Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ben Stein's Expelled Exposed

From Scientific American: (cross-posted on Just Whacked)

“Should I be worried about the Crips and the Bloods up here?” These were the first words out of the mouth of Ben Stein as he entered my office at Skeptic magazine, located in the racially mixed neighborhood of Altadena, Calif. I cringed and hoped that the two African-American women in my employ were out of earshot of what was perhaps merely Stein’s ham-handed attempt at humor before he began interviewing me for what I was told was a film on the intersection of science and religion entitled Crossroads.

That is not what the interview was about. And neither is the film, now called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The subtitle exposes its motif—intelligent design has been expelled from classrooms and culture, and Ben Stein sees a sinister conspiracy at work. This supercilious financial columnist and ersatz actor and game show host proceeded to grill me on whether or not I think someone should be fired for expressing dissenting views. My answer: it depends. Who is being fired for what, when and where? People are usually fired for reasons having to do with budgetary constraints, incompetence or failure to fulfill the terms of a contract. If you are hired to teach biology according to the curriculum standards of your school district but instead spend the semester telling students that science has no definitive explanation for DNA, wings, eyes, brains and that mystery of mysteries—bacteria flagella—then, yes, you should be fired posthaste. But I know of no instance in which this has happened, and the film’s examples of such alleged abuses have reasonable explanations detailed at www.expelledexposed.com, where Eugenie Scott and her tireless crew at the National Center for Science Education have tracked down the specifics of each case.

(read full article)