Daily Archives: April 22, 2008

The Expelled! Kerfuffle

I have been more than a little surprised (not sure why) over the flame war at SB over the Expelled! wide release. It seems that everyone has a different view of success and/or failure for the film. In terms of Box Office, I suppose the only measure will be, did it make more money than they spent on it? We have no idea, at this point, how much was spent on promoting and producing this trash so that particular question is not answerable. On the other hand, the very fact that the film is out there is a success to some degree and in the end we all know that one thing will be true: fundamentalists throughout the country will promote the DVD in their communities and churches and this will spread the propaganda.

Finally, someone seems to have recognized this over at SB and has proposed a plan to combat the lies in the film. PZ has a post up on the “appropriate responses to Expelled!“. In the post he links to some attempts to dispell some of the more pernicious lies in the propaganda piece. Moreover, he has recognized that his site is getting a large number of hits from new places, likely because of his appearance in the film. I don’t always agree with PZ but I do not deny that he is one of the best communicators around on the relevance of evolution for the “average Joe”. I hope that he takes advantage of the opportunity and lets his talents shine for the next couple of days. PZ, show the impressionable young minds that are going to come to your site why they should learn about evolution and tell them why the film is nothing more than a propaganda piece. You, PZ, carry a big stick on this issue and now your chance to make a bigger impact than ever before has arrived. Show them why evolution is important for their daily lives (everyone who cares about their health should know this) and why evolution is the only theory that makes sense of the seeming mess that is biology.

But hey, I can do my part too. If any Expelled! viewers stumble across this here blog, I’ve got something to tell you. I’m a pharmacologist and I’m involved in the business of drug discovery and development (in an academic setting). Everything I do is based on evolution. Without it, there is no logic to my field. You see, when it boils down to it I am particularly concerned with how drugs interact with receptors and how this interaction leads to cellular actions. We use model systems to make discoveries about these systems and then use human DNA/RNA and/or protein sequence data to make predictions about whether our approaches will be effective for medical use in humans. There are then considerable obstacles in avoiding side-effects in humans but these are largely due to limitations of our models for predicting side-effects. On the other hand, predicting receptor-based pharmacology and cellular actions based on evolutionary principles is very accurate and widely practiced. Moreover, evolutionarily conserved pathways are a particularly important tool for making discoveries relevant to human health. This fact is being employed for the advancement of human health in thousands of research laboratories around the world. Simply put, there is no logic to pharmacology without the powerful predictive properties (how’s that for alliteration) of the theory of evolution. Every drug you have ever, or will ever, put in your mouth relies on this fact.