Expelled is a documentary starring Ben Stein which argues that Darwinian evolutionary theory has an unfair hegemonic vice grip on the intellectual community, and that proponents of intelligent design have been unfairly persecuted for questioning the wisdom of natural selection. OK, that's not something I particularly agree with, but hey, maybe it's true that academia can be hostile to anybody trying to inject metaphysics into pure science. Maybe we could all do well to broaden our minds beyond the threshold of pure empirical humanism.
Now, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is a really bad documentary in let-us-count-the-damn-ways. For one, the persona Stein elects to adopt is essentially a right-wing version of Michael Moore -- as if for 30 years, people on the right had all been saying, "Well, I don't agree with Mister Moore's politics, but what a charming personality he has." For two, it's a huge fucking snow job. It misinterprets facts (in some cases willfully) in order to make Big Science seem like a monolithic Illuminati conspiracy of rabid dogmatists, as opposed to, you know, a bunch of bespectacled nerds publishing peer-reviewed studies in a handful of little-read journals. But whether the documentary is full of baffling quantities of bullshit (it is) is not important for the purposes of this article.
We'll just leave that all over here for a minute.
What's important is that in the first half of the documentary, Stein, in between deploying a rash of strawman arguments and ad hominem attacks to tar and feather a community of unruffled geeks, makes one simple point over and over: Just let the kids play, ref. And as much as you can hate Stein and his intellectual dishonesty here, it's actually a pretty good point. People shouldn't be wading into scientific debates and policing rational discourse just because certain ideas have sociopolitical baggage attached. In a free society, ideas should be allowed to speak for themselves, and stand or fall on the basis of their own validity.
Midway through the movie, all of that changes in less time than it took the One True God to create the Birds of the Air and the Beasts of the Earth. To the point where you feel like maybe the Ben Stein from the first half of the movie should meet the Ben Stein from the second half, and they should duke it out.
In a patently insane 180-degree turn, Stein starts equating people who believe in evolution with Nazis.
I recommend you start your drinking game at this point in the film.
That's not a euphemism; he literally walks through the Dachau Concentration Camp and wonders aloud why evolutionary proponents don't apologize more for the Holocaust (which he also casually equates with both abortion and euthanasia). Which is sort of like arguing that we should stop teaching universal gravitation in schools until physicists apologize for the bombing of Hiroshima. In the same hour-and-change-long documentary, Stein says, "You shouldn't try and politicize science; you should let ideas speak for themselves," and, "You know who else thought we evolved from a common ancestor? Hitler! Have fun with your provable theses, you atheist abortion doctor."
Then "All These Things I've Done" by The Killers starts playing while Stein stands at a lectern and receives a standing ovation from a crowd of hired extras (that's not a joke) as he repeats that one famous line he had in Ferris Bueller -- which we're assuming was a contractual obligation Stein had to fulfill in order to get production funding for his totally unhinged Holocaust romp.
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