Friday, April 20, 2007

Darwin-related activities

Since yesterday was the 125th anniversary of Charles Robert Darwin's death, it seemed appropriate to attend a screening of "Flock of Dodos."

Let me start by saying it was indeed quite funny, and it was very clear at the end who the real dodos were. But I thought that was part of the problem. If the idea was to sway people who are on the brink of realizing that Intelligent Design (ID) is just disguised creationism, it might fail. I suppose it depends on who the target audience is. If they are those who already think that ID does form a scientific alternative to evolution, the film is just preaching to the choir.

The major ID proponents are painted as a small, misguided group of science-affiliated people (I cannot bring myself to say scientists) and the filmmaker does make fun of them. However Randy Olson could have done a better job of very briefly have evolutionary scientists explain why some of the main arguments of ID don't make sense. Only once did someone mention that the human heart is not perfectly designed. And no evolutionist addressed the imperfect design of the human eye, and the wide variety of eyes that currently exist in nature. Irreducible complexity was also not effectively countered; no one addressed that eyes are indeed not irreducible complex, and that neither are bacterial flagella. A statement by member of the Kansas board of education that there are no (or not enough) transitional fossils was left unchallenged.

At the same time, evolutionary scientists (8 distinguished ones at the poker table) did not do a very good job of making their arguments clear. They came across as a bunch or arrogant clique-ish men, unwilling to step down from their pedestals and explain to the lowly masses why ID is gibberish.

The Discovery Institute refused the filmmaker access to their opulent premises, which made them look very silly. Also, individual ID proponents were more than willing to state that in their opinion the intelligent designer is god, which wasn't very smart on their part.

In the end neither side was portrayed particularly flattering. In theory, I agree that ID is nonsense, but if you want to convince people that it has no place in science class, you need to do a better job of showing *why* ID does not belong there, as opposed to simply portraying proponents as ID-iots.

4 comments:

knobody said...

a flock of dodos was playing and you didn't tell me? i'm heartbroken. don't you love me anymore? *pout*

makita said...

I found out at the last minute. P1 had gotten an e-mail invitation through his department and forwarded it to me, and I only just barely made it there. Anyway, it would have been nap-time for the kiddos. I'll get you the DVD in August. Will that make it up?

Brandon said...

I get the impression from my readings that Dodos was meant to point out the flaws in communicaton from both sides of the fence. It wasn't really meant to tackle the issue of ID itself head on. I could be wrong, though. I haven't had an opportunity to see the film myself.

makita said...

Brandon,
Thanks for your comments. Well, I guess it did do that. It looks actually a lot as if the scientists feel themselves too high and mighty to worry about lowly ID proponents, whereas the ID proponents use effective buzz words, even though they have no footing in reality.

The ID proponents use "teach the controversy," while the scientists say "there is no controversy."

There were a couple of instances in which the filmmaker did use the scientists to counter some of the things the ID proponents had said. I just think that the scientists could have done a better job with just a few more sentences. And who knows, maybe the scientists *did* use them, but the filmmaker did not include them.

On the film's website they say, it will be available for purchase in August.