A quick analysis

Here’s my quick take on the whole Expelled mess and the relation to the creationism bills.

I’ve been closely watching the media reports concerning science education in Florida for a few years now. I’ve seen tidal waves of news coverage when anti-evolution/anti-science rises from the depths. The Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Ben Stein’s cameo appearance in Florida got some media attention, but it was minor compared to previous media tidal waves.

The stories that did run can’t be to the Discovery Institutes’s liking at all. The reports are actually funny to read as lawyer Casey Luskin and actor Ben Stein tripped and stumbled over intelligent design. As far as the creationism bills (“academic freedom”) are concerned, they would just rather tuck intelligent design into a closet and ask everyone to forget about that big failure. These bills are about “freedom of speech” and not intelligent design, except, well, for when it is about intelligent design. That big failure just keeps popping up at the wrong times. Comical.

So, my armchair quarterback assessment of the Discovery Institutes’s game? They apparently thought they would walk into Florida and dazzle everyone with their low-watt star power. Didn’t happen. They were trounced. My guess is that they hurt their cause more than they helped. A lot of credit goes to the Florida media who did decide to cover this. They knew what to ask, and they then reported what they heard.

As for the movie itself: Florida Citizens for Science would comment on the movie Expelled, but unfortunately, the people who are so concerned about academic freedom have seen fit to expel the press and the general public from viewing it, which censors any possible informed comments. This is an ironic and offensive move. Their excuse is that the movie is not quite finished. Something doesn’t make sense here. If you have an unfinished movie that you don’t want to screen to the general public, do you really want to screen it for lawmakers who might be making an important decision based on this unpolished work? Obviously, their desire to exclude reporters and the general public has nothing to do with the movie’s completion status. Hmmmmm … do you smell something? 😉

As far as the creationism bills go:

  • Comments made at the press conference make it clear: if these bills are passed, students will introduce intelligent design as they think it is scientific (which it’s not), and it will cause court cases and a judge to have to decide whether we are teaching science or theological non-science. This had already happened in Dover, Pa.
  • These bills and others just like them were rejected several times by other states, promoted now by a group on the West Coast, and being sold by a movie company. Let’s be serious here! Scientists and science educators FROM FLORIDA already considered these issues and made their recommendations. The FLORIDA Board of Education considered them also, and approved our new standards. Who are these outsiders trying to mess with FLORIDA kids?
  • These bills do not protect “academic freedom” as it is used by the scholarly community. K-12 teachers are responsible for teaching the curriculum. These bills would encourage irresponsibility on the part of teachers in bringing in materials without accountability and treating them as having comparable credibility with those of the standard curriculum.
  • Are legislators really desirous of passing a bill to teach nothing in particular, just in case something was left out of the standards? That certainly doesn’t sound right. That’s because the Discovery Institute of Seattle wants to teach something specific; and it is not scientific, contrary to their assertions.
  • The obvious answer to an item brought up during the press conference concerning who would decide what information is scientific is this: Let the scientists decide what is taught in the science classrooms, which should be whatever is the consensus of the scientific community. Those who clearly don’t understand science shouldn’t be making that decision.
  • These bills reveal their true purpose by singling out evolutionary science. If an actual principled defense of “academic freedom” were intended, the wording would be general enough to protect teachers wishing to discuss alternative views on any topic.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
This entry was posted in Creationism Bills, Expelled movie, Our Science Standards. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A quick analysis

  1. For anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to hear the Florida press conference, it can be heard here:


    It really isn’t worth your while, unless you wish to understand why it flopped so badly. They do very badly (including Luskin’s misrepresentation of a FCS spokesperson’s dissing of the bill as so much “crap,” as his dissing of “academic freedom” itself as so much “crap”). Stein’s still blithering about how you can’t discuss the origin of life (when Darwin himself didn’t discuss it–so why can’t we? The guy really drank the DI Kool-Aid), the cause of gravity, blah blah. I guess he’s never heard of abiogenesis research, or physics.

    I mean, it’s really stupid, and you have to be brain-damaged or quite poorly educated to think it’s anything but poor attempts at deception. Any honest Florida legislator would only need to call up a relevant professor to answer their “points,” and I’m sure he’d get swift responses to their bilge.

    I agree with this most recent blog post, and earlier ones, that this legislation isn’t serious. But as I’ve stated elsewhere, I think that this is serious promotion of their stupid movie.

    Glen D

  2. S.Scott says:

    The press conference titled ” Listen to Ben Stein’s Comments at

    Academic Freedom Act Press Conference ” …

    …and this had NOTHING to do with business of the legislature … Riiiigghhhttt …

  3. MelM says:

    Watch out!!!

    Their excuse is that the movie is not quite finished. Something doesn’t make sense here. If you have an unfinished movie that you don’t want to screen to the general public, do you really want to screen it for lawmakers who might be making an important decision based on this unpolished work?

    If nothing else, this says that the movie shown to the legislators will not be the same as what the public sees on April 18. Just maybe they do want a different movie shown to legislators who will make important decisions. On the other hand, maybe they want to test the movie for rough spots that don’t go down well with the legislators. Maybe this is innocent; but I have little faith–actually, none.

  4. MelM says:

    It seems that some unimpeachable worthies got to see the movie. From the AiG site:

    Mr. Stein came to Nashville for a special preview showing of Expelled for several hundred attendees at the annual convention of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB).

    The audience leapt to its feet with generous applause at the film’s conclusion…

    Before Tuesday’s film preview, Mr. Stein spent 15 minutes chatting with AiG-U.S. President Ken Ham, who informed Mr. Stein that he had seen a director’s cut of Expelled last month at AiG’s Creation Museum. Ben told Ken that he was aware of the “wonderful” facility near Cincinnati and hoped to visit one day

    “No religion here; just us science lovers.!!!”


  5. Digital says:

    What is easier… to watch something you agree with or watch something you disagree with.

    Put out a movie that says it’s about faith (or at least everyone knows it is), and say you’re being oppressed… no one gets behind a cause like being oppressed.

    Guess what, they win.

  6. firemancarl says:

    Nah, they don’t win. It’s easy too see though their charade. There has been enough “bad” press about this movie that EVERYONE knows this is about pushing a religious agenda and not anything about “academic freedom”.

  7. Benjamin Franklin says:

    Here’s my version- “Expelled: No Bones About It”

    The scene begins in a nice restaurant whose specialty is steaks. The waiters go about their business serving people their meals. One day, one of the waiters, Guillermo, announces to the rest of the waiters – “God has spoken to me and in his manifestation as a cow, told me that eating meat is all wrong. Julia Child was wrong! Emeril? Wrong! Martha Stewart? Spawn of Satan! This restaurant should not serve steaks, but only vegetarian dishes!”

    The other waiters may think this is a little nutty, but let it go. Guillermo then starts announcing to all the restaurant patrons “My Cow -God has told me that that eating meat is completely wrong – you should all just order salads or leave”. He refuses to serve the customers their steaks, and disrupts the restaurant’s business.

    The owners of the restaurant let Guillermo go, and Guillermo finds another job at a vegetarian restaurant.

    Now enters the Vegetable Institute, a small, well-funded think tank of Cow-God believers who shout to the world – “Waiters are being EXPELLED and SILENCED because they believe in the Cow-God. Children are being taught in school to eat meat! We need to change the cafeteria menus! They proceed to make a movie including an interview with Guillermo saying that he was fired for his beliefs. The movie shows disturbing scenes of filet mignon, prime rib, and Hitler.

    Dear readers – I ask you –

    Did the other waiters at the steak house want Guillermo to shut up just because his concept of God differed from theirs? Where they just too committed to their “meatism” to see the truth? Or was it that they felt Guillermo was promoting something that they could find no rational basis for, and interfered with their profession needlessly?

    I wonder if Ben Stein is ready to do a sequel.

  8. S.Scott says:

    LOL. Love it!

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