Expelled: Immoral, Incompetent

BPSDBAnd so it came to pass that the creationists, realizing that they would be caught ripping off copyrighted material for their propaganda movie, pushed back the release date and did a quick hack job to cover up the stolen footage. Unfortunately, having no actual knowledge of science — if they did, they wouldn’t be creationists — their replacement was rather lacking in the originality department, and the subterfuge did not last.

Just how derivative was the hack job the propagandists threw together? Well, if XVIVO‘s original “Inner Life of a Cell,” beautiful although somewhat inaccurate, were the riff from “Under Pressure,” then the clip seen in the Expelled movie would play the role of “Ice Ice Baby.” Quidam makes the point more succinctly than I could try:


At once immoral and incompetent: that’s Expelled for you.

The whining and flailing attempts at damage control have already begun, as Tyler dutifully summarizes. I am hardly surprised to note that the refrain “the Darwinists are trying to censor the truth” has already been sounded. Like clockwork, these people are. Here’s a friendly memo: if you stopped doing flagrantly illegal things, it might be more difficult for the mean, nasty evilutionist bogeymen to bring the strong arm of the Man down upon you. Not that we should expect this FYI to sink in, of course — their media message is now “Help, help, we’re being repressed,” when it’s plain to see that the petty authorities who’ve given their bigotries free rein have been creationists lashing out at science. Do the names Steve Bitterman, Alex Bolyanatz, Richard Colling, Chris Comer, Paul Mirecki, Nancey Murphy, Gwen Pearson and Eric Pianka ring any bells? How about the name of Judge John E. Jones III, who became the target of character assassination and even received death threats for the crime of doing his job? I keep waiting for a biochemist or a geneticist to start issuing death threats like Michael Korn sent to UC Boulder’s biology department, those “terrorists against America.” So far, I wait in vain.

Scientists are men and women with all the foibles inherent in being human. The scientific process seeks to counter some of these flaws through openness and mutual cross-criticism — not always successfully, but often enough to make real progress. Professional creationism, on the other hand, is a disease of the moral organs. It is impossible to defend in an honest way blatant untruths such as the assertions at the heart of creationism; the ignorance and dishonesty inherent in that defense will inevitably infect all aspects of the practice.

(Thanks to the Bad Idea Blog for spotting the image.)

POSTSCRIPT: Above, I described the XVIVO animation as “beautiful although somewhat inaccurate.” The chief illustrator of the film, David Bolinsky, has elaborated on this point:

In depicting what we did, other than merely maintaining the intent of the syllabus, we needed to edit like mad. A cell has billions of molecules, millions of active functional proteins and tens of thousands of structural elements separating, sequestering and joining compartments and systems into a functional whole. An initial foundational decision process of our creative vision, consisted of editing out 95% of the contents of our cell in order to gain, for our virtual camera, a vista to visualize what elements we left in. The decisions we made blended aesthetics with science. They were not made lightly, nor were they made without extensive consultation with researchers at Harvard, and an extensive body of literature, including protein data libraries and new findings by Harvard researchers.


Given their “access to the same literature” we had, where Graham Johnson at Scripps so brilliantly worked out the real motion of kinesins, I am simply blown away that the “Intelligent Design” animators slavishly made the hands of their kinesins move exactly as we did, even though we intentionally left out the stochastic Brownian motion which actually characterizes the tractive force and periodic pedicle placement of these tiny motivators. We simply did not have the time or budget to render these, and a dozen other details, to the level of insanity we would like to have done! This was, after all, an underfunded proof-of-concept piece.

Bolinksy’s statement is well worth reading.

POST-POSTSCRIPT (15 April): Darwin Central has another nice image illustrating how many different ways kinesin has been portrayed, and how Expelled‘s version is clearly a rip-off. Thanks to Abbie for noticing.

15 thoughts on “Expelled: Immoral, Incompetent”

  1. Thank you for spamming my site with pictures of things which look like lizards.

    No, really: there’s nothing I like more than providing a platform for people to advertise their rejection of 65 million years of geological history. In the future, however, I’d prefer it if, per this site’s comment policy, you published your pictures in a peer-reviewed journal (of archaeology, paleontology or any other relevant field) and referenced that in your comment instead. Until then, I remain as unconvinced as the folks at Wikipedia.

  2. Ah, yes. Every generation has its rebel… and plagiarist, and one-note Samba, and liar for Jeebus.

    If Marshall, Will, and Holly had a baby dino, why o why can’t I? You’re no fun, Blake. *clicks heels thrice*

  3. It’s obvious, isn’t it? Harvard doesn’t own the video. God does. God used Harvard as his vessel to deliver the video to the Expelled creators, sort of like a divine Rube Goldberg machine. A stick fell on a bowling ball which rolled down a track, etcetera, etcetera. Many monkeys and keyboards were involved. Praise Jayzus!

    Okay, I’ll stop now.

  4. You’re welcome. Please feel free to copy the image as far and wide as you wish. The work is composed of a clip from XVIVo’s animation, Premise’s copy of the animation, Expelled’s promo image and an idea by MidwifeToad. I believe my image falls under ‘Fair use’ because it is not for commercial gain; is for nonprofit educational purposes; is a criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; and used in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied. I think it makes the plagiarism case succinctly.

  5. Thank you for spamming my site with pictures of things which look like lizards.

    Blake, some respect please, you are talking to a Finnish internet legend! :D

    As far as I’m concerned, Pauli could sue Expelled for plagiarism, since he has been doing the Darwinism=Nazis schtick for years and years.

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