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March 31, 2008
Science: Premature (partial) Expelleration...
Filed in: Current Affairs, Science

So what was the hottest topic in the 'sphere middle of last week?

Nope, wasn't the long-legged Obamarathon Wright-stuff stuff.

This is what is was: It was the kerfuffle over meany IDists tossing a scientist from seeing their movie. Yep.

I recently noted that Ben Stein (he of Nixon speechwirting, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, game show, and television commercials fame) is spearheading a new movie project called Expelled which examines with Ben Steinian precision and wit the demagoguery of science - specifically as it relates to the barring of a certain point of view from the academic marketplace of ideas.

Different participants have different views on just what went down last week. There are some things that are clear:  It happened in Minnesota. This was a prescreening of the movie - it's not released yet - that is to happen around mid-April. PZ Myers of Pharyngula fame was refused attendance and asked to leave. Richard Dawkins (the world's most famous atheist evolutionist), accompanying Meyers, made it in and afterward was engaged in some discussion, seemingly cordial. (Both Myers and Dawkins appear in the film. Both say that they were deceived about the intention of the film at the time that they gave their interviews.) Myers and Dawkins subsequent to these events posted reasoned academic discussion (OK, I made that part up) about their experiences, and all hell broke loose in the science blogs - as of this writing the Myers post has something over 1600 comments and still going strong. The Expelled folks have this take.  At some point last week, the NYT and AP picked up the story as well.

What seems to be in dispute about the matter is: whether the screening was a private affair or not, whether Myers was behaving in a way that attracted security for the event, whether film producer Mark Mathis pre-determined that Myers would not be admitted to the movie, and whether Richard Dawkins flew across the Atlantic to see a pre-screening of his star role (or attend a nearby atheist conference) among a plethora of other ideas and projections among the parties.

As you can surmise from Dawkins' post, he is very unhappy about what happened to Myers and unhappy with the film, enough to appello Jesus.

For his part, PZ finds ultimate irony that people so concerned with science demagoguery to the extent that they would have Expelled as their nom de guerre would stoop to the very same treatment.

The blog noise over all of this is primarily concerned with the ironic hypocrisy at hand - and in many cases, given such hypocrisy, that the film shouldn't even be released.

I suppose that it could be pointed out that there seems to be a moral equivalence of thin design at work. Neither Meyers or Dawkins work for the film producers or the production company. Neither of them were fired for expressing their views to the producers or the production company. Neither Meyers or Dawkins have had their careers ruined by the denigration of the producers or the production company.

Myers denied attendance at a prescreening of the incomplete film morally equivalent to the experience of expelled academicians? That cur fails to track.

It is also possible that the prolonged ad hominem shouting may just serve to attract more attention to the film's content than the 'science' community would like.

Sometimes life imitates art.

UPDATE: Try some video...

H/T for the video: Uncommon Descent.

UPDATE2: Discovery Institute's Evolution News blog points to highest 'sphere traffic statistic and visits the moral equivalence issue.

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