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Author Topic: Expelled anyone heard about this?  (Read 5517 times)
BTM
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« on: March 12, 2008, 07:58:30 PM »


This is interesting, I'd never heard about this film till just now, it's called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.  It's a film from Ben Stein, that's basically about how in the scientific world at large today, discussing anything other than Neo-Darwinism as an explanation for how life began is not only taboo, but the scientists who dare do so are often ridiculed, smeared, and passed over for tenure and promotions, even getting fired.  It makes the case that, among other things, freedom of speech seems to exist in every aspect of this country BUT the scientific world.

I don't know.. it sounds kind of interesting.  I mean, every time I hear the debate about Intelligent Design or other theories, everyone's always quick to dismiss it as religious propaganda (or worse) cooked solely by religious fundamentalist.  To here there are those who put some stock in the ideas not from a religious point of view but scientific one, might be interesting. 

May catch this one when it comes out.

Anyway you can check out the site here...

http://www.expelledthemovie.com/home.php
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2008, 09:46:56 PM »

This is interesting, I'd never heard about this film till just now, it's called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.


I will make this as brief and as unbiased as possible.  Expelled is a religious propaganda piece.  It was made by a company that specializes in this sort of thing.  Screenings are at churches and require signing nondisclosure agreements.  Religious schools have been enticed to go by being offered rewards for going.  It was filmed under false pretenses.  This has been all over ScienceBlogs since at least August 2007.

Please feel free to visit any of the above linked sites, or for that matter any of the pro-ID sites that support this "film".  If you spend any time at all at either, you will notice that pro-science sites
  • Allow comments and generally keep those comments made by anti-science commenters
  • Most only ban posters for egregious violations of posting policy, and only after multiple warnings
  • Provide links to items being discussed, such as the scientific literature or other websites, even to anti-science sites

Whereas pro-ID sites (and anti-science sites in general)
  • If comments are even allowed, are usually heavily moderated for content
  • Ban posters for simply not toeing the party line
  • Do not provide links either to the scientific literature or to pro-science sites

Don't take my word for it; see for yourselves.  I will now get off my soapbox.  I do not wish to become embroiled in a holy flame war on this forum; I highly suggest if that is your intention to go to one of the aforementioned (aforelinked?) blogs and do so there.
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peter johnson
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« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2008, 05:58:53 PM »

While I don't think BTM was trying to be ideological, I do give GoHawks Karma for his thorough and well-researched analysis -- Karma . . . isn't that religious?
In any case, I don't think that "Neo-Darwinism", whatever that might entail, is the only theory going these days -- there is also Punctuated Equilibrium, Panspermia, and a variety of other theories trying to come to grips with Life As We Know It.  As a good Fortean, I'm behooved to give an equal listen to whatever comes my way, including ID, but then I'm supposed to be discerning as to where the preponderance of evidence lies.
In any case, I'd love to see the film, propaganda or not -- Hell, I watch all the 9-11 films, even though my hooey-meter goes off the scale -- I enjoy all sorts of "UFOs are real & killed Kennedy!" films too.  Nothing wrong with a film that advocates a singular point of view -- some are quite entertaining, ie. The Church of The SubGenius balderdash or the Left Behind series.
peter intelligent/denny designing
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GoHawks
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2008, 11:34:59 PM »

While I don't think BTM was trying to be ideological

And neither do I; I apologize to BTM and to anyone else who got the impression that I thought that.

Quote from: peter johnson
In any case, I don't think that "Neo-Darwinism", whatever that might entail, is the only theory going these days -- there is also Punctuated Equilibrium, Panspermia, and a variety of other theories trying to come to grips with Life As We Know It.


"Neo-Darwinism" is a term not generally used by most biologists today; many prefer "Modern Evolutionary Theory" or similar.  Punctuated Equilibrium is not a rival to evolutionary theory; it is part of evolutionary theory that tries to explain how evolution occurs.  Panspermia is a theory of the origin of life on this planet (that it came from elsewhere); it opposes abiogenesis, not evolution.  The only scientific theory dealing with "Life As We Know It" is evolutionary theory.

Quote from: peter johnson
As a good Fortean, I'm behooved to give an equal listen to whatever comes my way, including ID, but then I'm supposed to be discerning as to where the preponderance of evidence lies.


This should be easy; not just the preponderance but the entirety of the evidence points to evolutionID doesn't even have a scientific theory.  Phillip Johnson, the founder of ID, even said so in an interview with the Berkeley Science Review:

Quote from: Phillip E. Johnson
I also don't think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that's comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it's doable, but that's for them to prove…No product is ready for competition in the educational world.


See here for other examples of Johnson revealing what ID is all about, such as "Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit, so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools" and "This isn't really, and never has been, a debate about science. It's about religion and philosophy."

I wish to apologize to all for the length of this post.  This site is supposed to be enjoyable and about movies, but this subject happens to be near and dear to me, and I am in the thick of it every day.  And no, I am not a member of "Big Science" (or even "little science").  If Andrew so chooses, I have no objection to moving this thread or just this post to wherever he feels relevent, or even removing it if he is so inclined.

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ulthar
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« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2008, 12:15:39 AM »

GoHawks, the problem that exists right now is that there is a "religion" of science.  Neo-Darwinism is part of that.  Sad, but true.

Before I get labeled a nut, I should state that in the interest of full disclosure, not only am I a Christian, but I am a Ph.D. physical scientist.  I've walked both sides of this fence.

There are some scientists that accept Neo-Darwinism for what it is, and can handle open debate regarding whatever scientific shortcomings exist.  There are others that cannot.

One term that comes to mind is ontological naturalism.   Basically, this view states that the ONLY way to view reality is via the scientific method.  If you define a BS degree in a natural science as the criterion, I've been a scientist for 20 years - longer if you count the time I've actually worked in science fields.  I can tell you that science is NOT the be-all, end-all approach to everything in life.  But some folks view it that way.

Another problem is the false dichotomy created by both sides fo the evolution-intelligent design debate.  A core issue here is the concept of 'young earth" creationism.  Note the term "young earth."  That's key.

The idea of young earth creationism was solidified by Ussher shortly after the publication of the first King James Bible.  Early Christian scholars, those in the first few centuries, debated the abstraction denoted in Genesis.  But in 1650, in response to John Lightfoot's earlier claim to know the exact date the earth was created, Ussher published his version.  By 1700, the KJV of the Bible "for the masses" included footnotes on Ussher's calculations and thus the "young earth" theology was born.  Note that this was 1650 years AFTER the founding of the Christian church, and even longer after the formalization of Judaism.

So science stands in direct contrast to this young earth idea - which is fine, since there really is no formal basis for it (there are many holes in Ussher's calculations).  But the real problem happens when some scientists, use the young earth model as a basis to counter ALL of religion while substituing their own religion in place.  Maybe science cannot explain EVERYTHING.  We don't know.  To assume that it can is not good science, since that cannot be tested or falsified.

In summary, I think the debate over Evolution and Intelligent Design is a good one to have.  If for no other reason, such debate helps show the flaws, weaknesses and leaps of faith taken by BOTH sides.
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BTM
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« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2008, 12:53:08 AM »

GoHawks, the problem that exists right now is that there is a "religion" of science.  Neo-Darwinism is part of that.  Sad, but true.

Before I get labeled a nut, I should state that in the interest of full disclosure, not only am I a Christian, but I am a Ph.D. physical scientist.  I've walked both sides of this fence.

Just out of curiosity, have you yourself ever experienced any harassment or mockery from your fellow scientific colleagues for those beliefs?  I mean, I know most college campus in general aren't the friendliest place for anyone who has something other than a left of center mind bent but I was curious if you had stories to share.
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ulthar
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« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2008, 01:14:07 AM »


Just out of curiosity, have you yourself ever experienced any harassment or mockery from your fellow scientific colleagues for those beliefs?  I mean, I know most college campus in general aren't the friendliest place for anyone who has something other than a left of center mind bent but I was curious if you had stories to share.


I'll answer with this: there's a reason I'm not teaching at the college level anymore.  Let's just say that what is required to be "accepted" is not worth it.   

Real, measurable standards mean nothing and appearances mean everything.  In my case, one big clash came when I dared to show, scientifically, that holding nursing students to a real, measurable standard in their general chemistry sequence could be achieved was met with protests and threats of legal action (by the other faculty against me).  After my attorney convinced them that they could not fire me for teaching the class to the standards THEY published in the course catalogue, I was "allowed" to finish teaching....but when it came time to renew my contract, I told them where to go.

Apparently, the problem was that I shed some light on how previous instructors of that same course just did the revolving door...no standard, no academic integrity.  It was all about numbers....how many nursing students "moved" through the course sequence.

That's but one story.  I have many others.  I've taught Chemistry and/or Physics at 5 Universities and 1 Technical College.  My experience covers public schools and private schools - from tiny to fairly big.

Contemporary academia is elitism plain and simple.  If you don't happen to agree with the self-proclaimed elite, you might as well jump off a cliff.

Sadly, I know a LOT of gifted research scientists no longer in the field because of the "extracurricular" restraints imposed.  One, probably the best scientist I've ever met (and I've met three Nobel winners), is now looking for a job at Lowes.

Make no mistake, America's science education system is in SERIOUS trouble.  The very people that SHOULD be teaching aren't, and the last ones you'd choose to teach your children are doing it.  Exceptions exist, of course, as always, but on the whole, the system is in the toilet.
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BTM
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« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2008, 01:18:25 AM »

And to everyone, just if you're curious, no, I wasn't trying to spark an ID vs Evolution debate, from what I understood, the film was about how pretty ANY scientist that disagrees with the evolutionary theory is being silenced, denied tenure, harassed, etc something I'd find abhorrent IF it's being done just because the scientific community in general doesn't like anyone not accepting the theory.  Now, if that's not really the premise, then hey, joke's on me.

I don't know Ben Stein too well, but he doesn't strike as a "raving religious nut" that the media makes ID people out be.  (Course, I was always thought cause of his name he was Jewish, but I dunno...)

But anyway, I'll check the links out, I figured there'd be a "different side" to the story of the film and I'm interested in reading about it.
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BTM
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2008, 01:22:50 AM »

Make no mistake, America's science education system is in SERIOUS trouble.  The very people that SHOULD be teaching aren't, and the last ones you'd choose to teach your children are doing it.  Exceptions exist, of course, as always, but on the whole, the system is in the toilet.

Wow, that sucks.  Sadly though, I'd argue America's EDUCATION system (science and the rest) are in serious trouble.

You'd think in a world supposedly driven by knowledge and intelligence that you wouldn't need to be winning popularity contests, but, I guess not. 

And, dumb question of the year, is the scientist guy that you know happy working at Lowes because he's happier there, or is he just kind of "stuck" there?
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ulthar
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« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2008, 01:26:14 AM »

Okay, on reading that, I see that I might have failed to be clear on my academic standards equates to religious or political beliefs.  The answer is simple.  As basically a conservative, I believe that standards, value, morals can be assigned an absolute value - right or wrong.  Many liberals disagree with this.

In teaching, I believed that students could, or could not, do the work to a satisfactory level.  My colleagues disagreed.  I was told that discouraging them was more fatal than informing them.

Here's a sample conversation I had (we were teaching two sections of the same class...the same material):

Colleague:  Many of my students could not properly define density on my test..  I gave them credit anyway.
Me:  Why would you do that?  If it was wrong, why would you mark it correct?
Colleague: Because I don't want to discourage my students.
Me: What favor are you doing by telling them that know how to do something that they do not know how to do?
Colleague gave no answer.  Shrugged shoulders.

Another conversation with the same colleague (who is STILL teaching at the college, by the way, and considered one of their shining stars):

Colleague: I had a student (a senior) make a 20 on my Final Exam.  He really needed to pass the Final to pass the course, but I passed him anyway.
Me: Why would you do that?
Colleague: Well, because if I failed him, he would have just taken my class again next year.  By passing him, he can graduate now.

So, basically, the ostracization was sublte - no one said "you are conservative and Christain, bye-bye."  But there was a DEFININATE difference in philosophy - real standards, academic rigor vs. filling the immediate want of the student.

By the way, at one private school where I taught, I had a class that gave me a little bit of trouble.  The faculty gave me a little bit of trouble, too, not understanding why my class was so "hard."  At the end of the semester, after the Final Exam, the students of that class presented me with a card that said "Thanks.  You are the best teacher we've ever had, because you showed us that even though it is hard, we can do it.  Everyone else, when it got hard, thought they had to make it easy for us to do it."
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« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2008, 01:32:45 AM »


And, dumb question of the year, is the scientist guy that you know happy working at Lowes because he's happier there, or is he just kind of "stuck" there?


Well, given the experiences he had when he was teaching, he does not miss that environment.  Basically, he was told that to get tenure, he had to ignore his wife and children and give weekends to the school.  He refused.

I don't know that he LIKES working at Lowes, but he prefers that to selling his soul.  Academia should not be about giving up your life.  The sad thing is that the argument is made that the "best" scientists are those that WOULD give up time with their families to do "the work."  But, I'd put this guy against anyone out there and defy them to tell me he's not head and shoulders above the top 1%.  This guy is truly brilliant; thanks to the system as it is, he has NO interest in doing science anymore.  He earned his Ph.D. in 1992 from one of the best schools in the country. 

Now, he's happy running a Bobcat, building picnic tables and selling garden supplies.  Doing these things, he's with his family on weekends.
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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2008, 03:35:47 AM »

One term that comes to mind is ontological naturalism.   Basically, this view states that the ONLY way to view reality is via the scientific method.  If you define a BS degree in a natural science as the criterion, I've been a scientist for 20 years - longer if you count the time I've actually worked in science fields.  I can tell you that science is NOT the be-all, end-all approach to everything in life.  But some folks view it that way.

Another problem is the false dichotomy created by both sides fo the evolution-intelligent design debate.

Maybe science cannot explain EVERYTHING.  We don't know.  To assume that it can is not good science, since that cannot be tested or falsified.

In summary, I think the debate over Evolution and Intelligent Design is a good one to have.  If for no other reason, such debate helps show the flaws, weaknesses and leaps of faith taken by BOTH sides.

Well, yes, the scientific method is a method of thinking and experimentation, not a belief in itself. Properly implemented, it is in fact a method of testing the validity of different beliefs that are almost exclusively about the physical world.

I think it's a mistake to mix in labels such as "conservative" and "liberal" into the mix, since, as you say, "standards, value, morals can be assigned an absolute value - right or wrong." The scientific method may not be the end-all, be-all of how to think about the world, but is certainly the most powerful tool we've developed so far. And since science is constantly testing and correcting itself against the actual world, it is the closest we can come to actual truth regarding physical reality, and that reality remains the same regardless of political affiliation.

However, when you speak of the fallacy of ontological naturalism, where do you draw the line? Sure you cannot wholly discount the idea that the world is an illusion, or that we're all just a sort of thing in the Red King's dream, but you also can't go out tomorrow and bash your head in with a hammer without suffering serious consequences. The latter is testable and the results are replicable, the former is not testable.

In that overall sense, the religion/science debate is a strong one. However, the Intelligent Design/Modern Evolutionary Theory is not. Make no mistake, what is commonly understood as Intelligent Design, at least in the United States, is not good science (and almost certainly not good religion), although it tries to present itself as such in order to force a small subset of Christian thinking upon the education system. Evolutionary theory has a lot of kinks and further delineations to work out, but Intelligent Design is simply wrong. About as "absolutely" wrong as a hypothesis can get. No points for trying.

Heck, even the Vatican has discounted modern Intelligent Design.

As far as academia is concerned, there are a lot of problems, and Ulthar would know much better than I do about those. But any debate regarding Intelligent Design is a casualty and not a major fulcrum. That's a pressure of a modern religious movement. As repeated, there is no serious debate within actual researchers regarding the overall correctness of Modern Evolutionary Theory. Any attempt to introduce the thinly-disguised religious dogma that proponents of the type of Intelligent Design that the makers of Expelled represent into actual research is at most going to be greeted with a polite but embarrassed awkwardness. I could go out and make a documentary about how researchers who propose a hollow-earth theory are laughed out of a hostile academia, but nobody would care because a hollow earth doesn't speak to any current religious dogmas.

My apologies for the long post. Yes, academia has problems, but so does the rest of society. We can try and work those problems out, but this is not the correct angle--not by a long shot.
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« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2008, 07:43:00 AM »

There is something everyone misses in this discussion (by the way I didn't read every word of the back and forth on this).  Darwin's theory in no way addresses the origin of life. 


People who get hung up on believing the Genesis version of creation, miss an important point.  The question they should be looking at is "Who and why?", not "How and when?". 

I for one think evolution is evident every time you look at the abundance of and variety of life on this planet.

I'm for believing what you will, but please don't try to foist those beliefs on my children painted up as fact.
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« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2008, 08:55:51 AM »


Well, yes, the scientific method is a method of thinking and experimentation, not a belief in itself. Properly implemented, it is in fact a method of testing the validity of different beliefs that are almost exclusively about the physical world.


The problem that exists is that to many, some very prominent, scientists, science has been elevated to the level of a 'belief system.'  It's easy to hide behind "oh, it's just testing," but the reality is science has become a world-view to these folks that holds as it's basic, central premise the deification of self.  This "religion" even has a name - scientism; it has also been called the "religion of Self God."  It is a subset of ontological naturalism that holds that the only CORRECT way to view ANYTHING in the world is through the lens of science.

A couple of examples:

Sociologist Susan Blackmore:

"Science is, in some sense, superior to religion...At the heart of science lies the method of demanding tests of any idea.  Scientists must predict what will happen if a particular theory is valid and then find out if it is or not...This is not what religions do.  Religions build theories about the world and then prevent them from being tested...I do defend the idea that science, at its heart, is more truthful than religion."

Ms. Blackmore must be blind to the whole Anthropogenic Global Warming discussion.  Talk about theories whose adherents take action to prevent them from being tested....sheesh.

Chemist Peter Atkins:

"My conclusion is stark and uncompromising.  Religion is the antithesis of science; science is competent to illuminate all the deep questions of existence, and does so in a manner that makes full use of, and respects, the human intellect.  I see neither need nor sign of any future reconciliation."

Note the "all the deep questions of existence;"  Atkins, a very prominent and well known chemist, is not saying science is just for the testable.  This quote sums up Ontological Naturalism about as concisely as can be.

Biologist Richard Lewontin urges the public:

"to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth...Materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."


Again, note "Science as the only begetter of truth."  That's a little broader than just testing guesses that "The Method" suggests.


On the other hand, several notable scientists have rejected this notion - that the scientific method is the ONLY lens with which to view the world.  One such was Albert Einstein.  Here are a couple of comments attributable to him:

"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love."

"Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."

The point is not to claim Evolution is false or ID is good science.  The point is emphasize that absence of broad world-view objectivity in the contemporary science community.  Evolution is a theory, and no theory explains everything at all times.  However, partially by fallacious appeals to popularity and partly due to the "Self God" element of modern naturalism, Evolution is very often presented, especially to lay people, as a settled deal.  "No debate necessary."

These self-proclaimed keepers/knowers of all that can be known ridicule Michael Behe's interpretations of several key microbiological processes, but quietly sweep under the rug that the Theory of Evolution cannot currently explain his "complex structures."  In fact, Charles Darwin himself acknowledged this as a shortcoming of the theory.  There IS true scientific debate to be had, and discoveries yet to be made.  That is, to some extent, being stifled in the classroom by the fanatical adherents to "Scientism" that likely view such debate as a sign of weakness....much like some fundamentalists in other religions seek to stifle debate on their doctrines.

Quote

However, when you speak of the fallacy of ontological naturalism, where do you draw the line?


I'm talking about the 'extreme' form of Ontological Naturalism that holds that such a world-view is the ONLY lens with which to view the world.  In this world-view, there is no room for philosophy, religion or really much of anything that suggests some things might be beyond Man's ability to comprehend.  See the quotes above - Man, or "self" is God because Man has Science.

(Really, I think it's worse than that....my observation of these individuals suggests to me that only THEY are Self-God because THEY have science....folks with intuitive artistic expression, for example, are not deified because their world-view is not science).

I used to belong to this cult; I've seen it from the inside. 

Quote

However, the Intelligent Design/Modern Evolutionary Theory is not. Make no mistake, what is commonly understood as Intelligent Design, at least in the United States, is not good science (and almost certainly not good religion), although it tries to present itself as such in order to force a small subset of Christian thinking upon the education system. Evolutionary theory has a lot of kinks and further delineations to work out, but Intelligent Design is simply wrong. About as "absolutely" wrong as a hypothesis can get. No points for trying.


I beg to differ only in that the ID/Evolution debate allows, or even forces, us to examine the issues in this thread.  The problem as I see it is that BOTH sides are misrepresented by BOTH sides.  This is very important, and is central to why I posted in this thread.  BOTH sides in this debate, as it's held in the public eye, are/have been being disingenuous.  It's become a shouting match and one for whom the victor is assumed to be the most popular.  Science is not an appeal to popularity, but a rational, objective examination of measured, observed facts.

Is ID good science?  Some of it might be.  Behe's complex structures are but one example.  Essentially, the sin in the church of scientism Behe committed is that he began his discussion with the assumption that there may be things science cannot explain.  You and I don't have to accept HIS explanation for those things, but essentially he is simply stating that "the Modern Theory cannot account for this....maybe no testable theory can.  What do we do now? "  You cannot say that in this church, you cannot even hint that there might be things "out there" bigger than Man's Brain.

So, what do good zealots do when they have no rational, thought-out answer?  They ridicule, denigrate and berate.  In all the debate on complex structures that I have read, not one single person has ever suggested "How can the Theory Be Modified/Improved to account for this?"  If that IS out there, I've not seen it and it certainly is not what is being put out for public consumption.

Finally, I'll echo your apology for making this so long-winded.
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« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2008, 02:00:47 PM »

Ah, what a great board this is . . .

Positively wonderful level of debate here -- I won't attempt to rise to it, but it's good to know that here we can keep company with scholars and deep-thinkers whilst we wallow in our beloved "Plan 9"s --

One of the things that persuaded me to adopt Forteana as my current worldview is that it allows for the consideration of "damned" data.  Those of you who don't know what the hell it is I'm going on about might enjoy reading "The Book of The Damned" by Charles Fort. 

One of the tenents of Fortean philosophy is that at any given time in intellectual history, what is observed, catalogued, tested and theorised about is very much a fashion and a product of its time.  This inevitably leads to issues like the one Ulthar brings up re. the ignoring of the "damned" data of Behe's complex structures by the very people who should be examining them closely.  Or, to use the classic example, continuing to ridicule the possibility that meteors came from outer space despite evidence to the contrary, simply because such space rocks did not conform to the scientific model of the times.

Incidentally, I believe it was a Fortean, Robert Anton Wilson, who first coined the neologism "scientism".

To get back to the original post, I wouldn't mind seeing the film in question, and I'd absolutely LOVE to see a film about academics scorned for teaching "Hollow Earth" theories!!  What unites us here is our love of fringe cinema, of which I always want more, not less. 

peter bigfoot/denny ufo
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