Respectful Insolence

i-e7a12c3d2598161273c9ed31d61fe694-ClassicInsolence.jpgThings are crazy now for me, both at home and at work. I mean really, really crazy. So crazy that even I, one of the most verbose bloggers out there, am forced to take two or three days off from my little addiction–I mean habit. Consequently, having foreseen that this time would come around these dates, I, Orac, your benevolent (and, above all verbose) blogger have thought of you, my readers. I realize the cries and lamentations that the lack of fresh material inevitably causes. That, I cannot completely obviate. However, I can ease the pain somewhat, and I can do this by continuing my longstanding project of migrating old “classic” (depending upon your definition of the word) posts from the old blog over to the new blog. These are all at least two years old, and thus the vast majority of my readers are unlikely to have seen them. Only the longest-standing readers will recognize these, and it is sincerely hoped that they will enjoy seeing them again. Truly, Orac is a benevolent blogger, his arrogance, long-windedness, and cantakerousness notwithstanding.

The following post first appeared on August 8, 2005 and represents the first part of a sort of “trilogy” of Hitler Zombie terror (or ridiculousness). It only took me two years to do it, but I finally did it. Enjoy! And fear not, new material shall be forthcoming as soon as the present storm passes in a few days. Also, I now realize that it has been a very long time since our rather odiferous zombie has been featured in a new adventure. The reason is that there just haven’t been any Hitler references over-the-top enough to inspire me to do one. If you’re aware of such a reference, by all means e-mail it to me, and maybe I’ll use it sometime. The crypt has remained closed for too long.

In an office of a nondescript radio studio somewhere in the heartland of America, a nondescript man with graying hair and glasses, possessing the unctuous manner of a televangelist, sat perusing the script for the coming radio show. He was proud that he had built a nationwide movement and a syndicated radio show that was carried on many Christian radio stations throughout the land and looked forward to spreading the Gospel once again.

There was a barely shuffling noise outside the door, barely audible over the man’s breathing.

“Who’s there?” said the man.

Silence.

The man approached the door. He thought he sensed a vague smell of rotting meat and silently cursed the station janitorial crew for not emptying the trash more often.

There was the sound of something hitting the door, not quite a knock, but perhaps it was.

“Who’s there?” the man said again, becoming irritated. He opened the door–and froze. There, standing just outside his door, was what could only be described as a walking corpse, with flesh hanging off the rotting skull and bones. He was wearing a uniform of some sort that appeared to have Swastika armbands, and, oddly enough, the only part of his face that wasn’t thoroughly putrid was his upper lip, which revealed a Charlie Chaplin moustache.

“Braaaaiiinnns!”** it yelled, lunging forward.

The man screamed, as a vision of Hell leapt upon him.

i-662fcdc36fa103d3c4b18ee98f72f16a-HitlerZombie-756531.jpg******

In a sterile white room in a drab bunker deep beneath the New Mexico desert not far from the site where the first successful testing of the atomic bomb was carried out in July 1945, a group of white-coated scientists gathered around a clear plastic box full of blinking multicolored lights. Not a sound could be heard, except for the nervous breath of the scientists and the mechanical sound of the ventilation system. Then, the box broke the silence and spoke, its pattern of blinking lights flickering and changing as it spoke. The scientists stood in rapt attention, taking in every word as though their lives depended on it. To some extent, they did.

“I should have known I couldn’t expect better from humans,” the box said. “It’s escaped yet again! How did this happen? You were supposed to make sure it was secure. You were supposed to be studying it! Yet you let it escape, and it’s wreaking havoc again, eating brains!”

A short, balding man stepped forward, his face so drenched in sweat that he looked as though he had just run a marathon. He was trembling, and a drop of sweat from his hand could be heard to hit the steel floor. “But Orac,” he said, “there appears to be something out there attracting it, something so strong that its will to escape and find it surprised us. It ripped all the chains and cords that bound it; it escaped every one of our safeguards.”

“Incompetence,” the mechanical voice replied. “You must find it and imprison it again. Normally I would not concern myself with such a petty human concern, but the crimes against reason and fact this creature regularly incites irritate my logic circuits just enough that I want it gone. Tell me more about the victim.”

“His name is James Dobson. He runs a ministry called Focus on the Family and does a radio show.”

“I am familiar with him. His grasp on logic and reason was tenuous enough to begin with. And what did he say after his brain was eaten by the monster?” demanded Orac, his lights blinking a more ominous shade of red.

“He compared stem cell research to human experimentation by the Nazis on his radio show,” replied the scientist, stepping to a console and pressing a button. Here is the clip.” A tape started, and Dobson’s voice filled the chamber:

In World War II, the Nazis experimented on human beings in horrible ways in the concentration camps, and I imagine, if you wanted to take the time to read about it, there would have been some discoveries there that benefited mankind. You know, if you take a utilitarian approach, that if something results in good, then it is good. But that’s obviously not true. We condemn what the Nazis did because there are some things that we always could do but we haven’t done, because science always has to be guided by ethics and by morality. And you remove ethics and morality, and you get what happened in Nazi Germany.

“See the consequences of letting the monster escape?” said Orac. “See the illogic. Ridiculously overblown analogies comparing the vile experiments of the Nazis to work on cells. Consider the nature of the experiments the Nazis did, vile and evil deeds, such as irradiating women’s pelvises to sterilize them; doing high altitude experiments to see how low a pressure it takes to kill humans; testing typhus vaccines by injecting the vaccinated with live typhus; inflicting phosphorus burns on prisoners and then testing various salves on them; experiments submerging prisoners in ice water to see how long they can survive. How can any rational being compare using embryonic stem cells in an attempt to treat disease, regardless of one’s opinion about abortion? Can any of you claim that this is not a ridiculously overblown analogy used to tar anyone supporting stem cell research as Nazi-like? Whether stem cell research corresponds to a human’s vision of what is moral must be determined by the actual merits and problems with stem cell research, not on ill-considered Nazi analogies. Such analogies rarely serve any purpose other than to demonize one’s ideological opponent, and indeed they inflame others who might have good reason to be offended by the trivialization of the Holocaust. Clearly his brain has been eaten by the monster.”

“But how can we find the zombie?” said another of the scientists.

“Seek it where rhetoric is most the most ridiculously overblown. There you will find it,” replied Orac, with a flourish of blinking lights.

“Are you trying to tell us we now should seek it in Washington?”

“I am not trying to tell you anything. I am simply not interested in attempting to compensate for your amazing lack of observation,” replied Orac. “How and where you find it are not my concern. That it be found and safely locked up again is what is imperative. Now, I am shutting down. I have much to do. You have engaged my circuits on your petty affairs for far too long.”

The blinking lights darkened, leaving only a single red constant red light as the only indication that Orac still had power.

“Damned arrogant, that Orac is,” muttered one scientist.

******

Michael Ruse was sitting in his home in Tallahassee waiting for a phone call from a journalist from Salon.com who had requested an interview. He had been happy to oblige, because he had a book to promote, but unfortunately the interview had to occur while he was on vacation. The journalist had wanted more, and Ruse had agreed to a followup interview at home. He had thus made sure that he would be alone, so that he could give them some good quotes.

He sniffed the air. What is going on? He thought. It smells like something rotten. The smell reminded him of the stench he had once noted on a dog who had rolled on the maggot-infested body of a dead bird. He got up and sniffed around, looking for the source of the odor, as people do when they notice an odor in their house that should not be there. He checked first the kitchen, given that that would be the most likely location to find something rotting. There was nothing out of place, but it seemed stronger. He headed towards the stairs to his basement. Definitely stronger. What on earth could it be? He opened the door.

And found himself staring into the rotting maw of—something. Inhumanly strong skeletal hands pulled him closer, and an undead maw clamped tightly on his skull.

******

A new scientist, Dr. Myers, having just arrived at the bunker from Minnesota, shuddered as he clicked a square key into a matching receptacle on the plastic shell of Orac. He was not looking forward to this. Lights began blinking, and there was a brief beep as Orac reactivated.

“Why have you disturbed me?” Orac said testily.

“It’s struck again.”

“Why is this my concern?” said Orac. “I told you to find it. If the team cannot carry out my orders, I will cease to concern myself with its affairs.”

“Its attacks are branching out even more.”

“Explain,” said Orac.

“It’s eaten the brain of Michael Ruse.”

“Explain.”

“It has to do with creationism and intelligent design.”

“Nonscientific religious ideas masquerading as science do not concern me,” said Orac. “That humans do not understand the nature of scientific investigation and how it cannot ever prove or disprove the existence of a god and that some of them consider their religious beliefs to be scientific ‘theories’ equal in standing to actual firmly established scientific theory supported by decades of research in multiple scientific disciplines should not be my problem.” Orac always did have a tendency to be long-winded.

“I am aware of that, but it is now, Orac. Look at what Ruse said.” Dr. Myers pushed a button, downloading the interview into Orac’s memory bank:

I can’t understand why I can’t get through people’s thick skulls on this one. If in fact Darwinian evolutionary theory implies atheism, then you ought not to be teaching it in schools! It’s not good enough to say, “Well, I’m a National Socialist. But the fact that that meant a lot of Jews were hauled off to Auschwitz, that’s not my worry!” It bloody is! If your theory leads to 6 million Jews being made into soap, not only is there something deeply troubling about your theory, but you’ve got a moral obligation to face up to its implications. If this theory leads to atheism, then it’s got religious implications.

“Interesting,” said Orac. “It is indeed quite disturbing to observe what happens when a formerly rational individual falls victim to this monster. Dobson’s hold on rationality was quite weak to begin with. His falling victim to the monster is not that surprising, nor is result of the monster’s attack all that different from Dobson’s usual blather. I am almost surprised the monster bothered with such thin gruel. Ruse is another matter, however. That he has fallen victim to the monster is more disturbing.”

The computer paused, and briefly its lights blinked more rapidly and in more varied patterns. “I must grudgingly acknowledge cleverness in the subtle way Ruse says ‘if in fact.’ He uses that introduction to try to immunize himself against accusations of claiming that ‘Darwinian evolutionary theory implies atheism,’ when in fact that is exactly what he means to imply. He then brilliantly goes on to equate not-so-subtly both evolution and atheism to National Socialism and the deaths of six million Jews during the Holocaust. It is obvious, however, that he clearly does not know much about the Holocaust, or he would not have made that ridiculous statement about ‘turning six million Jews into soap.’ It is one hyperbole too far. Perhaps Ruse is just too clever by half. Any scholar of the era knows that in fact very few of the victims of the Holocaust were made into soap. Certainly not all six million Jewish victims were. It was an experimental program. Exaggerated stories about human soap and lampshades made from human skin, incidents that in actuality played only a small role in the enormity of the crimes Holocaust and the truth of which have no bearing on the historicity and magnitude of the Holocaust, have been fodder used by Holocaust deniers for years to deceive, deny, and obfsucate.”

“Orac,” interrupted Dr. Myers. He was less intimidated by Orac than most of the other scientists. “The Holocaust history lesson is all very interesting, but we all know how ridiculous Ruse’s hyperbole is. Besides, I’m not done yet. There’s more. Consider this statement by Ruse:

I see the sacrifices they make. William Dembski [the mathematician and philosopher who is among the I.D. movement's intellectual stars] is a very bright guy who should have been able to get a very good job, and he’s reduced to going off to some theological tinpot college in Tennessee or something [actually, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.]. Paul Nelson hasn’t got a regular job. They’re making sacrifices for their faith. While I think their position is terrible, I don’t see them as evil people. I don’t see them as Hitlers. They’re caught up in an appalling, idiosyncratic American religion. So they’re not the first.

“Even more cleverness,” observed Orac. “He is using another straw man argument, as you have already noted. Biologists are not accusing Dembski or Nelson of being ‘evil’ or ‘Hitlers,’ just incorrect about evolution and disingenuous about teaching ‘intelligent design.’ Ruse is trying to make it seem as though it is actually his foes who have fallen victim to the zombie, not him! I must consider this new territory the Hitler zombie has entered. I hypothesize that the monster found the brains of politicians to be such poor nourishment that it moved on to the brains of activists in medical issues and then social conservatives making pronouncements on bioethics. Finding them to be only nominally better, it has now moved on to the brains of philosophers of science. The implications of this are not good.”

“But what can we do? Where will he strike next?”

“I do not have sufficient data to make an accurate prediction,” replied Orac. “However, given his recent activity, it is clear that no one is safe from the technique of demonization by argumentum ad Nazium. Indeed, it would not surprise me if the next victim is an historian or a scientist, given the rate he is accelerating his rampage.” Orac’s voice rose to address the entire gathered group of scientists. “Now go. Find him before he strikes again. I must shut down again to consider this and formulate a plan. In the meantime, find the monster.”

Orac’s lights abruptly went black.

UNDOUBTEDLY TO BE CONTINUED AT SOME POINT…..UNFORTUNATELY

Check out the exciting sequel A Trio of Terror, Part II: The Rampage Continues.

**Again translated from the German, of course.

Comments

  1. #1 FutureMD
    January 17, 2008

    Great story. Were you somewhat inspired by this story: http://www.multivax.com/last_question.html ? Your story reminded me of it for some reason.