Always ethereal, always eclectic, I write as the mood strikes, when there intrigue reveals itself. Usually that means something controversial or adventure of some sort.

I've tried really hard to be unprovocative, but have as yet been unsuccessful.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Cancellation of Expelled

To catch people up, there is a new movie coming out, Expelled, which desires to show how evolution caused the Holocaust and how the Intelligent Design Hypothesis is correct. The producers are trying to respond to the successful Flock of Dodos movie- which is a bit odd, since Flock of Dodos wasn't polemic by a long shot, but took shots at both sides of the conflict. Expelled makes the rather specious claim that professors and scientists are losing their positions because of the promotion of intelligent design. As I've been on the opposite side of that situation (losing the position because of promotion of evolution), I find the argument somewhat ... audacious. (And yes, this is the same movie that has possibly violated copyright law in copying the Harvard video from my previous post.)

Recently, a fierce opponent of Intelligent Design, Dr. PZ Myers, was expelled from the movie. This despite him being actually interviewed in the movie, and even thanked in the closing credits. Though he and others were interviewed under false pretenses, being told the movie was about something else and from a different organization than it actually was. (I'm not making this up- these are the basic facts that everyone agrees with.) He signed up the way anyone can online, and to test him out, I decided to do the same thing.

I have been ambivalent about attending a screening of this movie. I don't want to pay money to help spread lies, but it is important to know what is being said. I thought a free screening would satisfy my austere ethics, but unfortunately, there were no more screenings at churches in Discovery Town, Seattle, or throughout the Northwest. Instead, I chose a screening in Pennsylvania, and felt that the Friends Plymouth Meeting would be quite appropriate. Contrary to a friend's suggestion, I was not trying to ensure an empty seat (although the idea of getting hoards of scientists to sign up and not go to ensure an empty theatre does have it's appeal), but rather just to test out whether if, in fact, PZ was telling the truth: that he hadn't crashed the movie, but rather signed up as anyone can. And I've decided also to go ahead and pay for a screening later in the month, as a group from the church I attend will be going, along with a woman who works for the Discovery Institute and goes to this church. I figure the ensuing discussion after will be worth the price of admission, and my soul.


Though I wasn't planning to attend, I was rather surprised to receive this email yesterday:

Due to unavoidable changes in the travel plans of the producers of Expelled, the 7PM screening at the AMC Plymouth Meeting has been CANCELED. We will notify you as soon as possible if we are able to confirm a new screening.

Sincerely,

The Expelled Team


Had they found out who I was? Were they trying to find some way to exclude me from a showing as well? I thought perhaps the Plymouth Friends realized that they didn't want to host something not in keeping with the Truth Testimony. I was wrong again.

It turns out that the expulsion of PZ was the most blogged about topic on the internet yesterday. The Expelled producers and the Discovery Institute have tried a whole host of explanations for why they kept someone interviewed in the movie from seeing a public showing that he signed up for. Now they are saying it was to give him a taste of what it's like to be expelled. In other words, because the movie compares (explicitly) evolution to the Nazis (again, not making this up) to show how evil the scientific community is in denying tenure to a professor, the producers decided to deny admission to a professor. Thank God they didn't decide to emulate Nazis in order to show how evil they are.

The other thing they've done as part of damage control was cancel all showings of the movie, for now. Strangely, the letter I received seems to indicate cancellation of only the showing I signed up for, giving reasons different from what actually occurred. But of more serious import - Darn. I'm not as important as I'd hoped. Again.

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April 4th Update: It would appear that the Expelled producers are canceling and rescheduling showings in order to weed out "undesirables". There they go again. Emulating the folks they decry in the movie.

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