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388 of 594 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "No Intelligence Allowed"... in this documentary!, July 16, 2008
This review is from: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (DVD)
I went to see this movie in theaters opening weekend. Fortunately, my boyfriend and I were the only people in the theaters, which allowed us to yell at the screen freely.

While watching the documentary, I did not know any of the shams behind it. I thought (at first) it was 100% legit, all the stories were true, the interviewed knew what movie they were interviewing for, and so on. Of course, I still watched it skeptically, as I do for any documentary, whether its this, Flock of Dodos, NOVA shows, or even Planet Earth, but still expecting honest documentary technique. Still, some of the stories and comments just felt "wrong" or "out of place". Later I found out the real reasons things felt "off" at ExpelledExposed, other reviews, Dawkins' site, and so on. I was totally repulsed.

Granted, there were points of the documentary I found amusing, such as when Ben was trying to find the Discovery Institute, and got lost, and so on, and I think artistically this documentary was well done and appeared cohesive. Factually and ethically however, its a mess!

I can't understand how people think the scene where Stein harasses Dawkins is funny or proves anything. Stein was asking leading questions to explicitly get Dawkins to come up with a POSSIBLE scenario in which a designer might be POSSIBLE. Please note, he did not ask Dawkins to come up with something TRUE or something Dawkins BELIEVES. He asked Dawkins for POSSIBILITY. So, Dawkins came up with the first probable solution, which he clearly didn't believe, but to answer the absurd question. Then, Stein takes what Dawkins says and rips it out of context! This was the point of the movie I almost walked out in anger, not necessarily at his point, or at ID, or whatever else supporters of this movie thing we get mad at, but at his horrific interviewing technique! No self-respecting documentary filmmaker, writer, or reporter should pull comments out of leading questions to support their point. Its low, and despicable. If they can't support their argument without resorting to such below-the-belt techniques, what does that say about their validity? However, I didn't leave because we spent a whole $10 on it, and bought Icees, too. After I saw the absurdity that followed, I almost wish I had.

Because... then came the Nazis. I think this topic has been covered pretty well by other reviewers, but I would like to point out another instance in this sequence that epitomizes the poor interviewing technique and low standards of this documentary. He is talking to a tour guide in a holocaust museum, pulling every bit of emotional weight into the situation. He then asks the tour guide "If you could say anything to Dr. *whatever the name was, who did horrible experiments*, what would you say to him?" and "Don't you think it odd that the real insane ones were the people doing the experiments?" In any other high quality documentary, these deeply personal and subjective questions would not have been asked of a neutral tour guide. He was trying to force her to take a side so that he could claim another ally and invoke a reactionary response among those in the audience sympathetic to his positions. Of all those interviewed, I give her the most credit. She was not expecting to be forced to take a side, or harassed, she was probably just expecting to walk the cameras through the museum and explain the history. However, she was able to remain neutral in face of such a celebrity and pressure, and did not allow them any opportunity to twist her words to their cause.

Additionally, the interviews on the evolutionary end were lacking. We only saw a few of the key faces in the scientific community, and only those which would create a polarized reaction, such as Dawkins and Scott. What about Micheal Ruse? Why did he only get a 1-minute clip? If you watch the special features on Flock of Dodos, where they have an hour long debate, it is obvious that this man needed more face time. But they didn't want that, did they? They'd rather have the "fundamentalist atheist" Dawkins as the sole figurehead of evolution, so they could make it a game of faith / no faith, religion / irreligion, rather than addressing the real issue -- Intelligent Design has no scientific backing.
Additionally, notice how the ID interviews are largely based on sob-stories and touchy-feely emotional aspects of the issue ("Oh, you lost your job, how HORRIBLE!!!"). In contrast, the interviews for the evolutionary side had everything to do with facts and figures, leaving little room for the audience to get-to-know and connect with the evolutionists "as people". The only exception to this is Dawkins, we get to know him as an atheist who lost his faith because of evolution... not something for the average American audience to sympathize with.

Lets look a briefly at the filming technique. I noticed a subtle lighting technique used in the interviews that lent a strong bias towards the ID side and away from the evolution side. Notice when Stein is interviewing the ID supporters, the location is relaxed (in a park, reclining in a comfy chair, in a cafe, etc). The lighting is soft, bright, and warm. Compare this to the evolution interviews with cold, harsh lighting, high contrast, and an uninviting setting such as a stark room, or the bookshelves and studies of Academia. While this may sound like nitpicking, lighting techniques and subtlety is the heart of artistic composition, and the key to controlling the emotions and minds of viewers.

Finally, it must be acknowledged that the documentary does not explain the pseudoscience behind ID in the first place, it merely cries discrimination. An average viewer would leave knowing no more of ID than the fact that its being "unjustly" shunned by the scientific community. The fact is, ID is not science. It is pure conjecture and speculation. The best thing ID proponents have going for them is a concept called "irreducible complexity" (read as: this looks like it was designed and we can't figure out how it works, so a designer did it), but did they discuss in-depth the implications of irreducible complexity, at the very least? NO! If they had, it would have become immediately obvious that we are no longer looking at science but pure conjecture masquerading under the name of "science" with no backing in experimentation and traditional scientific rigor. This goes against the narrow scope of what the producers of Expelled wanted, and thus, they don't go into what ID theory really is.

Only waste your money on this movie when it hits the "buy two get one free" bin at the used video store in the next few months, as it inevitably will, and only waste your time watching it for laughs.
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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 21, 2008 1:35:10 AM PDT
Peter Hunt says:
Fantastic review. I appreciated your take on the interviewing style, the leading questions, the depictions of ID supporters vs. evolutionary scientists, and the reduction of every argument to faith vs. non faith.

I'd make one quibble, though. You described irreducible complexity as "this looks like it was designed and we can't figure out how it works, so a designer did it". Strictly speaking, it would be more accurate to describe it as "this looks like it was designed and we can't imagine how it could have evolved from something simpler, so a designer did it". Not that it makes a difference; proof by lack of imagination has never been a legitimate scientific technique.

Thanks for the great review.

Posted on Jul 21, 2008 4:29:23 PM PDT
Lea says:
Yeah, I agree with Peter, thanks for the only REAL review here! ISoS' is a little messy and he often goes off topic because he wants to address issues arised here by other reviewers.

Well, I might just download this so I can review it myself. The horrid amount of wannabe-reviews is making me sick.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2008 6:15:54 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 21, 2008 6:16:42 PM PDT
Sorry Sanna : (. I just know for a fact how unduly wretched these arguments can get. So I tried to put a stop to this concept IN the actual review. Thus I would invite people to refute specific points, rather than waste our times arguing back and forth in a thread. Basically what you see going on in most of these 5 star reviews. I also tried to include a critical analysis of what I thought about the subjects as well as a review of the documentary. I have recently discovered some new points in doing more in depth research and I might edit my review a little with more info! Though I'll try to keep it the same length if not shorter.

I'm glad you're here to help push people to answer the questions I've been asking forever, but no one seems to care to answer for some reason.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2008 3:31:59 AM PDT
Lea says:
I know Adam, and sorry to referring you to your wrong name here (only we chosen know who the person behind the nick is) and I know your cause is good, but for the sake of reviewing (I always strive for constructive criticism and honestly with the criticism I write so I give it to others too, even though it can be a little hurting sometimes but I also expect the same back) your review is messy and often derails very off topic. As a stand alone review, I wouldn't recommend it in itself. As a common place for discussion, it's great however and does sum up the thoughts mentioned earlier here.

I think you should put that disclaimer at the head, that it isn't supposed to act like a review as such but more a sum up of all thoughts and theories mentioned so far pro and anti this documentary. That way people won't be tricked into reading it as a review and feeling disappointed because it touched very little which had to actually do with the documentary.

I just think Amazon maybe should add a discussion board just like imdb does for their movies except the reviews themselves, that would be indeed be a lot better. Than these wannabe-reviewers would have a place to post theirs too, without making them look as if they are serious and official.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2008 4:25:02 AM PDT
That's a really good idea! I will definitely revisit this and maybe make it more streamline. I don't always have this problem writing reviews, but I think even you'll agree that this particular subject brings up SO many topics. It's hard to put them together in a nice coherent fashion for a "summation" of a product.

Actually Amazon DOES have a discussion board. Though using it is not very easy. Like you need to create a thread for this product, BUT you will not get many of these people doing the reviews into the forum. Which isn't hard, but it just feels like their forum is a bit of a mess sometimes to me. The problem is products like Creationism and ID are a popularity contest now. So they want to get as many 5 stars as possible to offset the large amount of 1 star reviews that it will get, simply because a lot of people out there KNOW this isn't the way things are. Thus a lot of the scientific community and it's followers aren't really going to pay attention to this blatant lie. So they know they can get a large amount of THEIR supporters to highly rate this product and in a year or so when someone looks at this, they will say "wow, this documentary is highly rated it must be good!" then hit the buy button. That's how it works. It's sad... I know...

Oh and I don't mind constructive criticism, I just like explanations and possible suggestions for improvement. Always strive to improve.

Posted on Jul 22, 2008 11:28:03 PM PDT
C. Morlang says:

Thank you for criticizing the movie in a thoughtful and respectful way and not attacking the people who happen to believe in its subject (like me).

At some point, there will need to be a name for non-fiction movies other than "documentary" to distinguish the NOVA-like films from the Fahrenheit 9/11, Expelled-type films. "Propaganda film" is appropriate ... "Support what you already think film" is also accurate but not so catchy.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2008 8:19:11 AM PDT
That's a good idea C. Morlang. The problem with these kinds of "documentaries" is they latch onto a slight truth and blow it out of proportion. Like the way it persents Darwin as being the 100% influence on Hitler for the holocaust. Hitler was influenced by LOTS of people, not just one. But this "documentary" takes an ultra negative slant on presenting the "one" instead of the many. That's what makes me mad about this kind of stuff.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2008 11:52:24 AM PDT
Anath says:
I agree fully. A "documentary" is a complete misnomer for a production like this, but it has to be called something...

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 24, 2008 3:23:44 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 24, 2008 3:25:52 AM PDT
Lea says:
Yes Adam, I don't doubt your ability to write, I am quite of the idea you are in general a great writer, but I think you tried to reach a middle-ground here between actually writing a review and a summation of the documentary of its philosophical stance and ideas.

"So they want to get as many 5 stars as possible to offset the large amount of 1 star reviews that it will get, simply because a lot of people out there KNOW this isn't the way things are."

This is also why it is a dangerous system and only truly applied people should be able to write official reviews which can actually more truthfully reflect this documentary than the "reviews" in general found on here...

"Oh and I don't mind constructive criticism, I just like explanations and possible suggestions for improvement. Always strive to improve."

Sure, don't we all serious writers strive for improvement? I can look at your review again and give you a few pointers how to make it a little more cohesive. Maybe you need a different type of structure all together, more akin to a PM or similar than actually a review. I feel subliners might be needed for you, if it's a quick overview we want.

Maybe a structure more similar to
1. Summary
2. Pros/cons and debunking of those
3. Your personal thoughts

That way the three above pointers are pretty neutral, while you are still free to allow your own personal impressions of the pointers above.

As for the forum, I had no idea, I am pretty new to the Amazon site in general, never have had any real need to buy from it until just recently. If you say it's messy and I haven't seen how to access it, it speaks for its low userability I guess. Well, I do truly think Amazon should approach their site similar to IMDb, it's easy and smart to nagivate, and the forum is easy to find etc. Also, if you want to write your own reviews you must subscribe to the site which means that only those really serious about it feel truly encouraged, since very few would like to throw out money just to write a crap-review once to propose propaganda.

Posted on Sep 25, 2008 6:03:27 PM PDT
BereanTRB says:
Boy were you suckered by Dawkins, ExpelledExposed, et al. Keep watching how things develop over the next few years. You'll be very, very surprised.
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