This is the fifth discussion/blog posted about this here on A|N.
I'm reading many posters here getting the impression that the movie is banned or simply will not have any audience in the U.S. at all due to some Judeo-Christian conspiracy to keep the lid on it.
Beware of the shoddy journalism of the Telegraph.
Here's how they seem to operate:
[Attention grabbing controversial statement immediately following headline] followed by an almost unnoticed [according to so-and-so].
Humans may have evolved to believe in god and superstitions because it helps them to co-ordinate group action better, scientists claimed.- Richard Alleyne
This was a gross distortion of the opinion of the scientist that Alleyne so roughly paraphrased.
Here's the response from Dr. Bruce Hood, the scientist in question.
September 8, 2009
I never said…..
Well, what did I expect? A fair representation in the press and a balanced view from commentators? Come off it. Whenever, religion comes up, people lose all sense of reason and impartiality. This is why I wanted to construct a theory that addresses secular supernatural beliefs to avoid the problems of focusing just on religion. However, bloggers and commentators have completely misunderstood my position and the ideas I am proposing about the origins and prevalence of supernatural beliefs because of the recent press articles.
A couple of things. First, most of the articles in the press are based on the original article in The Sunday Times by Jonathan Leake and Andrew Sniderman. Jonathan did have the courtesy to phone me on Friday afternoon to talk about the piece. He had not read the book but had a copy of SuperSense sent to him. I thought I made my position relatively clear as we discussed the evidence and studies that indicate that we are born with brains to seek out patterns and infer hidden mechanisms, forces and entities. That does not make me either religious or a religious apologist. For example, if there is a gene for psychopathic killers that does not make it morally acceptable.
I talked about the early emergence of mind body dualism and how it relates to the notion of an after-life and my particular research interest, psychological essentialism. I said that I thought many supernatural beliefs had a natural origin in the way children reason about the world and that while story-telling was one way of transmitting beliefs, in many instances cultural stories reflected notions that were intuitively plausible to children. In fact, I categorically said that religions were cultural constructs as Richard Dawkins had proposed. Where I differ from Dawkins (and again this is very clear in the book) is the likelihood of removing supernatural beliefs through education but this is an empirical question that is not yet resolved. I also think that we need to understand individuals differences. Belief formation is not simply hard-wired or indoctrination. To use Ben Goldacre’s dictum, “I think you’ll find it more complicated than that”
Jonathan thanked me and said that he would run the piece past me on Saturday for my approval. He didn’t.
As Saturday night passed, I thought that they had probably decided to drop the piece as it did not fit with the simple “Born to Believe in God” angle that he wanted to push when we initially spoke. So imagine my horror to read the title of the piece in the Sunday Times. In fact, when you read the actual piece it does have me saying that beliefs are much more complex than either nature of nurture (to use that completely unsatisfactory dichotomy that is the mark of naive reasoning so favoured by journalists). And there were factual errors. I have not done a study on atheism and moral contamination beliefs about hypothetical organ transplantation though I daresay that all people irrespective of their religious persuasion would show the same effects that we found in groups of students. Still it was printed as a study on atheism.
The problem was compounded the following day with pieces in “The Daily Mail” and “The Daily Telegraph” regurgitating new versions of the story with added insertions. And so on…. like Chinese whispers the story has become distorted with individuals adding their own interpretations and agendas.
So before you start putting words in my mouth, judging me or the ideas I am putting forward, then please read the book. I think that it is relatively clear what I am saying.
As you'll note if you follow the link, Alleyne's Article was so horrendously wrong on so many levels that the Telegraph pulled it.
Another point of view on Alleyne's writing style:
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Richard Alleyne is a lying piece of shit
He has turned an MSc student's unpublished research (she hasn't even submitted her thesis!) into a torrent of lies about how women who dress provocatively, are outgoing and get drunk incite men to rape them. Ben Goldacre did his thing and revealed it all to be a pack of misogynistic lies. Alleyne and his editor should be pilloried for their role in demonising women.
at 9:49 PM
Labels: Ben Goldacre, mysogyny, Richard Alleyne is a lying piece of shit, science
Actually, he's just not very bright, badly informed and way out of his depth. I'm not convinced he even realises how serious his misinterpretation of the data was. Sad, but an excellent reason for not reading the Daily Telegraph. It's a shame though, their Sports coverage is actually quite good.
17 July, 2009 09:56
In Ben's words:
"This was a litany of errors, on a very sensitive issue, based, laughably, on an unfinished dissertation by a masters student. . . . . Every one of their key assertions was factually incorrect, as the student who did the work explained two weeks ago."
Calling Alleyne "not very bright" and badly informed" is an apology for his incompetence. With gaffs like this the guy should not be writing articles full stop. Likewise, his editor should not be working in publishing. They are not "way out of their depth", they are actively perverting evidence and claiming the complete opposite to what it actually shows. That is called lying.
Then we have this example... A British film about Charles Darwin has failed to find a US distributor because his theory of evolution is too controversial for American audiences, according to its producer.
So it's the opinion of the producer that the movie wasn't picked up because it's too controversial. There are many potential reasons for a movie to be eschewed by major distibutors. I think feeding this headline to the all-too-eager Telegraph was a brilliant marketing ploy on the part of the producer.
I wanted to be sure that I wasn't jumping to conclusions, in Telegraph fashion, so I've looked for other articles suggesting that there's some basis in reality for the misleading headline.
I saw something from Macleans and thought my criticism had been premature.
Darwin movie too evolved for U.S. audiences
TIFF opener can’t find distributors
Monday, September 14, 2009 12:18pm - 14 Comments
Creation, the British movie about Charles Darwin that opened the Toronto Film Festival, has been critically acclaimed and sold in almost every territory around the world. Yet the film cannot get distribution in the U.S. because its subject matter is considered “too controversial,” the Telegraph reports. The movie, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin’s “struggle between faith and reason” as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It also depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his 10-year-old daughter, Annie. U.S. distributors have resolutely passed on the film, concerned that it would “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,” the paper reports. Already the movie has sparked fierce debate. Movieguide.org, a site that 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,” contending his “half-baked theory” directly influenced Adolf Hitler. Jeremy Thomas, the movie’s Oscar-winning producer, 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.
Macleans is just regurgitating the Telegraph movie advertisement.