Friday, 28 September 2007

Dawkins tricked into appearing in pro-Intelligent Design documentary

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A row is brewing over upcoming film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a pro-Intelligent Design documentary due for release next February. The film features interviews with Richard Dawkins and other prominent atheists, who claim they were led to believe they were appearing in a documentary called Crossroads: The Intersection of Science and Religion, a debate about creationism and evolution.

It turns out the scientists were misled by producer Mark Mathis, whose finished product Expelled is based on the claim that scientists sympathetic to intelligent design are denied posts in universities. In an email Richard Dawkins told newspapers he would not have agreed to take part in the film had he known its true agenda, pointing out that "at no time was I given the slightest clue that these people were a creationist front".

PZ Myers, a biology professor at the University of Minnesota and author of the science blog Pharyngula, is another scientist duped into appearing in Expelled. He has reproduced on his blog a letter from Mathis that clearly shows participants were asked to appear in Crossroads, saying "we are interested in asking you questions about the disconnect/controversy that exists in American between evolution, creationism and the intelligent design movement."

Having done the interview, Myers was surprised to later find out that he was appearing in a film called Expelled, with producers claiming that interviews with the likes of Myers and Dawkins show that "freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry have been expelled from publicly-funded high schools, universities and research institutions".

The report on this controversy in yesterday's New York Times included comments from the documentary's host, the actor and TV presenter Ben Stein. He told the paper he accepted the invitation to appear in the film because he "does not accept that evolution alone can explain life on Earth". He added that he believes the theory of evolution leads to racism and genocide, saying if it was up to him the documentary would be called "From Darwin to Hitler".


Hugh Caldwell said...

Ben Stein is an interesting character. I doubt if he's particularly qualified to host a philosophical debate.

" He lives with his wife, Alexandra Denman ( former lawyer,) his son, Tommy, four cats and two large dogs in Beverly Hills."