Schools get paid to see Expelled

The creationist propaganda piece Expelled has been in the pipe for a while now, but it seems to be more and more apparent that the people behind it are scrambling to prevent the film from being a direct-to-video style flop. Originally slated for Darwin Day (February 12), the film has been pushed back to April (I would assume the delay stems from a desire to include more about the Gonzalez tenure-denial kerfuffle), and it looks like the filmmakers are trying to "recruit" as many people as possible to see the film when it opens by throwing money at schools. According to a recent post up at the Austringer (via The Panda's Thumb and the forums), the creators of Expelled have set up a contest encouraging fundamentalist schools to set up mandatory field trips to see the film, the more ticket stubs each school sends in the bigger the donation they'll receive in return. Here's the breakdown from the Expelled promotional page for the contest;

Your school will be awarded a donation based upon the number of ticket stubs you turn in (see submission instructions in FAQ section). That structure is as follows:

* 0-99 ticket stubs submitted = $5 per ticket stub
* 100-299 ticket stubs submitted = $1,000 donated to your school
* 300-499 ticket stubs submitted = $2,500 donated to your school
* 500 ticket stubs submitted = $5,000 donated to your school

Each school across the nation will be competing for the top honor of submitting the most ticket stubs with that school having their $5,000 donation matched for a total donation of $10,000!

I've heard of christian groups sending clips of films to churches for promotional use before, but apparently the creators of Expelled are just trying to bribe people to see their movie and make a fuss about it. As I've said before (and others have noted as well), it's interesting how much this film is being associated with christianity (I thought ID was supposed to be a purely scientific program with no theological connections.Oops.), although I doubt such connections will dissuade most people who already have taken in the ID position. Of further interest is the mention of a promotional group involved with marketing the film called Groundforce Network. From what I can glean from their website, Groundforce Network is a christian media promotions group (they're also trying to boost publicity for a new book by Bill Cosby, among other things)* that revels in the vague military terminology. Visitors to the website are encouraged to "ground the ground war" by becoming a "field agent" for the group in an appeal to the popular notion of "spiritual warfare" in modern American christianity. What effect any of this will have on the film's popularity or influence, I don't know, but while I have the feeling Expelled is going to fizzle out at the box office there's plenty of work to do to make sure students in America's public schools get a proper science education.

[For more information on Expelled, check out the Wikipedia entry for the movie.]

*I have no idea what Cosby's religious views are and I don't particularly care; I was just surprised to open the promotions page and see a book by Cosby there. I would assume it has some religious underpinnings as the Groundforce Network seems to be focused on christian media, but I'm not interested enough to find out. I only mentioned it as a point of interest.

More like this

Well, I guess this means that their Oscar Winning Party is cancelled...

The full title of the film is Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Referring to the hard heads that worked on it? As for giving prizes to schools who take their students to go see it, I didn't realize that we should reward stupidity.

I have nothing against the idea that a divine being created the universe and set everything in motion. I don't believe it, but I have nothing against it. It's a great way to reconcile scientific evidence with spiritual belief. I mean, after all, if there was an all powerful god, what would be stopping it from coming up with evolution?

I do have a problem with ID and its proponents, though, namely this: the existence or lack thereof of god cannot be proven scientifically and therefore is scientifically irrelevant. As such, it cannot be taught in science classes, because it isn't science. That debate is for religion or philosophy classes.

Also, the ID movement is very subversive, insisting its a "higher power" or "divine being" that created the universe, but avoiding directly saying "It was God". This is why the Catholic Church as an institution (but not the new pope, probably, because he's a nut job) doesn't support ID. It's too vague and wishy washy and tries to sneak religion in without admitting to it. I know a lot of religious people who don't see the disparity between their spiritual beliefs and science and would not fall over dead if someone taught their kids evolutionary theory. I went to a Catholic school until I graduate grade 12, and never once heard that evolution was false, even in religion class. We were taught science the same way the public school kids were, and no one was struck down by a lightning bolt or turned into salt.

This would be a great movie to show a first year university class and then to have a discussion about all the things that are wrong with it.

Makes me ill. Clearly, the right will do everything in their power--including bribery--to get their ideas into the collective unconcience of Americans. It is akin to, although worse than (in my opinion) pharmaceudical companies (mispelled, I'm sure) paying doctors for prescribing their drugs to patients.

Thanks for ruining my evening.

(Jokes, it's okay, but DAMNS this is depressing.)

Ahem - what does the reference to Bill Cosby have to do with anything in the article?

Does he have any ties to fundamentalist Christianity? If not, then mentioning him as a costumer of this media promotions group is somewhat of a non-sequitur...

Apparently the film's producers/creators are as weak at math as they are at science.

Notice that, per the reimbursement table, a school that sends in 299 tickets gets a $1000 contribution. However, if the school sent in those same 299 tickets in smaller batches, under the 0-99 pay level, they'd get $1495.


Cosby's book is in the "buckle down, Black people, stop complaining, and be traditionally moral to succeed" vein which, 1.) promotes a morality of which the firm probably approves, and 2.) promotes the idea that racism is gone or irrelevant or irremediable, which fits in nicely with the "Christian academy" (a.k.a. "segregation school") origins of some of the current fundamentalist movement.

The fundamental reason not to teach I.D. in schools is that our schools for the most part do not teach science. Rather, they teach about science and its results, in particular the current accepted view of things in mainstream scientific circles. There are things wrong about this (e.g., no plate tectonics while it was still a fringe opinion), but I think it appropriate for public schools that are trying to establish a common minimal level of competence in future citizens.

It would be better to teach how to do science as well, but the habits of thinking rationally and looking for evidence are generally out of line with keeping kids in line. "Don't get smart with me!"

The fundamentalists are in a bind: they tell their children to believe everything that's in one book, as interpreted by authority figures. As such, they're enormously worried, and justifiably so, about what their children might read in other books and hear from other authority figures. Teaching them critical thinking might help them out, but (again) it's not consistent with who they want their kids to be.

By Dabney Braggart (not verified) on 18 Jan 2008 #permalink

"100-299 ticket stubs submitted = $1,000 donated to your school"

So if a school sends 101 students under the age of 12 to see the movie at a cost of, say, $5 each (average children's admission in Kansas), they'll be spending $505 but getting back $1,000? I sure hope every student in America goes to see this film, in groups of 101 kids at a time.

The Creationist doofi are no better at math or business than they are at science, it appears.

By Spambalaya (not verified) on 18 Jan 2008 #permalink

A better plan would be to send a teacher down to the theater to buy up 500 children's tickets, and send them in without ever seeing the movie. At $5 a ticket, that's a $2500 profit. The promotion states that the donation is based on number of ticket stubs turned in, not based on the number of students who actually see the movie.

By Settembrini (not verified) on 18 Jan 2008 #permalink

r.e. Settembrini's comment:

Take Ben Stein's money.

why is it such a threat to you to have another theory? why does ID make less sense than randomly *poof* there is life!!! I dont understand why your theory makes so much more sense than our theory.

and the point is they want people to see the movie. and they want people to know that what schools teach in science class as fact is actually theory.

Joel: ID is in no way a theory, and even some of the leaders of the movement have admitted that at present there is no actual theory of intelligent design. Likewise, this isn't about which idea makes more "sense" than another because biology is not constrained by what we consider to be "common sense." Evolution, as I've said elsewhere a number of times, is both fact and theory; the fact that life has evolved is an observation that cannot be overturned, but there are many theories (natural selection being perhaps the most powerful) to explain why organisms have evolved. The two mesh together; it is not simply one or another. I am concerned because the creators of Expelled and others simply don't like the idea of evolution, primarily for religious reasons, and they are presenting their idea as a theory when it is little more than religiously-motivated storytelling. The fact that you called ID a theory shows that much is true, and even though ID has been around for a long time the new ID advocates (Behe, Wells, Johnson, Dembski, etc.) are far more concerned with writing popular books than doing any sort of scientific research to further their hypothesis.

Hypotheses have to contain contentful assertions - they must make some prediction about how the world works that can be shown to be true or false.

ID doesn't even have hypotheses. It forbids speculation as to the nature or intentions of the designing intelligence and cannot make any predictions about the designs.

I know that you already know these things, and I hate to be such a pedant. But ID is so utterly scientifically vacuous that it lacks even the most fundamental requirements for science. Describing ID as a hypothesis isn't right, even informally.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 20 Jan 2008 #permalink