SciFi Weekend: Her; Harry Potter and Hermione; Sleepy Hollow; Hannibal; Orphan Black; Arrow; Doctor Who; The Americans; Lex Luthor; How I Met Your Mother/Dad;


This has been a very good year for science fiction movies. Her is very likely the science fiction movie which is receiving the most mainstream critical acclaim ever. Last night it won the award for best original screenplay from the Writer’s Guild of America. It ties with another science fiction movie, Gravity, for Best Picture from the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards (intentionally ignoring the debate as to whether Gravity is science fiction). Her was also a big winner at the National Board of Review Awards. Both Her and Gravity are nominated for Best Picture. There was controversy when various organizations declined to consider Scarlett Johansson for acting awards when she was not seen in the movie.

The important aspect of the movie is how people relate to the technology, along with their other limitations in dealing with other humans to the point where people pay others to write “personal” letters to their lovers. It still becomes impossible to ignore the technological aspects of the movie, primarily the question as to whether artificial intelligence could really be developed to the point seen in the movie. The co-creator of Siri looked at some of the abilities of Samantha which are well beyond what can currently be accomplished:

To get the “That’s incredible!” technology ball rolling, Samantha never made a mistake, never misunderstood nor misheard a word Theodore said. That’s tough to do in a loud, raucous world. Especially in loud places such as the circus scene, where you can barely hear the person next to you, let alone get the exact nuance of every word as you share the pandemonium through an earpiece.

And what about the scene where Samantha is literally spun around, viewing, understanding and commenting on the world she sees only through a jostling cameraphone lens bouncing around in Theodore’s pocket?

That would entail massively scaled real-time image recognition, spatial understanding, facial and mood recognition — as well as understanding the subtleties of thousands of social scenarios in order to predict that the couple sitting at the table were on a first date.

And such a conversationalist! Samantha not only discussed an amazing range of topics with Theodore, but was also incredibly adept at reflecting his mood in her own, varying the subtle tones and verbal inflections that indicate emotion. She even demonstrated an evocative handle on pop-culture terminology when he said in one scene, “No waaay.” And she replied, “Waaay.” Now that is some cool software.

Finally, I don’t even need to mention the complexities of building a program that’s adept at verbal phone sex, including all of the relevant and perfectly timed Meg Ryan-ish sound effects in perfect harmony with the partner on the other end of the line.

NPR’s Science Friday also discussed these topics recently. The podcast can be heard here.


Reading the Harry Potter books, I thought that it was unusual that Ron and not Harry wound up with Hermione. Harry was the hero who defeated Voldemort. Typically he is the one who would wind up with the girl. J.K. Rowlings now admits she did get it wrong:

“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment,” she says. “That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”

Rowling also said that Ron and Hermione would have needed “relationship counseling.”

John Noble Sleepy Hollow

John Noble had a notable role as a recurring character in Sleepy Hollow. His role (spoilers) became even more important in the season finale when he was revealed to not only be Jeremy Crane, the son of Ichabod and Karina, but also War, the second horseman of the apocalypse. After seeing how he played both Walter and Walternate on Fringe, he was clearly underused as a supporting character, and there is no doubt he can handle an entirely different type of role in the second season. He has been promoted to a series regular. Lyndie Greenwood, who plays Jennie Mills, will also be a series regular, which does spoil one of the many cliff hangers in the season finale which left Jenni unconscious on the road.


NBC is trying to build the audience for the second season of Hannibal in a way similar to how the audience for Breaking Bad increased after many people (including myself) caught up with previous seasons by watching on Netflix. They have entered into an exclusive agreement with Amazon Prime to carry Hannibal and some other series. I hope they are successful, but I wonder if Netflix has as much impact as Amazon. There is also some casting news for the second season, including Mason Pitt joining the series late in the season as Mason Verger:

Pitt, best known for his work as Jimmy Darmody on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, will play Mason Verger, “an unstable wealthy patient of Dr. Hannibal Lecter who begins a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with the deadly serial killer.”

Hannibal’s version of Mason Verger – which will likely be quite different from the character Gary Oldman played in the 2001 film – was compared to Andrew Scott’s portrayal of Moriarty on BBC’s Sherlock in a casting description for the role. Knowing that, it will be interesting to see Pitt bring the same explosive energy he brought to Jimmy Darmody to Verger; a character who’s more cunning and therefor more dangerous.

Joining Pitt is Katharine Isabelle (Being Human), cast as Verger’s sister, Margot. She will first be introduced as a patient of Dr. Lector’s who is dealing with trauma related to her brother’s abuse. But again, this won’t be until later in the season.

Episode titles on Orphan Black came from Darwin’s Origin of Species during the first season. Second season titles will come from the work of Sir Francis Bacon. The title of the first episode of the season will be Nature Under Constraint and Vexed.

Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) became a popular character during the first season of Arrow and in response the role of her character was greatly expanded. We know very little about her beyond moving from the IT Department to become Oliver Queen’s executive assistant to cover for all the time they spend together. Each season also has had a scene establishing that she is Jewish. She is finally going to get a back story this season.


The first pictures have been released of Peter Capaldi in the outfit he will wear as the Doctor. There have been some complains on line ranging from his hair being cut too short (following Matt Smith) to the top button being buttoned despite lack of a tie. Obviously none of these complaints have any real relevance to how successful Capaldi will be in the role. There is a minor spoiler about a surprise voice-only cameo upcoming on Doctor Who:

Clara emerges from the TARDIS on her mobile phone, looking intense and emotional. She’s not speaking to anyone, rather she seems to be just listening. In fact, whatever she is listening to hits her hard, and she slumps into the wall of a nearby store. The message, it turns out, is from the previous incarnation of the Doctor, played by Matt Smith. Hanging up the phone, the Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi exits the TARDIS, and starts an exchange with Clara. He asks if that was the Doctor on the phone. More on that in a minute.

Emotionally, he insists to Clara; he is the Doctor, he’s 2000 years old, and he’s standing right there, in front of her. Cautiously, Clara walks straight up to this strange, older man in front of her.

Inquisitively, she looks up straight into the Doctor’s eyes, inspecting them, looking for the man she knows. The Doctor looks down into his companions eyes curiously, like an owl bemused. Suddenly, Clara throws her arms around the Doctor. For his part, the Doctor awkwardly holds his arms out around her, fingers splayed and startled and uncomfortable.

Clara immediately then clicks back into her normal, bouncy self, asking the Doctor where they are. He replied Glasgow (although we were definitely in Cardiff, I double checked), and they continue to chat before the scene ends.

New promo for The Americans above. The show returns February 26.

Jesse Eisenberg will play Lex Luthor in the upcoming Superman vs. Batman movie. I don’t really see Eisenberg in the role, but we will see.

So far the former stars of Friends have not been very successful with network sitcoms. David Schwimmer is attempting a return to network television in a pilot named Irreversible.

Irreversible, which is partially improvised in the vein of Curb Your Enthusiasm, centers on Andy (Schwimmer) and Sarah, a somewhat eccentric, self-absorbed couple, and their trials and tribulations — most of which they bring upon themselves.


How I Met Your Mother had a fantastic 200th episode last week, going back over the time frame of the series from the perspective of the mother, played by Cristin Milioti. Characters have been outlined for the planned spin-off, How I Met Your Dad:

Sally: In her 20s but still not very grown-up and a little bit aimless, Sally has been married for a year to Gavin and is realizing they’re not meant for each other.

Danny: Sally’s older brother and opposite personality, he’s a driven lawyer who’s less than pleased when Sally moves in after splitting with Gavin. Danny is married to …

Todd: One of Sally’s best friends from college, who’s significantly more welcoming to having Sally as a roommate. Danny and Todd fill the Lily-and-Marshall/committed couple portion of the group.

Juliet: Sally’s “party-girl” best friend and the Barney of the group. She runs a fashion blog and has been telling Sally for some time that Gavin isn’t the right guy for her.

Frank: A “hot nerd” who heads up IT for Juliet’s site and has an unrequited (for the moment) crush on Sally. If Sally is the female Ted, Frank would be the male Robin (albeit with what sounds like a rather different personality).

Narrator: Future Sally.

 Philip Seymour Hoffman was found of an apparent overdose. His genre appearances include the Hunger Games movies and Red Dragon, based upon one of the Hannibal Lecter books.

Deal Possible To Distribute Controversial Darwin Film

While recently Creation,  the movie about the life of Charles Darwin seemed too controversial to be shown in the United States, there are reports this afternoon that some are now interested distributing it. A deal is anticipated by the end of the week. A trailer for the movie is posted above.

It is only in the United States that there has been resistance to the movie by the religious right. The movie is hardly a product of those hostile to religion:

Ironic, considering resistance from conservatives; the film was bankrolled by Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions which was also behind “The Passion of the Christ.”  “Creation” follows the religious struggle of Darwin as he writes “On the Origin of the Species” and has been embraced by Christian groups in Great Britain.

“You’ve killed God” says one of Darwin’s friends.

You might think conservative church goers in the United States would line up to see the film – and they’d make a big audience: a recent Gallup poll showed only 39 percent of Americans surveyed believed in evolution.

However, “conservative religious and the creationist groups have been so intense on demonizing Darwin that any film which shows him as a real human will likely be viewed as controversial,” director John Amiel tells Reuters.

Movie on Darwin Too Controversial for United States


The Telegraph reports that a movie with rave reviews internationally is not appearing in the United States because it is too controversial. The movie deals with Charles Darwin and evolution:

Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin’s “struggle between faith and reason” as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.

The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.

However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution., an influential site which reviews films from a Christian perspective, described Darwin as the father of eugenics and denounced him as “a racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder”. His “half-baked theory” directly influenced Adolf Hitler and led to “atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering”, the site stated.

The film has sparked fierce debate on US Christian websites, with a typical comment dismissing evolution as “a silly theory with a serious lack of evidence to support it despite over a century of trying”.

Jeremy Thomas, the Oscar-winning producer of Creation, said he was astonished that such attitudes exist 150 years after On The Origin of Species was published.

“That’s what we’re up against. In 2009. It’s amazing,” he said.

“The film has no distributor in America. It has got a deal everywhere else in the world but in the US, and it’s because of what the film is about. People have been saying this is the best film they’ve seen all year, yet nobody in the US has picked it up.

“It is unbelievable to us that this is still a really hot potato in America. There’s still a great belief that He made the world in six days. It’s quite difficult for we in the UK to imagine religion in America. We live in a country which is no longer so religious. But in the US, outside of New York and LA, religion rules.

Update: Deal to distribute film in the United States now anticipated by the end of this week.

Scientific Finding Upsets Rush Limbaugh


The finding of a primate fossil is significant but the meaning has been distorted in some of the media coverage. The Opinionator summarizes the story about Ida and puts it in perspective. It is towards the end where things get interesting. Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs uses  coverage of the story to finally determine that Rush Limbaugh is a creationist.

The question has come up several times, in our threads related to evolution, whether Rush Limbaugh is a creationist. I searched for definitive statements because I was curious where he stood, but was never able to really pin it down.

Well, today he pretty much settled the matter, with a rant about the “missing link” fossil announced by an international team of scientists; yep, he’s a creationist.

RUSH: Drudge had as a lead item up there this morning on his page a story from the UK, Sky News: “Scientists Unveil Missing Link In Evolution.” It’s all about how Darwin would be thrilled to be alive today. “Scientists have unveiled a 47-million-year-old fossilised skeleton of a monkey hailed as the missing link in human evolution.” It’s a one-foot, nine-inch-tall monkey, and it’s a lemur monkey described as the eighth wonder of the world. “The search for a direct connection between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom has taken 200 years – but it was presented to the world today —” So I guess this is settled science. We now officially came from a monkey, 47 million years ago. Well, that’s how it’s being presented here. It’s settled science. You know, this is all BS, as far as I’m concerned. Cross species evolution, I don’t think anybody’s ever proven that. They’re going out of their way now to establish evolution as a mechanism for creation, which, of course, you can’t do, but I’m more interested in some other missing link. And that is the missing link between our failing economy and prosperity.

Incidentally, while the finding is consistent with evolutionary science, it does not say that we came from a monkey. The early primate fossil could be a common ancestor to both monkeys and humans. It is also possible that it is a more distant relative.

Darwin’s Contribution to Modern Science and Medicine

Back in February, to mark the 200th anniversary of the voyage of the HMS Beagle, the Journal of the American Medical Association ran an editorial on the importance of Darwin to medicine. Here is a portion:

The burgeoning recognition of evolutionary biology’s importance to medical science would have delighted Darwin, who as a teenager rounded with his father, an admired Shropshire physician. In fact, Darwin studied medicine in Edinburgh, Scotland, until his squeamishness toward the barbarous nature of that era’s medical practice and his zeal for natural history lead him to flee the medical field. But Darwin recognized that the human body can be understood at a fundamental level only by an exploration of its evolutionary past. Just as the study of political history is necessary to understand how societies have arrived at their present state, evolution illuminates the deep history of the human body that makes sense only in light of that history. Nevertheless, medicine and evolutionary biology seemed to follow separate trajectories for a considerable time after the publication of On the Origin of Species.3 However over the past decade, physicians have begun to perceive the relevance of Darwin’s work with the growth of an extensive contemporary literature focusing on evolutionary medicine. This new approach to medicine promises cogent explanations for and new approaches to such diverse phenomena as aging, obesity, diabetes, low back pain, and cancer.46

Evolution’s striking relevance to modern medicine can perhaps best be illustrated by its centrality to the new field of personalized medicine, which seeks to apply sophisticated genetic analysis to tailor health care to the individual. Despite its modern trappings, this new specialty rests firmly on one of Darwin’s most basic (and revolutionary) insights—individual variation. Before the publication of Darwin’s seminal work in 1859,3 species were considered immutable and fixed. Like the Platonic ideal of the perfect circle, each individual species was considered a reflection of an essential form. Each individual sea urchin, llama, and bark beetle was viewed as an approximation of an ideal; individual variations were seen as irrelevant and inconvenient blemishes, unworthy of study. The fact that humans were evidently different from one another was just more fodder for the idea (also overturned by Darwin) that human beings stand apart from the rest of biology. But instead of ignoring individual variation, Darwin sought it out and realized its crucial import as the raw material on which natural selection acts. Now, 150 years after the publication of On the Origin of Species,3 medical practitioners are following Darwin’s lead and scrutinizing the subtle genetic variations that make each human unique and when harnessed, hold the promise of revolutionizing health care.

Evolutionary theory is as relevant to the teaching of medicine as to medical practice. Just as the periodic table of the elements brings structure to the study of chemistry, an evolutionary approach to medical education provides a logic to understanding the human body in health and disease. Evolution explains why humans are the way they are, ultimately answering the most fundamental questions asked by medical students, ie, those that begin with why. Given the centrality of evolutionary theory to a deep understanding of the human body, it is possible to envision an entire medical curriculum built around evolution, from anatomy and molecular genetics to pathogen-host interactions.

Darwin’s work has withstood the test of time, despite those who still prefer mysticisim and superstition to modern science:

As in so many other areas, Darwin’s views have been vindicated and have profound implications for human health in the 21st century. Many maladies that result in patients’ most profound morbidity can be attributed to urges that evolved to maximize reproductive fitness but are now severely out of kilter with modern culture. For example, the alleles that result in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder may have been highly adaptive during most of evolutionary history when sitting still for hours with single focus was not advantageous for young children. Likewise, alleles that predispose to anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder would have had clear advantages on the savannah of the human species’ youth when to be laid back meant being dinner for a predator. The lust for fat and carbohydrates and to binge eat evolved when a lack of refrigeration meant that when a dead animal was found on the plains, humans were well advised to binge.

However, the Darwinian revolution was not confined to biology or even science. While Darwin decried the tendency of some social scientists and philosophers to overgeneralize evolutionary theory (ie, in the guise of “Social Darwinism”), his work would nevertheless shake the foundations of religion and philosophy and ultimately redefine nothing less than the conception of the place of humans in the world. Those engaged in fields from philosophy to economics must take account of Darwin’s theory as they ply their trades; it possesses a universality shared by only a handful of milestones in human intellectual history. Just as Newton unified the motion of the apple with that of the moon, if life is ever encountered elsewhere in the universe, it will likely have arisen through the simple but powerful mechanisms glimpsed by Darwin of variation, inheritance, and selection.

For better or for worse, Darwin pointed the way toward an understanding of the universe, which is materialistic and unmystical. This was immediately recognized with the publication of On the Origin of Species3 and lay at the root of the hostility with which his theory was met in many quarters. Indeed, Darwin was unsettled by the broad philosophical and theological implications of his theory, not least because of his beloved wife’s concerns that he would not join her in heaven. While it is a demonstrable fact that religion and evolution are reconcilable in the minds of many, including prominent and highly accomplished scientists, it is also undeniable that Darwin’s work represents a severe challenge to those who would cling to received tradition in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence.

50 Reasons to Reject Evolution

The full list is here.I’ll just give the first twelve:

1.) Because I don’t like the idea that we came from apes… despite that humans are categorically defined and classified as apes.

2.) Because I’m too stupid and/or lazy to open a fucking book or turn on the Discovery Science Channel.

3.) Because if I can’t immediately understand how something works, then it must be bullshit.

4.) Because I don’t care that literally 99.9% of all biologists accept evolution as the unifying theory of biology.

5.) Because I prefer the idea that a (insert god of choice) went ALLA-KADABRA-ZAM MOTHAH-FUCKAHS!!!

6.) Because I can’t get it through my thick logic-proof skull that evolution refers ONLY to the process of speciation, not to abiogenesis, or planet formation, or big bang cosmology, or whether God exists, or where they buried Jimmy Hoffa, or why the sky is blue, or how many licks it takes to get to the center of a fucking Tootsie Pop.

7.) Because the fossil record doesn’t comprise the remains of every single living thing that ever existed on this 4.5 billion year old planet, even though fossilization is a rare process that only occurs under very specific circumstances.

8.) Because science has yet to produce any transitional species… except for the magnitudinous numbers of them found in the fossil record which don’t count because… I uh, OOH LOOK! A SHINY OBJECT!!! *runs away*

9.) Because I know nothing about Darwin except that he had a funny beard.

10.) Because the theory of evolution (which, according to scientists, perfectly explains the richness and diversity of life on Earth) contradicts biblical literalism… ya know, flat Earth with a firmament that keeps out the water, talking snakes, people rising from the dead, bats are birds, flamey talking bushes, virgin births, food appearing out of nowhere, massive bodies of water turning into blood… etc etc.

11.) Because I think the word “theory” actually means: “random stabs in the dark” when it really means: “an explanation of certain phenomena that is well-supported by a large body of facts and often unifies other similarly well-supported hypotheses” i.e. atomic theory, gravitational theory, germ theory, cell theory, some-people-are-dumb-motherfuckers-theory, etc.

12.) Because the fact that science is self-correcting annoys me. Most of my other beliefs are rigidly fixed and uncorrectable.

The Problem With “Darwinism”

The term  Darwinism is often used by creationists as a pejorative term in place of referring to the science of evolutionary biology.  Evolution provides the foundation of modern biology and, as much as it owes to the work of Charles Darwin, evolutionary biology goes beyond the work of any one man.

Evolutionary biology began with Darwin, but Darwin was not even aware of many other scientific advances which further explained evolution, such as the work of Gregor Mendel on genetics.  To refer to evolutionary biology as Darwinism makes it sound more like a doctrine than a well established scientific theory. When prescribing penicillin we do not conduct a debate on Flemingism. We recognize the contributions of the scientists who contributed to our knowledge of a field, but science is a continuing process in which much more has often been added to the works of the earlier scientists.

Via Sandwalk, an article on this issue has recently been made available on line. From the abstract:

Evolutionary biology owes much to Charles Darwin, whose discussions of common descent and natural selection provide the foundations of the discipline. But evolutionary biology has expanded well beyond its foundations to encompass many theories and concepts unknown in the 19th century. The term “Darwinism” is, therefore, ambiguous and misleading. Compounding the problem of “Darwinism” is the hijacking of the term by creationists to portray evolution as a dangerous ideology—an “ism”—that has no place in the science classroom. When scientists and teachers use “Darwinism” as synonymous with evolutionary biology, it reinforces such a misleading portrayal and hinders efforts to present the scientific standing of evolution accurately. Accordingly, the term “Darwinism” should be abandoned as a synonym for evolutionary biology.

Dawkins on Darwin

RD on NatGeo

The National Geographic Channel has a series of videos posted in which Richard Dawkins discusses the work of Charles Darwin:

VIDEO 1: The Importance of Charles Darwin

Richard Dawkins Exclusive Interview: Professor Richard Dawkins explains the importance of Charles Darwin, what evolution means and why the National Geographic Channel should celebrate the bi-centenary of his birth.

VIDEO 2: Richard Dawkins on Fossils & Darwin

Richard Dawkins Exclusive Interview: Professor Richard Dawkins explains the importance of fossils in proving evolution and how whales offer living proof of evolution.

VIDEO 3: Richard Dawkins: Why Darwin Was Right
Richard Dawkins Exclusive Interview: Professor Richard Dawkins explains why Charles Darwin was right and how evolution is true.

VIDEO 4: Richard Dawkins on Creationism

Richard Dawkins Exclusive Interview: Professor Richard Dawkins on creationism, evolution and religion.

VIDEO 5: Richard Dawkins on God & the Universe

Richard Dawkins on the origin of the universe, the future of human evolution, plus, his argument about why God does not exist.

Darwin’s Dangerous Idea From The New Scientist

The New Scientist has chosen their top ten articles of the year on evolution with this introduction:

150 years after Darwin proposed it, evolution by natural selection continues to be both a battleground and a hotbed of ideas.

Scientists continue to respond to the latest attacks from creationists, and at the same time propose profound new ideas about evolution. This year has seen perceptions of the virus change from disease-causing villain to evolutionary hero, and the emergence of a new force of evolution – the absence of natural selection.

Many of the articles might not be of interest to those outside of the biological sciences, but there are some which pertain directly to the attacks on science from the right. These include Evolution: 24 Myths and Misconceptions and Evolution: What Missing Link?

Moving beyond these responses to the attacks on science from creationists, among the interesting articles are  Viruses: The unsung heroes of evolution and Vestigial organs: Remnants of evolution. The second answers questions such as why men have nipples and why humans have goose bumps. All of these articles are available on line without need for a subscription.

I’ve also recently linked to information on The Lancet’s special issue on evolution as well as this month’s issue of Scientific American which features the work of Charles Darwin.

Thumbs Down for Expelled

Roger Ebert finally got around to reviewing the creationist movie Expelled as part of an examination of Ben Stein’s mind. He ends with this:

The more you know about evolution, or simple logic, the more you are likely to be appalled by the film. No one with an ability for critical thinking could watch more than three minutes without becoming aware of its tactics. It isn’t even subtle. Take its treatment of Dawkins, who throughout his interviews with Stein is honest, plain-spoken, and courteous. As Stein goes to interview him for the last time, we see a makeup artist carefully patting on rouge and dusting Dawkins’ face. After he is prepared and composed, after the shine has been taken off his nose, here comes plain, down-to-earth, workaday Ben Stein. So we get the vain Dawkins with his effete makeup, talking to the ordinary Joe.

I have done television interviews for more than 40 years. I have been on both ends of the questions. I have news for you. Everyone is made up before going on television. If they are not, they will look like death warmed over. There is not a person reading this right now who should go on camera without some kind of makeup. Even the obligatory “shocked neighbors” standing in their front yards after a murder usually have some powder brushed on by the camera person. Was Ben Stein wearing makeup? Of course he was. Did he whisper to his camera crew to roll while Dawkins was being made up? Of course he did. Otherwise, no camera operator on earth would have taped that. That incident dramatizes his approach throughout the film. If you want to study Gotcha! moments, start here.

That is simply one revealing fragment. This film is cheerfully ignorant, manipulative, slanted, cherry-picks quotations, draws unwarranted conclusions, makes outrageous juxtapositions (Soviet marching troops representing opponents of ID), pussy-foots around religion (not a single identified believer among the ID people), segues between quotes that are not about the same thing, tells bald-faced lies, and makes a completely baseless association between freedom of speech and freedom to teach religion in a university class that is not about religion.

And there is worse, much worse. Toward the end of the film, we find that Stein actually did want to title it “From Darwin to Hitler.” He finds a Creationist who informs him, “Darwinism inspired and advanced Nazism.” He refers to advocates of eugenics as liberal. I would not call Hitler liberal. Arbitrary forced sterilization in our country has been promoted mostly by racists, who curiously found many times more blacks than whites suitable for such treatment.

Ben Stein is only getting warmed up. He takes a field trip to visit one “result” of Darwinism: Nazi concentration camps. “As a Jew,” he says, “I wanted to see for myself.” We see footage of gaunt, skeletal prisoners. Pathetic children. A mound of naked Jewish corpses. “It’s difficult to describe how it felt to walk through such a haunting place,” he says. Oh, go ahead, Ben Stein. Describe. It filled you with hatred for Charles Darwin and his followers, who represent the overwhelming majority of educated people in every nation on earth. It is not difficult for me to describe how you made me feel by exploiting the deaths of millions of Jews in support of your argument for a peripheral Christian belief. It fills me with contempt.

To illustrate his point, he includes this cartoon (click on it for a larger version):