imageMy wife and I saw Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed this evening, and I was pleasantly surprised.

I had low expectations due to the raving disgust of most reviewers, but having seen it, I can now see that their reviews lacked any objective evaluation of the film’s artistry, style and content.  Since the film is well made, I suspect that the real problem is that the movie conflicts with many reviewers’ world view, and they are offended and unable to properly evaluate or appreciate the movie for what it is – a fairly well made documentary of ideological hegemony and persecution in science and academia.

The movie spent most of it’s time merely documenting the systematic bias and draconian measures used to censure those who question Darwinian orthodoxy, and it also introduces us to the logical consequences of Darwinism in history, linking it to eugenics and Nazism.  What it documents is both frightening and pathetic.

What I enjoyed about the movie:

  • The consistent insertion of old black and white footage in-between the color segments of the interviews.  This technique was mostly humorous, providing sly, satirical commentary on what was being said.  It also helped break up the documentary and keep it fresh. 
  • The mostly respectful and straightforward representation of the notorious atheists and anti-IDists. Perhaps the ID antagonists were not told exactly in what context their interviews would be presented, but their ideas were not misrepresented, or twisted or taken out of context.  I suspect that deceiving them produced more honest answers, rather than the typical patronizing scorn they exude when discussing ID. 
  • The soundtrack – the music won’t win any awards perhaps, but they were very good at creating mood.  A couple of scenes were made much more memorable due to the music.  Good job.
  • The movie tracked Ben’s supposed investigative process. Instead of being a screed from start to end, it is presented as an honest search for the truth, and the progress of the questions Ben pursued and presented was logical and unforced, and felt relaxed and natural in its unfolding. 
  • Berlinksi Almost everyone interviewed on both sides of the issue were highly educated and well spoken.  Both the IDists and the atheist/evolutionists come across as being educated at the best institutions, and the IDists seemed particularly articulate (of course).  One of my favorites was Dr. David Berlinksi, who had some really insightful things to say, and was a bit of a curmudgeon.
  • Good editing of interview footage:  Good editing down to the essentials, not a lot of useless words.  I could, however, seen less of Ben walking around in the various locations, though his sneakered-suit ambling did provide some comic relief.
  • There were some though-provoking one liners.  I forgot most, but will fill them in after I take my friends and see it again.  Things like
    • Questions that are insufficiently answered don’t go away (Obama anyone?)
    • Courts and judges don’t settle matters of science, facts do.
  • ID, Creationism, and Agnostic Jews: It was nice to see a little explanation of just why ID is not "microwaved Creationism" – the inclusion of many agnostic and irreligious Jews like Berlinksi (who also wrote The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions) spoke pretty well to the fact that Creationists are NOT running or bankrolling ID, despite the fact that enraged atheists can’t tell the difference.
  • Enraged atheists: It was pretty obvious that almost to a man, the atheists and anti-IDists (all men of great academic and intellectual prowess) were angry, derisive, haughty, and the movie’s allusions to totalitarianism seemed palatable in the anti-IDists’ comments, even though they would probably deny such extremism resided in their petty God-hating hearts.

The few quibbles I have with the movie:

  • Ridicule: The movie did stoop to a little bit of ridicule when discussing the theories of abiogenesis and panspermia – "Crystals and aliens?  Is this science?"  The scientist he was interviewing was trying to explain how self-replicating RNA molecules may have formed on the back of crystals, but Ben wasn’t getting it.  However, ridicule was kept to a minimum in the movie, which was good.
  • Darwin and Hitler:  The timeline for the introduction of Darwin’s ideas and Hitler’s Germany were not presented clearly.  Also, I could not figure out who the tourguide was in the Nazi death chamber, and why we should believe her when she claimed that Nazism was heavily influenced by and motived by social Darwinism.  Thirdly, the link between Darwin and Hitler, though historically obvious and documented, was not well enough documented in this film, perhaps because that is a whole other film! 
  • Planned Parenthood, racism and eugenics. This link was inserted, and barely documented, and it’s importance was not that well explained, except to say that Darwinism has consequences beyond science, and it is clear that evolutionary defenders who ignore this show their lack of objectivity and self-deception in recognizing the impact of ideas, and the links between scientific and social paradigms.  They are being willfully ignorant in order to protect their belief system.

There was a nice quote from The Descent of Man that showed very clearly that Darwin Understood the Social Application of his Theory.  Berlinkski did make it clear however that, while belief in Darwinism or evolution don’t inevitably lead to cruel eugenics or Nazism on it’s own (it’s not sufficient), it is a necessary component.

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed….


The main point of the movie had little to do with evolution.  It had to do with free inquiry in science and academia, the hubris and bullying of those who believe that evolution can’t be questioned by sane or intelligent people, and the risks to freedom that such oppressive thought policing creates.

It is a pity that most of the people who need to see this most, supposedly open-minded evolutionists, won’t see it.  They’ll make excuses about how it is a Michael Moore-ish hit piece (which it is not), or that they won’t dignify such anti-science polemics.  However, it is very true that poorly answered important questions will not go away, and this movie respectfully and humorously asks a lot of good questions, and would be the basis of great discussions – except that those running or captive to the evolutionary hegemony are not ready to have their faith questioned – for now, they will hide in ridicule and self-reinforcing assertions.  Too bad for them.

Perhaps, like children of religious parents, they will one day question their faith and make up their own minds honestly, rather than being afraid to entertain conclusions other than what they’ve been told by authorities.  As Guillermo Gonzales said, he has hope because good scientists don’t like to be told what to believe, and will defend the right of open inquiry.  We can only hope that such heroes still exist in sufficient number.