Monday, June 22, 2009

CMI makes Darwin docu-drama

Via John Lynch's blog, I see that Creation Ministries International has made a docu-drama about Darwin titled "The Voyage That Shook the World," featuring professional historians who are well-known experts on Darwin. And why did these historians participate in a creationist project?

It seems that CMI took a page from the producers of "Expelled" and set up a separate production company, and failed to disclose the nature of their production to the historians in question. That suggests to me unethical deception--lying by omission--though I'd like to know what exactly the historians were told and what releases they signed before they participated.

Updates to come if I find out.

UPDATE (June 27, 2009): CMI describes its process for the documentary, including the document sent to interviewees, on its website. No mention is made of CMI or a creationist slant to the film. The director says that "if anything, CMI’s influence was one of moderation, ensuring that all sides were fairly represented," but if he is himself a creationist and set out to make the film from a creationist viewpoint, this isn't much of a defense. Note that at least one participant questioned who was providing the funding, and was told only "private investors." And one participant tried to return his fee in order to not appear in the film.

The proof will be in the pudding--it will be interesting to see what the film's narration says and how they fit the interviews into it. There's clearly no defense if it says things that are false or misleading.

Implicit in the CMI position is that creationism is a valid, reasonable, and evidence-supported viewpoint that deserves equal representation, but that's not the case.

One thing that's clear is that anyone being interviewed for a documentary in the age of Borat and Expelled should do some due diligence before signing a release.

UPDATE: John Lynch has responded further, as well, and I agree with everything he says. Their statement about atheists having "no compunction to be truthful at all" is false and offensive, and their analogy to an investigation of the Communist party is a bad analogy.

UPDATE: P.Z. Myers has weighed in. This may be the sort of online media coverage they're hoping for--the film is showing at so few places that the biggest place in Arizona to see it is a church in Miami, AZ (population < 2,000).

UPDATE (June 29, 2009): The CMI web page contains this statement under the movie poster image: "The Voyage that Shook the World, CMI’s documentary, has atheists ranting and raging. Rather than critique the film, they falsely accuse CMI of deception." This statement itself is dishonest--the accusations of deception are accurate, and the current complaints are not necessarily in lieu of critiquing the film, if it becomes feasible to view it.

UPDATE: John Lynch responds further to CMI, and notes that he has been incorrectly identified as an atheist (he's an agnostic).

33 comments:

DaleFlannery said...

The document sent to all interviewees prior to their interview is reproduced on this page: http://tinyurl.com/r789dm

Ktisophilos said...

"Implicit in the CMI position is that creationism is a valid, reasonable, and evidence-supported viewpoint that deserves equal representation, but that's not the case."

Oh, what a surprise, CMI thinks that creation is valid, and thinks it's OK to make films to support its own raison d'être. What an amazing revelation!

Implicit in the Dem party position (and that of many Republicans) is that socialism, in effect, is a valid economic policy, but that's not the case ... It doesn't mean they are dishonest to support this nonsense.

John Lynch said...

@ Ktisophilos

"socialism"

You don't know what that word means, do you?

Ktisophilos said...

@ John Lynch: then the same applies to Newsweek which claimed "we are all socialists now" as well as that Obama is "sort of God".

Rather, it's clear that many politicians and commentators don't know what "free market" means. After all, they blame the financial crisis on this entity although as George Reisman pointed out, the highly regulated US economy was anything but (The Myth that Laissez Faire Is Responsible for Our Financial Crisis).

DaleFlannery said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ktisophilos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ktisophilos said...

Well, the evolutionary experts had to concede that the Voyage film didn't distort what they said. Compare this with a bigoted bibliophobic program by those atheopathic celebutards Penn and Teller, featuring cherry-picking and outright disortion of Christian scholar Paul Maier, who was interviewed under blatantly false pretenses.

Jim Lippard said...

Where is the concession that the film doesn't distort what people have said by cherry-picking from their quotes and leaving out significant points, and surrounding it with misleading narration?

Penn & Teller's show is subject to similar criticisms, I agree, but that provides no support whatsoever to your position. It's not hard to find skeptics who agree that their show is unfair to its interviewees--I suspect Penn & Teller would even admit that's the case.

Regarding my "equal representation" argument--creationist arguments proceed by ignoring most of the evidence to cherry-pick apparent anomalies by which to attack evolution, while failing to produce an explanation which fits most of the facts. That's misrepresentation, and that's what I expect to see in this film. Your political analogy misses the point.

I'd argue that both major political parties in the U.S. tend to ignore most of the relevant factual information about public policy, economics, and law and cherry-pick results to fit preconceived policies--that seems to be how most advocacy organizations function, but it's not how institutions of science, history, public policy, law, journalism, etc. should work.

Jim Lippard said...

Further note: A documentary for the general public must, of necessity, omit lots of relevant facts and data. But an honest documentary presenting a minority position (especially a radically minority position like young-earth creationism) should at least make it clear that it is presenting a minority position and explain how it differs from the mainstream, so that a watcher ends up with a clear and accurate picture of both mainstream and minority viewpoints (and I don't mean to suggest that that is necessarily only two viewpoints).

I've yet to come across a creationist book, film, or article that accurately and honestly depicted evidence for evolution, as opposed to a grossly inaccurate caricature. If creationists were serious about doing science, they would first learn a field directly relevant to evolution thoroughly enough that they could explain and present arguments for evolution based on accurate facts, and *then* show how they have an alternative that better explains all of the same facts and more.

The problem is that nearly every creationist who has tried to go that path has ceased to be a creationist. And that's why most creationists are M.D.s, veterinarians, dentists, engineers, mathematicians, chemists, and so forth (e.g., John Lynch's analysis of the signatories of the Dissent from Darwinism petition of the Discovery Institute).

Ktisophilos said...

'Penn & Teller's show is subject to similar criticisms, I agree ...'

Nothing similar at all. You have yet to show the slightest parallel with teh Voyage movie to what historian Dr Maier said:

'In no way did I get the impression that this would be anything other than a serious television program on which I could vigorously defend the faith.

...

'twisting my words, taking me out of context, and cutting 97% of my bristling defense in behalf of the Bible and Christianity.
Oh, and the outright falsehoods too: I never "called myself ‘Doctor’," as they claimed. Even where I did "get a few good licks in" they clouded my comments with silly black/white footage playing while I talked.

...

' "Well, don’t the two chapters [Gen. 1&2] contradict one another, as liberals claim? What’s their viewpoint?" he then continued. I answered, as quoted directly on the tape, "Well, I wouldn’t call them contradictions as much as commentaries the one on the other. We probably have two different authors here, whose work was blended together, then, with editorial revising." Then they cut the crucial next phrase: "But this is the liberal viewpoint, of course." '

Michael Shermer was an integral part of this deceitful film. Yet he is one of the most piteous bleaters about Expelled.

As for the next post, Blind Freddie's deaf guide dog would realize that creation is a minority position without it needing to be spoonfed in that film. But what you really mean is that would have been impossible for CMI to produce any film about Darwin that you wouldn't whinge about. So why are we even having this debate?

BTW, it's extremely rare to see an evolutionist book deal fairly with creation fairly. For example, many falsely accuse creationists believe fixity of species, or take everything in the Bible literally.

Jim Lippard said...

I apparently misunderstood the point of your comparison, I thought you were making a tu quoque. As for whether the interviewees have been similarly misrepresented, I have to go back to my original statement that the proof will be in the pudding--I haven't seen the film, but the study guide content suggests it's a possibility.

Shermer was another interviewee of the Penn & Teller show--he didn't write it or produce it or edit it.

As to whether it's possible for CMI to do an honest and accurate documentary, I think it is, I thought _Facing the Fire_ was an example. Specifically about Darwin, well, we'll see.

I think your objection to evolutionist misrepresentations of creationism falls flat against any of the major critiques of creationism (e.g., Arthur N. Strahler's _Science and Earth History_, Philip Kitcher's _Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism_, Eugenie Scott's _Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction_, Laurie Godfrey's _Scientists Confront Creationism_, etc.) Off the top of my head, I can't think of any critiques of creationism that assume creationists don't allow for microevolution within "kinds" or think that every parable, poem and passage in the Bible must be taken literally (as opposed to young-earth creationists typically being biblical literalists, which isn't the same thing).

mirele said...

I guess the question I'd like the good creationists to ask (and this gets beyond cherrypicking) is: Has "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness" been removed from your Bibles?

Is it appropriate to lie to your potential interviewees to obtain an interview if you are an avowedly Christian organization? If it is appropriate, why on earth would anyone want to be a Christian, if your morals are no different than that of non-Christians?

I can't believe that so-called Christians are defending lying. It boggles the mind.

Ktisophilos said...

I guess the question to ask Mirele is: "why do you ask leading questions?" And why do you want Christian morality anyway given your evident christophobia?

As for JL's "biblical literalists", obviously that IS the same thing in many people's minds as taking everything in the Bible literally. A more accurate term, as I've explained before on this blog, would be a textualist or originalist, as per those theories of interpreting the US Constitution.

I have definitely seen those misreprentations by people who should know better. Hang, it's not too uncommon to see "creationists believe God placed fossils to test our faith".

And do you really think that Shermer was just another duped interviewee of Penn and Teller? No, he wouldn't have known what they're like, and saw nothing strange in having a chance to attack selected soundbites from Maier?

Ktisophilos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ktisophilos said...

JL: "As to whether it's possible for CMI to do an honest and accurate documentary, I think it is, I thought _Facing the Fire_ was an example."

So this doesn't count as "Lying for Jesus" as that atheopathic bloviator Pee-Zed Myers claims about CMI—sounding suspiciously like your old adversary Plimer? And I would remind you of a common skeptical charge that Richard "Big Jewish Conspiracy" Dawkins was misrepresented in From a Frog to a Prince, but some of the more honorable ones apologized for the false accusation.

Jim Lippard said...

"And do you really think that Shermer was just another duped interviewee of Penn and Teller? No, he wouldn't have known what they're like, and saw nothing strange in having a chance to attack selected soundbites from Maier?"

Perhaps I haven't seen enough episodes of the show "Bullshit!" (I've seen about half of each of the first two seasons), but most of their subject matter is genuinely accurately described by the title, and while they're not fair in the sense of giving equal time to the proponents of bullshit, they're often fair in that they accurately depict the facts about what they're talking about, even in this case--P&T mostly have the right conclusions, even though they were unfair to Maier and apparently misrepresented his views (e.g., sometimes depicting him as though the liberal views he discussed were his own and claiming that he referred to himself as "Dr.").

I'll ask Shermer about it when I see him in a couple of weeks at TAM7--whether he aware of how Maier was edited and what his reasons were for participating. I suspect he wasn't aware that Maier was edited in a way to misrepresent what he said, and that he participated because of his friendship with P&T and to get the chance to convey his own views.

Note that "Bullshit!" is also a comedy show, not a serious documentary--though again, Maier apparently didn't know that's the show he was being filmed for, and I think that's wrong.

"So this doesn't count as "Lying for Jesus" as that atheopathic bloviator Pee-Zed Myers claims about CMI" -- what does "this" refer to? If it refers to "Facing the Fire," I agree. If it refers to the content of the docu-drama, I'm not yet in a position to answer. If it refers to the intentional withholding of information about who was behind the documentary in obtaining releases and footage of participants, that does, I think, constitute lying by omission.

The CMI page seems to be arguing that lying by omission is morally acceptable, with prooftexts from the synoptic gospels where Jesus made statements about speaking in parables to hide the truth from the masses (expressed in strongest form in Mark 4:11-12, which seems to me to be saying that Jesus is intentionally being unintelligible because he *doesn't* want the masses to receive salvation, which seems counter to the entire purpose of an evangelical Christian organization; this is a key verse of the "Messianic Secret" in Mark).

The CMI page now has some additions in the footnotes, which include multiple uses of the neologism "atheopathic"--your contribution, since you've used it in comments here, too? I've noticed the tendency in some highly intelligent, yet isolated and eccentric individuals to have a tendency to generate many neologisms as a form of ridicule of their opponents and critics. Sadly, it seems to me a habit that doesn't do anything to promote understanding, but rather conveys the impression that the author is a crank.

Ktisophilos said...

Oh, Jim, I'm touched by your concern about promoting "understanding" etc. ;) It doesn't seem like Myers, Dawkins et al. care about anything other than vicious attack against those who disagree. I remind you of the parallel of Myers' charge against CMI with the title of Plimer's abusive and incompetent book, and that Dawkins commended this same book. Even the word that irks you should be compared with Dawkins' charge that theistic religion is a mind virus, i.e. disease.

"Lying by omission" is your term. You apparently were not distorted by the CMI Facing the Fire, and there is no reason to believe any different with Voyage.

Messianic Secret theories are hardly news.

Jim Lippard said...

My objections to Plimer's book were based on its misrepresentations, not its title; Myers' use of the same phrase appears to me accurate.

Dawkins' parallel between genes and ideas ("memes") is one where memes do propagate much like viruses; religion is one of many cultural collections of ideas that he draws such an analogy for, and I think it's accurate. Dennett's _Breaking the Spell_ offers a more nuanced picture of religion that I prefer--there are positive and negative side-effects of religious beliefs and practices. Taken as a whole, I think your sort of religion has more negative than positive.

I'm well aware that the Messianic Secret idea is not new--my link, to Wikipedia, gives a better overview than your link to the insufferable and dishonest Robert Turkel's website.

Ktisophilos said...

Yet the Facing the Fire was NOT "lying", for Jesus or anyone else.

There is no getting around Plimer-fan Dawkins' claim that religion as a disease — and he has even more contempt for churchians who deny that the Bible teaches creation than creation itself, and that's saying a lot! But then don't whinge when the same charge is thrown back at him.

BTW, even many evolutionists think that memetics is vacuous. Even Dawkins' friend Jerry Coyne, an embarrassment to theistic evolutionists, claims that memes are ‘but a flashy new wrapping around a parcel of old and conventional ideas.’

Wikipedia a good source? Don't make me laugh — anyone can edit it at any time. BTW, James Patrick Holding is his real name now; you're way behind the times obsessing about his former real name. He's right to call Wiki "The Abomination that Causes Misinformation", cites the example of an Irish student who put a fake quote on it and it was dutifully copied by journalists all around the world.

Do let us know how Shermer can justify his association with the deceitful Penn/Teller show, “lying for bibliophobia” one might say.

Jim Lippard said...

Who are you responding to re Facing the Fire? Who called it "lying"?

I was less-than-impressed with memetics until reading Dennett's "The New Replicators." Its fruitfulness ultimately remains to be seen.

Wikipedia *is* a generally reliable source, despite the fact that (almost) anyone can edit it--they have developed processes to identify and respond to vandalism. Some areas are better than others--it's excellent on pop culture, creation/evolution, and Scientology, for example, while not very good on alternative medicine. I discussed this briefly in my AHA talk. I've blogged about the Nature study that compared Wikipedia to the Encyclopedia Britannica (which had some flaws, but found them comparable in error rates). The example you give is more indicative of a problem with journalism than with Wikipedia.

My opinion of Holding doesn't change with his official change of name.

Ktisophilos said...

There are some skeptics like Kyle Gerkin who have friendly dialogues with JPH. JPH just doesn't take any crap from nasty atheopaths, and uses the challenge-riposte approach with its ample biblical precedents.

I thought UK commentator Dr Theodore Dalrymple, certainly no creationist or even theist, nailed Dennett about memetics:

“Dennett argues that religion is explicable in evolutionary terms—for example, by our inborn human propensity, at one time valuable for our survival on the African savannahs, to attribute animate agency to threatening events.

“For Dennett, to prove the biological origin of belief in God is to show its irrationality, to break its spell. But of course it is a necessary part of the argument that all possible human beliefs, including belief in evolution, must be explicable in precisely the same way; or else why single out religion for this treatment? Either we test ideas according to arguments in their favor, independent of their origins, thus making the argument from evolution irrelevant, or all possible beliefs come under the same suspicion of being only evolutionary adaptations—and thus biologically contingent rather than true or false. We find ourselves facing a version of the paradox of the Cretan liar: all beliefs, including this one, are the products of evolution, and all beliefs that are products of evolution cannot be known to be true.” [What the new atheists don’t see: to regret religion is to regret Western civilization, City Journal, Autumn 2007]

As for religion being good or bad, ironically Plimer was one of the negative speakers in a recent public debate on the proposition, Would the world be better off without religion?

Jim Lippard said...

I don't think Dalrymple's objection works--it looks to me like a false dilemma. Dennett's position on meme replication doesn't eliminate or ignore the further constraints on idea propagation that come from logical inference and empirical testing (which are themselves toolsets of ideas that are propagated). Nor does it eliminate the relevance of judgments of truth and falsity (or the concepts of truth and falsity). Religion, though, tends to involve ideas that have little in the way of empirical testing, or use various means to avoid the consequences of empirical testing.

Ktisophilos said...

Wm. Dembski sez:

‘Lynch is outraged: the documentary makers are guilty of “lies” and “deception”. Would a charge of fraud hold up in court? I suspect the documentary makers simply withheld information. Is that wrong? The BBC, for instance, didn’t inform me that a documentary they were making about ID was to be called “A War on Science”, and that I would be portrayed as one of the “bad people” trying to “destroy science.” I was, to be sure, displeased with this outcome, but I recognize that this is the way the game is played. The other side has been dishing it out for a long time, but has a hard time of it when the tables are turned.’

[I cherry-picked that ↑ ;)]

Seems as bad as the Penn/Teller deceit with Maier. CMI doesn't seem to be doing anything like that, i.e. following the bad example of their critics. Rather, there is no evidence that the producers went contrary to the statements given to each interviewee.

Mariano said...

Let us review:

“And why did these historians participate in a creationist project?”
This statement may be categorized as what in logic is known as an “ad hominem” or “genetic fallacy” whereby one attacks the source of an argument whilst disregarding the actual argument.

“CMI…set up a separate production company”
Ad hominem / genetic fallacy.

“failed to disclose the nature of their production to the historians in question.”
How do you know?

“No mention is made of CMI or a creationist slant to the film.”
Ad hominem / genetic fallacy.

“who was providing the funding”
Ad hominem / genetic fallacy.

“Implicit in the CMI position is that creationism is a valid…”
Ad hominem / genetic fallacy.

“One thing that's clear is that anyone being interviewed for a documentary in the age of Borat and Expelled should do some due diligence before signing a release.”
Agreed; Bill Maher conveniently edited out inconvenient comments by scientists and Richard Dawkins edited out inconvenient comments by Alister McGrath in “Root of All Evil” – see here and here.

“P.Z. Myers has weighed in”
And he states, “there is no scientific controversy anymore on this matter” ya vol! comes to mind.

“it's produce by Creation Ministries International”
Ad hominem / genetic fallacy.

“which tells you right there what their agenda is: to tell lies for Jesus.”
Ad hominem / genetic fallacy.

“Here's where the parallel to Expelled lies…in the lies.”
Ad hominem / genetic fallacy.

“they admit to cherry-picking the interviews to put together their story.”
This is actually the one and only way to produce any interview, documentary, movie, tv show, etc. (I would personally prefer full and uncut interviews shown back to back but 10 hour documentaries do not seen to sell very well).

“if they could be trusted to present the opinions of the experts accurately…”
How does he know that they did not?

“Doesn't this tell you something about the credibility of the creationist movement?”
Ad hominem / genetic fallacy.

“At least they didn't hire Ben Stein as a frontman.”
Ad hominem / genetic fallacy.

“P.Z. Myers has weighed in”
And this is the best that a professor of biology can do?

“the film is showing at so few places…”
Ad hominem / genetic fallacy.
From what I understand the film has not been released yet and generally when films are not yet released they, by definition, show in few places.

It appears that neither you, nor PZ Myers, nor John Lynch (?) have seen the film. Yet, your barrage of fallacies and emotionally reactions speak volumes.

I understand that you are desperate for reasons to not believe in something that we have not seen yet: funding issues, creationist slant, editing, thus saith PZ Myers, anything, anything at all.

Einzige said...

Mariano, many of your quotes refer to nothing in this blog post or the comments after. What's up with that?

Also, you appear to not really understand what an ad hominem actually is.

For just one example, here:

“And why did these historians participate in a creationist project?”
This statement may be categorized as what in logic is known as an “ad hominem” or “genetic fallacy” whereby one attacks the source of an argument whilst disregarding the actual argument.


First off, the quote is not a statement. It is a question.

Secondly, where is the "attack"?

Jim Lippard said...

Mariano, you are engaging in the fallacy of false accusation of fallacy, as well as tu quoque.

It's not ad hominem or a genetic fallacy to accurately describe a sequence of events.

How do I know that they didn't disclose the nature of their production or the fact that they were creationists? Because the historians said so, and because the CMI web page says so!

Your Bill Maher/Dawkins reference is a tu quoque.

Lynch and I have both said that we haven't seen the film, we are commenting specifically on the evidence that we do have--how the production came to be made, the study guide materials, and CMI's defense of its actions. We are both obtaining copies of the film and will comment on its content after we've seen it.

I think you're engaging in a bit of projection.

Ktisophilos said...

JL:

"I think your objection to evolutionist misrepresentations of creationism falls flat against any of the major critiques ..."

Sez he who bragged in the Sylvia Allen thread about this nonsensical T-shirt that perpetuates Phishy's moronic post:

"God put those there to test our faith, just like fossilized dinosaur remains."

Sounds closer to paganism. The closest in reality would be Platonic forms theory whereby organic beings would have an inorganic representation of the same form. The creationist founders of modern geology like Woodward and Steno had no time for such stuff, and neither has any real creationist since.

So who's "projecting"?

Jim Lippard said...

The t-shirt is a joke based on the "teach the controversy" strategy to get intelligent design into schools. There are similar shirts with a flat earth on a pair of elephants on a turtle, and a periodic table of five elements, earth, air, fire, and water.

The shirts don't purport to present any actual common views, but to draw an analogy. They aren't intended to represent actual views of creationists, but to show the error of the "teach the controversy" gambit with even-more-absurd discarded ideas.

Ktisophilos said...

Still looks like one of the lies that I frequently come across, and what Phishy was promoting. So is misrepresentation only wrong when it's about evolution?

As for "teach the controversy", my own views are more aligned with this evolutionary libertarian's approach, which is dispensing with government schools altogether.

Jim Lippard said...

Ktisophilos: I had a chance to ask Shermer about his appearance on Penn & Teller's "Bullshit!" show last night. He said that he never saw any video of Maier--he was just filmed and asked questions in an unscripted interview, and has participated in a number of their shows. I don't think he had even heard about Maier being misrepresented.

BTW, even Penn & Teller don't write for the show, they just go to a studio and film the segments they're in and record some voice overs based on scripts written and produced by Star Price and his company.

Re: "devil buried the bones"--it's not what creationist organizations believe, but I'm pretty sure I've run across individual creationists making that or similar arguments. It's Gosse's _Omphalos_ argument, after all. I don't see that the shirt constitutes a "lie" since it makes no attribution to any individual or group, and in the context of the other shirts it's clearly a reductio ad absurdum argument of the "teach the controversy" approach, not an attribution of a straw man.

Ktisophilos said...

It's rather implausible that Penn/Teller are innocent of such a hatchet job. I withhold opinion of Shermer.

Maybe there are individual creationists who believe that the devil buried the bones, or that God put them there to test the faith. But as you say, no creationist organization does.

And while you may have met "fundamentalist Aunt Sally" types who held this view, it was certainly held by no creationist with as high a profile as atheopathic evolutionist Bill Maher, who denies the germ theory of disease and rejects vaccinations. So should I make a T-shirt claiming that evolutionists deny germ theory and "science-based medicine" on such grounds?

You have clearly misunderstood Gosse's omphalos argument, as bizarre as it is. It was nothing to do with testing anyone's faith, and everything to do with his view of cyclical time. In his view, God interrupted this cyclical time with creation, which began real time which he called "diachronic". "Before" creation, there was virtual time he called "prochronic", which still left traces. The most famous was the eponymous Omphalos (navel), which reflected a prochronic history of development in a womb. The problems were its complete lack of biblical evidence, and the scientific inability to differentiate effects of prochronic and diachronic time. Let Gosse speak for himself

" … we cannot avoid the conclusion that each organism was from the first marked with the records of a previous being. But since creation and previous history are inconsistent with each other; as the very idea of the creation of an organism excludes the idea of pre-existence of that organism, or any part of it; it follows, that such records are false, so far as they testify to time; that the developments and processes thus recorded have been produced without time, or are what I call 'prochronic'."

But like the dishonest "devil buried bones" straw man, Gosse didn't win a single convert to his idea.

Jim Lippard said...

Ktisophilos: You're right that Gosse's argument wasn't about "testing faith," but the t-shirt doesn't say anything about that either.

Today at TAM there was a panel on the ethics of deception in magic which featured Penn & Teller, during which they and all other members of the panel made clear their disapproval of lying by omission. I attempted to raise the question about Maier during that Q&A session, but there was only time for two questions.

However, I did get to raise the question during a later panel on skepticism in broadcast media which also featured Penn & Teller. Penn misunderstood my question as though I was asking about some blogger criticizing the show, rather than a *participant* on the show--but he clearly didn't recognize the name Paul Maier.

A bit later in the day, I had the chance to talk to him directly, and pointed out that I was talking about someone who was actually on the show. Penn said that the contracts for everyone who appears on the show state that the show is Penn & Teller's Bullshit!, but that just because he was given that information in the contract and signed it doesn't mean that he read it and knew it. I offered to point him to Maier's critique, and he said that he had no interest in reading it and Maier can say whatever he likes.

Ktisophilos said...

Of course, the Penn and Teller show involving Maier did far worse than "lying by omission".

Clearly, "devil burying bones" is NOT Gosse's argument. BTW, Gosse was the Victorian era's version of David Attenborough, a hugely popular author of illustrated books about nature, and the main popularizer of the aquarium. He was also anti-slavery and lacked a racist bone in his body.

That silly Omphalos book might be explained by his mind's being messed up by watching his beloved first wife die horribly of breast cancer. After this failure, he had a further successful career as a writer and a second happy marriage. Ann Thwaite's biography Glimpses of the Wonderful: The Life of Philip Henry Gosse 1810-1888 corrects a number of errors in the vindictive Father and Son and paints a more sympathetic picture. So does your favored Wikipedia, even ;)