EXPELLED….I went out today and saw Expelled, Ben Stein’s documentary that posits a vast, worldwide conspiracy of Darwinists who are shutting down legitimate scientific inquiry into Intelligent Design. The official debunking is here if you’re interested, but I went mostly because I was curious about how good a film it is purely from an agit-prop standpoint.

Answer: not very good. Stein’s basic problem is that during the first half hour or so he keeps his film sounding fairly reasonable. Maybe ID proponents really are getting the shaft! But it’s also deadly dull. After 30 minutes I was wondering how long he could possibly stretch this stuff out.

Then it picked up. Unfortunately for Stein and the IDers, it did so only by becoming increasingly unhinged. Stein spends the final half hour wandering around Dachau and telling us outright that his real motivation for attacking evolution isn’t any real flaw in the theory, but his belief that Darwinism leads directly to Nazi-ism, eugenics, atheism, the breakdown of morals, and mass slaughter. Can’t have that, so evolution needs to go too.

Maybe this is an institutional problem with makers of political documentaries. After all, Michael Moore did much the same thing in Sicko when he decided to finish up the movie with a paean to the healthcare system of Cuba. This didn’t really do much except forfeit his ability to persuade anyone who was skeptical of his case in the first place, and that’s what Stein’s finale does too. Even with the very careful editing he applies to his interviews in order to keep out the lunatic screeching (up until the very last couple of minutes, anyway), it’s hard to believe that anyone who’s not already a true believer will come out of Expelled convinced of Stein’s case. Who knows? It might even have the opposite effect.