O’Reilly and Stein Transcript

I see P.Z. Myers already has the video of Bill O’Reilly’s interview with Ben Stein. But just in case you’re at work and don’t want to get caught watching such filth, I have taken the liberty of providing a transcript below. Read it and weep:

O’REILLY: In the unresolved problems segment tonight, how did life begin? Religious people believe a higher power created the universe; secular progressives say all kinds of things, but God is not in the equation. And some believe, those who subscribe to intelligent design; that is a deity created life; are being persecuted in America. Joining us now from Washington Ben Stein, who has put together a new documentary called “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” The film set to open in theaters this February.

So, what’s the issue in your mind?

STEIN: Well, the issue is that Darwinism, which was a brilliant theory and a great, great relic of the age of imperialism in the 19th century, basically said that mankind evolved from apes and monkeys and from cells and so forth. And that’s a brilliant proposition; Darwin was a brilliant guy. But it didn’t say how life began. It didn’t say how the cell got to have hundreds of thousands of moving parts each of which has to work perfectly. It said maybe life was created by lightning striking a mud puddle. That has never struck me as convincing. And I thought there are a lot of gaps in Darwinism. Intelligent Design is an effort to try to fill in some of those gaps. It might be totally wrong, but at least it’s an effort to try to fill in some very obvious gaps.

O’REILLY: All right, but you know when you say that, particularly you being in the show business community, you have one foot in there, that Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher who we just saw, are going to say that you’re a primitive, that you’re an intellectual deficient, that you have no right to intrude on the American secular culture by bringing up there may be a creator. And you say what?

STEIN: I say there’s a first amendment, I’m allowed to say anything I want and Bill Maher has nothing to say about it and Christopher Hitchens, an obviously brilliant man, has nothing to say about it. In fact the whole problem is about violations of the first amendment. There are many scientists we interviewed, many, who have been expelled from their jobs, have had their websites shut down, who have been denied grants, been denied tenure, because they wanted to question the limits, the boundaries of Darwinism, the gaps in Darwinism, and they’ve been expelled, shut down. That’s not how societies progress. Societies progress by asking questions, having freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry. We’re not trying to shut anyone up. Bill Maher can say anything he wants. All these Darwinist people, all these atheists can say anything they want. We would just like to have freedom of inquiry and freedom of speech. And is this problem important? Is freedom of inquiry important?

O’REILLY: Well, but it’s interesting because the state of Kansas, not a crazy liberal state, has ordered its people, teachers, not to mention that there might be a creationistic aspect to the universe. And you’re right! I mean, the academics now have shut down. And I could never understand that. Why can’t you just mention in biology class, in wahtever calss you want, that there are theologians who believe a higher power was responsible for the first life. Because whenver I get these atheists on the Factor, and you probably now this, I’ve said, “Okay! How did ti all start?” [mockingly] “Well, we really don’t know yet.”

STEIN: Well, the reason they’re so angry about it and so defensive is because the thoery has so many holes in it, and it’s such a weak theory, that they have to be defensive about it to fight off what what are going to be some obvious attacks on it. I mean this is a theory which was a brillinat theory in th emiddle of the 19th century. It’s the 21st century, there are a lot of questions being raised about it. Nobody had any idea the cell was so complex. We would just like to be able to ask the questions. Maybe we’re wrong. Maybe we’re stupid, but we’d like to be able to ask the questions.

O’REILLY: Okay, do you think thought that people who believe in creationism are being persecuted in America?

STEIN: There’s no doubt about it. We have lots and lots of evidence of it in the movie. And you know Einstein worked within the framework of believing there was a God. Newton worked within the framework of believing there was a God. For gosh sakes Darwin worked within the framework of believing there was a God. And yet, somehow, today you’re not allowed to believe it. Why can’t we have as much freedom as Darwin had?

O’REILLY: I don’t know. It’s an excellent question. I’ve never been able to understand why the secular authorities in education basically persecute people who raise a very legitimate question. &;dquo;Hey! You guys haven’t figured it out. You secular pinheads. You haven’t figured it out! You’ve had a lot of time.” So perhaps, we just want to let the kids know there are opinions on this. But no! You can’t have the kids hear that! [mocckingly] Separation of church and state.

I’ll let you have the last word, Mr. Stein.

STEIN: Because there’s so much fear out there in the secular community that their position is so precarious. We’re not trying to shut them down. We just want to be allowed to talk and think.

O’REILLY: Just want to have all cards put on the academic table.

STEIN: Exactly.

O’REILLY: All right, Ben Stein everybody. We’ll look for his film. Thank you.

Pretty much defies comment, don’t you think? At least we can be happy that O’Reilly unambiguously conflated creationism and intelligent design. That should get the folks at Discovery and UD a bit annoyed.

Interviews like this bring into stark relief what scientists are up against in fighting ID propaganda. Here you have two folks who understand absolutely nothing about the issue. O’Reilly routinely conflates the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and evolution, which are three entirely different things. He acts as if ID is just the bald assertion that God created the world, apparently oblivious to and uninterested in what ID folks actually say. And Stein was obviously coached on his talking points. Just keep harping on freedom of speech and dogmatic academics and then it doesn’t matter if you actually know anything about science.

Most people have this idea that some basic sense of shame keeps folks from behaving this way. They know that they wouldn’t go on television and speak with confidence about issues they know nothing about, so they naturally give others the benefit of the doubt. The possibility that what they are seeing is wall-to-wall nonsense never enters their mind. The existence of conscienceless freaks like O’Reilly and Stein, who only care about their own face time, is not something that is recognized by most people.

Now think of all the scientists you know. How many of them, were they on opposite Stein in that segment, would have made a good showing for themselves? It’s just not in the nature of most scientists to speak in short sentences and throw all sense of detial and nuance under the bus. Most would go on the show not having been coached in appropriate talking points, indeed, most would sneer at the thought of such preparation. They would go on thinking naively that they were about to participate in a serious discussion, and then they would get blindsided by stupidity of a magnitude far beyond what even their worst students would think to produce.

I find that vexing.

Comments

  1. #1 Warren
    October 23, 2007

    I couldn’t make it past the first graf of Stein’s babbling without feeling an overriding urge to claw my eyes out.

  2. #2 Mark Duigon
    October 23, 2007

    So what was the name of the guy that O’Reilly interviewed, and what did he say? Obviously, I don’t know because his First Amendment rights were stifled and his appearance on national tv was censored. I guess he would be out of luck if he tried to make a movie about his religous, er, alternative viewpoint. As for Mr. “There’s-24-hours-in-a-day, now-that’s-science”, he wouldn’t know a horizontal gene transfer from a poke with a loofa.

  3. #3 Jeb, FCD
    October 23, 2007

    Amazing! Not a shut-up or yell down or interruption from Falafel Boy.

  4. #4 Owen
    October 23, 2007

    Here you have two folks who understand absolutely nothing about the issue. O’Reilly routinely conflates the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and evolution, which are three entirely different things.

    I’d suggest that O’Reilly does understand the issue, but (and yes, I believe he’s this cynical) finds it to his benefit to knowingly conflate and confuse the issue.

    In his opening statement he implies progressives are all atheists, which is a slur in our current political climate.
    In his second paragraph, he shoves a whole mess of words in our mouths:
    “…are going to say that you’re a primitive, that you’re an intellectual deficient, that you have no right to intrude on the American secular culture by bringing up there may be a creator.”

    By confusing the issue, he quickly jumps to asserting that progressives think decent-god-fearing-americans are all stupid and primitive.

    It’s ugly as sin, and it’s a detriment to civil discourse, but it is O’Reilly’s way. To think he does it out of sheer incapacity to understand is really playing in to his hands (“How can he be so stupid as to not understand?”). He’s smart, he understands (so does Stein), but the money and cultural support they’re chasing doesn’t care about understanding.

  5. #5 Peter Olofsson
    October 23, 2007

    I always found my biology classes lacking references to
    theologians.

  6. #6 Jason Failes
    October 23, 2007

    “many, who have been expelled from their jobs, have had their websites shut down, who have been denied grants, been denied tenure, because they wanted to question the limits, the boundaries of Darwinism, the gaps in Darwinism, and they’ve been expelled, shut down.”

    So scientists studying sybiogenesis get shut down? horizontal gene transfer? coevolution? population genetics? The roles of parasitism and endogenous reteroviruses? No, anyone doing serious research to fill the “gaps” in evolutionary science (not “darwinism”), are dong just fine.

    It is the cranks who assume their conclusion then do bad research or no research who are going nowhere. It is people in positions of authority abusing that authority, sneaking their buddy’s third-rate ID paper past the peer review process, who lose their power. It is those who stop getting grants and stop doing research to write abou ttheir own personal incredulity to naturalistic science who don’t get tenure.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Academic failure is the natural price for intellectual dishonesty. If Ben Stien is successful in suspending this truism in America, what does he think will happen to US in competition with the rest of the world? Biotech is predicted to go through an astonishing series of revolutions in the next 20 years, and Stien would see US (forgive the term) left behind.

    Does anyone remember Baby Faye?
    Bullshit kills.

  7. #7 JohnW
    October 23, 2007

    Owen, you hit the nail firmly on the head. This is being framed entirely in culture-war terms.

    O’Reilly: “…Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher who we just saw, are going to say that you’re a primitive, that you’re an intellectual deficient, that you have no right to intrude on the American secular culture…”

    When I think of evolutionary biologists, Hitchens and Maher are not exactly the first names which spring to mind.

  8. #8 Reed A. Cartwright
    October 23, 2007

    Coming to theaters in 2010, “Expelled 2: Only 53 Allowed”. This time Ben Stein takes on the National Football League’s policy of firing forth and fifth string quarterbacks before the season begins.

    “This is an issue about the right to assemble, and these Darwinist football coaches refuse to allow bench warmers and practice squad players the right to assemble on a football field during a game.”

  9. #9 Chris Bell
    October 23, 2007

    If I had gotten to appear in opposition, I would have pretended to be a flat-earther who was fired from my teaching job and just repeated all of Stein’s points.

  10. #10 Tim Fuller
    October 23, 2007

    All scientists need to take a refresher course on basic debate before going on these shows so they will be familiar with the logical fallacies they will be facing.

    Enjoy.

  11. #11 ck1
    October 23, 2007

    Stein said ” there are many scientists we interviewed … who have been denied grants.” So ID proponents have actually applied for grants to support their ID research from the agencies that fund science? Who would that be?

  12. #12 ck1
    October 23, 2007

    Can’t imagine the DI was happy about this from O’Reilly:

    “Why can’t you just mention in biology class, in wahtever calss you want, that there are theologians who believe a higher power was responsible for the first life.”

    Unless they have given up their claim that ID is science.

  13. #13 wrpd
    October 23, 2007

    A few days ago Billo said he didn’t challenge Coultergeist’s anti-semitic statements when she was on his show because he doesn’t argue theology with non-theologians, the assumption being, I guess, is that he thinks he is a theologian.

    In the Stein piece, to maintain consistency, he should have stated that he doesn’t argue science with a non-scientist. Of course we know Billo has no grasp on the concept of consistency.

    The cry of persecution is often used to cover up personal failures. If you write an article about the pet names Noah’s family gave to each of the animals on the ark and submit it to a legitimate science publication, the article will be rejected, not because it is religious bullshit, but because it is not science. But someone doing that will scream religious persecution for the rest of his/her life. And the radical fundies eat it up because having speakers like this brings in more money.

  14. #14 Traumador the Tyrannosaur
    October 23, 2007

    I have next to nothing to cleverness contribute to this discussion everyone else’s points are brilliant!

    Just thought I’d put in my one pop culture laugh frm reading this transcript (sadly the only none nervous laugh I had… the fact people watch this O’Reilly guy and believe him is scary. I don’t get him down here in New Zealand so I’ve never seen the show. Is he who Stephen Colbert is spoofing on the Colbert Report?)

    Anyways sorry back to my “quick” funny observation. When O’Reilly says “Why can’t you just mention in biology class, in wahtever calss you want, that there are theologians who believe a higher power was responsible for the first life.”

    All I pictured was Ben Stein at the front of a Biology class repeating “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?”

    Not a damning comment against this vile ignorance supporting propaganda, but I thought it illustrates exactly who their needing as an expert on ID. The guy who played Ferris Bueller’s English teacher who in the movie couldn’t figure out Matthew Broderick was skipping class.

    It should be noted in fairness Stein is on some fronts a sharp cookie. He was part of the Nixon adminstration… However he’s academic achievments were economics. Oh wait and he still supports supply side economics which is a little out of date (unless you consider the modern US economy as a success). So he’s got a talent for out modded thinking…

  15. #15 Bobby
    October 23, 2007

    Can’t imagine the DI was happy about this from O’Reilly:

    “Why can’t you just mention in biology class, in wahtever calss you want, that there are theologians who believe a higher power was responsible for the first life.”

    Unless they have given up their claim that ID is science.

    They haven’t given up the pretense that it’s science, but post-Dover they’ve almost completely abandoned the pretense that it isn’t religion.

    Far easier to pretend to be a scientist who is persecuted for his beliefs than to pretend to be a scientist who is actually doing some science.

    Though I can’t imagine why anyone in biology class would need to be told that there are theologians who think a higher power did this or that.

  16. #16 Bobby
    October 23, 2007

    “many, who have been expelled from their jobs, have had their websites shut down, who have been denied grants”

    I wonder if he knows how many *good* scientists are denied grants. NSF’s rejection rate has been about 85% lately, maybe 88%.

  17. #17 Ex-drone
    October 23, 2007

    O’Reilly states:

    Hey! You guys haven’t figured it out. You secular pinheads. You haven’t figured it out! You’ve had a lot of time.

    Meaning — do what we do. Resort to divine intervention as the explanation for all areas of uncertainty, and then you’ll be done scientific inquiry in no time. If nothing else, it will save an enormous amount of money on research, textbooks and higher education.

  18. #18 Barron
    October 23, 2007

    Bill O’Reilly has never let his ignorance be a hindrance to his arrogance.

    Sometimes I wonder if Colbert is spoofing him or vise versa.

  19. #19 The belgian
    October 23, 2007

    pain…such pain…

  20. #20 Crudely Wrott
    October 23, 2007

    I can tolerate Mr. NoSpin lumping me in with a group he names “secular pinheads.” I am secular and I have been called a pinhead by better than he, so what matter?

    When Stein says, “Why can’t we have as much freedom as Darwin had?” I can write it off to ignorance, which I am accustomed to do.

    Even when NoSpin answers that very question with the inane, “I don’t know. It’s an excellent question.”, I can recover from my reflexive cringe by rationalizing that he’s simply all caught up with himself.

    But when he goes on to give voice to the forbidden name, to slur the holy syllables, even by mere reference, he crosses the line and here I will stand. No one can get away with glibly vocalizing, writing or pointing out the existence of, “&;dquo;Hey!” To do so is to die.

    oh . . .shit.

    Seriously, my browser contained that sequence of characters in Jason’s post, for reasons that elude me. But it occurrs to me that lesser manifestations of the ‘oops factor’ have had repercussions that changed the world. Like when Lexan was unintentionally invented and likewise vulcanized rubber. Or supersonic flight and buckeyballs and, dare I say? rationality. I like to play with the idea that both religion and common sense share a similar genesis.

    If your browser didn’t show you the same series of characters, you are the victim of a small, wingless conspiracy.

  21. #21 Dave Mullenix
    October 24, 2007

    “All scientists need to take a refresher course on basic debate before going on these shows so they will be familiar with the logical fallacies they will be facing.”

    Not debate. Advertising or propaganda.

  22. #22 Torbj´┐Żrn Larsson, OM
    October 24, 2007

    For those experiencing physical symptoms, I have found that creationism goes down smoothly with an anesthetic and a hefty dose of anti-venom.

    So ID proponents have actually applied for grants to support their ID research from the agencies that fund science?

    Last I heard they actively non-applied to Templeton Foundation grants when the applications were thrown at them. As UnReilly they know exactly how far towards the mine fields they can sail the scam without being blown out of the water. (It is the people who listens to them who do the honor, re KvD.)

    Btw, if anyone like conspiracy ‘theories’, when did the work on Expelled start and when did DI refuse TF’s grants (somewhere between -99 and -05, it seems)? As interviews were made -06 (see PZ’s account), there may have been a slight window for overlap between the funding of the film and the refusal of grants. Unlikely, but that is the nature of the best conspiracy crankhood. Enjoy!

  23. #23 snaxalotl
    October 24, 2007

    “the fact people watch this O’Reilly guy and believe him is scary. I don’t get him down here in New Zealand so I’ve never seen the show. Is he who Stephen Colbert is spoofing on the Colbert Report?”

    It’s mostly bill, but I think there’s a fair slice of Sean Hannity in there too

  24. #24 Foggg
    October 24, 2007

    I trust everyone is aware of the Indiana U. study: “Villains, Victims and Virtuous in Bill O’Reilly’s ‘No Spin Zone’: Revisiting World War Propaganda Techniques”
    http://journalism.indiana.edu/papers/oreilly.html
    …which measured his propensity to inject fear, resort to name-calling, and assign, with glittering generalities, roles or attributes — such as “villians” or downright “evil” — to people and groups.

  25. #25 pough
    October 24, 2007

    Transcribed from memory, a skit by Canadian comedic group the Frantics, involving theologians invited to a class to teach their side of the origins debate:

    Theologian #1: The ancient Egyptians believed that the sun god, Ra, created the Earth from a pile of dung.

    Teacher: I see. Class, is there any evidence to back this up? … Anyone? … Monty?

    Monty: Um… Calgary?

    Teacher: Very good!

  26. #26 Josef K
    October 25, 2007

    Someone should remind Mr.Stein(if that IS his real name)that the LAST time Bill Maher said “anything he wanted”, he got himself booted off of network television.
    must be that liberal media again…

  27. #27 okey
    February 23, 2009

    o what was the name of the guy that O’Reilly interviewed, and what did he say? Obviously, I don’t know because his First Amendment rights were stifled and his appearance on national tv was censored. I guess he would be out of luck if he tried to make a movie about his religous, er, alternative viewpoint. As for Mr. “There’s-24-hours-in-a-day, now-that’s-science”, he wouldn’t know a horizontal gene transfer from a poke with a loofa.

  28. #28 mobilya
    May 4, 2009

    omeone should remind Mr.Stein(if that IS his real name)that the LAST time Bill Maher said mobilya dekorasyon http://sanaldekor.com “anything he wanted”, he got himself booted off of network television.
    must be that liberal media again…