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.