WorldNetDaily Reviews “Men in Black 3”

Buffoon Award

It was horrible. At first we were awakened by the blaring sirens and lights flashing on the wall display of our Retard-o-tron™. The blinking letters on the wall said WorldNetDaily.

WorldNetDaily (WND) is the flamingly creationist, absolutely execrable, moronic, and incurably crazed journalistic organ that believes in and enthusiastically promotes every conspiracy theory that ever existed. WND was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus that jolly logo displayed above this post.

But then the sirens got louder. And louder. Suddenly we heard the mechanism moan, and then the room shuddered. With that, the Retard-o-tron™ went silent. The noble instrument had exploded with the stress of what it had discovered.

With a tear in our Curmudgeonly eye, we followed its final indicators. We were directed to an article titled ‘Men in Black 3’ makes case for creationism. Oh no — it was another WND movie review.

Science fiction isn’t for everyone. Indeed, most people probably don’t know what it is. We’re talking about genuine science fiction, Heinlein stuff, the literature known as “SF.” It’s quite different from “sci-fi” shows about kids and robots, or ladies’ fiction about wizards and warriors and princesses. Assuming one knows what it is, a spoof of science fiction is one step removed, requiring some understanding of what’s being spoofed. Such is the case with the Men in Black movies. They don’t only spoof SF, but with their secret organization and black uniforms, they’re also a swipe at the whole conspiracy concept. The MIB movies are totally goofy, and kids might like them at that level, but we think they’re fun even for a dedicated science fiction fan — well, at least they have their moments. But to really enjoy them, one must know the genre.

Which brings us to WND. If ever there were a collection of people unfit to understand SF, and certainly a spoof — it’s WND. This is especially true of their movie-review division. The reviewer is Drew Zahn, described as: “a former pastor who cut his editing teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today’s professional journal for church leaders.” He’s the perfect man for the job.

We wrote about one of his reviews a year ago (X-Men: First Class). Zahn is not only concerned only with warning readers about bad language and sexual innuendos, but he also warns about any hint that the script accepts or even suggests the possibility of evolution. So we understand what blew out the Retard-o-tron™ and soon, you will too.

Now let’s get to Zahn’s review of third film in the “Men in Black” series (hereinafter MIB-3). The first third of his article is a worthless discussion of the meaning of “miracle,” which he finally ties that into the movie like this, with bold font added by us:

[T]he long-delayed third film in the “Men in Black” series – picks up the “miracle” thread and gives an illustration of the very concept creationist scientists use to suggest divine design behind life on earth.

He thinks it’s a movie about creationism. That’s probably what destroyed the Retard-o-tron™. Anyway, here are some more excerpts

In the latest sequel – Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as Agents J and K, respectively, of the super-secret government agency that monitors and keeps quiet the alien infestation of Earth.

But when a vengeful alien uses time travel to eliminate K’s younger self over 40 years ago, J must go back to 1969 to save his partner.

So far, so good. The review continues:

[Agent] J and the younger version of [Agent] K (played well by Josh Brolin – unfortunately one of the few praiseworthy performances in the film), in turn, must rely for help upon an alien named Griffin who can peer into all the possible futures that branch out from any moment in time.

“A miracle is what seems impossible,” Griffin says, “but happens anyway.” Griffin’s favorite moment in time, he explains, is when an incredibly improbable string of events brings a World Series victory to the ’69 Mets:

Here’s where the review jumps the tracks:

But calling such things “miracles” – and pointing to circumstances even astronomically less likely – is exactly the argument many creationists and advocates of intelligent design are making to describe the origins of life.

Then, in what we assume is a heap of nonsense unrelated to the movie, the reviewer pours on the creationism. Let’s read on:

Astronomers like Guillermo Gonzalez, author of “The Privileged Planet,” and NASA’s John A. O’Keefe (now deceased), for example, have examined the dozens of unique factors required for a planet to sustain intelligent life – not just water and oxygen, but gravity, distance from the sun, tilt of the planet on its axis, its orbit, its moons, neighboring planets, and so forth – and come to the conclusion that the odds of any planet, even in the vast, seemingly limitless universe, meeting all these necessary conditions are so unlikely, the fact that Earth meets them all is … well … a miracle.

Intelligent Design advocate and Cambridge-educated scientist Dr. Stephen A. Meyers actually worked to uncover the mathematical odds of even one protein evolving without an intelligent instigator, a relevant idea when considering the “origin of species.”

Even if MIB-3 were a truly terrible movie (we won’t get around to seeing it until it’s free on TV), it doesn’t deserve this. Here’s more:

In other words, creationists and ID advocates say, the odds of life beginning on Earth, indeed of life beginning anywhere in the universe by mere chance, are well beyond what mathematicians consider the threshold of impossibility. Those kinds of odds are what Griffin and these scientists say classifies as “a miracle.”

Are those speculations in the movie? Probably not. Anyway, we’ll skip most of the “review” and give you this from the end:

For the millions who will nonetheless plunk down the price of admission, however, “Men in Black 3″ plants a seed of an idea that apologists for creation could use – if they so choose – to point to the Creator.

The last part of Zahn’s review is his Content Advisory, including such gems as:

• “Men in Black 3″ contains roughly 40 obscenities and profanities, though the vast majority are minor.

• The film’s sexuality consists of a few innuendo-laden jokes, a scene at a 1969 Andy Warhol party with several scantily clad guests and the opening scene

• The film’s only significant religious or spiritual element is some aliens singing “Amazing Grace” during a memorial service for a dead agent.

With that movie review as your guide, you can’t go wrong. And now we have to shop around for another Retard-o-tron™.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “WorldNetDaily Reviews “Men in Black 3”

  1. I would love to read his review of “Paul”. That’s the only movie I’ve ever watched that referenced intelligent design…when the alien Paul scoffs at it while making rude sounds in an RV bathroom. On the other hand, it would probably give Zahn a heart attack, so it’s better he doesn’t see it.

  2. Shuffle a deck of cards. Now look at the order the cards are in. The odds of this exact order coming up is 1/10^67. It’s a miracle!

    Really though, aren’t the above quotes contradictory? Griffin says a miracle is some thing that is impossible but happens anyway, but then gives an example of something that was very improbable. So he obviously includes impossibly improbable in the qualification. But Zahn says that Creation is in the category. So Creation is a miracle because it was highly improbable. Then he says the problem with evolution is that it is highly improbable! If MIB-III is an argument for for Creation, it is also an argument for evolution.

  3. The noble instrument had exploded with the stress of what it had discovered.

    I’ll donate $3.55, an old bubblegum wrapper, and a “Wolverine” first issue comics. If that doesn’t cover the cost of repair, might I suggest a “Kickstarter” fundraiser?

  4. the odds of life beginning on Earth, indeed of life beginning anywhere in the universe by mere chance, are well beyond what mathematicians consider the threshold of impossibility

    And, for the sake of comparison, what are the odds of life beginning by any of the alternatives?

    Here are some alternatives to mere chance:

    (a) Some deterministic process

    (b) Something like natural selection

    (c) God did it

    (d) Unspecified intelligent designer(s) did something or other, sometime, somewhere, somehow for inscrutable purposes

    The argument based on the odds for mere chance is useful only if one can weigh the alternatives.

  5. Jack Hogan

    Using this “logic”, obviously every Mega Millions lottery win is an intelligently designed “miracle”. Of course, that’s also what many of the Mega Million lottery winners think — their win was a miraculous gift from the Intelligent Designer God.

    I assume somewhere along the line WND and/or the Dishonesty Institute have claimed that 2001: A Space Odyssey is all about ID/creationism.

    Behe also makes this argument in his latest pseudo-science pulp propaganda offering.

    Unfortunately for the IDers and creationists, this “logic” comes awfully close to theistic evolution while still not being definitive evidence for ID. Even their wildly inaccurate and biased odds calculations and claims still leave the possibility the event could occur without what amounts to divine intervention, errr, ummm, or rather, Intelligent Designer intervention.

    Which reminds me, what was it one of the Discoveroids was claiming about the “mechanisms” of ID? Was “loaded dice” one of the mechanisms? The Discoveroids don’t seem to compare notes much to keep their propaganda consistent.

    In any case, it still comes down to claiming God the IDer didit, and random mutation and natural selection and could not have.

  6. Jack Hogan says: “Even their wildly inaccurate and biased odds calculations and claims …”

    So what are the odds that every planet in the universe would be exactly like Earth? Obviously, that’s ridiculous. And so are the odds that only one planet would be exactly like Earth. Either way, the odds are against it. So what? Neither alternative proves anything. We’re here.

  7. SC says “He thinks it’s a movie about creationism.”

    Dear Curmie, I’ll wager that somehow or other he thinks every movie is about creationism (or anti-).

    I can’t stop laughing; had no idea that WND had a movie review section!
    Creationists must believe that “Jurasic Park” is historical drama.

  8. I wasn’t going to watch this movie. It just didn’t appeal to me. However, I think I’ll have to now just to count the obscenities and profanities.

    WND is a very silly place.

  9. Evidently someone has used the memory-messer-upper thingy on Zahn. MiB-2 left an alien society living in an airport locker, awaiting the return of their god K.

  10. “In other words, creationists and ID advocates say, the odds of life beginning on Earth, indeed of life beginning anywhere in the universe by mere chance, are well beyond what mathematicians consider the threshold of impossibility.”

    This exemplifies the usual conflation of chance (objective) and credence (subjective) in “probability.” It’s very important to understand that “the chance that the universe has feature X,” where X is a known feature, is meaningless. (I’m bashing some high-profile cosmologists along with creationists here. Misinterpretation of probability is endemic.) We can associate chance only with the outcome of a repeatable experiment. And there is no way for us to regard the universe (perhaps multiverse) itself as the outcome of a universe-generating random experiment. If there were a universe-generator within the scientific domain of discourse, then the “universe” would not be the universe. Talk about the chance of life or the “fine-tuning” (what a hapless choice of terms!) of physical “constants” is absurd. The universe is what it is. Full stop.

    Creationist probability calculations always begin with subjective framing of a process. Then the probability of a wondrous outcome is estimated by calculating the chances of this, that, and the other in the process. But there is no way around the framing. The end-product of the calculation is subjective probability. Yet the creationists treat it as objective evidence that nature itself could not have produced the outcome.

    I’m not making this stuff up. You can find it in undergraduate introductions to the philosophy of probability. Furthermore, I’ve sent three philosophers of science scurrying for the baseboards when I’ve brought it up at Uncommon Descent. They know, but it does not suit them to admit that they know. The Rhetoric lives on.

  11. I think it’s said above in a couple of ways, but there are two weaknesses to the improbability argument – (1) any supernatural omnipotent intelligent cause will be more improbable than any natural cause, and (2) and any probability is a guess since we have almost no knowledge of the number, distribution and characteristics of other planets, and of any life that might be on them.

    It will be interesting to see how the creationists back peddle and alter their story when we find the first extraterrestrial life. The discovery of microbes under the surface of Mars, for example, would drive a stake through the heart of so many creationist arguments. I hope I live long enough to see that.

  12. Ed I completely agree. I dream at night that I wake up tomorrow to the announcement that we are not alone and the first act of our alien visitors is to show us archival footage of the evolution of the human race. Then the camera pans to a very angry and red faced ken ham who can only sputter as his flock demands their money back and his ‘museum’ burns behind him.

  13. Tomato Addict

    I approve of the various refutations of the probability argument above. All of these are testing an assumption of randomness, and even if this method was valid*, all it proves is that natural selection is not random.
    More fundamentally there is an assumption that the alternative to randomness is the Designer/God. Before any calculations, we should demand the definition and probability of the Designer.
    Of course, if you get an answer, it will be that the probability of God is 1.0.

    * For statistical inference, it is incomplete

  14. Tomato Addict

    Allow me a partial do-over with a stronger emphasis —

    There is an implicit assumption that the probability of God is 1.0, and under such an assumption the *ONLY* possible answer, for any test or question, is God.
    Not only is this wrong, it’s not even a question.

    It occurs to me that if the Creationists were to admit that even one mutation in a sequence was random and not an act of God, the whole argument falls apart (again). I need time (and sleep) to think this one through.

  15. Tomato Addict, you most definitely should not lose sleep over the probability of God.

  16. @Ed, who wrote: any supernatural omnipotent intelligent cause will be more improbable than any natural cause

    Let’s make an approximation of the probability that a supernatural cause would result in a particular result.

    The probability (P) of an event is the ratio of the number of states in which the event occurs (E) divided by the number of states in which the cause occurs (C).

    In the case of a supernatural cause (and especially for an omnipotent cause), C_super > C_ natural, the number of natural states. After all, supernatural means that more things can happen (and in the case of omnipotent, C_omni = infinity).

    But E is the same in any case, so

    P_omni = E / C_omni = 0 <= P_super = E/C_super < P_natural = E/C_natural

  17. Tomato Addict

    Sleep helped.
    Multiplying those probabilities together gives a number statisticians call a likelihood. To turn this into a statistical test you take the ratio of the likelihood of the data to the likelihood of the data under the null hypothesis (a likelihood ratio test, or LRT). By simply taking the likelihood of a given sequence and claiming “It’s impossible!” Creationists are implicitly assuming the likelihood of the null hypothesis is 1.0, and therefore the probability of any single event under the null must also be 1.0. This is not a test of any sort, it’s simply concluding the original assumption. I might add that since they refuse to define the designer, it isn’t even fair to claim it must be Design, but that doesn’t stop them from doing it anyway.

    My thought about getting the ID Creationists to admit than even one mutation is a string of many could be random, does turn out to be another way to destroy the irreducible complexity argument. Breifly, admitting that even one mutation in a sequence could be random open up questions about which ones are random or designed, and the probability of design versus random mutation. Those are things Creationist won’t even want to consider, because it points out the errors in their IC argument. Therefore I’m not sure how useful this will be in my next discussion with a Creationist, but it was enough to let me go to sleep happy.