Over at PZ's place there is a note, referring to a post by the philosopher John Wilkins, linking to a Vancouver paper's interview with Walt Ruloff, shown at right. Ruloff is the main money man behind the odious and misleading film "Expelled". Wilkins seems to think, and PZ agrees, that Ruloff has admitted acting deceptively.

Well....John, I hesitate to correct you, since you are a far more accomplished scholar than I will ever be where evolution is concerned. I really don't have a candle on you in that department. I have, however, kept close tabs on this Ruloff character. In fact, back in March I was one of the first to 'connect-the-dots' where Ruloff and Premiere Media were concerned, in this post.

However, on this topic, both you and PZ are overstating the degree to which this interview is an 'admission' of anything. If you read it, Ruloff is extraordinarily coy about his private life, including his private views on religion. The interviewer did not confront Ruloff about how a film ostensibly called 'Crossroads' was pitched to Dawkins, etc., so there is in fact no direct admission that they 'lied' to those interviewed. The fact that they were intending to make an anti-evolution screed from the word 'go' doesn't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the original 'Crossroads' wasn't as advertised.

Now, do I believe the above? Hell, no! It's obvious to those of us on the inside that this amounts to an off-hand admission of their true intent, and thus by extension, an admission that they acted deceptively. The intended audience of this film is not, however, likely to 'connect-the-dots'. They are not going to see any admission of deception. Sadly, even if we spelled it out for them, many of them would not be impressed. They would just assume that using deception is part of the standard journalist bag of tricks, and 'all's fair in love and war', etc.

In other words, they have the dreaded plausible deniability.


R. Moore said...

I think the "lie" here is Ruloff's admission that the first version of the film was unable to supply the anti-evolution propaganda Ruloff envisioned, and so horrific images of Nazi atrocities, linked to social Darwinism became the main content of the film, as a way of disparaging Darwin and the scientific community. Very ironic.

I saw Expelled for the first time recently, and my first thought, was "I thought this was about evolution and academia?" I ate a pizza and salad, and drank a soda before the film made it past its opening montage of b/w footage of fascist atrocities. A few minutes on scientists being fired unfairly, then back to Hitler.

I felt lied to, based on the trailer for the film, and now Ruloff admits the b/w footage was added after the fact because the original film was weak.

So I call it a clear admission of calling people Nazi's to make them hated for their stance of evolution.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Well, since I still haven't seen the whole thing, I'll withhold judgment on the film's art direction and such. Again, if you felt that the film you saw was not the film that was advertised, I gotta tell ya this is par for the course.

A good example is the Roger Corman movie "The Terror" (1963) which starred an aging Boris Karloff and young up-and-comer Jack Nicholson. Karloff only appears in about a third of the movie, which is a mishmash of footage shot by different directors and only later assembled into a story line by Corman himself. It's a pretty bad movie, and has been released under more than one title. When it was originally sold to the American audience, it featured a poster of Boris's head lurking menacingly behind a stylized spider web. Nicholson's name is buried at the bottom of the poster, but it is in fact a young and energetic Nicholson who carries the action as the film's protagonist. People who were looking for a starring vehicle for Karloff were probably disappointed.

Later, after 'Easy Rider' (1970) made Nicholson a star, the film was re-released to video with a cover that shows Nicholson kneeling over an ingenue, receiving equal billing with Karloff, whose visage is now reduced to (apparently) a set of eerie eyes.

That's Hollywood!

John S. Wilkins said...

I was being sarcastic. It's pretty clear that Ruloff intended to make the film he did and that he misled the proevolution interviewees from the beginning. Sure this doesn't prove it, but even his coreligionists find what he did prevaricating.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

I am honored to even be graced by your presence, John. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

Oh, and BTW, I am (unfortunately) one of Ruloff's 'co-religionists' and, you're right, I do think he's a lying sack of crap.