Intelligent Design

Expelled!: A chat with Walt Ruloff, plus some thoughts interspersed

Spread the love

Recently, I interviewed Walt Ruloff, the Canadian producer who put serious money into Expelled, a documentary about the ID guys, which I first learned about, perhaps accidentally, in August 2007.*

Any design hypothesis attracts hordes of trolls. So I asked Walt the obvious question, “Would you guys have made the film if you knew how much trouble it was going to be?”

His reply was, “Yes, and we would have done it differently.”

No doubt he would. The Darwinists have all the pop science journalists on auto dial. They need only ring them up and bitch. Indeed, that is precisely what Richard Dawkins did. One might have expected a professor of the public understanding of science (Dawkins’s most recent job) to prefer a life in science rather than in soap opera, but people do what they can, not what they can’t.

For me, the big question is, why didn’t Walt Ruloff know all this? Why didn’t he talk to anyone who could tell him what everyone knows: Legacy media simply cannot give a fair hearing to the question of whether design is part of the makeup of our universe.

Hundreds of sniffy film critics had to enter the fray against his film, no matter what it was like. . They don’t know anything at all about the science, but they do know that there is no design in the universe. It was interesting and instructive to note that many critics made use of anti-Expelled resources supplied by the Darwin lobby. Showing the flag, I guess.

In later posts, I will comment in more detail on the role of legacy media in preventing informed discussion, but for now briefly: The dying establishment media were not always the red ink-a-sauruses we see today. They were once young and vibrant. Of course, they grew up with and imbibed materialism, often the crass know-nothing materialism that underlies pop science media articles like this one, the target of much well-justified criticism. But the people who honestly believe the worldview that underlies such articles know that they are justified in asking no questions, and assuming that Ruloff and Ben Stein “must” be lying. And plenty of boozy wakes for dead ideas await them.

So, of course, Ruloff’s film – while it did reasonably well in sales (#5 in political documentaries and #6 in DVD documentaries as I write this, 8:48 am EST) – was trashed by “cool” critics, including many Christian ones.

Legacy media careers depend, in part, upon the fraud that “science” (however we define it) is about hard facts and that “faith” (however we define it) is about pleasant fictions. I have little doubt that if I got together a crew and made a film about a born-again prostitute who hooks for Jesus – and it was technically competent – legacy media Christian journalists would praise it cautiously as “breaking new ground.” If I revealed afterward that I had done that only in order to lure them into praising such a perverse work, they would continue to defend their judgement, just as Darwinists continue to defend the “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” evolutionary psychology hoax.

Materialism holds that the mind is an illusion, so truth, falsehood, and nonsense can all defend it equally well, but suppressing alternative evidence and coopting those who wish to dissent safely is by far their best policy.

But all this merely focuses my main question: Why didn’t Ruloff and his team know what so many tried to tell them. Sensing I wouldn’t get a direct answer, I asked him instead, “What would you have done differently, had you known how things would turn out?”

He told me,

The biggest thing that hurt us was when Yoko Ono sued us. The film was released Friday, and we were sued Monday.

It really caused a lot of problems for us, to support the movie in the theatres. Her object was to get it out of the theatres. I think it was ideological. She was approached by people from about ten Darwinist organizations.

Prior to actually releasing the film we did a huge amount of work with a legal team make sure fall under category of fair use – we went the extra mile. So when she sued us, she very much knew that we were using it under fair use.

Yes, but … why would anyone who actually made a film about the Expelled guys accept advice so fatally flawed for the times we live in?
Ono didn’t need a case; she only needed a bunch of backers determined to discredit the film. Essentially, whether we are talking about the Oh No! Ono suit, the Danish cartoon riots, libel tourism, or co-ordinated troll attacks on books, people do not need a case; they only need a position from which they can successfully suppress or distort information. Ono had enough money to use the civil courts for that purpose; that should have been reason enough to avoid any contact with her whatever.

As it was, Ruloff explained, his team had to put all its resources into fighting her, instead of fulfilling the marketing plan – which is precisely what the Darwinists had planned. Indeed, during the film’s launch, I simply could not get intelligible answers to two questions: Why was so little information provided about why there is an intelligent design controversy, and why was no effort made to rally people who would gladly go to see the film?

Ruloff was clearly upset by my questions and all he could offer was “We were just not prepared.”
And I do not think that is his fault, either. Both he, and the people who unwisely advised him that it was okay to risk Yoko Ono, are discouraged from understanding what happens when one uncovers evidence against materialism. So even when they are making a film about it, they don’t get it.

In gross sales, the film was almost in the top ten and Ruloff reckons that had he been able to support it, he could have made twice that. Unfortunately, by “support” Ruloff seems to mean advertising. That’s too bad; increasingly, advertising is the least bang for his buck, compared to viral marketing – where almost everyone is transmitting the message for free, in the same spirit as they whistle pop tunes. I heard from many people who would gladly have worked for free to support the film. But no leadership coming from the Expelled team enabled them.

For now, Ruloff is just taking a break from the frenzied pace of production and marketing, but he is planning new projects, including another film that supports and advances the design inference in nature. I hope that he hires people who can advise him how to promote a film in today’s InterWeb environment – and how not to.

*I have operated an independent news desk on intelligent design since May 2, 2005, and have broken a number of stories, including the showing of Privileged Planet at the Smithsonian.

14 Replies to “Expelled!: A chat with Walt Ruloff, plus some thoughts interspersed

  1. 1
    russ says:

    n gross sales, the film was almost in the top ten and Ruloff reckons that had he been able to support it, he could have made twice that. Unfortunately, by “support” Ruloff seems to mean advertising. That’s too bad; increasingly, advertising is the least bang for his buck, compared to viral marketing – where almost everyone is transmitting the message for free, in the same spirit as they whistle pop tunes. I heard from many people who would gladly have worked for free to support the film. But no leadership coming from the Expelled team enabled them.

    I agree with this. It reminds me of one of the failings of John McCain’s campaign for U.S. President. Volunteers abounded (once S. Palin entered the campaign) but the campaign wasn’t well-organized enough to harness the efforts of these willing volunteers.

  2. 2
    Rude says:

    When a society or culture goes over to the dark side where the unthinkable becomes thinkable, there has to be a point beyond which a moral majority no longer “get it.” They just don’t see what’s happening, and consequently they let happen what they think won’t happen.

    My bet, however, is that our better angels will prevail. Yet what Jonah Goldberg recalls, now someone expresses out loud: “Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste.”

    David Berlinski didn’t say that Darwinian materialism was the only factor—only that it was a necessary factor. Also necessary was a time of serious crisis.

    At a time when many will sacrifice liberty for security, when the voice of dissent sounds like the boy who cried wolf, then the dissenters who remain risk being scapegoated in a culture where the unthinkable has become thinkable.

    So hats off to those bold souls—Denyse and others—who are standing up for what’s right. They’re heroes because they are so few.

  3. 3
    Upright BiPed says:

    All this is very close to home. I work in media programming for a big four network. When Expelled came out I tried to rally News to do something to cover the story.

    I personally laid a printout of the OSC Report of Steinberg’s case on several desks – leading to several conversations. All was a GO until it became clear what the story was actually about – then crickets.

    Oh well.

    Now I am working to assemble a nationally syndicated one-hour weekly program on the general subject matter, featuring a name all would immediately recognize with admiration (sorry, I can only say so much). I give the project a 40/60 chance, but I am trying all the same.

    It’s a conversation that should happen, and is a conversation completely absent from mass media.

    Lots of stumbling blocks along the way. Time will tell.

  4. 4
    O'Leary says:

    Upright BiPed, many of us newsies think current mass media are toast anyway. Look at the huge and ongoing losses. The big worry is that we will be expected to bail them out, the way we are expected to bail out Detroit.

    But why? We don’t watch their shows, so why do we have to bail them out?

  5. 5
    Terry Mirll says:

    The makers of “Expelled” should be proud. Scathing reviews from “cool” critics should be considered a badge of honor.

    I’m currently working on my next novel, a Spillanesqe sendup of ideology parading itself as science, set in the mid-26th century. I can only imagine the deafening silence the critics will have for it, but, hey, we gotta keep trying.

  6. 6
    Upright BiPed says:

    D.O.

    I undertsand the sentiment…but…the big broadcast networks are still far and away the most-watched (most-chosen) medium in America – by several factors of magnitude actually.

    It IS changing though, no doubt. What is REALLY changing is when people are chosing to watch. DVR usage is now going through the roof. I have seen some network primetime programming increase in ratings by as much as 70% after Time-Shifted viewing is factored in.

  7. 7
    Nnoel says:

    playing devils advocate a bit here but isn’t this statement a little bit ironic ?

    ‘people do not need a case; they only need a position from which they can successfully suppress or distort information’

    Many darwinist would say you do not have a case, and are just distorting facts that do not argee with your own beliefs….

    just saying.

  8. 8
    allanius says:

    Sing we now noel. You don’t have to play Faust—Denyse is just telling a story. You don’t mind stories, do you? After all, Darwin told quite a nice one. Disturbing, this impulse to stamp out stories. Oh, I forgot—Darwin doesn’t permit us to tell any other.

    As for the good ship modern culture and its worship of theoretical science: something that godawful big does not turn around nimbly. A little sturm und drang might make it easier, however—you know, a stiff headwind and a couple of violent waves.

    Here’s a scenario: the anthropogenic global warming narrative collapses under the weight of empirical evidence. Since the legacy media bought into the narrative without reserve, even with enthusiasm, their credibility as science story tellers is smashed.

    Here’s another: continuing advances in basic science and microbiology make it increasingly clear that materialism is an inadequate platform for science. Public becomes outraged. Malpractice suits abound. Dawkins loses his ill-gotten gains. PZ Myers melts and gives up the ruby slippers.

    I don’t know the answer to Denyse’s conundrum, but I do know this: people living through a tidal change never see it when it is in process. From Kant’s point of view, the Enlightenment and Rationalism reigned supreme. He had no idea that he was sowing the seeds of revolution.

    So keep it up, Denyse! You’re doing invaluable work. The seemingly impregnable uniformity of the legacy media is probably a sign of weakness. The fact that Expelled could even get made indicates a freshening breeze.

  9. 9
    ribczynski says:

    Patrick,

    What happened to your new post entitled “Dr. Buggs Followup on his Chimp Comparison”?

    I was about to submit a comment when I found that the post had disappeared!

  10. 10
    IDskeptic says:

    Hehe! I like “red ink-a-sauruses”, denyse! does that make you a “link-a-saurus”? 😉

  11. 11
    notedscholar says:

    Interesting. I agree that Richard Dawkins, although brilliant, can be a bit of a drama queen.

    Also, I appreciate what Stein & co have done with Expelled, even if they failed to anticipate negative response. They think outside of the box. Also, they ally themselves with people different than them, e.g. David Berlinski who is not a Christian. That’s more than one can say of Richard Dawkins!

    NS
    http://sciencedefeated.wordpress.com/

  12. 12
    Patrick says:

    What happened to your new post entitled “Dr. Buggs Followup on his Chimp Comparison”?

    Sorry, I deleted it since Denyse is considering writing an article on that subject in the near future and my post was bare bones anyway.

  13. 13
    cantor says:

    The dying establishment media were not always the red ink-a-sauruses we see today

    Denyse, your link to red ink-a-sauruses goes to a password-protected web page.

  14. 14
    Alan Fox says:

    Kevin Miller Expelled!

    I would have though fair-minded IDers would be up in arms about this injustice.

Leave a Reply