The newly-released trailer for The Principle promises film audiences commentary from prominent scientists and features the recognizable voice of former Star Trek: Voyager star Kate Mulgrew narrating. But while the onetime Starfleet captain announces that “everything we think we know about our universe is wrong,” it appears that everything she and several of the world’s top cosmologists thought about the film was also incorrect: they now say they were tricked into participation in a film on the widely-debunked geocentrism theory (that the Earth is, in fact, the center of universe and that the sun really revolves around it).
On Monday, Raw Story reported that the film, funded by noted geocentrist and Holocaust skeptic Robert Sungenis, featured narration by Mulgrew — a staunch Democrat and a star of the Netflix hit Orange Is The New Black.
Soon, it became clear that the trailer — if not the film itself — was a misleading cut-and-paste job, relying on out-of-context clips and contributions by people who were not aware of the film’s true point.
Tuesday morning, Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss of Arizona State University tweeted that he had not consented to participate in the film and strongly opposed its message: “For all who asked: Some clips of me apparently were mined for movie on geocentricism. So stupid does disservice to word nonsense. Ignore it.”
Two other experts used in the film told ThinkProgress that they were mislead into participating. Dr. Max Tegmark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explained, “I was told that this would be a science documentary by independent filmmakers who wanted to increase public appreciation for science. I should clearly have asked for more details in advance! These geocentric arguments are about as unscientific as things get.”
Dr. George Ellis of the University of Capetown in South Africa said that the film was “not presented” as geocentrism to him. “Obviously I don’t agree. Not sure how anyone can hold that view these days. Must live in a timewarp. Like Lawrence, my advice is to just ignore. There is no point whatever in responding — it just gives the film recognition and publicity.”
Tuesday afternoon, Mulgrew posted on Facebook that she too was duped into participation:
MULGREW: I understand there has been some controversy about my participation in a documentary called THE PRINCIPLE. Let me assure everyone that I completely agree with the eminent physicist Lawrence Krauss, who was himself misrepresented in the film, and who has written a succinct rebuttal in SLATE. I am not a geocentrist, nor am I in any way a proponent of geocentrism. More importantly, I do not subscribe to anything Robert Sungenis has written regarding science and history and, had I known of his involvement, would most certainly have avoided this documentary. I was a voice for hire, and a misinformed one, at that. I apologize for any confusion that my voice on this trailer may have caused.
This is not the first time scientists have been taken out of context to advance a far-right political agenda. In 2008, Ben Stein’s Expelled was panned by participants who were made to believe they were doing an entirely different film.
A fourth scientist, British physicist Julian Barbour, told ThinkProgress: “I was alerted to the existence of the film about 10 days ago. I never gave permission to be included in the film and certainly do not agree with its thesis.”