A rousing SRO preview on Tuesday of the new Ben Stein documentary, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” brought a Kansas City audience to its feet.
And with good cause. Stein’s often funny, always engaging frontal assault on the oppressive neo-Darwinist establishment is arguably the smartest and most sophisticated documentary ever produced on the right side of the cultural divide on any subject, ever.
As such, “Expelled” represents still another blow to the progressive orthodoxy of government-issued science in its winter of discontent.
The winter started early when in November two separate labs, one in Wisconsin, one in Japan, announced the breakthrough discovery that adult skin cells can be reprogrammed to mimic embryonic stem cells.
Just two years earlier, the elfin journalist Chris Mooney had likened adult stem cell research to creationism and assured the readers of his best-seller, “The Republican War on Science,” that this “dogma” had been “resoundingly rejected by researchers actually working in the field.”
As the winter rolled on, and as all four major global temperature tracking outlets showed a precipitous drop in annual global temperature, and as snow fell in Baghdad for the first time in recorded history, only Al Gore remained in meltdown.
Meanwhile, on a seemingly daily basis, the neo-Luddites from the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front have been putting a distinctly left-wing face on the “war on science,” in this case a real war on real scientists.
And into this breach, armed with his trademark tennies and bemused grin, marches Ben Stein, America’s only economist/presidential speechwriter turned comic actor. The producers at Premise Media could not have recruited a better on-screen presence.
Although the role Stein plays has been compared to the one Michael Moore plays in his films, the Stein persona is conspicuously brighter and more benign.
Nor do Stein and his producers resort to the kind of editing that make Moore movies something other than documentaries.
In “Bowling For Columbine,” for instance, Moore cobbles together five different parts of NRA honcho Charlton Heston’s Denver speech a week after Columbine.
Moore then inserts into the mix a “cold, dead hands” remark from a speech Heston gave a year later. In the process, Moore turn Heston’s conciliatory Denver address into a provocative call to arms.
This isn’t filmmaking. This is fraud.
Stein resorts to no such tricks. He gives certain interview subjects all the time and all the rope they need to hang themselves, unedited.
One highlight among many is Stein’s one-on-one interview with Richard Dawkins, the dashing Brit who has made a small fortune as the world’s most visible neo-Darwinist.
To his credit, and to the utter discomfort of the public education establishment, Dawkins does not shy from discussing the atheistic implications of Darwinism.
Indeed, Dawkin’s anti-deity call to arms, “The God Delusion,” has sold more than a million copies worldwide. Where Dawkins wanders into a black hole of his own making is in his discussion of the origins of life on earth.
To Stein’s astonishment, Dawkins concedes that life might indeed have a designer but that designer almost assuredly was a more highly evolved being from another planet, not “God.”
Stein does not respond. He does not need to. For the past hour of the film, the audience has met one scientist after another whose academic careers have been derailed for daring to suggest the possibility of intelligent design.
If only they had thought to put the designer on another planet!
The choice of Stein as narrator is inspired for another reason. That reason becomes most apparent when he and two “creationist” allies, mathematician David Berlinski and nuclear physicist Gerald Schroeder, visit a remnant of the Berlin Wall, the central metaphor of the film.
At the wall, the three discuss the value of freedom, the central idea of the film, and the need for the same in science. The audience has already met Berlinski, an amusingly sophisticated American living in Paris.
The audience has seen less of Schroeder, but he is wearing a yarmulke. All three are Jewish.
Indeed, it would be hard to imagine any three individuals on the planet who less resemble the “Inherit the Wind” stereotype that Darwinists have been scaring soccer moms with for the last half century.
“Expelled” opens nationwide on April 18. The neo-Darwinists and their allies in the major media will do their best to kill it.
Co-producer Mark Mathis tells me that two network news producers have already chosen not to cover the film because it was “biased,” unlike, say, the much-covered “Fahrenheit 911.”
The producers have contracted with the same firm that marketed Mel Gibson’s “The Passion” to get the word out. They will use much the same strategy.
Central to this strategy is the creation of a powerful buzz and a strong enough opening weekend to catch Hollywood’s attention and hold it.
Put April 18 on your calendars. Bring the kids. You won’t be disappointed.
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