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Sci-Am Expelled

Following in the footsteps of the Dawkins-Myer ‘gatecrash’ of the anti-evolution movie Expelled, Scientific American has now posted a multi-part feature debunking the controversial film. Except this time, it was anything but a gatecrash, with the movie’s producer actually approaching Sci-Am:

You wouldn’t expect Scientific American to take a particularly positive view of a movie that espouses intelligent design over evolutionary biology. Then again, you wouldn’t expect the producers of said film — in this case, Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed — to offer the editors of said magazine a private screening.

Associate producer Mark Mathis showed up at our offices with a preview of Expelled in hand. That’s right, the unexpected screening happened. The unexpected positive reviews did not.

Reviewers included the ubiquitous Michael Shermer (so much so, he’s even in this film), Sci-Am editor in chief John Rennie (who attacks the movie’s attempts to link the theory of evolution to the Holocaust), and Steve Mirsky who sums everything up with “Six Things in Expelled that Ben Stein Doesn’t Want You to Know“.

So all in all, another good day of publicity for the makers of Expelled

  1. Ok, let’s put this to rest now shall we?
    One of the comments that SciAm gives in their very thoughtful list is worth of a bit more thought and may get us all finally out of this ID/Evol pickle. They accuse ID proponents of failing to produce a falsifiability criteria, and while I don’t recall the Evolutionists providing one it doesn’t matter because I can supply one for them:

    1. Find some rapidly propagating organism, mice, bacteria, don’t matter.
    2. Place them into a natural-like controlled environment.
    3. Change that environment, dramatically enough to threaten long-term sustainability unless the organism fundamentally mends it’s species.

    If Evolution rules, then we should see the organisms genetic-algorithms advance the species and the verification would be that the DNA before the change and the DNA after the change will show the new-condition adapted mutation. That would be a pretty darn strong indication that Evolution is at least possible, but we’re only half-way.

    • Now revert the environment to the prior condition

    We already know this organism is capable of becoming a fit to these conditions because they’ve been there, done that so logically couldn’t we expect the same genetic algorithm to get cracking on cracking the puzzle right back to the original DNA structure?

    An interesting corollary result: if we switch environments over and over, will we see a DNA memory that selects to adapt to both conditions, even though the change is persistent enough to normally force an evolutionary adaptation?

    I figure this is foolproof, it will, of course, take many many years of careful experiment to effect, but that is nothing new in science; if we find the DNA can be predictably mutated by only changing the environment, then the best we can say for ID is that God guides his creatures by intelligently architecting their environs 😉

    1. You don’t need millenia to watch evolution in action
      Microbiologists that study virus and bacteria can watch the work of evolution in extremely short time spans. That’s why everybody is so scared about the prospective of an avian flu pandemic, because the virus coud mutate and become airborne anytime.

      Granted, we all want to see evolution on macroscopic organisms, but I think even on those evolution can work really fast, but just on the genetic level where it doesn’t necessarily translate to a discernible morphological change.

      It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
      It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

      Red Pill Junkie

      1. Presto Macro Chango
        The virii could be evolving, but as you say, they aren’t reg’lar creatures so that’s maybe not a great test.

        however … here is some really good evidence where the DNA is observed to have seemingly (post-hoc) ‘predictably’ modulated to account for an environmental change and that, by my rules, is a great first half of the experiment with an excellent opportunity here to now do the other half: bring the lizards back to their original habitat, but isolate them from breeding with the local population, and then see if the evolutionary change corrects itself so the predicted prior state.

        After all, to be a theory it must have some degree of predictive power, no? Just because creatures or virii change does not mean the change is logical, we have anecdotal evidence that such mutations just blunder around in the dark or even that the mutations then find their niche, not the other way around, and that actually lends credence to the Creationists because the nature we observe seems to lack any total blunders of species. We see only fitting survivers and we’re hard pressed to point at any geneological tree and say “Them? Voted off the island. Blind blunder of random genetics done down the wrong path, will be self-extinct by Thursday.

        1. Is reversion possible?
          I don’t know if reversion to a primordial state is possible. We have the exampleof cetacians, that got rid off their legs in favor of smething simmilar to the flippers of their ancient ancesters, but I don’t know if that counts.

          Maybe the reason why you can’t revert to a primordial state up to a point is the same reason why time flows —or at least, it’s ‘perceived’ to flow— in the same straight line: because otherwise it would contradict the laws of Thermodynamics of energy conservation. Enthropy and all that. Of course, I’m wildly speculating here.

          Besides, it is a misconception that we only see fitting survivors. Perceval provided an excellent link yesterday about common misconceptions in evolutionism and creationism. Takes quite a whileto read, but I believe i is worth it. Made me realize there’s a lot of things I don’t understand about evolution, eventhough I take it for granted.

          I also believe in God, of course.

          It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
          It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

          Red Pill Junkie

  2. Expelled the movie
    I haven’t gone to a movie in a theater in about a year, but this was worth it just to see what all the fuss is about. I waded through many of the rants linked above before going so I could be looking for all that evil deception. Well. All I can say is that there are some folks out there with some seriously thin skin.

    First, this is a documentary in the same vein as Moore and Gore which is to say it isn’t. It is a rhetorical essay that does a pretty good job of revealing the sort of things we thrash on here at TDG all the time. Stein’s main point is that academic freedom is being squeezed out of the sciences in the same way that the PC crowd have been doing in the arts and soft sciences for about 30 years.

    The jaw dropping moment in the whole film is when Dawkins admits that the most likely way that life arrived here on earth could have been by being planted by a much higher civilization that perhaps evolved by Darwinian means somewhere else. Shocked, shocked I tell you! Two problems: 1) “it’s turtles all the way down” (old joke about what the world is carried on); and 2) what’s the difference, in the end, whether it was ‘god’ or a greatly superior race. That whole issue has been explored in countless ways — Sitchen, for starters.

    The punchline is that ANY theory, no matter how far fetched, that does not hint at letting traditional religion in the back door may be fair game while any theory that conceivably does let traditional religion in the door (Intelligent Design) is strictly forbidden no matter what breakthroughs it might provide.

    My sense of it all is that the evo crowd is overly defensive in the same way that the AGW crowd is: there is a lot more faith than science involved.

    Xavier Onassis

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