Expelled: An Intelligently Designed Creationist PR Campaign?

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Nice! I just received a package full of swag for the hottest new documentary on the Internets. That would be Expelled, a new film narrated by Ben Stein that claims to expose how “Big Science has expelled smart new ideas from the classroom.” In this case, Big Science is evolutionary science and those “smart new ideas” means intelligent design, a.k.a. creationism in a lab coat. It’s a little funny to think of creationism as a new idea, since it’s been around for 3,000-plus years. Oh well. The makers of Expelled don’t seem to be big on nuance. The reason they’re already getting press for the film, scheduled for release in three weeks, is that they barred —actually, expelled—a evolutionary biologist who appears in the film from a recent screening. But Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion, made it past security and reported that the film not only took his on-screen quotes out of context but is “drearily boring” to boot.

Having watched the film’s trailer, I have to agree with Dawkins that Stein’s nasally monotone is hard to endure. Disappointingly, Stein doesn’t wear his Angus Young get-up (right) but he does reprise his Ferris Bueller “Anyone? Anyone?” shtick. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive a screener in my swag package, so I can’t really say more about the film except that it looks unapologetically creationist. However, I did get an official Expelled t-shirt, a baseball hat, a backpack, and a luggage tag emblazoned with the film’s unintentionally yet tellingly anti-intellectual slogan, “No Intelligence Allowed.” Usually, documentary makers are eager to get copies of their films into the hands of the press and have no money for tchotchkes. The backwards-seeming media campaign for Expelled suggests that either the filmmakers don’t want advance reviews and/or are more interested in buzz than substance. But who am I to say what the creators’ master plan is?

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