Strap yourselves in folks this is has some twists and curves.
OK first a synopsis of events: biologist/blogger/atheist provocateur P. Z. Myers signed up online to see a screening of Expelled (a film in which he appears and is thanked in the credits) along with his family and biologist/atheist provocateur maximus, Richard Dawkins, and as everyone not living in a deep dark cave in Borneo that lacks internet access knows, was kicked out of the theater and not allowed to view the film.
The lovely irony of one of the producers of a film, that decries the supposed discrimination and mistreatment of antievolutionists by the scientific mainstream, pettily expelling a scientists who was interviewed in that film, for no apparent reason, sent howls of virtual laughter through the blogosphere along with a sizable heap of scorn down upon the producers head.
This provoked a fairly desperate scramble amongst the ID creationism crowd to defend and justify the producers actions and vilify both Myers and Dawkins (as if they needed more reasons beyond their being evolutionists and atheists). Included in the counter charges they’ve made against Myers and Dawkins is that they were uninvited “gate-crashers” who “gamed the system” to illegitimately gain access to the screening.
Myers in his public comments on his blog and elsewhere has simply stated that he signed up online to see the screening but did not explain how he came to find the web page where this could be done.
After my post responding to his attacks on Myers and Dawkins, DaveScot (David Springer) over at Uncommon Descent added an addenda to his post just after the URL he had claimed linked to the RSVP page that Myers used to register :
There is no way to get to the URL above from the main page http://www.getexpelled.com. The above is not a publicized address. The links from the main page all go to TOUR BUS events not movie screenings.
Now I have to admit here that I was a bit confused when writing my post because there are several RSVP pages all of which have the same graphic header which says “Screenings coming to a city near you” and I wasn’t clear about what was going on (I’m not sure I’m entirely clear now), so I may have been wrong (at least at the time I wrote it) about the obvious invitation on the getexpelled.com page necessarily applying to all RSVP pages.
Here are three RSVP addresses and what I have uncovered regarding them:
- http://rsvp.getexpelled.com/events/events/list, this is the link given by Dave and it says “Welcome.Please choose a location and time below” followed by place and times of screenings.
- http://rsvp.getexpelled.com/events/movies/expelled, which is the one still linked from the getexpelled.com site, and appears, as Dave said, to be for a bus tour the producers did where, at least at some stops, they were screening the film (note that “movies” is even in the URL).
Which did Myers use, and did he have to hack the Expelled site to get at it? We shall soon see.
URL number one I found on Re-sounding Science, the blog of astrophysics grad student Jessica Lovering. She posted the following on March 13th:
Sneak Preview’s of Ben Stein’s Expelled
RSVP for FREE tickets to Ben Stein’s new creationist movie Expelled. You might want to get your facts together before you go and prepare for a lively discussion afterwards. There are a few summaries of the movie online that you may want to read to figure out what the logical fallacies and plain old lies the movie will be purveying.
She also posted the screening places and times found on the RSVP page at the time which included the now infamous Mall of America showing. I asked Jessica where she found this and she said it was on one of the Expelled movie web sites. This link doesn’t seem to appear on any of the current Expelled sites so it possible that they have changed them since the Myers incident.
This is the same link that Dave posted on March 24th and he stated in his addenda that that link was “not a publicized address”. This is apparently not the case since according to Jessica she found it on one of the Expelled pages.
As it turned out the RSVP link Myers ultimately used was not the one given by Jessica and later DaveScot, but rather the third link listed above. This link was originally discovered on March 12th by Glen Davidson who went searching for possible screening locations after hearing that they were being done. He did some Google surfing and came across a publicly accessible blog called One Great City ~ CH!CAGO which is apparently a Christian activist site for people in the Chicago, IL area. Posted on this blog was an entry by a Private Screening” (the following is edited down to the vital bits): titled “
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
You are invited to a FREE PRIVATE SCREENING of Ben Stein’s upcoming, history-making film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Opening in theaters April 2008)
The private screening details are as follows:
Date: Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Location: AMC Lowes Streets of Woodfield 20, 601 N. Martingale Rd., Suite 185, Schaumburg, IL 60173
Please let us know if you are able to attend. You can RSVP now and provide us with how many guests you’d like to bring with you to this screening.
Questions, please contact Jessica at: firstname.lastname@example.org / 310-721-7293 Below I have included information about the film and some endorsements the film has already received. You can also learn more about the movie by visiting our EXPELLED Movie Resource site at: http://www.GetEXPELLED.com.
Thanks, and I hope you will be able to make it! This is a very important project!
CEO, Motive Entertainment
This is followed by miscellaneous links and quoted endorsements. Did you happen to catch the URL in the middle of that? It goes right to one of the RSVP pages. Glen thought people might find this interesting so he promptly posted it on several popular blogs, web pages, and newsgroups, that deal with the CvE debate.
It was found on one of those sites (After the Bar Closes on Antievolution.org) by Kristine Harley, who then passed it on to Myers, and you know what happened after that.
So there were at least two places on publicly accessible web pages where one could find links to the Expelled RSVP pages and sign up to see the film. And both apparently included the Mall of America showing.
Also while I was poking around on the getexpelled.com site I found that the RSVP system stores information on the different screenings in different directories of the site. The base URL is http://rsvp.getexpelled.com/events/events/rsvp/ followed by a numbered directory. Punching in different numbers got me different screening locations and dates and sometimes different messages (please note that the following URLs might expire as time goes by).
For example: http://rsvp.getexpelled.com/events/events/rsvp/174 is for a screening in Louisville, KY on March 31. It says “Please fill out the following information to be placed on the waiting list for this screening” and then has a online form to fill out to RSVP.
http://rsvp.getexpelled.com/events/events/rsvp/204 is for a screening in Colorado Springs, CO on April 2nd. It says:
Please fill out one entry form per attendee. Once confirmed, your name will be on a list at the door of the theater. IDs will be checked. For security, no bags, cell phones, or recording devices of any kind will be allowed into the theater. Please leave them in your car.
Below this it says the event is full so presumably it also had a online form to fill out at one time.
And finally http://rsvp.getexpelled.com/events/events/rsvp/205 among other numbers takes you to a page which simply says: “This event is invitation-only”.
I go through this to show that they apparently have a system (at least now) to distinguish between truly private screenings with, I would imagine, an actual predetermine guest list, and other screenings that are perhaps demographically targeted (churches and religious community leaders etc.) but not really private in the exclusive guest list sense.
There has been no evidence presented that Myers signed up for one of the “invitation-only” events. So it seems that his “crime” here was taking advantage of a publicly linked RSVP site that was possibly intended for a demographic category which he doesn’t happen to fall into, but was not a truly private event.
Of course the producers and their apologists in the ID creationism crowd are welcome to present hard evidence to the contrary, but I doubt they will even try. And if they want whipping boys to blame their PR blunder on, they might want to start with operators of the One Great City ~ CH!CAGO blog, who publicizing their RSVP page (one of them at least).
Well, that’s it I hope it was worth it, thanks to all the people involved who answered my e-mail inquiries.
So it was Glen Davidson, on teh internets, with the cut-and-paste tool! Hurrah! Well done, Detective Britain.
Unfortunately this all comes a bit late, because Myers has now gone and stupidly done the very thing that he was falsely accused of doing in the first place, namely gate-crashing an event. (sigh).
Still, good sleuthing. I think most of us suspected the story would be something like that, but it’s nice to have the actual chain of events somewhere for posterity.
Good investigation. It lends further credence to this and all other comments from Myers:
“I had an invitation. I had applied through the channels Expelled set up. I applied under my own name, and was approved. I have the first email that confirmed it, and the second email reminder, all from Motive Entertainment. Wanna see them?”
Another interesting observation: Myers, Myers’ family, Dawkins, etc., all share exactly the same account of the events told from their own perspective. This isn’t true of all of Expelled’s team members or their supporters. As has been pointed out, their stories underwent revision as soon as any discrediting facts came flooding in. Most “Christian” websites are reporting the “gatecrashing” version, even though it is currently out of vogue. I believe Matthis’ current version is something like, “I wanted to squeeze $10 out of Myers for a movie ticket, that’s all.”
Fortunately, Myers has Dawkins’ and his family’s reliable recollections of the film to base an opinion on.
What gate-crashing did PZ do at the conference call? They sent an invitation to the Panda’s Thumb crew (which definitely includes PZ), when he called in, the hosts announce the 2-way code for everyone to hear.
PZ did no gate-crashing at either time. Rather it is the Expelled and ID tools who have been trumpeting their “youthful, rebellious” gate-crashing of “the Darwinian establishment” who should finally own up to their childish actions.
And if Expelled writer Kevin Miller hadn’t run away from our questions to him on that very same thread on which Glen linked to the One Great City blog, Miller would have seen us openly discussing attending these screenings, and would have also read J-Dog ask me to invite PZ. (Of course I thought of it myself.) Dweebs.
Expelled is set to open in theatres on the weekend that both Charles Darwin and his grandfather, Erasmus, died. What bad taste! I hope to see this film, which is an exercise in psychological projection and paranoia bar none, share the same fate.
Well, there was a bit of “gate crashing” on the conference call. Myers first called up the listen-only line to which the Pandas folks had been invited. He was a bit early, while they were still setting up, and overhead the number to be used by people actually able to speak on-air. So he called up that number instead, and was able to interrupt the conversation and join in live.
It is analogous to being invited to be in the audience at a panel discussion, but arriving early at the same time as panel members, and walking in with them to the main table without security noticing.
Myers did also disconnect shortly after speaking up on air. Hilarious.
Glen Davidson had been leading me a merry dance – the barsteward! For reasons which I can’t quite figure out (because they will continue to lie, regardless), I have been defending PZ on various sites against the obvious nonsense spewed forth by ID supporters.
Every time I posted something about the various RSVP sites, Glen would appear and seemingly challenge what I had said, inadvertently allowing the dishonesty to propagate further (as I saw it, anyway). I couldn’t figure out why – until I realized that he knew all along. Ah, well.
I have both the links and images of the cached version of the screenings list, which both mention Mall of America, but only one specifically says “Private screenings”. So, as you say, it looks like there was a page for invited guests, and one for pretty much anyone who found the link.
Duae Quartunciae: “Well, there was a bit of “gate crashing” on the conference call. … It is analogous to being invited to be in the audience at a panel discussion, but arriving early at the same time as panel members, and walking in with them to the main table without security noticing.”
Thanks Duae, you beat me to it. I think that Myers was stupid to do it, but I’m really pissed at Panda’s Thumb, who seem to be giving it the kind of spin we’ve come to expect from the Expelled group. That’s just embarrassing. At least Myers didn’t try to spin what he did, and openly said that he was “misbehaving” in the title of his post on the incident.
Yes, Ferrous Patella, he did receive an email invitation, however that invitation was not to speak on the call but to submit questions by email. He rang up early and they accidentally gave him the code with which to speak live. He, realising their error, decided to take advantage of their mistake anyway and use it.
Sorry! I should have used some of those loathsome slimely faces. With my handle, I usually have more trouble getting people to take me seriously than miss it when I am being silly.
I have heard many things about the P. Z. Myers incident. He could have view the screening if he had behaved himself more. Before the screen, P.Z Myers was blogging to the world…
“I will go see this movie, and I will cheer loudly at my 30 seconds or whatever on the screen, and I will certainly disembowel its arguments here and in any print venue that wants me. That’s going to be fun.”
Promising to cheer loudly every time you see yourself on the screen is a threat of going to be disruptive.
Also P.Z. Myers was being aggressive in line as he would “worm” his way towards the screen which did annoy others who were standing in line. Here is a man aggressively heading toward the production, promised to cheer “loudly” each time he seen himself, who would allow a man like this showing signs of being disruptive into the screening?
If he would have set aside his pride, and displayed more civil behavior instead of acting so militant about it, he would have most certainly have gotten into screening the production. Now he has to wait to buy a ticket like everyone else to do all the things he said he would do or maybe he has done that already…lol
I’m not leaving this comment. I didn’t just write that. This comment proves that I didn’t write it.
Damn! Even when I try, I can’t be as transparent a liar as Ferrous Patella’s 2-way code.
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Ferrous Patella: Well now I just feel stupid.
Michael, no no no, didn’t you get the memo? Arguing that he was hassling people in line is so 20th of March. We’re not going to get anywhere if we’re not all singing from the same hymn-sheet. Here is the latest, as crafted by our friends at CRC Public Relations, 25 March 2008. Now, repeat after me:
“Recognizing the opportunity to make a point of the inconvenience and pain that they, and others like them, have caused to numerous scientists and educators, the decision was made beforehand to deny Myers access to the film if he actually showed up.”
Got it? Good. Now, go spread that on your blogs.