Expelled Critics: The Origin of Specious

Ben Stein proposes a link from the Nazi Holocaust to eugenics and Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species in his documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I can understand that apes are annoyed, but who knew there are so many monkeys' uncles among movie critics?

Maybe they'll stop the chest-thumping when they learn that Stein's position has strong support from sources at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and elsewhere in academia.

The specious criticisms of Stein and Expelled either deliberately distort what the film is about and what Stein actually says, or they're not advanced enough to grasp that he explicitly rejects a causal connection from Darwin to Hitler. Stein says there's Darwin without eugenics and Hitler, but you don't have eugenics and Hitler without Darwin.

Simon Vozick-Levinson grunts on his “Popwatch Blog” for Entertainment Weekly: “I actually started groaning and muttering at the screen when Stein shamelessly exploited the memory of the millions whom Hitler murdered — which, apparently, was Charles Darwin's fault somehow?! … Do not see this movie under any circumstances.”

Levinson echoes the academy censors exposed by Stein in Expelled who ridicule anyone questioning Darwin. It's “loony-fringe politics and sheer stupidity,” says Levinson. It's tempting to fault Darwin for Levinson.

Frank Scheck, writing for Reuters, carps: “Many of the central ideas expressed are truly offensive, such as the attempt to link Darwinism and Nazism, complete with footage of a grim-faced (not that he ever looks any different) Stein touring a Nazi concentration camp.” Maybe when we're more evolved like Scheck we can put on a happy face in death camps.

And there's more.  See the Culture and Media Institute's article, When Media Aren't Ignoring Controversial Evolution Movie, Expelled, They're Hostile.

These media devotees of Darwin distort Expelled and proponents of “Intelligent Design” as they do Darwin on the subject of a Creator. While Darwin rejected the independent creation of each species, he recognized “the laws impressed on matter by the Creator.”

The “Creator” might have been an ancestor of ET, but definitely could not have been the loving God of the Bible, as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins posits to Stein in the film. And this is from the “clear-thinking oasis,” as Dawkins calls his Web site.

There's no credible doubt that eugenicists and Hitler found incentive and justification for their atrocities by seizing upon Darwin's “prophetic glance into futurity as to foretell that it will be the common and widely-spread species, belonging to the larger and dominant groups, which will ultimately prevail and procreate new and dominant species.” Origin.

Too bad the research capabilities of Stein's critics aren't sufficiently evolved. They could have “googled” Darwin to Hitler (402,000 hits) or Darwin to Nazis (245,000 hits), or better yet, found resources that link Hitler's reign of terror to eugenics and Darwin at the USHMM:

From 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany carried out a campaign to “cleanse” German society of individuals viewed as biological threats to the nation's “health.” … This campaign was based in part on ideas about public health and genetic “fitness” that had grown out of the inclination of many late nineteenth century scientists and intellectuals to apply the Darwinian concepts of evolution to the problems of human society: “Bibliographies: Nazi Racial Science.”

Sources cited include:

·        Haas, François. “German Science and Black Racism--Roots of the Nazi Holocaust.” FASEB Journal 22, no. 2 (2008): 332-337. (Subject Files)
Traces the origin of the concept of “racial hygiene” to the work of German physicians and scientists of the late 19th century. Shows how the spread of this idea, based on Social Darwinism, culminated in the Nazi T4 euthanasia program and the extermination camps.

·        Weindling, Paul. Health, Race, and German Politics between National Unification and Nazism, 1870-1945. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993. (RA 418.3.G3 W45 1993)
Examines the interplay between social Darwinist and eugenic ideas in German political goals for public health and welfare from the mid-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century. Demonstrates how Germany's scientific tradition in the treatment of social problems influenced the later more radical “solutions” developed for social and racial goals during the Nazi era. Includes illustrations, a bibliography, and an index.

·        Zmarzlik, Hans-Günter. “Social Darwinism in Germany, Seen as a Historical Problem.” In Origins of the Holocaust, edited by Michael R. Marrus, 3-42. Westport: Meckler, 1989. (Ref D 810 .J4 N38 1989 v.2)
Focuses on the influence of Darwinian concepts such as “survival of the fittest” upon turn of the century mainstream anthropological and scientific thought in Germany. Relates how the German scientific community applied these concepts to the social problems associated with poverty and disease in Germany. Includes bibliographic notes. Part of the multi-volume anthology titled, The Nazi Holocaust.

·        From Darwin to Hitler: evolutionary ethics, eugenics, and racism in Germany, Weikart, Richard, 2004.

Susan Bachrach, PhD writing in The New England Journal of Medicine, links “Proponents of eugenics in the early 20th century [who] argued that modern medicine interfered with Darwinian natural selection,” and the “Nazi sterilization effort [that] was integrated into a comprehensive program of racial hygiene.” All of which “culminated in the “Holocaust.”

Jerry Bergman's essay, “Darwinism and the Nazi Holocaust,” cites 75 resources including Yale University Press and American Scientist:

Nazi governmental policy was openly influenced by Darwinism, the Zeitgeist of both science and educated society of the time. This can be evaluated by an examination of extant documents, writings, and artefacts produced by Germany's twentieth century Nazi movement and its many scientist supporters.

As early as 1925, Hitler outlined his conclusion in Chapter 4 of Mein Kampf that Darwinism was the only basis for a successful Germany and which the title of his most famous work—in English My Struggle—alluded to. As Clark concluded, Adolf Hitler:

' …was captivated by evolutionary teaching—probably since the time he was a boy. Evolutionary ideas—quite undisguised—lie at the basis of all that is worst in Mein Kampf-and in his public speeches …. Hitler reasoned … that a higher race would always conquer a lower.'

Sources of a more advanced species than the “Popwatch Blog” variety don't monkey around with the truth.

Jan LaRue, Esq., is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Culture and Media Institute.