War on the Amazon

A pro-Intelligent Design movie, Expelled, which apparently bombed in the USA has appeared in DVD format on US Amazon, exposing a peculiarity of the online retailer’s site.
Media reviews of the film suggest it’s a terrible Michael-Moorish attempt at pushing the ID / Creationist agenda into science classes, but that’s not the point.
All it took was a heads-up from the popular science blog Pharyngula to encourage a flood of sceptics to make the DVD’s ratings crash.
Two points here.
The obvious one is that it’s peculiar how a piece of media, no matter its quality, can receive reviews from people who have never seen it, and are relying on second hand opinions, trailers and promotions. With all of the added Comments functions available on US Amazon, it looks like it’s turning into a social network rather than a retailer.
The second point is that it does appear that we are witnessing the polarisation of such views, both in the UK and the US.
Being on the relatively sane side of The Pond, it’s easy to laugh at the absurdities of the American Christian far-right religious agenda, but the tolerance of such views has a different colour in Europe where many of the nation states are generally secular.
I’ve written before about the dissolution of views based on ethics – how, up to very recently, it was difficult to argue against any ethical issue without running the risk of being labelled as something nasty and thuggish. I include religious views here, as over recent months there has been a greater willingness to examine each and every ethical and religious issue and expose them to daylight. Green ethics came first, the questioning of religion is only just emerging from the hard-line atheist corner and going mainstream.
There are several drivers for this in the UK. The credit crunch has forced consumers to think with their pockets and not their hearts; the political cycle (the politically-correct Blair years) is turning; the English are getting restless over the perceived unfairness of devolution.
There will be international influences too, and it will be intriguing to see whether the science v religion battle that’s raging in certain US arenas translates to this country.

Footnote: One of the scientists interviewed in the movie was Pharyngula’s author, PZ Myers. He was waiting to see the film but was promptly evicted from the queue, which is ironic considering the film’s position that ID-proponents are unfairly treated. Oddly enough, Myers’ guest, Richard Dawkins (also interviewed), was allowed in to see the film.


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Self-important bit

I’m Victor Houghton, a, er... something or other in one of the UK’s largest advertising agencies. My job title has a comma in it, which is embarrassing. I’m the chief finder-things-outer with a splash of trends who is lucky to work with all the major functions of the agency, even though I am most closely associated with strategic planning. Everything in this blog has most probably been stolen from other, infinitely more talented people, although the opinions are most definitely my own and not those of the agency.

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