Jason Collett

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Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed Review


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Who would have thought that Ben Stein, the game show host and famously drab economics teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, would one day become the leading apologist for the theory of intelligent design? Not me. But that's life for you -- a surprise around every corner. Stein is the central figure in the new film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a fire-bomb documentary meant to burn down the house of "Big Science," whose members, according to the film, have silenced all dissent from the theory of evolution and are actively engaged in the persecution of anyone who doesn't toe the party line.

Expelled works in much the same way as a Michael Moore documentary -- a raft of provocation and very little persuasion. It starts out by serving up a few case histories of scientists who publicly declared their sympathy for intelligent design. In each case, five in all, reaction from the scientific establishment was swift. Tenure was denied, contracts weren't renewed, websites were taken down, etc. Expelled would have you believe that these cases represent instances of grave injustice and the contravention of academic freedom, but it's poorly argued and lacks evidence. Tenure is often denied. Contracts frequently aren't renewed. That's life, especially in academia. More evidence is required to build a compelling case, and the makers of Expelled don't want to get bogged down in chronicling academic intrigues. Can't say I blame them, but their lack of rigor doesn't help their cause.

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