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P.Z. Myers Crashes “Expelled” Again?

Posted on Mar 28, 2008 by Tom Gilson

Update 8:45 pm: regarding accusations from Panda’s Thumb that this is a lie, please see here.

At this moment there is a telephone conference call underway with Ben Stein and the producers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. It is an invitation-only conference. The call was interrupted by someone representing himself as P.Z. Myers, a Minnesota scientist and strident opponent of religion and of Intelligent Design. This person broke in and interrupted the call and accused the movie-makers of lying. This was about 40 minutes into a 60 minute conference. Others on the call included producers Mark Mathis, Logan Craft, and Walt Ruloff.

Just last week Myers also tried to crash an invitation-only screening of the film in Minneapolis. He claims he went to an open RSVP website to get himself signed up to come. That claim is undermined in that the screening was quite clearly by invitation, “RSVP” means “please respond to this invitation,” and he knew he was not invited.

He has apparently just now done it again.

But clearly the ruckus he and others have raised is far off the real point, which is the content of the film.

Expelled producer Mark Mathis said near the end:

“If this debate were really just about scientific ideas–when was the last time you heard about people getting together to have a passionate exchange about gravity or entropy? But you do get it with this one. The biggest part of this argument is about a worldview. If you acknowledge that design can be discovered scientifically, then the whole worldview of atheism crashes down around you. So they defend evolution with incredible vigor. And on the flip side, people ask, “Why is this being suppressed? Why do they have such a stranglehold on the science departments?”

“Even just now on the phone P.Z. went to the Holocaust footage and misrepresented what has been said about it–which we just explained again a few moments before on this phone call….

“But the core content of the film is that there are scientists being persecuted, and it needs to stop.”

I have not seen the film, but I have noticed, as the producers and Ben Stein noted, that all the controversy in the blogosphere has been over peripheral issues: who got invited into a showing, for example. The complaints haven’t been about the substance. It’s not that ID antagonists have not had opportunity to see it. Richard Dawkins was admitted to the same showing that P.Z. Myers was excluded from. (The producers maintain that they knew he was entering, by the way.) Last week in Nashville, they say, they took initiative to call ID antagonist Michael Shermer and ask him to attend a screening.

This, by the way, demonstrates it wasn’t some kind of paranoia that led them to exclude P.Z. Myers. Frankly, in view of the way Myers speaks about his opponents on his blog, I would be inclined not to invite him in to a private discussion too. That same angry tone was evident in the person on the phone just now. It makes perfectly good sense that they would have admitted Dawkins and not Myers–for Dawkins, for all his anti-religious rhetoric, at least maintains a much more courteous tone.

Paul Lauer, the moderator, handled it graciously in my opinion, given that the call had been crashed. I wonder how the caller got on the conference with voice capabilities–everyone else on the call except the moderator and interviewees was muted (press questions were taken by email).

I’m more interested now than ever to see the film.

Note on comments, added at 6:05 pm. I’ve already deleted one obscenity posted here. This is not Pharyngula, and this blog has discussion standards. This is the weekend, and I do not intend to babysit commenters. I’m going to close comments intermittently as needed when I’m not available to keep an eye on it. I’ll close them completely if needed.

See also Barry Carey on this topic.

28 Responses to “ P.Z. Myers Crashes “Expelled” Again? ”

  1. Mark says:

    There have been many substantive criticisms of the movie. There has been criticism of its specious argument that evolutionary theory was a precondition to the Holocaust (despite genocidal impulses clearly predating Darwin, which should have made that bit of stupid a non-starter without even having to study evolution), its failing to explain the scientific method or detail the scientific merits of neo-Creationism (I mean why would that be important in determining why neo-Creationism doesn\’t have a seat at the table?), its erroneous portrayal of persecution by interviewees, and its nebulous invocation of \”free speech.\” You just aren\’t looking. The matter of them excluding PZ Myers was simply comedic hypocrisy.

    Further if you really think that Dawkins is gentler to religion than PZ Myers, then I suggest it\’s because you haven\’t listened to him speak or read his latest book.

  2. Will TS says:

    How does one break in on a conference call? Did you participate in the conference call? Was the phone call taped? Do you have a transcript? Is there any actual evidence that Myers interrupted Stein\’s conversation? Or do we have to accept it as a matter of faith?

  3. SteveK says:

    Tom,
    I appreciate a good controversy, but is there any thing convincing out there to link the real PZ with the person breaking in on the call? If there isn\’t then I side with the skeptics even though I personally have a low opinion of PZ\’s character.

  4. Ian says:

    Will: Myers describes exactly what he did in his own blog post on the incident (already linked to above, but here it is again for good measure. He also refutes there the claim made in this post that the attacks on Expelled haven\’t addressed the substance of the movie.

  5. Ian, you\’re being too kind in talking about \”the claim made in this post…\” This post in fact simply repeats one of many lies made by the producers of the film. Among Mark Mathis, Ben Stein, and the other individuals promoting the idea that Darwinism was responsible for the Holocaust, there really is no intelligence allowed.

  6. jonathan says:

    PZ Myers did, in fact, join the Expelled conference call. And, apparently, he did accuse Stein, et al., of lying. Being a scientist, it sounds like he even provided evidence to back up the assertion. Perhaps the makers of Expelled will release a transcript of the call. I\’d rather not simply take someone\’s word for what was said…

    This post makes the claim that PZ Myers wasn\’t invited to the MI screening of Expelled. I went to the Expelled website, and it is an open invitation just as PZ claims. Perhaps Mr. Gilson should look at the their website before parroting that particular line. In what way is an open invitation NOT an invitation? That\’s simply a bizarre claim.

    Secondly, there have been several substantive articles and blog posts by both PZ Myers, Richard Dawkins, and other about the actual content of the movie. I would refer Mr. Gilson ExpelledExposed.com for a list of some of these articles and blog posts. Keep checking back! they\’ll be adding more.

    If you want to know how PZ got voice capabilities, read his blog post on the incident. It\’s hilarious.

  7. Tom Gilson wrote:

    The connection between Darwinism and the Holocaust is not a lie when it is understood the way thoughtful people have presented it.

    Feel free to present that \”thoughtful way\” here:
    http://normdoering.blogspot.com/2007/04/if-hitler-was-darwinist.html
    http://normdoering.blogspot.com/2007/04/if-hitler-was-atheist.html

  8. Ian says:

    Tom: do you also maintain that Darwinism was a necessary condition for the Pogrom of 1096, the massacres of Jews in London and York in 1189-1190, the massacres in 1348, the massacres of Jews and Roman Catholics by the Cossacks in 1648–1654, and the anti-Jewish riots in Odessa in 1821? If not, then what made the Holocaust different?

  9. Barry Trask says:

    Oh, for gosh sakes…\”Darwinism\” a necessary condition to the holocaust…do you know how asinine that sounds? Do you listen to yourself? Do you have any idea at all what you are saying?

    So, genocide and anti-semitism–two things which have existed for thousands of years–these two things could not have come together were it not for a British naturalist arriving at the view that speciation is caused by the natural selection of adaptive variations. Suuuuuure. That makes sense. How could anyone have been so blind as not to see that before? Until Darwin, anti-semites could NEVER have put two and two together and figured out, \”hey, we could use GENOCIDE to get rid of the Jews! Thanks, Mr. Darwin! If I didn\’t know all this stuff about pigeon breeding from reading The Origin of Species, I would never have thought of that!\”

    Cripes. Study history, biology, and above all, LOGIC before you say something that silly.

    Barry

  10. jonathan says:

    Tom, the \”necessary condition(s)\” for the Holocaust were a long history of antisemitism, an atmosphere of nationalistic fear, and a psychotic ruler willing to misuse ANY idea to fit his insane program.

    If you look at the modern genocides in parts of Africa or if you read the Old Testament descriptions of genocides (Numbers 31 comes to mind), you\’ll see that evolution is in no way a necessary condition for us to be really nasty to each other.

  11. Tom, Myers has addressed the false claim that this was an \”invitation only\” screening and that he was not invited. He registered and received a confirmation to attend beforehand. It\’s the film\’s producers who have a problem with the facts.
    As for oversimplifying the argument, I think the poster of Ben Stein spray-painting \”Darwin\” on a Nazi belt-buckle speaks for itself.

  12. Barry Trask says:

    …and, of course, because if you\’re going to take a position that flies in the face of reason, you need to think about how to frame that position before you dive in. You really ought to save yourself the trouble and just admit that you said a dumb, dumb thing.

    Barry

  13. Barry Trask says:

    And, Tom: have you even read The Origin of Species? I\’ll bet you have not.

    Barry

  14. Alex says:

    Give me a break. Myers did not \”crash\” the screening of Expelled, and it was NOT invitation only. Just writing that on your blog does not make it true. Your arguments must have a basis in reality, they must have supporting evidence.

  15. Barry Trask says:

    How about deleting your ridiculous insult to Darwin? That would be a good ad hominem to start with…

    Barry

  16. Tom: It\’s too bad you deleted Norman Doering\’s link to his blog post. It\’s actually a quite interesting post about how the Nazis actually banned writings promoting Darwinism, and how it was creationist Edward Blyth\’s ideas that led to eugenics. Norman also points out multiple passages from Hitler\’s _Mein Kampf_ which look more like something written by a creationist than an evolutionist.

  17. How did Myers get his invitation? An email correspondent reveals:

    This comment was recently posted on Pharyngula by Kristine, who I believe is PZ\’s grad student (but I could be wrong about that…)

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