Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

April 15, 2008
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GW: Well, to be fair, Myers and Dawkins have been pretty outspoken about their objections to their segments’ juxtaposition with the Nazi footage in the latter part of the film.

MM: I don’t think that footage is intercut with their interviews.

GW: No, it isn’t; but their point is that by sandwiching those images around those interviews, it creates the impression in viewers’ minds that the filmmakers are trying to equate them with Nazism.

MM: Well, look, you can object all day long about specific things like that; but what we’re clearly saying, and what we spell out in very specific language, is that Darwinism is a necessary condition to get to a phenomenon like Nazism—or for some of the other great atrocities, but we don’t even get into that. You’re talking about the kinds of mass death that you had under Stalin, or Pol Pot. When you have an entire society that embraces a purely materialist philosophy, this is a natural outgrowth. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen; it doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to happen—and we state that in the film. But this is a specific kind of consequence that can happen. Now, how likely is it? I don’t think anybody can even say that, because you have to have other conditions there. In the case of Nazi Germany, you had some charismatic, warped leader who was either driven by his belief system and wanted to advance the purity of the race using Darwinism as a justification and part of that belief system, or he believed is was a good piece of propaganda to drive what he wanted to do. Whether it’s one case or the other is immaterial; that was the marketing of it, to the people. And so look; everyone of these guys: this is the complaint that we hear from them, from Scientific American, from any of these people who are just wedded to this Darwinian view—that it’s just unconscionable to draw any connection between Darwinian ideas and Nazi ideas. And they make that exasperated claim because they know how powerful it is; and if they were being honest with themselves, they’d know that it’s not deniable. It’s there. The connection is there. How strong is that connection? It’s strong enough that I think there’s been a significant amount of scholarship done on it.

GW: I’m not arguing with any of that; and I think those reactions are overstated. But I think it would have been a stronger film had it concentrated on what happened with eugenics in the U.S., and not gone to Nazi Germany. But I’m not so interested in that point. To go back to the issue we discussed earlier over the naming of the film, what were some of the other names and websites that were considered for the film?

MM: As far as the ones that were registered, I’d have to check with the Executive Producer who did that. That’s not in my arena. But I can tell you— Well, I was just about to reel off a list of names that were discussed; we had a lot. And, by the way, Expelled was not one I liked. I had some other ones that I was really passionate about and got ditched. But now I recall a conversation that I had with one of our Executive Producers, and I said, “They’re going to want to know this”—but he didn’t want to do that because of future projects. I’m sitting here, and I’m kind of ticked off because I want to give you about five of them, and I can’t do that. But we had had meetings that were solely about naming the film—and at great cost, because people had to fly in for these meetings. We even had a facilitator at one of them. And it was a really frustrating process because not one of them stood out. But by the time we got to the end of production—or very nearly the end of production—Expelled became the leader by far, because of what we were seeing, because of the things that had popped up late in the process.

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Greg is Managing Editor of the movie review site Past the Popcorn, and has written and contributed to a number of books. He is also a curator for Official Best of Fest.

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