Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence Found - Why Ben Stein's documentary on intelligent design lacks intelligence




Don't let Ben Stein fool you with his role as Ferris Bueller's teacher, his Clear Eyes commercials, or his self-named Comedy Central trivia show. His recent documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is pathetic.

Aptly named, this documentary (which I forced myself to watch to the end last night) proves that it lacks intelligence by completely ignoring the primary argument used by scientists for not accepting intelligent design (ID) as science - ID does not, nor can it, provide any testable hypotheses.

If you ask any scientist who does not accept ID as science why they do so, this will be the main reason they give; and yet this key argument is not mentioned a single time throughout all of the whining and complaining done by Ben Stein and his fellow ID theorists in the film. Instead of even acknowledging this important bit of information, they instead conjure up absurd conspiracies and even try to use fear-mongering by poorly and fallaciously attempting to tie Darwinism to Nazism and eugenics.

After watching the documentary, I was completely flabbergasted (love that word). How is it that they could have wasted nearly 2 hours of my time complaining of ID not being accepted as science, when they don't even acknowledge the primary reason given for their exclusion.

That they interview Dawkins and other critics of ID, but fail to mention this point further shows the dishonesty of Ben Stein and the film's producers as these critics would have surely brought up their main criticism of ID.


I won't even go into their repeated misreprestations of evolution, Darwinism, science, and historical facts. For that you can check out this site.


  1. But I heard Expelled was a four-star film . . .

    Oh wait. That's just what Ben Stein thought of it.

  2. I watched this one too, and even though I'm probably more sympathetic to ID, I found it over the top. One thing that did strike me, however, was the question: Does science have a "scientific" explanation for the initial creation of the universe: one which "provides any testable hypothesis?" Does the big bang fit this description, or is it ex nihilo creation as well? I honestly don't know.

    Is creation out of the realm of science? Anyone? Anyone?

  3. Russ,
    There are many aspects of the big bang that have been tested scientifically. They came up with something that should be present (although previously unknown) if the big bang occurred (1 of many is a large amount of radiation in certain parts of the universe w/ an expanding nature) and they have proved correct.

    No scientist believes in ex nihilo creation, E=MC2 takes care of that. All mass is energy. Where energy comes from is another question...

    All LDS scientists that I know feel comfortable with evolution and LDS doctrine as far as doctrine has been explained. The church has no official stance.

  4. Russ,

    As Carson said, scientists are trying to come up with theories that have testable hypotheses. ID does not. A testable hypothesis doesn't even have to be confirmed with actual physical measurements, but can at times be tested with just a computer model. Some high physics and cosmology do just that.

  5. The most important thing to realize with this topic is that most Christians fear the word evolution and attack any and all forms of evolutionary education. This is mostly a reaction that stems from some people in the scientific community who try to use evolution as some sort of "proof" that God doesn't exist and the creation never occured. Without going into too many details, the more I learn and study evolution, the more I see and am convinced that it is evolution by intelligent design. I can definitely see God's hand in the evolutionary process. The scientific community has brought about some amazing and enlightening proofs with evolution and such. Most objective Christian scholars that I know embrace evolution. There is no need to fear it. The difference is that they can see the process by which God most likely performed the creation.

    With that being said, can you really trust any documentary with a political agenda? Please, Michael Moore is living proof of how twisted and biased these so called "fair" documentaries are. So, I find Ben Steins movie quite comparable to the garbage and lies that are spewed forth in "Sicko" and other such trash (don't get me started on all the blatant lies and misrepresentations about the healthcare industry in that piece of crap film). Why people feel the need to skew the facts to try and convince others is beyond me. Just present the straight facts, and take it from there.

  6. Out of curiosity, what "blatant lies and misrepresentations" are you citing to justify your claim that Sicko was "garbage" or "trash"?

  7. Soxy, let me start off by saying I admit we have a health care issue in our country (I work in the health care field, so I see it first hand). I don't have the answer, but I can guarantee you that socialized medicine is definitely not the answer. I want to see some change, but Moore went about it all wrong, lying to get his extremely liberal agenda across. He cherry picks facts then twists the interpretation of them. He doesn't in any way fairly present the argument but blatantly over exagerates any American problem and grossly distorts any positives from countries with socialized medicine. He uses extremes from both ends to try and prove his point. Takes a handful of disgruntled Americans and compares them to a handful of happy Cubans. Not very scientific in the slightest.
    You asked about what I saw and heard that makes it trash. Well for starters, he himself admitted to lying in his movie about wait times for healthcare in Canada. He claimed in the movie that there were no wait times, when in reality over 800,000 people are on wait lists to receive basic health care in Canada. Many Canadians fork over the money to come to America in order to receive health care in a timely fashion. How could this be if our health care system is so horrible? He acknowledged his own lie in an interview after the movie! But he doesn't care for two reasons: 1-he has an agenda and will pursue it no matter the cost, 2-he made millions off his frauds, exagerations and lies.

    Moore also points to France as a model we should follow. Well, in a recent poll only 9% of French said the country was headed in the right direction while over 85% said it was not. Yup, sounds like a winner to me. Let's emulate France (very TIC in case you couldn't tell). In august 2003 in France over 15,000 hospital patients died during a heat wave because their "world class" hospitals lacked air conditioning and because the majority of the doctors were on their "summer break". Again, sounds like a place I want to live if I'm sick.

    Another atrocious misrepresentation is life expectancies. He claims that the U.S. lags behind other countries. Well, as I learned long ago in a simple statistics class, you need to account for variables when presenting statistics. He did not, and presented something incorrectly. Life expectancy involves many factors; two in particular that Moore is especially familiar with, obesity and gun homicide. These are problems that other industrialized countries don't battle with on the massive scale that America does. Here’s some food for thought: The percentage of patients having to wait more than four months for non-emergency surgery is about five times higher in Canada and seven times higher in Britain than it is here.

    And as for one of the most laughable claims in the movie regarding Cuba and it's wonderful health care system..... Wow! I am still baffled that people either blindly accept this or are so stupid that they think it's true. Let me just simply ask if any of you have ever been to the Caribean Spanish speaking nations? If not, then just be grateful you live in America. Cuba lacks basic, clean drinking water. When dignitaries, royalty and wealthy people from other countries get sick, where do they go for their health care? Not Cuba as Moore would have you believe, but the good ole USA.

    I could go on and on (believe me, this is a subject near and dear to me), but my purpose was not to detail out a critique of his movie (and sorry Loyd for this semi hi-jack of the thread). Rather, the intent of my first comment was to show how these political "documentaries" are nothing more than spin, lies, and biased garbage to sway people with the rhetoric of pathos. Unfortunately it is a powerful form to convince people, but that doesn't make it right.

    What I would like to see is more truthful documentaries that will help us grow as a nation and progress. I want to see less junk from morons like Stein and Moore that do nothing but blind the far right and far left and divide our nation further. It really does get me fired up because I am a fan of truth and I try to pursue it in my life. These two films (sicko and expelled) ignore truth and that's what makes me mad

  8. Cody,

    I agree and disagree with your assessment. Sicko is definitely not a comprehensive look at health care systems. Frontline has a much better documentary that you can see here.

    Moore's main point in Sicko is that our health care system needs to be fixed. While in one standard in may be taken as the best system in world - if you or your child has an extremely rare condition and you have a lot of money, then the American health care system is for you. However if we judge it by another standard - whether or not it takes care of the basic health needs of its larger population, then it does not.

    While Moore does a good job critiquing the standard objections to socialized health care, in doing so he does tend to paint an overly-flowered picture of other nations attempts to answer the health-crisis problem.

    Is it true that Canadians and Britains who take advantage of free health care have to wait longer for (as you correctly pointed out) non-emergency care? Yes. However, in comparison to the many Americans who do not receive emergency care or are bankrupted by it make waiting in line for non-emergencies quite less bothersome.

    Your obesity point, while true, fails to also acknowledge that in Britain and other countries the smaller percentage of obese persons is much due to their health care systems that reward physicians who help their patients live healthier lifestyles (obesity, smoking etc). With our system that is essentially run by drug companies that benefit from unhealthy lifestyles, such a thing is unlikely.

  9. Holy hell, I promise I didn't read this before posting my blog today.

    Wow. Great minds think alike?

    Seriously, though. No idea. Wow.

  10. Carson,

    Thank you for the info on the big bang. You allude to the point that I was trying to get to with your E=MC2 comment: Is there any scientific evidence/testable hypothesis for where everything came from? In bringing up the big bang (a credible theory), I guess I was confusing the point: what created the big bang? Where did that mix of energy/elements come from? Again, I'm not trying to be argumentative, but rather to solicit information. Does science offer a beginning?

    Also, as an aside, evolution isn't really what this movie was about. To paraphrase a scientist on the film: Evolution of species is an established fact. The origin of species, however, is much more up in the air.

    As for me, I'm interested in the origin of, well, the universe, I guess.

  11. Biased though it may be, Sicko simply shows that American health care is broken because it does not cover everyone and that it needs to be fixed.

    He shows alternative systems, but he never says that we should model our system after Canada, or France, or England, or Cuba for that matter. He simply says that if THEY can find a way to provide health care for all, then the richest nation on earth should do the same.

    So while he admittedly exhibits bias in his reasoning, his main arguments--stripped of all their bias--are still legitimate and his conclusion is sound.

    It is a call for "socialized" medicine in the sense that he feels that everyone should be covered and that private insurance companies cannot be trusted in such a scenario, but you can't just throw around the word "socialized" or "socialist" and expect the same response from rational minds that the back-woods rednecks from Sarah Palin rallies exhibit.

    Since this post is not about health care, I will not ask you to explain exactly why a "socialized" (universal) health care system is inferior to the current system, since your argument against Michael Moore hinges on that assumption, but I do hope to one day see that debate on this blog. Perhaps the Narrator can consider that for a future post.

    Ben Stein has NEITHER compelling arguments NOR is his conclusion sound. His bias leads him to an irrational conclusion. To group him with the likes of Michael Moore is silly.

  12. Russ,
    technically no. The theory AFAIK is that space expands until it can expand no further, then it begins to collapse until it compresses to a very small amount and explodes out again starting all over again. Science doesn't have a lot of good answers for that. If you want to go even further back, there is no did the first expansion/contraction matter/energy come from.

    LDS theology makes this very interesting. One can hypothesize from various D&C passages that all matter/energy is less pure forms of matter that makes up intelligence and spirit, which is brought about because of truth. Very complicated and some intense physicists have thought this way out, but it is hard to follow. Pretty cool thoughts though.

    The origin of species has a pretty well thought out mechanism, we can not as of yet duplicate these beginning processes so it is not yet "fact." Although, there were some recent findings from the main study done on this in the 60's that shows some things were missed that if duplicated could provide some missing parts to the mechanism...we'll have to see how it pans out.

  13. Russ,

    Scientists don't know much about the big bang right now. That is fine. Scientists answer all the time with 'we don't know.' What science is trying to do is find answers to those problems. ID simply tries to answer this question by throwing in God. There basic argument is 'we don't know therefore God.' This was the standard answer to everything before the modern era. Why does it rain? God. What is an earthquake? God. Why does the billiard ball move when hit? God. Doing so is not science, it is religion.

    There are several theories right now that are trying to come up with testable theories that could answer questions about the big bang. As of yet, none have been conclusive.

    Furthermore, Darwinian evolution is very much the issue of Ben Stein's film. Darwinian evolution is about the origin of species (how we have the species we have today). All (or nearly all) of the ID theorists in the film deny that natural selection explains the origin of species One of them, Paul Nelson, I met and talked with a couple years ago. That he was a Young Earth Creationist a few years ago should be enough to discount him. As a key figure of the Discovery Institute he was very adamant that Darwinian evolution did not explain why we have different species today.

    As far as the origin of life goes, that was not the main topic of the film. If it were so they would have actually interviews those who are in that field. Instead they have Michael Ruse, a philosopher and historian (who I have also had lunch with - I just say to point out that I am so awesome), do his best to summarize one of the many theories being considered right now.

  14. Rather than substantively contribute to this dialogue, I'm going to go ahead and make a crass (but probably accurate) statement: From the vantage point of other developed nations, the fact that there is even a debate in the U.S. about whether ID constitutes a "science" is a poor reflection on the quality of scientific education in our country.

    There. I said it.

  15. Thank you Steve for pointing that out. I feel like I'm beating my head against a wall when I try to explain to people why evolution is taught in Science classes and not creationism. My only desire for the teaching of evolution is that teachers wouldn't draw unfounded conclusions from evolution. When I was at the University of Utah for one of my Biology classes, the professor felt the need to throw out comments at every turn about how this "proved" god didn't exist, or how that was "evidence" that religions are wrong. You can't draw such conclusions. While I was at BYU, my evolution professors, genetics professors and so on were able to teach the classes and say, "this is a POSSIBLE mechanism that God used while creating the earth." I am grateful for that learning. To learn the SCIENCE behind the driving forces in nature and the world around us is how we grow to understand God better. If we want to be more like God, we need to know Him better. A way to know him better is to not only know His attributes better but His work also.

  16. Soxy, your comment that Michael Moore has compelling arguments and a sound conclusion is completely subjective. I showed proof of why his arguments were most definitely not sound, and if you don't have a solid foundation of good arguments, how in the world can you have a sound conclusion? Your bias is blinding you to say that it is silly to group Stein with Moore. I adamantly disagree with that. They are both very much in the exact same camp. For you to brush off my claims as merely his "bias" and nothing more is sad. His movie goes beyond bias and into the territory of false claims, lies, and misrepresentations. You cannot make a sound argument off of lies and things that are not true. You could possibly say that Moore brings up some good points and attempts to approach solutions to our problems, but you don't. Moore doesn't ever provide viable solutions, he just points out problems in America (which we have many). Every one of his "documentaries" fails to provide solutions. Roger and Me, Bowling for Columbine, Sicko, etc. all have the same approach, show the problems of our systems, but then twist the truth to suit your opinion as to what we should do. You said, "You can't just throw around the word "socialized" or "socialist" and expect the same response from rational minds that the back-woods rednecks from Sarah Palin rallies exhibit." Why overgeneralize like that? I could go into great detail about the ignorant masses behind Obama as well. I'll save the time and energy on that one though as it would be useless. Both sides have ignorant people, and both sides have rational people. All I ask is that you put your political party affiliation aside to analyze this scenario. But, I obviously can see your heart is behind Moore, and that no amount of proof or discussion from me will convince you of anything other than you have already decided.

    To Loyd, thank you for the polite and rational response. I question your conclusion in your final paragraph though. Yes, the drug companies have a ton of power, but their power pales in comparison to the insurance companies. That is the main problem with the American health care system. I absolutely despise the corruption and dishonesty from the insurance companies. I battle with them daily (believe me, they suck). On this point Moore is absolutely correct. The insurance companies need to be taken down and restructured (but my conclusion is that socialized medicine is not the answer to this problem). They are raking Americans over the coals. As to the British doctors being rewarded for treating obesity, that leaves the assumption that American doctors don't treat it. I can assure you that throughout Dental school I was bombarded on every side with obesity and its consequences. I'm positive that the medical students received the same. Even after school while in practice, many, many of the articles in peer reviewed journals touch on the topic of obesity. I have a very good friend who is a hospital administrator that deals very directly with obesity and the BMI constantly. His main job is to convince insurance companies to change their approach and coverage of obesity. I also have an Uncle who weighs well over 300 pounds (you probably don't believe me because I'm so fit and trim ;)), but he has been told countless times by physicians, oncologists, gastroenterologists, and many more medical professionals that if he doesn't lose the weight, his obesity will kill him. Has that changed him one bit? No. He still eats crap, doesn't exercise and yet complains about his type II diabetes, knee problems, heart problems, kidney problems and colon cancer. Gee, I wonder why you're slowly dying uncle? I'm not so sure that rewarded physicians is the answer to this one. I personally believe the reason why we have such an obesity problem in our nation is much more complex than that. I see some of it (not all) coming from our nation's prosperity (so much money to buy excess food), the lazy nature of our nation and lack of exercise, and because of horrific education in the school systems about eating properly.

  17. Cody,

    I agree that Moore's films don't present solutions. I am sure Moore would gladly recognize that. Before a solution can be achieved, the public needs to be educated that their is a problem. Whether it be auto companies, guns, Iraq, or our health system. That is what Moore's films do, and they do very well. They scream out and say "Look we have a problem here." And in doing so, Moore is very affective and I would say that his argument is sound when pointing out the problem. His films are not about comprehensive information, nor are they about solutions. They are about waking up ignorant minds to serious problems.

    You are right. I should have said health insurance companies in collaboration with drug companies are the source of the trouble. They certainly are in bed with each other.

    As far as the obesity thing goes, I am sure many doctors are concerned and act on it. But as any free-market loyalist will say, incentives certainly help.

  18. Hey. Sorry I'm late. It looks like you've kind of got two separate discussions going on here, but I'll ignore the Michael Moore one since... I don't care.

    Let me add the little I know about the big bang theory in case that's helpful to anyone.

    First the question about "what created the big bang" is kind of a contradiction. According to the big bang theory, time and space came into existence at the bang. The was no time before (or more accurately, there was no "before"), so it doesn't make sense for anything to have "caused" it. It was the first event.

    There is a theory also (which I think is what Carson is alluding to) that the universe would eventually start pulling back towards its center until everything collapsed back down to a single point. They call this the "big crunch". I don't really know if this is still an active theory, though.

    As far as the whole "testable hypothesis" thing goes, I just want to point out that there is a difference between a the testable hypothesis and proof. As a general rule, science doesn't "prove" things, it only disproves other things. When scientists come up with testable hypothesis for the big bang (or anything else) and the hypothesis turns out correct, that doesn't mean the theory has been proven. It just means that the theory has failed to be disproven.

    So, yes, the big bang theory has testable hypothesis. The only one that I know about is the "red shift" (which Carson alluded to) that shows that the universe is expanding. Like I said about the hypotheses, the expanding universe doesn't prove a big bang, but is consistent with it and could have otherwise disproved the theory.

    As far as I.D. goes, I might be wrong, but I don't think anyone here is arguing that there isn't an intelligent being behind the creation of life or the universe, but rather that such a theory can't be considered as "science". The nature of scientific exploration is asserting hypotheses and experimenting to disprove them or show them to be valid. As Loyd points out, if I.D. were a science it would be coming up with these hypotheses.

    Think about what that would mean for a moment. If we were to try to establish the validitiy of Intelligent Design scientifically, we would need to consider the implications of having an intelligent being orchestrate the creation and then test to see if those implications really were true of our world. If they are, then the I.D. theory would stand to have further tests, and if not then it would be disproven. Essentially it would require the proponents of the theory to try and disprove it. Can you imagine the supporters of I.D. trying to disprove God's existence and/or involvement?

    I imagine that if I.D. were to actually start being treated as a science then it would become fairly distasteful to the religious community. That doesn't mean that I.D. is without merit, but as Loyd's pointed out, it's religion, not science.

    (BTW, I apologize in advance to anyone who knows more about these topics than I do, and I'm completely fine with being corrected on any points where I'm mistaken.)

  19. WOOOOW! This certainly ignited the biggest question of all time didn't it?! "Why are we here?"-- :) Well--I'll tell ya'll that I jsut got off the phone with God, and he says that we're hear to mass produce gummy bears...and that we were made using his erector set when he was only 12.
    I dunno the answer to any of the debate before my comment here, but I bet that my claim is just as difficult to refute as all the others.
    BUT I wanted to share a great documentary I saw the other day--It's called "This Film Is Not Yet Rated"-it's about the rating system of the motion picture business...It's really well done, and seems to explore many angles--pretty kewl!
    U can watch the full video at

  20. I just read my comment above--I should edit before posting-spellcheck or something...but then, maybe I've just invented a new fad of bad spelling and horrible grammar-only time will tell...


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