Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why P. Z. Myers should be wearing the short pants and sneakers

I have theorized elsewhere about the Darwinists' diminishing status in the gene pool, but there is new and even more alarming evidence of the deterioration of the Darwinist subspecies--further proof that those who believe in the survival of the fittest are less fit for survival. It is becoming increasingly evident that there is a serious lack of creativity among a few Darwinists that could threaten their station on the evolutionary tree.

These days I get most of my news via my Google Reader, and about half of it over the last week seems to be about an attempt by biologist P. Z. Myers to sneak into a private viewing of the new movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," Ben Stein's expose of Darwinist thought control in our institutions of higher learning. Myer's attempt to get into the private screening (which was invitation only) was foiled when he was recognized and told that the private screening was, well, private.

From the indignation with which this incident has been received by the anti-ID crowd, one would think that he was beaten with truncheons by big men in steel-toed boots and physically dragged away from the theater. But, alas, it is not so. Turns out he was just standing there dumbly in line waiting to get in to see the movie, was recognized, and was then asked by theater security to go away, which he did, according to reports, without a struggle.

Such is the state of the Darwinist mindset these days that so unimpressive a performance is considered the stuff of heroism. But P. Z. thought it was something, and he has recounted several times now how he bravely endured his confrontation with theater security (and we know their reputation). I mean what was he supposed to do? They had badges.

But P. Z.'s story about being "thrown out" gets even more gut-wrenching. After being separated from his family (who security apparently let in to see the movie), Myers ended up at a local Apple store at the Mall of the Americas, where he blogged about his experience.

Talk about being in the belly of the beast.

In any case, what are we supposed to make of all this hoopla? Well according to the Darwinists, this is an example of the hypocrisy of Intelligent Design advocates, who throw people out who disagree with ID from the showing of a movie about how people who disagree with Darwinism are thrown out of the academy.

But is limiting the attendance at the pre-screening of an admittedly partisan movie by its creators to invitees only really the same thing as throwing professors out of their academic jobs for having beliefs at odds with the prevailing orthodoxy in their particular discipline--particularly when the institutions engaging in the heave-ho make so much of their respect for academic freedom?

Let's just say the question answers itself.

Memo to Richard Dawkins, P. Z. Myers, et al.: Go make your own movie and invite only the people you want to come and we promise we won't whine about it when we're not on the V.I.P. list. Oh, and if we decide to crash your party, and are so uninspired in the attempt that we can't even fool a few theater employees, we promise to do the honorable thing and blush in shame.

Hand it to Richard Dawkins: at least he was wily enough to actually succeed in getting in (his passport lists him as "Clinton Richard Dawkins")--evidence that Dawkins may possess important survivability traits Myers apparently lacks.

But wait a minute: do we really want them to go away and leave the movie alone? The irony of the sophomoric attempts by the neoatheist crowd to crash the ID party is that the more they do it--and the more they draw attention to the fact that they did it (or, in P. Z.'s case, tried to do it)--the more public attention they draw to the movie.

According to BlogPulse, which apparently measures such things, "Expelled" was the number one topic of conversation in the blogosphere last Monday. If I'm the producer of "Expelled," I pop a champagne cork every time a famous Darwinist tries to sneak into a sneak preview of my movie. More attention = more press coverage = more viewers at theaters when it opens in April.

So where are the rest of them? Maybe Sam Harris could avoid detection by using a false beard--and perhaps Daniel Dennett could avoid scrutiny by shaving his off. Or how about if Christopher Hitchens got a friend to open the exit door for him. We did this when we were kids at the local cineplex. Trust me. It works.

All we ask is that you don't embarrass other members of the species by trying to infiltrate the theater with attempts so unimaginative that you can't even get past theater security. In fact, they created the Darwin Award for just this kind of thing. Wouldn't it be fitting if it went to a prominent Darwinist?


One Brow said...

I'll be frank, I sometimes have difficulty distinguishing what you mean to be humorous and what you mean to be serious. So for now, I'll just assume your claims that Myers was trying to sneak in, that the screening was invitation-only, that Myers accounts his performance heroism, that the "something" Myers accorded to the incident was anything other than immense irony and laughter, or that there is an equivalence between the non-existant professors who have lost their jobs and the real-life Myers being denied access are all just part of your usual tounge-in-cheek, and not meant seriously.

Martin Cothran said...

If that makes you feel better, more power to you.

One Brow said...

It doesn't particularly make me feel better or worse. I'm just trying to avoid acting on a false premise, so I didn't want to assume you were serious, expecially given the post's title.

However, if you prefer not to commit yourself either way on you believe one or more of the items I listed, more power to you.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how anyone can confuse amusement (of the knee-slapping, laugh out loud flavor) with outrage.

"Expelled from Expelled!"

"Producer fails to recognize world's most famous atheist, who he interviewed!"

I know, I know. It's not nice to be laughing at people as enfeebled as the crew that made Expelled. But .....

Also, I'm a bit mystified as to why the blog-o-sphere latched onto this. My theory is that lots of people don't like Ben Stein. Maybe this is the beginning of the (long-awaited and dearly hoped-for) backlash against the proliferation of insipid reality TV shows.

Next up - Donald Trump?? (We can only hope.)

Scott said...

There's just one small problem with Cothran's premise, the event was not by "invitation only", it was an open sign up on the internet with NO restrictions. Myers was singled out to get rid of him because the organizers didn't want the rest of the audience hearing what he might ask or say, especially since they are already publicly known to be deceptive given how they obtained their interviews from Myers and Dawkins.

There can be no possible defense for what they did. Prof. Myers is IN the lousy film for heaven's sake and is lavishly, if cynically, credited at the end! Barring him from attending proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the film promoters have no concern with academic freedom. They are just using it as a polemical tool to foist nonsense onto all too willing supporters.

It has been legally established that ID is a religious doctrine. I say to all who believe in it, continue to do so and welcome. Just have the integrity to stop claiming it is science and just admit that you reject science. Period.

Anonymous said...

The mere fact that Ben Stein made this movie, and you're defending it, with absolute impunity, pretty clarly disproves the thesis of the movie. If there really is an evil Darwinist conspiracy to suppress all those poor innocent cdesign proponentsists, the movie would never have been made.

Martin Cothran said...


What does barring someone from a private showing of a movie have to do with academic freedom?

Martin Cothran said...


I'm "defending it with absolute impunity"? I didn't even comment on the film itself in the post. Did you actually read it?

One Brow said...

What does barring someone from a private showing of a movie have to do with academic freedom?

Just the irony of making false claims of restricing academic dialogue made in the movie juxtaposed with the reality of restricting the dialogue after the movie.

Martin Cothran said...

One Brow,

The movie was a private screening replete with RSVP requests and security guards. No flowery rhetoric about how everyone is welcome. No high-minded declarations about equal opportunity in getting in.

Compare this with the sanctimonious rhetoric at places like Baylor and Iowa State University about academic freedom.

I think if you can get past the partisan rhetoric the distinction is fairly obvious.

One Brow said...

The movie was a private screening replete with RSVP requests and security guards. No flowery rhetoric about how everyone is welcome. No high-minded declarations about equal opportunity in getting in.

I'm not arguing their right to have a private screening, nor their right to rescind Myers invitation.

Compare this with the sanctimonious rhetoric at places like Baylor and Iowa State University about academic freedom.

At least Baylor and Iowa State live up to their stated goals of academic freedom and free dialogue.

I think if you can get past the partisan rhetoric the distinction is fairly obvious.

I eagerly awaut for you to join me on the side past the partisan rhetoric.

For example, regarding Iowa State and (presumably) Gonzalez:

Should Iowa State offer tenure to every ID advocate? Can you point to one tenure offer by the ISU astonomy department in the last decade to a person with less than 15 scientific papers after seven years of work (remember, 60 of Gonzalez's 68 papers were from *before* hes was at ISU, he only had 8 at ISU), who graduated less than 2 Ph. D. candidates (Gonzalez: 0), or brought in less than $800,000 in research money (Gonzalez < $100,000)? What about Gonzalez's work *at ISU* matched the profile of a successful tenure candidate for ISU? Compare that to the case of Sean Carroll and the University of Chicago.

Honestly, I don't think you'll like it much on the far side of partisan rhetoric. Maybe you should stay where you are.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you completely dodged the point of what I said. Maybe it's you who should be wearing the short pants and sneakers.

So tell us...if there's all this "Darwinist thought control," how did "Expelled" manage to get made at all? Were the Evil Dogmatic Darwinists able to outwit our entire educational and scientific elite, but not Ben Stein and the right-wing hacks who made asses of themselves in the Dover trial? I don't think so.

Your persecution fantasies are beyond ridiculous. Really, you're making the 9/11-denialists look credible. Grow up two decades and come back in the morning.

Martin Cothran said...

So Motheral says I did something that I demonstrably didn't do and he's upset with me because I didn't address the "point of his post" which was based on what he said I did but didn't actually do.

Where did I defend a movie I hadn't even seen yet "with absolute impunity" Motheral?

Anonymous said...

This is amazing; definitely one of, if not the, most impressive articles of Mr Cothran's I have ever read.

Using a rather wide latitude of meaning for some words, there is nothing in the post which is clearly a false statement. Yet Mr Cothran still manages to convey a contrary impression.

I can imagine him describing a race; "Runner A, his resolve and dedication fortified by studying Latin grammar and body tuned by mastery of the Groaci nose-flute, achieved second place. Runner B, a neoDarwinist with no moral fiber and weakened by perversions of the flesh, struggled to a second-to-last place finish." Of course he would neglect to mention it was a two person race.

I wonder if this illustrates the difference between an imposed absolute morality and an innate humanistic variety. In the latter, someone might follow his belief that others should be treated the way they desire to be; in the former, someone may pay attention to the letter of the law but not the spirit as it is an external code of behavior.