The Boston Globe today printed a column by evolutionary biologist Ken Miller about everyone’s favorite propagandist mockumentary, which I’m sure by now needs neither naming nor linkage. The article feels a little late to me, probably because most of the points Dr. Miller raises have been covered by countless bloggers before. The column makes one important point, however, which is why I bring it up:
Science is under attack in the US.
This much is what I, for one, keep forgetting. Expelled will have very little effect on people knowledgeable in science, but for those who don’t know either way, the effect could be devastating. The film could turn a good part of the US population against science, could convince them that science is a club of elitists who smack down anybody with a dissenting idea. It’s important that we not lose sight of the film’s potential power.
This reminded me of an interview between the people behind Skeptic Magazine’s podcast and Michael Shermer. Shermer went against the typical line on the movie, saying that it was very well-made for its purpose. It had exactly the desired effect on its intended audience, eliciting both laughter and horror in the appropriate places. It is a dangerous piece of propaganda, because it appeals directly to most Americans’ sense of fairness, and to their (our) fears. It also plays to their religion, by trying to tie evolution up with atheism. Dr. Miller, as a devout Catholic, stands as a handy refutation of that particular line of argument.
In any case, I have a lot of respect for Ken Miller. His performance in the Dover trial was brilliant, the article linked above was inspiring (and scary), and I’m off to find more from him. I hear he has a book coming out next month.