Bioethics, politics, public policy, science

>Expelled: movie to explore politics of science

>Ben Stein on the movie, “Expelled,”

“Big Science in this area of biology has lost its way,” says Stein. “Scientists are supposed to be allowed to follow the evidence wherever it may lead, no matter what the implications are. Freedom of inquiry has been greatly compromised, and this is not only anti-American, it’s anti-science. It’s anti-the whole concept of learning.”

Don’t be surprised if the same attacks and tactics are used against anyone involved with this movie. The point of the movie is not to prove or disprove evolution or intelligent design. The purpose is to report the personal attacks on anyone in academia who does not toe the line on evolution. Let me say that again: it’s about the treatment of people, not the science.

For example, Stein meets Richard Sternberg, a double PhD biologist who allowed a peer-reviewed research paper describing the evidence for intelligence in the universe to be published in the scientific journal Proceedings. Not long after publication, officials from the National Center for Science Education and the Smithsonian Institution where Sternberg was a research fellow began a coordinated smear and intimidation campaign to get the promising young scientist expelled from his position. This attack on scientific freedom was so egregious that it prompted a congressional investigation.

On his journey, Stein meets other scientists such as astrobiologist Guillermo Gonzalez, who was denied tenure at Iowa State University in spite of his extraordinary record of achievement. Gonzalez made the mistake of documenting the design he has observed in the universe. There are others, such as Caroline Crocker, a brilliant biology teacher at George Mason University who was forced out of the university for briefly discussing problems with Darwinian theory and for telling the students that some scientists believe there is evidence of design in the universe. The list goes on and on.

Unlike some other documentary films, Expelled doesn’t just talk to people representing one side of the story. The film confronts scientists such as Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, influential biologist and atheist blogger PZ Myers and Eugenie Scott, head of the National Center for Science Education. The creators of Expelled crossed the globe over a two-year period, interviewing scores of scientists, doctors, philosophers and public leaders. The result is a startling revelation that freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry have been expelled from publicly-funded high schools, universities and research institutions.

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22 thoughts on “>Expelled: movie to explore politics of science

  1. >The preview takes the point of view that intelligent design has validity and should be discussed in science classrooms.That is incorrect.

    Posted by Anonymous | September 6, 2007, 11:30 am
  2. >Why is that incorrect? What proofs are available to discount the theory of intelligent design?

    Posted by Anonymous | September 9, 2007, 8:23 pm
  3. >Anonymouses (Anonymice?), y'all need to at least give us a A1 and A2, so we'll be able to keep you apart.

    Posted by | September 10, 2007, 1:39 pm
  4. >Let me rephrase that: I, Anonymous2, ask, "Why is that incorrect? What proofs are available to discount the theory of intelligent design?"

    Posted by anonymous2 | September 11, 2007, 3:57 am
  5. >The onus is on the proponents of intelligent design to present objective evidence to support their position.Producing a movie which pretends that evidence actually exists proves nothing.

    Posted by Anonymous | September 13, 2007, 6:29 pm
  6. >I believe the point of the movie is that scientists and educators who want to explore or discuss the possibility of intelligent design are being either suppressed or removed from their jobs.

    Posted by anonymous2 | September 20, 2007, 2:02 pm
  7. >The science classroom is not the place for unsubstantiated conjectures.Astrology, alchemy, eugenics are not science and are not part of the science curriculum. Intelligent design belongs on that list.The film preview claims there is evidence supporting intelligent design.That is not correct.

    Posted by Anonymous | September 21, 2007, 2:20 am
  8. >You can find out more information on the movie by checking out their website at

    Posted by Anonymous | November 13, 2007, 6:17 pm
  9. >"This attack on scientific freedom was so egregious that it prompted a congressional investigation."And that investigation found that there was nothing to investigate.No harm – no foul. So what's the big deal about a temporary editor slipping in an "intelligent design" article into a publication where it was completely inappropriate as the last thing he did before his term as editor ended? Was it peer-reviewed? No one can prove it one way or the other.

    Posted by Anonymous | December 27, 2007, 11:42 pm
  10. >This latest Anonymous poster doesn't get it right – at all. There was harm, there was foul. There were no specific laws broken, but we found out again how emotional and punitive the academics can be.The result of the investigation is on line here.From the letter from the Office of Special Counsel:Additional evidence of discrimination and retaliation will be developed below. However, since you are a RA, this section does not grant you protections.First Amendment Violations, Religious and Political Affiliation DiscriminationOur investigation also shows that there is a strong religious and political component to the actions taken after the publication of the Meyer article. Much of the e-mail traffic after the publication of the Meyer article documented a personal investigation of you and tabbed you as a "creationist." Read on, the list is extensive, the quotes telling.

    Posted by | December 28, 2007, 7:28 am
  11. >"Read on, the list is extensive, the quotes telling."Yes and no. It also says:"The SI may in fact maintain documents that place our current information in a different context."So this investigator did not get full cooperation from the SI and decided that his department did not have the authority to pursue the investigation further (since Sternberg was not actually an employee).The emails suggested retaliatory action, but that action was not actually taken. So there was no harm and no basis for a lawsuit.Sternberg did not lose access and did not lose his office. He took an obvious political action and suffered an appropriate political response (scientific embarassment).Contrast this to the Texas Education Agency Director of Science who forwarded an email and was forced to resign because of her creationist superiors. Now there's an inappropriate retaliation to a 9-year employee who was not a political appointee.

    Posted by Anonymous | December 30, 2007, 6:29 pm
  12. >Anonymous, Are you the same Anonymous who has been posting on the Comer case here and here, and previously on this post? Do you believe that Sternberg is a creationist and that that is the reason that he published the article in question?

    Posted by | December 30, 2007, 7:02 pm
  13. >Yes, it appears that you are the same Anonymous – same city, ISP, etc.It's interesting that you call Sternberg a liar when he says that he had the article reviewed by 3 peers. At the same time, you don't believe that Forrest's "Inside Creationism's Trojan Horse" is the least bit political, even though she's the one who (as I quoted earlier) says that . . ."These people are fanatics. . . . They know they have to get hold of the kids." A little earlier, Forrest stated that the believers are guilty of projection. From this side, it looks like a case of "Pot, Kettle." The last thing Forrest speaks on is the need to watch out for which judges are appoint[ed], the need to teach the teachers to tell students that belief in a Creator is bad science and that "We need to stop electing people who put up with this crap!"

    Posted by | December 30, 2007, 7:20 pm
  14. >"Are you the same Anonymous who has been posting on the Comer case here and here, and previously on this post?"Yes."Do you believe that Sternberg is a creationist and that that is the reason that he published the article in question?"The article is "trumpetted" by the creationists as a "peer-reviewed" article. So obviously the editor that picked the reviewers (who remain anonymous) has creationist "sympathies". He has attended certain meetings. Birds of a feather…"At the same time, you don't believe that Forrest's "Inside Creationism's Trojan Horse" is the least bit political…"It is quite a bit political. There is a political "debate" taking place. There is no scientific "debate" taking place. So someone who tries to explain why there is no scientific debate is taking a part in the political debate.

    Posted by Anonymous | January 10, 2008, 1:01 pm
  15. >It's about bribing schools to bring their kids:

    Posted by Anonymous | January 16, 2008, 7:53 pm
  16. >I'd like to revise anonymous1's remarks. His point that:"The science classroom is not the place for unsubstantiated conjectures."is not strictly speaking true. Science has plenty of room for conjecture – even that for which no evidence exists. Einstein's two postulates for special relativity had no a priori justification (speed of light is constant in all inertial reference frames, laws of physics are the same in all inertial reference frames). Dirac, in studying beta decay, posited the existence of the neutrino particle to explain the dynamics of the collision (which appeared to be three body); he had no reason for assuming there was another particle. String theory is full of 'unsubstantiated conjecture;' much of theoretical physics starts with a set of unsubstantiated axioms. In Einstein's and Dirac's case, they turned out to be right.The criterion for a scientific theory is not that it be substantiated, but that it be testable and repeatable. In popular culture, Intelligent Design has obtained a definitive label of pseudoscientific creationism. While I haven't read the Meyer article cited in the trailer, there does exist a profound bias in the scientific community about discussing Intelligent Design. This is a reasonable bias if and only if the discussion is not scientific. If a testable hypothesis is presented in an I.D. article, it should be accepted by the community.

    Posted by PhysicsGuy | February 1, 2008, 9:52 pm
  17. >"If a testable hypothesis is presented in an I.D. article, it should be accepted by the community."I agree. But it's been 20+ years and "God did it somehow somewhere somewhen somewhy" is not a testable hypothesis. And neither is "I see design in living things." And neither is "the creation of life from non-life is improbable." So what is ID?On the other hand, "irreducible complexity" is a test of evolution and evolution passed the test. But this has nothing to do with ID.

    Posted by Anonymous | February 24, 2008, 6:07 pm
  18. >If there is no God, there is no sin. Running away from God and individual and collective sin is the issue here. But wishing God out in my opinion is only temporary for those who believe in eternity. These scientists can harden their hearts all they want. My question is why bring the kids into it? Give them a chance to decide on their own. But they won't. They won't because the sooner God can be removed the sooner their sin may be dismissed. Just remember this has been done before and the results get ugly fast. For those who believe keep fighting and pray for grace from God and for those who need freedom from the penalty and pain of sin turn to Jesus Christ.

    Posted by Anonymous | April 15, 2008, 1:04 am
  19. >"My question is why bring the kids into it? Give them a chance to decide on their own."Typically religion begins indoctrinating kids before the age of six. By the time they get to a biology class in the 9th grade (where evolution is supposed to but may not be taught), it's a little late to give them a chance to decide on their own.The scientific response:

    Posted by onein6billion | April 17, 2008, 5:00 am
  20. >a pro-expelled review

    Posted by Anonymous | August 2, 2009, 7:08 am
  21. >Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

    Posted by Research Paper | June 6, 2010, 10:57 am

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