A Review of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,
A Response to a Review of Expelled in the Midland Report-Telegram
Darwinism Did Not Lead to Euthanasia, Naziism, and the Holocaust
Steven Schafersman, Ph.D.
President, Texas Citizens for Science
2008 May 11
Georgia Temple, Entertainment Editor of the Midland Reporter-Telegram, reviewed the Creationist pseudo-documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed on May 2, 2008. Temple is apparently not a Creationist, and her review surprisingly ignores the film's main (and fallacious) premise that scientists are discriminating against other scientists who believe in Intelligent Design Creationism and "expelling" them from their scientific jobs in schools, museums, and universities. But she buys into several specious Creationist arguments about Darwin and evolution and repeats them in her review. The primary false belief she accepts is that "Darwinism" historically led directly to moral relativism, eugenics, involuntary sterilization, the Nazis, involuntary euthanasia for the mentally ill, genocide, and ultimately the Holocaust. Temple also profoundly misunderstands eugenics, which she conflates with fascism and communism, saying they "all downplay the individual, have little regard for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..." Indeed, Temple appears to be obsessed with eugenics and its mostly sorry and tragic history, since she also wrote another lengthy and negative review of eugenics that is totally separate from the film review. Her second review also has several errors, which I discuss below, but I did not consider it in my brief letter to the editor.
My letter was limited to precisely 350 words, so I had to be very brief and considerably shorten what I had originally written. One of the two reasons I am writing this present essay review is to considerably expand my analysis of the topic, one which interests me greatly. The second reason is that I recently wrote another brief essay refuting a similar Creationist claim that "Darwinism leads to racism" and ultimately to Naziism, etc., and I promised there I would discuss the topic as it is addressed by Ben Stein in Expelled.
The first thing I must do is disavow the title of my letter: "Georgia Temple should be 'Expelled' from newspaper." This title was written by an editor, not by me, and it certainly does not reflect my own view. Ms. Temple definitely should not be expelled from the Midland newspaper because of her views. She has my full and sincere support for her right to express her published views about eugenics in her review of Expelled. I believe her views are mistaken due to credulity and ignorance, but that is completely separate from her right to state them. Also, I would like to stipulate that her description of much of the negative history of eugenics--which she apparently got from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Eugenics Archive and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Holocaust Encyclopedia--is accurate. Coercive and involuntary eugenics has a sorry and tragic history, some of it perpetrated by American medical authorities and the worst perpetrated by the Nazis during the Third Reich.
I share Georgia Temple's revulsion of this history. Her great error is that she believed the Creationist propaganda promoted in Expelled and failed to do the necessary research that would have proved to her how mistaken she was to blame Darwin, evolution, and science for being the source of the documented historical excesses of eugenics. Also, she failed to do sufficient research to understand the highly beneficial role of voluntary, non-coercive eugenics in medical science today. If Ms. Temple had performed competent research and understood how deceitful and duplicitous Intelligent Design Creationists and the Discovery Institute are in their various misguided public relations campaigns to damage the reputation of evolution and undermine science education (such as the Teach the Controversy and Critical Analysis of Evolution marketing campaigns), she would most certainly not have written her two credulous and misleading reviews.
A copy of my original letter follows (there is no web link since, unlike some other newspapers, the Midland newspaper does not publish letters on its website):
Georgia Temple should be "Expelled" from newspaper
Opinion, Letters to the Editor
May 11, 2008, p. 11A
Georgia Temple's review of the Creationist movie "Expelled" has many errors. To attack and demean science, "Expelled" uses the common Creationist tactic of associating it with Nazis and the Holocaust. This false and illogical argument, which Temple repeats, misrepresents the historical facts.
Ben Stein said, "Science leads you to killing people." In reality, public health, medicine, hybrid crops and animals, energy resources, engineering, and many other things that beneficially sustain humanity are based on a scientific understanding of nature.
Darwin's explanation for evolution--natural selection--has nothing to do with eugenics. Darwin's name was misappropriated by eugenicists who wanted to improve humanity by artificial--not natural--selection to give their ideas scientific legitimacy. Temple quotes Darwin that proves he was opposed to coercive eugenics, but she dismisses it as political spin!
Early eugenicist motives were laudable and based on a modern understanding of genetics and heredity, not evolution. They wanted to improve humanity by encouraging families with the best genes to voluntarily have many children (positive eugenics) and discouraging families with defective genes from having children (negative eugenics).
Unfortunately, these idealistic and beneficial goals degenerated first to biological determinism by zealous authorities, which obliged families to undergo forced sterilization, and finally to the Nazi medical and racial atrocities. Attributing this sorry social history to Darwin, evolution, and science is ludicrous and mendacious, since it was brought about by extreme social, political, and religious authoritarianism, not by science.
The Anti-Defamation League has condemned "Expelled" for misappropriating the imagery of the Holocaust "as part of its political effort to discredit the scientific community." Modern positive eugenics includes artificial insemination for families who want children. Modern negative eugenics includes genetic counseling, prenatal screening by amniocentesis, birth control, and in vitro fertilization. Israel has a program named Dor Yeshorim that uses eugenics to reduce the incidence of many genetic diseases to which certain Jewish communities are susceptible. Voluntary eugenics based on science is medically beneficial, and Georgia Temple should have explored the topic in more depth before maliciously associating science and especially evolution with authoritarians, ideologues, and zealots of the past.
Steven Schafersman, Ph.D.
President, Texas Citizens for Science
[To be continued.....]
Texas Citizens for Science Last updated: 2008 May 11