When textbooks illustrate crypsis using dead specimens of carbonaria and typica morph peppered moths (Biston betularia) placed on normal bark and soot-covered bark, you get Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Jonathan Wells telling people in online discussion that such illustrations represent “fraud”.
When Ben Stein sets up a lecture room at Pepperdine University and fills it with hired extras representing students, DI Senior Fellow Jonathan Wells says nothing at all about that.
Michael Shermer has the goods on the Pepperdine thing.
It was with some irony for me, then, that I saw Ben Stein’s antievolution documentary film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, opens with the actor, game show host and speechwriter for Richard Nixon addressing a packed audience of adoring students at Pepperdine University, apparently falling for the same trap I did.
Actually they didn’t. The biology professors at Pepperdine assure me that their mostly Christian students fully accept the theory of evolution. So who were these people embracing Stein’s screed against science? Extras. According to Lee Kats, associate provost for research and chair of natural science at Pepperdine, “the production company paid for the use of the facility just as all other companies do that film on our campus” but that “the company was nervous that they would not have enough people in the audience so they brought in extras. Members of the audience had to sign in and a staff member reports that no more than two to three Pepperdine students were in attendance. Mr. Stein’s lecture on that topic was not an event sponsored by the university.” And this is one of the least dishonest parts of the film.
Now, one might make an excuse for Wells. Maybe Wells is just not paying attention and the various things happening around “Expelled” simply haven’t come to his attention, and he’d be right up front to show his consistency in denouncing “fraud” wherever it shows up.
Unfortunately, the facts say otherwise. Wells has put in his two cents concerning the very recent flap about charges of copyright infringement and the “Expelled” film:
Expelled does NOT use the Harvard animation. The producers paid a professional to create a new animation that is more accurate than the Harvard one (based on current knowledge of cellular processes). Any similarities between the Expelled animation and the Harvard one are due to the fact that both animations depict many of the same processes.
Wells doesn’t address the issues raised concerning the shared errors in the animations, but notice how hot off the mark Wells is to dismiss that there is any basis to the copyright infringement charges in the “Expelled” case, and how little credit Wells ws willing to extend in the case of the peppered moth crypsis illustration. Is it credible to assert that Wells has not been apprised of the Pepperdine incident? That doesn’t seem likely. Now, even if that were the case, I’m sure that Wells will shortly have that information. Will we then see Wells as loudly proclaiming the fraud-like character of the “Expelled” sequence at Pepperdine as he did for peppered moth crypsis?
I don’t think so.
But I’d love to be proved wrong, with Wells acting on principle here and giving the “Expelled” folks a taste of his displeasure.
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