Expelled : No intelligence allowed! Give them a hearty round of scorn and ridicule, folks.
OK, perhaps a bit of backstory is in order here.
There's this strange thing going on in the USA known as the Creation-evolution controversy. In a nutshell, on one side you have the Theory of Evolution, accepted by all but a fraction of the scientists and supported by evidence from multiple fields; and on the other you have groups (usually motivated by their religion or ignorance and frequently both) screaming “nuh-uh!”, backed up by arguments ranging from utterly insane, to fabrications, misunderstandings, red herrings, and “I dunno, Magic Man dun it”. No, I'm not embellishing here: there are long lists of creationists claims that often make no sense at all, but are still used even after being debunked decades ago. As an example how silly these can be, consider the Banana argument. And no, this is not a parody; they're absolutely serious.
After the scientists got so fed up by the constant misrepresentations that they won't even debate anymore and several defeats in courts, the creationists came up with a new strategy: Intelligent Design (ID). They've been quite clever with this, actually. For one, they're leaving the Bible out of it and claiming that life's complexity can only come about through an intelligent, yet unnamed (wink, wink), designer. They also claim that all they want is a fair hearing; that the scientists are being mean with their insistence on evidence and refusal to accept bogus reasoning.
Enter Expelled. You'd have to read the wikipedia page for details, but the idea behind the movie is to highlight this repression by scientists; that the evolutionists are actively ‘expelling’ people critical of evolution. It so happens that they've interviewed a number of evolutionary biologists (under false pretenses) for their views on the subject. This is now widely regarded as a bad move.
You see, one of them happened to be PZ Myers, a vocal critic of creationism and other irrationality on his blog pharyngula. You can see how hostile he is in this video (I'd point to the Expelled trailers with the interview, but they pulled it). Ever since the interview, he and other science-bloggers have been keeping an eye on the movie, pointing out flaws in the producers' arguments whenever they went public with anything.
And now it gets interesting. About two weeks ago, there was a screening of the movie in Minneapolis. He reserved a place via their website, went to the theatre … but was barred from entering. To spell it out: here's a movie accusing evolutionists of expelling their critics, expelling their critics. And then lying about it afterwards! Repeatedly! Seriously, you just can't make this stuff up.
Naturally, this is now all over the blogosphere. The original account has well over 1600 comments. Many other science bloggers have commented on it as well. Greg Laden's blog has a list of over 100 links, including to stories from the NY Times and Salon. Another interesting detail is that Myers was accompanied by Richard Dawkins (yes, that Richard Dawkins), who did get in. The two had a nice little discussion afterwards, which can be seen here.
Other interesting links
- Dawkins' review of the movie. It's fairly long, but a good read.
- Orlando Earlier review in Orlando Sentinel. Here Roger Moore describes his experience at an earlier viewing, which includes being invited to a screening but didn't sign the NDA (for a movie claiming to favor free speech. Nice). The comments there are also illuminating.
- expelledexposed.com. A short list of links to reviews and news articles.
- Recent efforts to keep critics from current viewers.
- And just to keep things light-hearted, there's also this.