Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's Still Funny

Expelled is doing all sorts of whining, and it keeps getting funnier. Now they're complaining about skeptical efforts at "Google bombing" to raise one of the central places for critiques of the movie in the search rankings. Apparently our right to free speech is such a horrible imposition on them. After all, what right do we have to expose lies to the public and make a big show about it? Leaves me to wonder just how close Ben Stein and crew are to calling for a ban on free speech and an amendment to repeal the First Amendment.

It seems Expelled is allergic to real publicity. Sure, they put up a big bluff to try to claim any notoriety they can, but whenever they do something morally and ethically wrong, they whine about us talking about it. They flip-flop between an apparent stance that there's no such thing as bad publicity and cries of horror about how wrong it is for us to give them publicity. They've been running scared for a long time. First, they ran away from PZ's publicized challenge for them to post a copy of his whole interview (only a minute or two of which were used in the film itself) as bonus content (Anyone got a link? My archive search isn't working out). Then they expelled PZ from a showing for reasons that change on a daily basis, and now they whine about us giving them public exposure. Someone's chicken:

Premise Media has also learned of grass root efforts that are underway to try to influence the ranking of internet searches regarding Expelled by those wanting to learn about the film. Their stated goal is an attempt to counter-site those searchers to other websites that criticize the themes in the movie.

We are not surprised that opponents of our film are attempting to interfere with its important message.

Horror of horrors! A lot of people are posting links to a criticism of the movie! How dare they! How dare people expose curious web searchers to criticism of something they're looking for? How dare the skeptics provide handy references to quality information!


Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

oh booooooooooooooo hoooooooooooooo

It keeps getting funnier and funnier.

Unfortunately there will be people seeing it who fall for the bullshit.

Clint Bourgeois said...

I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!

Wikinite said...


Anonymous said...

The more I hear about this, the more appalled I am to think I ever believed any of this nonsense.

For a time after I had done my own research and found evolution to be massively different than the cartoon version I kept being presented with, I had assumed what I tend to assume in most cases when it comes to "woo" types, that they genuinely believed what they taught and were merely ignorant of the facts.

Now, I'm losing a lot of that pretense. This really seems like willing attempts to lie to people. I can at least think they still "believe what they teach" but now I'm convinced they can't possibly be ignorant and they seem to basically have a powerful urge to actively ignore evidence like it wasn't even presented. In fact I'm starting to think they took a page from The Prince and are just convinced that while THEY in all their wisdom can properly manage their "double think" the public MUST be lied to for their own good, to preserve "order". That's why I'm neutral good rather than lawful good on my character sheet. I guess I could never be a paladin... I guess I also could never be a spin doctor "framing" master.

Sometimes I think that maybe the best way to destroy them from within might be "meme infection". That is, coming up with heavily religious ideas and passing them off as if they are legitimate in such a way that if the religious groups adhere to them, it'll pretty much result in all these plans failing. Like say, giving an empassioned speech about how "We as Christians shouldn't shy away from contradictions in worldly [they love that word] science and divine revelation, but rather EMBRACE the logical contradiction as one of god's greatest tests, for he is beyond logic and all things are possible in the biscuit mix of the lord, amen.", or "We should realize that deception in god's name is against his commandments and must always be forthcoming, even in our political endevors, for through him if we are honest they shall see the true nature of our message."

I dream about things like that spreading to the point where they either destroy the ability of the fundamentalists to decieve others or prevent them from being able to decieve themselves. Eh, but that covert method isn't really my style.

Monado said...

Good point, Dark Jaguar. Michael Shermer uses that approach with apparent sincerity and ascribes it to the theologian Paul Tillich. His argument approximates "God is outside space and time, so to attempt to prove his existence limits him and is in fact blasphemous."

Sounds good to me.

P.S. I'd like to post something about your discovery of evolution on my blog.. would that be OK? I find it very frustrating to confront the same nonsense over & over again.

Rev. Bigdumbchimp, when you post your parodies in comments, I wish you'd end with "/irony" or something because it's hard to tell. Tnx.

Anonymous said...

You're free to post something but I think I'd like to clarify it so there's no misunderstandings.

I got a general gradeschool teaching of evolution as a kid but I have to say what I was taught really didn't get the idea across in a way that isn't easily abused by those who would want me to ditch the idea. Basically they didn't really explain the idea any further than we came from other species. Even that was more informative than what I would get in a private school a few years later though.

I won't go into too much detail about my own life and all that, but basically I ended up in a school where they taught creationism. In fact the school was a "literalist" sort of christian school (for the most part, even among each teacher there were some pretty large disagreements on biblical issues, which I must say never sat too well). It was to the point where "intelligent design" was considered a cop-out to science. The reality is, while ID and creationism are equals in terms of being completely without evidence and in terms of wedging god into science education, they really are two different ideas in the same way Odin and Zeus are two different ideas, and I think at the very least that should be recognized.

So yeah, the whole process of saying "evolution is bad" started there. You know all those arguments on talkorigins? Yeah, I got almost each and every one of those taught to me. Looking back, that was the entirety of my education on it. There was very little in the way of providing any sort of evidence for creatonism, and the majority of that, as I found out later, was stuff disproved long before it ended up being taught to me.

Let's see... one thing that comes to mind is they decided that EVERY field that discussed an old universe was basically "part of the same theory", and they put it all together based entirey on the one common thread they had, the removal of god from the origin of things. Never mind that they are unrelated fields of study, the fact that they all had to do with how things originated meant it was "all evolution". So here's a big point, when a kid is taught about evolution being wrong, they are getting taught messed up stuff about star formation, the big bang, earth strata, and all manner of dating methods (it goes without saying that abiogenesis gets wrapped up in this). It's important that in providing the facts one realizes just how many things a kid might have been lied to about.

So chapter by chapter it's just nothing but cheap shots at evolution and the other "ancient universe theories". Looking back, it's actually a rather strange obsession in a science book to keep going back to "we don't think this is true" stuff every time they come to a new bit of info they try to teach.

Picture a kid reading a book that has on one page a comic depicting scientists as willing to accept ANY age of the universe except for EXACTLY six days (it has a "witty student" responding to the teacher's statement that the universe "could be 6 billion years old or 6 seconds" with "or six days" and the teacher getting this insane look on his face saying "NEVER!"), and on another page, it has a talk about how geologists and evolutionists are using circular logic to argue how old the earth is with geologists saying they know the earth is old because of all the old fossils in the ground and evolutionists saying they know how old the fossils are because of how old the earth they found it in is.

It even went on about "entropy proves evolution false" and how it's just impossible for any genetic mutation to ever be beneficial.

There are so many things wrong with those arguments I don't know where to start. The problems are manifest and come mainly from the fact that their main "statement" is actually asserting a million other false things as true in the process, and of course I as a student would never know unless I decided to go outside these books and look up the facts myself.

I didn't for a long long time... too long... I thought I knew the facts just as surely as I knew we landed on the moon (the science teachers at this place felt the need to make sure we knew that OUR nutty beliefs were totally different from those OTHER nutty beliefs, so we got a lesson in evidence that we did in fact land on the moon, and that was actually pretty well informed I must admit).

So yeah, the book meandered around from "radiation dating methods are all bunk except carbon dating but we can only use THAT dating as far back as the first tests because "who really knows what the concentration levels were back then?" (and some example of a "LIVE CRAB tested to be over 10000000 years dead") to "these dinosaur tracks were found next to human tracks" to "they have never found a missing link and the ones they claim to have found were imagined entirely based on one small piece of bone from an inner ear" (Dilbert writer guy actually put this argument in one of his cartoons, for SHAME). I'm sure we've all read talkorigins rather thouroughly at this point so I need not explain how utterly idiotic each argument was, but that was my ENTIRE education on the subject! When you hear people using these arguments, bear in mind they are repeating what they heard.

Also bear this in mind. My teachers there truly believed this, and my science teacher in particular was one of the nicest people I've ever met. However, I've come to believe that just because the faculty truly believes the "truth" of something in no way justifies teaching it to kids as fact, at the absolute least not without the due diligence of checking up on the evidence behind what you are teaching the kids you are in charge of. If you've got no evidence, you need to tell them that.

The tone of how it was taught was interesting too. In the same way paranormal magazine and TV shows always give this air of being "just on the edge" of some great awakening in society, so any kids watching psychic shows for the first time become convinced that it's all recent discoveries slowly taking hold in science and in a few years they'll be on the ground floor of "the revolution", I was given the impression that creationism was actively debating and holding a grand discourse in both the scientific community and the public community at large, that "pretty soon this evolution thing is going to be considered as silly as geocentrism". I wasn't even being taught that creationists lived in such a small fringe of society that it's basiclly just a very loud margin.

There is one VERY important thing I have to get across though, because there is some misunderstanding of the mindset of a creationist. A creationist BELIEVES in 6 day creationism and knows it's just belief, but they think they at least "KNOW" evolution is false. That is, having been shown, as far as they can tell, that evolution is "false", they feel the freedom to go ahead and fill in the blank with faith, and admit that they aren't using science to fill it in.

I think it's not entirely clear from how I state it there, but the idea is this. They are saying "scientifically, all we can say is we don't know how life got here, but in faith I believe in my own religion". The thing is they don't intend on proving creationism true, just evolution false, so they can keep using faith to believe in creationism. (Yes, some try to go the next step and prove creationism true as well, but even they will state they are making two seperate claims.)

The reason this distinction is important is because if you were to argue to a creationist "even if you could show evolution isn't true, that doesn't mean your god made it", they'd just take that as a sort of smug victory for themselves, first by thinking they made you conceed something (they got you to the point where they say "but that doesn't prove your god" they would think, even though you were only conceeding to make a point about their lack of evidence), and secondly because they never intended disproving evolution to "prove their god", just to allow them to believe IN their own creationism myth.

At any rate, for years I basically saw any references to evolution as an excuse to laugh to myself and quickly tune out. However, there was one small problem. I was never the sort of person, even if I believed in the "power of faith" to hide from my own doubts. I was convinced then, as I still am now, that by not exploring the other side's arguments, which is to say, avoiding them at any turn, I was admitting doubt. After all, if I truly believed I had nothing to hide from, did I? In that spirit I actively pursued information on evolution so as to convince myself that, yes, their evidence is completley lacking.

Instead, I ended up doing the opposite. Once I started looking into all the science, I discovered more and more evidence in favor of evolution. I wouldn't say I had this stereotypical "shocked" look like I opened some forbidden book. No it doesn't work like that, it was far more subtle and slow over time. I wasn't some drone that had a light shone on me like in a movie after all, but a human being reading stuff.

Anyway, the first bits of information I was actually willing to absorb was about germs mutating and developing resistances. The creationist school of thought about such things is that "in every single case, that adaptation was already IN the gene pool, it's just they are the only ones who end up surviving when the rest die". However, reading up I found out more about how genes actually work, that they aren't really a "thing" one can point to so much as a chunk of persistant copied data, and the very nature of reproduction introduces copying errors and that IS new genes. It took a long time for the meaning behind that to really hit though. Basically at the time I just accepted "okay so new resistances can develop".

Anyway, over time I eventually found out and conceeded more and more to the onslaught of not just information but study after study to back it up. I make it sound like I poored over libraries here but it was really only a few books and various articles. That's all it took, and it was spread over a long period of time at that!

By the end, I did accept that I had been more or less decieved about what evolution ACTUALLY said. It wasn't long there before my faith in general fell apart. I understand not everyone ends up giving up the faith along with creatinism, but for me one led directly to the next. I suppose when one has it drilled into them repeatedly as a kid "remove one word and you have no reason to not just remove them all" it's only a matter of time before that backfires in a major way (hint: they're totally right on that count).

So anyway it all ended with me finally realizing that I'd totally changed my mind over the course of a year (it wasn't apparent as it was happening so much) and now I still read more and more about genes, still learning more about just how much of a complete reality evolution actually is, that it couldn't NOT be true considering what we know about reproduction and DNA. I've learned that, for example, ALL sexual reproduction is by it's very nature a creation of new data, and those decendants are just as viable as ever, just with new combinations of effects like brown hair and green eyes and so on, and that it is exactly these things that lead to changes that might be better fit to survive in this or that situation. I could go on but it's pretty much straight up obvious to anyone willing to give it some thought.

Anyway, that's the story. There's not much "hollywood" to it, there's no oppressive hierarchy catching me in a dark room reading a real science book or "moment of awakening", just a series of misinformation that a curious mind eventually rectified.