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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2009/07/24

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A new creationist movie is accused of misleading and misrepresenting
its interview subjects. Meanwhile, NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott was
interviewed in Science News, and a chance to vote for NCSE -- if
you're a Working Assets/Credo Mobile customer.


Three historians of science are unhappy about their treatment in a
creationist movie about Darwin, as they explain in a note in the July
2009 Newsletter of the History of Science Society. Peter Bowler, Janet
Browne, and Sandra Herbert write, "We have recently been featured in a
documentary film, 'The Voyage that Shook the World,' produced by
Fathom Media of Australia and directed by Stephen Murray of Synergy
Films, New Zealand. We were led to believe that the movie was being
made to be shown as an educational film on Australian broadcast
television and possibly elsewhere. Fathom Media was revealed to be a
subsidiary of Creation Ministries International when publicity for the
movie began to appear on the internet."

Previously, William Crawley, a blogger for the BBC, reported (June 21,
2009) that Bowler was "unhappy to be appearing in what he regards as
an 'anti-Darwinian' film which offers an historically distorted
portrait of Darwin" and that he along with Browne and Herbert "only
discovered that they had inadvertently contributed to a Creationist
film a month before the film's release." Phil Bell, the CEO of
Creationist Ministries UK, acknowledged that Fathom Media was
established as a front company, explaining, "At the end of the day ...
[when] people see 'Creationist', instantly the shutters go up and that
would have shut us off from talking to the sort of experts, such as
Professor Bowler, that we wanted to get to."

Crawley added, "I asked Phil Bell if this method of securing an
interview was 'deceptive'. He said: 'Well, it could be called
deceptive. But I think, at the end of the day, I would say that more
people are concerned about how we've made a documentary, that's a
world-class documentary, clearly with wonderful footage, with
excellent interviews, and balanced open discussion.'" A subsequent
statement, posted on CMI's website on June 27, 2009, amplified: "We
were and are under an obligation to speak the truth, but not to
provide exhaustive information where it was not sought," adding,
"Further, and perhaps most importantly, we were determined to deal
fairly with the material that the interviewees provided."

The interviewees themselves, however, are not satisfied with the
fairness of the movie, writing, "Janet Browne's remarks about his
childhood delight in making up stories to impress people is used to
imply that the same motive may have driven his scientific thinking.
Peter Bowler's description of Darwin’s later views on racial
inequality is used in the film, but not Bowler’s account of Adrian
Desmond and James Moore’s thesis [in Darwin's Sacred Cause] that
Darwin was inspired by his opposition to racism and slavery. Sandra
Herbert's comment that Darwin’s theory required explanation of many
aspects of life was edited down to imply that his theory required
explanation of all aspects of life."

Bowler, Browne, and Herbert end their article by musing, "Academics
perhaps do need to be more aware of the fact that the media
organizations are not always open about their underlying agendas."
(The similar case of Expelled springs to mind.) "Had we known the true
origins of Fathom Media," they continue, "we probably would not have
contributed, but the producers do have a point: if academic historians
refuse to participate when movements they don't approve of seek
historical information, these historians can hardly complain if less
reputable sources are used instead." They accordingly recommend a few
websites for information on the history of Darwin and evolution,
including NCSE's.

So far, The Voyage that Shook the World seems to have attracted little
attention independently of the controversy over its misleading the
historians: no reviews of it appear at Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic.
The sole positive review cited at CMI's website is from Ted Baehr on
Movieguide, which, despite its neutral name, describes itself as a
ministry "dedicated to redeeming the values of the mass media
according to biblical principles, by influencing entertainment
industry executives and helping families make wise media choices";
Baehr also gave four stars to Expelled. There are no signs that the
movie is going to have a theatrical release in the United States.

For Bowler, Browne, and Herbert's article, visit:

For William Crawley's BBC blog post, visit:

For CMI's statement defending its conduct, visit:

For NCSE's compilation of information about Expelled, visit:


NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott was interviewed by Science
News about the need for scientists to watch their language when
talking about evolution and the nature of science. "What your audience
hears is more important than what you say," she observed,
recommending, for example, that scientists describe themselves as
"accepting" rather than as "believing in" evolution.

Answering the question "What should scientists and people who care
about science do?" Scott replied, "I'm calling on scientists to be
citizens. American education is decentralized. Which means it's
politicized. To make a change ... you have to be a citizen who pays
attention to local elections and votes [for] the right people. You
can't just sit back and expect that the magnificence of science will
reveal itself and everybody will ... accept the science."

For the interview, visit:


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Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on
evolution education and threats to it.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x310
fax: 510-601-7204

Eugenie C. Scott's Evolution vs. Creationism -- now in its second edition!

Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools

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