Thursday, April 10, 2008

Expelled, Plagiarism, and the UD Crazies

As many of you know already, the makers of Expelled have been accused of copyright infringement in their use of a video that bears marked similarities to an XVIVO video made of the inner workings of the cell.

Apparently there is more at issue than simple copying of visual material, such as the analytical work that went into creating the effects. The legal haranguing should be interesting. However, to me it seems obvious what happened. Recall that Bill Dembski was caught using the XVIVO video in some of his live presentations prior to the making of Expelled. So it seems clear that the Expelled people realized they couldn't get away with using the XVIVO product, so instead made a cheap copy. Think McDougal's from "Coming to America".

Not being a legal scholar, I won't argue whether it meets copyright muster or not. But I can say after viewing both clips that the Expelled version is clearly lifted from the XVIVO original. There are too many exact subtle matches in the way the parts move around. As others have noted, it is not like this was made from an actual film of a cell, where close similarities in independent works would be expected, the same way we'd expect simlarities if several people painted the same mountain. The authors had to pick and choose what they did and did not show, and to accept that both independenetly picked and choosed the same things to emphasize stretchs credulity beyond limit. It is epecially notable, as PZ pointed out, that the "walker" in the video does not actually walk so smoothly in reality, and yet BOTH videos show it doing exactly that.

The irony here is knee deep. Here are people claiming to be experts at recognizing design who can't discern blatant copying when it doesn't suit their preconceptions to do so. Yet they are really going nuts over this potential lawsuit, and completely expose themselves for the unthinking sycophants they are. The comments from a UD thread are absolutely hysterical. Several commenters think that Harvard and XVIVO are trying to suppress information, despite the video being freely available on their website (note my link above). Then of course there are the claims that if they win this case it will only be because they got a "blazingly liberal judge", like Bush-appointed conservative Judge Jones of Dover fame, who overnight became a flaming liberal when he ruled against the IDers.

But the best line of all came from WNelson, who inadvertently exposes the lie of suppression:

"Maybe the ID movement needs to walk away, start the long process of getting funding, endowments, etc., and do their own thing. Let the old institutions rot."

Exactly! There is nothing stopping the IDers from going and doing their own research and making the Evil Darwinists Cabal look foolish and slow footed compared to the superior ID model. Their PR budget alone could fund several projects. So why don't they do so WNelson? Simple: because ID has no model, and no one really interested in doing research. And why is that? Because, as Ben Stein makes crystal clear in his mess of a film, ID s abut religion, not science.

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