:

Off topic, and for PvM, since I know it’s a topic he likes: did you know that Dembski has said he’s given up on the explanatory filter? Turns out that actually chance, law, and design aren’t mutually exclusive. Who could have guessed?

Do you know when Dembski gave up on the explanatory filter? I’ve asked him several times - both in person (after the AMNH ID debate back in the Spring of 2002) and in private e-mail correspondence - how he calculate confidence limits for it. Never gave me an answer, opting instead to ignore my question.

John

I don’t know when he decided this, but he mentioned it yesterday in a comment at UD:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/inte[…]mment-299021

Venus Mousetrap said:

I don’t know when he decided this, but he mentioned it yesterday in a comment at UD:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/inte[…]mment-299021

Venus,

Thanks for posting that. What is amusing is that Dembski concedes the first part of Prof. Olofsson’s refutation but then continues to rely on the bad math O. refutes in his second part. Prof. Olofsson’s refutation of Behe’s reliance on probability would apply to (and invalidate) Dembski’s remaining reliance on ‘straight CSI.”

W. Dembski said: (1) I’ve pretty much dispensed with the EF. It suggests that chance, necessity, and design are mutually exclusive. They are not. Straight CSI is clearer as a criterion for design detection.

eric said:

Prof. Olofsson’s refutation of Behe’s reliance on probability would apply to (and invalidate) Dembski’s remaining reliance on ‘straight CSI.”

“Straight CSI” is little more than a mathematical rendering of the Paley fallacy: “If it’s [specifically] complex then it must have been Designed.” Specific complexity is established by “monkeys & typewriters” type probability calculations that ignore actual models of how biostructures arose and throw out natural selection.

The puzzling thing is that Dembski is making an effort to clarify his argument, when his direction in the past seems to have been consistently to make it as obscure as possible.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

The puzzling thing is that Dembski is making an effort to clarify his argument, when his direction in the past seems to have been consistently to make it as obscure as possible.

I’m not that puzzled. What I don’t think most of us fully take into account is, guys like Dembski actually believe goddidit POOF. So the goal isn’t, and never can be, to determine what happened or how it happened, these are both known beforehand. The goal is to clarify and demonstrate this Truth. To show that it’s plausible to those who otherwise can’t see the Truth Dembski’s god crams into our faces every day of our lives.

Similarly with Philip Johnson, who sincerely believed that scientists who started with the answer already in hand, wouldn’t have the slightest difficulty using the methods of science to discover what Johnson already knows is the case. I think Johnson still believes this – creationist scientists are frustratingly not even bothering to go through the motions because when they know the answer before they start, why bother “looking”? Even Behe testified under oath that design is an immediately self-evident property of an organism. What possible scientific experiment could one perform to show “scientifically” that green is actually green? Much like design, all you can do is point to it and say “LOOK, dammit! Design! Right there! LOOK!”

Dear Frank J,

I think I know how Siskel “wrote” a review of “Expelled” even though he died almost ten years ago:

Frank J said:

David vun Kannon Wrote:

Considering that Gene Siskel died in 1999, his review of Expelled must be being beamed in with zero frequency photons. Can you provide a link to where you read the review, Frank?

I can’t of course, but since ID can accommodate all the results of dead people writing reviews, maybe the DI can help. ;-)

If I’m not mistaken, didn’t the crew of a Klingon battlecruiser travel back in time to 1996 with a copy of “Expelled”, forced him to view it and then write a review of it? That would make a lot more sense IMHO than all the inane advertising for “Expelled” courtesy of the DI and Ben Stein.

Appreciatively yours,

John

Dear Flint:

‘Tis a harsh, but most likely, accurate assessment:

Flint said:

The puzzling thing is that Dembski is making an effort to clarify his argument, when his direction in the past seems to have been consistently to make it as obscure as possible.

I’m not that puzzled. What I don’t think most of us fully take into account is, guys like Dembski actually believe goddidit POOF. So the goal isn’t, and never can be, to determine what happened or how it happened, these are both known beforehand. The goal is to clarify and demonstrate this Truth. To show that it’s plausible to those who otherwise can’t see the Truth Dembski’s god crams into our faces every day of our lives.

Similarly with Philip Johnson, who sincerely believed that scientists who started with the answer already in hand, wouldn’t have the slightest difficulty using the methods of science to discover what Johnson already knows is the case. I think Johnson still believes this – creationist scientists are frustratingly not even bothering to go through the motions because when they know the answer before they start, why bother “looking”? Even Behe testified under oath that design is an immediately self-evident property of an organism. What possible scientific experiment could one perform to show “scientifically” that green is actually green? Much like design, all you can do is point to it and say “LOOK, dammit! Design! Right there! LOOK!”

Wish my insistence on calculating confidence limits had something to do with Dembski’s “apparent” change of heart, but something tells me that GOD “ordered” him to forget the EF ASAP.

Regards,

John

Kohn Kwok Wrote:

If I’m not mistaken, didn’t the crew of a Klingon battlecruiser travel back in time to 1996 with a copy of “Expelled”, forced him to view it and then write a review of it?

Yes, but Stein intercepted it on his way to Uranus during those “wonder years”. ;-)

(am I the only one who remembers that episode?)

something tells me that GOD “ordered” him to forget the EF ASAP.

I think this is a bit unfair. My preference is to think Dembski understood all of the various flaws with the EF. I don’t mean just the details of his math, but that he actually understood the basic problem, namely that Design is simply not a conclusion; it cannot be reached by following any rules of inference or logical argument, nor by doing “best fit” analysis of available data.

Instead, I prefer to think Dembski saw what Behe testified - that you must necessarily start with design, not as a conclusion but as an axiom. That those who do not KNOW, intuitively and indelibly, that life was Designed before they’re old enough to spell or pronounce “design”, are doomed to be unable to find or internalize Design forever after. If you don’t start there, you can’t get there.

The failure of the EF, I think, has shown Dembski this. Design does not logically “follow” from anything - no line of reasoning or observation. Instead, reasoning and observation follow from the knowledge of Design. And this is precisely why the battle is being fought over the curricula of pubescent children - after that age (at the very oldest), humans REACH conclusions, rather than assuming them doggedly against any and all evidence and reason.

@Flint: if you wanted to prove “scientifically” that green is green you could bring out the methods of spectral analysis, charts of human eye response to different frequencies etc. That makes it even more embarrassing for Dembski; lots of really obvious things are also demonstrable, but his “design” is more like an aesthetic judgement.

Flint Wrote:

Instead, I prefer to think Dembski saw what Behe testified - that you must necessarily start with design, not as a conclusion but as an axiom.

Exactly!

What I often think about is that, whether one starts with the axiom of “design” or “not design”, and follows the evidence of the whats, whens and hows, one arrives at evolution either way.

What “scientific” creationists started, and IDers perfected, despite their pretense of “follow the evidence where it leads,” is a neat strategy to not follow the evidence at all, but to cherry pick only that which would lead their audience backwards to conclude both “design” and “not evolution.” Most nonscientists would not recognize the difference.

The problem with the pre-ID strategies is that they would backtrack to mutually contradictory versions of whats and whens (no “hows” of course). One strategy was to pick the one version (heliocentric YEC) that they thought would sell best. But that ran into legal problems (too much like Genesis) and made too many easily-falsified claims. Hence the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ID, which now has its own legal problems.

Flint said: I don’t mean just the details of his math, but that he actually understood the basic problem, namely that Design is simply not a conclusion; it cannot be reached by following any rules of inference or logical argument,

Good hypothesis…unfortunately its contradicted by the second part of Dembski’s statement, where he says he thinks ‘straight CSI’ is a stronger proof of design. That kind of implies he thinks a skeptic CAN ‘get there from here.’

Flint: if you wanted to prove “scientifically” that green is green you could bring out the methods of spectral analysis, charts of human eye response to different frequencies etc.

No, you could not. You could prove that some item is reflecting light in the frequency range DEFINED as green, but you cannot use scientific methods to establish the definition itself.

Behe has done essentially what you are saying can be done - he has DECLARED the flagellum to be designed, and then used the methods of science to describe that flagellum in great detail. He finds that the description he’s produced meets his foregone conclusions, much as spectral analysis can show that some wavelength meets the definition of green.

So as I said, the presumption of (supernatural) design is both a starting and an ending point. If you don’t start there, you can’t get there by any path. If you DO start there, evidently you can’t leave.

unfortunately its contradicted by the second part of Dembski’s statement, where he says he thinks ‘straight CSI’ is a stronger proof of design.

You may be right, but I see signs of Dembski struggling with this. He seems to be coming to the realization that “straight CSI” can only be specified post facto - that is, AFTER the determination of design has already been made. That you simply can’t use the EF to determine design, only to ratify a foregone determination.

I think Dembski’s long-time refusal to actually apply his filter to any real-world unknown implies that he realizes this.

Disgustingly enough, Ben Stein has revived his career and is now seen as a talking head on all matter of things, like economics.

Meanwhile Falwell’s school of “Law” is running a symposium on the law of teaching ID in February: http://www.liberty.edu/academics/la[…]fm?PID=17905

I watched an interview with this nut and he kept going on about darwinism I think he meant evolution. I know evolution must be truer than creationism and that humans share a common ancestor with the great apes because I’m now over 50 and just like a great ape I have a hairy back and hairy ears see conclusive proof now buddy show me yours.

Veritas36 Wrote:

Disgustingly enough, Ben Stein has revived his career and is now seen as a talking head on all matter of things, like economics.

Stein has been discussing economics on TV and radio for years. He came across knowledgeable and reasonable (caveat, I’m not an economist, just one who agrees with him that govt. is more a problem than a solution). Since he never mentioned science I thought he would have been more like a Charles Krauthammer or George Will (both criticized ID/creationism) instead of the “postmodern Pat Buchanan” that he is. Hearing him foam at the mouth about “Darwinism” was like listening to a completely different person.

Frank J said:

Hearing him foam at the mouth about “Darwinism” was like listening to a completely different person.

John Derbyshire had pretty much the same reaction, more or less saying: “I used to think he was a sensible sorta guy. What happened?”

The exasperating thing about EXPELLED is that one feels embarrassed to pay it any mind but it’s too obnoxious to ignore. Ebert had to bite the bullet and review it even though he knew he’d rather not.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Flint said:

unfortunately its contradicted by the second part of Dembski’s statement, where he says he thinks ‘straight CSI’ is a stronger proof of design.

You may be right, but I see signs of Dembski struggling with this. He seems to be coming to the realization that “straight CSI” can only be specified post facto - that is, AFTER the determination of design has already been made. That you simply can’t use the EF to determine design, only to ratify a foregone determination.

I think Dembski’s long-time refusal to actually apply his filter to any real-world unknown implies that he realizes this.

This sounds very much like a circular argument: If you accept design as a premise then, using CSI or EF or whatever method you care to name, you can prove design as a conclusion. The problem seems to be that EF didn’t exclude enough to make it workable even in using circular logic like that.

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Dunford published on December 3, 2008 4:18 PM.

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