One of our own disgraces himself. And insults their memory.
In the new science-bashing movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Ben Stein and the rest of the filmmakers sincerely and seriously argue that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution paved the way for the Holocaust. By "seriously," I mean that Ben Stein acts grief-stricken and the director juxtaposes quotes from evolutionary biologists with archival newsreel clips from Hitler's Reich. Prepare for an intellectual night at the cinema.
No one could have been more surprised than I when the producers called, unbidden, offering Scientific American's editors a private screening. Given that our magazine's positions on evolution and intelligent design (ID) creationism reflect those of the scientific mainstream (that is, evolution: good science; ID: not science), you have to wonder why they would bother. It's not as though anything in Expelled would have been likely to change our views. And they can't have been looking for a critique of the science in the movie, because there isn't much to speak of.
Rather, it seems a safe bet that the producers hope a whipping from us would be useful for publicity: further proof that any mention of ID outrages the close-minded establishment. (Picture Ben Stein as Jack Nicholson, shouting, "You can't handle the truth!") Knowing this, we could simply ignore the movie—which might also suit their purposes, come to think of it.
Unfortunately, Expelled is a movie not quite harmless enough to be ignored. Shrugging off most of the film's attacks—all recycled from previous pro-ID works—would be easy, but its heavy-handed linkage of modern biology to the Holocaust demands a response for the sake of simple human decency.
Indeed it does. Charles Johnson has compared this gross juxtaposition to PETA's "Holocaust On Your Plate" campaign. He's got that exactly right.
Yom HaShoah starts at sundown tonight, Ben. Is your mother proud of you?