Respectful Insolence

Does anyone remember a few months ago, when I wrote about Ben Stein? No? Here, then, I’ll jog your memory. Ben Stein and his involvment in that piece of cinematic excrement Expelled! “inspired” me to–if you’ll excuse the term–resurrect a certain recurring character from the very early days of this blog. Yes, I’m talking about the ever-dreaded Hitler Zombie, who returned after more than a year’s absence to take a huge chomp out of Ben Stein’s brain.

Now we’re seeing the results of that chomp, and I’m not just talking about the ridiculous claims in Expelled! that “Darwinism” leads inevitably to Nazi-ism and the Holocaust. No, according to Stein, it’s not just Darwinism that leads to Nazi-ism that leads to the gas chambers and ovens. Get a load of what Ben Stein has said explicitly in an interview with Paul Crouch on the Trinity Broadcasting Network:

Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. [PZ] Myers, talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed.

Stein (speaking about the Holocaust): …that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.

Crouch: That’s right.

Stein: … Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

That’s right. To Stein, it’s not just evolution (or, as he likes to call it, “Darwinism”) that leads to the gas chambers. It’s science itself. Words fail me to describe the depths of stupid that Stein plumbs here. “The stupid, it burns” and the many variants of it that I like to use are all far too impotent a condemnation of such ignorance.


There you have it: The core of fundamentalist Christian distrust of science, which makes it particularly despicable to hear a Jew like Ben Stein parroting this version of science to a fundamentalist audience that laps it up appreciatively. Many of this same audience see the establishment of the State of Israel as a step along the way to bringing about the Final Judgment and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Truly, the Hitler Zombie fed long on Stein’s brain. There’s nothing left.

I realize that I’m late on commenting on this particularly stupid and vile statement by Ben Stein, one that practically every skeptical blogger on the planet has already properly excoriated him for, but the reason that I mention it now is because just yesterday I became aware via Stranger Fruit and Pharyngula of a new Jack Chick Tract that sounds so eerily like Ben Stein these days. Check it out, if you don’t believe me:

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Particularly hilarious is how the little boy is drawn after he has fallen completely under the sway of “evolution” (well, the unbelievably over-the-top misinformation about what evolutionary theory actually says is pretty hilarious too). I mean, look at the crazed eyes! Leaving that aside, though, if you read the entire Jack Chick tract, you’ll see that its message is in fact very similar to that of Ben Stein. Don’t trust that evil science! It turns you away from God! It makes you think you can become a god yourself! It leads straight to the Holocaust!

That’s right: Ben Stein has descended to the utterly batshit level of crazy insane that Jack Chick has inhabited for years. Worse, the message that science leads to rejection of God, which leads to the Holocaust or other such atrocities is a message that seems to resonate, and it’s all mixed up with a ridiculous straw man version of evolution that every evolutionary scientist (or anyone with a modicum of understanding of the basics of evolution) immediately recognizes as bogus.

How do rational, scientific people deal with such a toxic mix of antiscientific activism? Some people are clearly beyond reaching, so how can we combat them and keep them from dragging the U.S. back to a new Dark Age?

Comments

  1. #1 writerdd
    May 3, 2008

    Great question.

    I disagree that “some people are clearly beyond reaching.” I used to be one of those unreachable people.

    I was a born-again Christian for many years and I read Chick tracts when I was a kid with an uncritical view. Unlike many atheists, I didn’t find myself leaning toward unbelief in high school or college. It wasn’t until I was almost 30 that I started to seriously doubt and stopped going to church. Reading books about science played a huge part in my ability to see that I’d been believing bullshit for all those years. The books I read were not trying to dismantle my faith or even to critique religion on any level at all. They were just about science. As I learned more about science (something I was interested in as a kid), I found out more and more about how my Biblical worldview was just wrong. I think if the books I’d read had been a all-out attack on religion, I would not have read them or continued to move away from faith.

    So, what does that mean?

    First, I think it’s very important to teach young kids — in grade school — about science and to get them excited about science so that they have the foundation to return to when they are older. It is critical to require all children to learn about science, even those who attend religious schools and those who are home schooled. Otherwise, they will have no foundation for returning to evidence-based thinking in the future. My early education probably saved me from truly being unreachable.

    Second, I think it’s important to write popular science books. They needn’t criticize or attack religion. They should be interesting and engaging and written with an audience of an intelligent, but not necessarily educated, general audience. Some books can be more technical, obviously, but we need a collection of science literature that passes what I call “the mother-in-law test” — that is, grandma can read and understand it without getting a headache.

    Sorry for being so verbose.

  2. #2 JC
    May 3, 2008

    I’m a 55 year old man. Undergraduate degree in chemistry, graduate work in biochemistry. Organized religion doesn’t work for me. Guess I’m an agnostic, but whether or what I am has never concerned me one way or the other. But I did see Expelled, and I found it interesting and thought provoking. I saw the movie because I wanted to find out WTF is “Intelligent Design.” However, I believe most critics of the movie, both those pro and those con, entered the theatre with their minds already made up – the Left sees behind it a right wing conspiracy to force prayer in schools, and the Right sees it as proof of academic arrogance and hypocracy. Well, IMHO, it ain’t the former but it does approach the latter. That the academic elitists find the movie so very, very appalling brings to mind the old country expression that “it’s the stuck pig who squeals the most.”

  3. #3 Joe Max
    May 3, 2008

    Well, here Ben Stein – suck on this:

    http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=18503

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Catholic Online) — Intelligent Design reduces and belittles God’s power and might, according to the director of the Vatican Observatory.

    VATICAN OBSERVATORY DIRECTOR SPEAKS ON EVOLUTION – In a Jan. 31 West Palm Beach, Fla., talk, Father George V. Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory says that Christianity is “radically creationist,” though the theory of Intelligent Design reduces and belittles God.

    Science is and should be seen as “completely neutral” on the issue of the theistic or atheistic implications of scientific results, says Father George V. Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory, while noting that “science and religion are totally separate pursuits.”

    I’ll see Ben’s one nutjob anti-evolutionist TV preacher with one Jesuit cardinal/Vatican official/trained scientist, and raise him one Pope:

    “New scientific knowledge has led us to the conclusion that the theory of evolution is no longer a mere hypothesis.” – Pope John Paul II, 1996

    Oh, but wait, I forgot – the Pope is the leader of the Great Whore of Babylon Anti-Christ conspiracy. Silly me.

  4. #4 Joe Max
    May 3, 2008

    JC: I respectfully suggest you hie thee hence with all speed to:

    http://www.expelledexposed.com/

    Do it for your brain. It will thank you for it. It’s a sure cure for concern trolling.

  5. #5 Marcus Ranum
    May 3, 2008

    How can an idiot like Stein surround himself with the technological fruits of science, eat of the foods that science bred, and enjoy the good health of scientific medicine — and so utterly miss the point??

  6. #6 Marcus Ranum
    May 3, 2008

    (addendum)..I mean, for f*ck’s sake – Stein wears glasses. Does he think that corrective optics was invented by reading the bible?

  7. #7 mwb
    May 3, 2008

    I am a 577-year old Romanian prince. Much of my early research was in human anatomy, but after much soul-searching I settled upon hematology as a specialty. In my youth I dabbled with a couple of organized religions–even crusading for a period, but ultimately found that it did not work for me. For centuries the whole thing did not matter much to me. It was in fact an accident of some field research I was conducting that I found myself in the theater watching Expelled. I found the movie interesting and thought provoking. However the taste of most critics of the movie, both those pro and those con, was that of those with their minds already made up. The ones to the left of me forced prayers, and the ones to the right were talking of academic arrogance and hypocrisy. Well, I am no fan of the former, but I did approach the latter. That the ones discussing academic elitists found the movie experience very appalling brings to mind the old country expression that “it’s the stuck pig you squeals the most.”

  8. #8 Susannah
    May 3, 2008

    “Many of this same audience see the establishment of the State of Israel as a step along the way to bringing about the Final Judgment and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.”

    And, finally, the destruction of the unbelieving (non-Christian) Jewish state. Don’t forget that; it seems Stein did.

    writerdd:

    “I was a born-again Christian for many years and I read Chick tracts when I was a kid with an uncritical view.”

    I read precursors to Chick tracts; I’m a bit older. But the material was almost identical.

    “Reading books about science played a huge part in my ability to see that I’d been believing bullshit for all those years.”

    For me, “all those years” went to a half-century. :(

    “The books I read were not trying to dismantle my faith or even to critique religion on any level at all. They were just about science. As I learned more about science (something I was interested in as a kid), I found out more and more about how my Biblical worldview was just wrong. I think if the books I’d read had been a all-out attack on religion, I would not have read them or continued to move away from faith.”

    I agree, completely. It was books and articles about specifically scientific topics (mostly micro-biology) that finally convinced me that all I’d been taught about evolution was wrong.

    (And studying the Bible, on its own, without “aids”, that finally convinced me that all I’d been taught about God, etc., was wrong, too.)

    “First, I think it’s very important to teach young kids — in grade school — about science and to get them excited about science so that they have the foundation to return to when they are older. …

    Second, I think it’s important to write popular science books. … Some books can be more technical, obviously, but we need a collection of science literature that passes what I call “the mother-in-law test” — that is, grandma can read and understand it without getting a headache.”

    QFT

  9. #9 Susannah
    May 3, 2008

    “Many of this same audience see the establishment of the State of Israel as a step along the way to bringing about the Final Judgment and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.”

    And, finally, the destruction of the unbelieving (non-Christian) Jewish state. Don’t forget that; it seems Stein did.

    writerdd:

    “I was a born-again Christian for many years and I read Chick tracts when I was a kid with an uncritical view.”

    I read precursors to Chick tracts; I’m a bit older. But the material was almost identical.

    “Reading books about science played a huge part in my ability to see that I’d been believing bullshit for all those years.”

    For me, “all those years” went to a half-century. :(

    “The books I read were not trying to dismantle my faith or even to critique religion on any level at all. They were just about science. As I learned more about science (something I was interested in as a kid), I found out more and more about how my Biblical worldview was just wrong. I think if the books I’d read had been a all-out attack on religion, I would not have read them or continued to move away from faith.”

    I agree, completely. It was books and articles about specifically scientific topics (mostly micro-biology) that finally convinced me that all I’d been taught about evolution was wrong.

    (And studying the Bible, on its own, without “aids”, that finally convinced me that all I’d been taught about God, etc., was wrong, too.)

    “First, I think it’s very important to teach young kids — in grade school — about science and to get them excited about science so that they have the foundation to return to when they are older. …

    Second, I think it’s important to write popular science books. … Some books can be more technical, obviously, but we need a collection of science literature that passes what I call “the mother-in-law test” — that is, grandma can read and understand it without getting a headache.”

    QFT

  10. #10 Susannah
    May 3, 2008

    Sorry; double post. The software booted me, and I thought it had not posted.

  11. #11 royniles
    May 3, 2008

    If it’s any consolation, the tone of most if not all these anti-evolution rants has become more and more defensive, and their content more reflective of a desperate resort to the ridiculous.

  12. #12 grasshopper
    May 3, 2008

    Intelligent Design is supposed to be science. What sort of holocaust do its “scientists” have in store for the world?

  13. #13 Sastra
    May 3, 2008

    JC wrote:

    That the academic elitists find the movie so very, very appalling brings to mind the old country expression that “it’s the stuck pig who squeals the most.”

    Hmm. So, you consider scientists to be “academic elitists,” and you find it very appalling that they find bad science and comparisons to Hitler very, very appalling. That brings to mind the old suburban Chicago expression that “I’m rubber, you’re glue; bounces off me and sticks to you.”

  14. #14 Joel
    May 3, 2008

    Oh come on…You’re initials are JC?

  15. #15 Mr. Grammar Person
    May 3, 2008

    Oh come on . . . You don’t know that “you’re” is an contraction of “you are”?

  16. #16 Mr. Grammar Person
    May 3, 2008

    *sheepishly*

    Or, I should perhaps say, a contraction. That’ll teach me to edit without proofreading.

  17. #17 Johnny
    May 3, 2008
  18. #18 yoyo
    May 3, 2008

    Well I’ll just wait a tiny time til Stein needs medical treatment for arthritis, dementia, diabetes etc and then we can watch the sky fairy treat him.

    Hell why do all that nasty long medical training when a quick course of “healing prayer” can lead to a lucrative path of healing, (unfortunately with a high body count).

    BTW, Orcinus has a great articl;e on the true intellectual soul brothers of Hitler. Give you a hint, it wasn’t Darwin but a couple of bad science white eugenicists.

  19. #19 isles
    May 4, 2008

    Is it possible that Ben Stein actually *is* in the early stages of dementia?

  20. #20 Natalie
    May 4, 2008

    I’d say so, considering he seems to believe that “the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed.” Apparently, his entire family was sealed in a cave in 1945, and thus has not had any exposure to science since then.

  21. #21 Siamang
    May 4, 2008

    Hey folks, what the heck is with all these “unbiased” first-time posters plugging expelled? On just about every site that discusses the film, there are ALWAYS these first-time posters talking about how their “faith in evolution has been totally shattered” by seeing Expelled? They post one time, and that’s it. If you try to engage them about the film (for example, I have actually seen the film, and I want to ask them questions about it), they never post again.

    And they ALWAYS claim to be an atheist or an agnostic or a dyed-in-the-wool “darwinist” with “faith in evolution”… until they saw the movie, that is!

    I saw that piece of shit! Anyone uncritical enough to have their mind changed about science by a movie that doesn’t even cite any science is such low-hanging fruit that we don’t need their voice arguing for science in the first place.

    Anyway. I think it’s one or two people, these “agnostics who have lost their faith in darwinism after seeing Expelled”. Mark Mathis, is that you posting?

  22. #22 DLC
    May 4, 2008

    Stein proves that The theocrats and witch-doctors will stoop to any device to further their ends.
    The Hitler-Zombie has fed well on their brains.
    Don’t underestimate that movie’s propaganda value — I have encountered people whom I have known for a decade who came out of that movie convinced that Stein was pointing out
    how rigid, dogmatic and inflexible the academic community is.

    For a few interesting commentaries on what happens when science or rationalism and religion clash, I recommend
    Nightfall, by Isaac Asimov
    the short story If this goes on, by Robert Heinlein.
    The Hammer of God by Arthur C Clarke.
    They’re all good stories and worth a read.

  23. #23 NP
    May 4, 2008

    Dawkins’ Law states that Ben Stein and Jack Chick are ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked).

  24. #24 has
    May 4, 2008

    Quoth the concern troll:

    But I did see Expelled, and I found it interesting and thought provoking.

    Mein Kampf and the Little Red Book are also interesting and thought-provoking. This doesn’t automatically make them truthful or correct.

  25. #25 William
    May 4, 2008

    Boy, I guess I need to see this movie!

    This is a first time post for me but I think I’d like to see where it goes. What triggers my interest is a few of the comments made by obviously “science types”, not that I disagree with science, on the contrary, but certainly I find it interesting to listen to some of this. Firstly, the general tones of entire sections of this blog are that some people seem excessively defensive. I mean if it were true that “men of science” truly wanted humanity to live in harmony, what’s up with the critical, abrasive nature of the conversation? I also noted specifically the obviously ignorant rants of Orac who talked about people not believing “the strong will survive” concept. I mean really, do you live in a friggin box? Look around the world, the reality is the strong DO survive and the weak perish, that won’t change, ever, so get over it. And peoplelike you keep believing that to keep the dying alive and the poor weak people fed from the backs of the strong is great for our species…..NOT! It’s completely counter productive to humanity and destroys the inner fire of humans in general. Are you familiar with Ayn Rand? Understand and make NO mistake, like it or not, once you weaken the strong to “make it even” or “fair” you eliminate the drive and desire to in people to excel and we will digress into socialism which is there for YOU in other countries of the world which you should probably go live because you despise individual success so much.

    Oh and the idea that scientists are not “academic elitists” geese oh peets! What are you thinking? It’s obvious at every turn that in fact most “audible” scientists are elitists (ever heard of Al Gore?). In fact, to take it one step further I think “bad” scientists are the worst kind of problems we have in this country. I mean real objective, rational, science is worth every ounce of time spent. Every moment of energy of the greatest minds in the world is well utilized on science, but academic elitists who think other people are stupid, ignorant, or less than them just because they have different beliefs have serious, serious control and insecurity problems.

    Point in fact, here is a statement from one of the posts from one of the “science people” here on this chain “That brings to mind the old suburban Chicago expression that “I’m rubber, you’re glue; bounces off me and sticks to you.”"

    For Christ sakes, grow up and get with the program.

    Bill

  26. #26 Dan S.
    May 4, 2008

    s(ever heard of Al Gore?)

    You are aware that former divinity school student and U.S. VP Al Gore is not, in fact, a scientist, right?

    (The rest of the post – well, I don’t comment every time I see dog crap on the sidewalk, either . . .)

  27. #27 Orac
    May 4, 2008

    Firstly, the general tones of entire sections of this blog are that some people seem excessively defensive. I mean if it were true that “men of science” truly wanted humanity to live in harmony, what’s up with the critical, abrasive nature of the conversation?

    If it’s true that religious folks truly want humanity to live in harmony, what’s up with all the threats of fire and brimstone, the claims that America “deserved” 9/11 or that hurricane Katrina was the wrath of God coming down on New Orleans, etc.?

    Did it ever occur to you that we might get a bit annoyed at being blamed for the Holocaust using specious arguments?

    ook around the world, the reality is the strong DO survive and the weak perish, that won’t change, ever, so get over it. And peoplelike you keep believing that to keep the dying alive and the poor weak people fed from the backs of the strong is great for our species…..NOT! It’s completely counter productive to humanity and destroys the inner fire of humans in general.Are you familiar with Ayn Rand? Understand and make NO mistake, like it or not, once you weaken the strong to “make it even” or “fair” you eliminate the drive and desire to in people to excel and we will digress into socialism which is there for YOU in other countries of the world which you should probably go live because you despise individual success so much.

    This comment leads me to wonder whether you would have been right at home working with Dr. Mengele in Auschwitz, because you are parroting arguments very similar to the ones that the Nazis themselves made. Indeed, you seem to be arguing that eugenics is just hunky-dory and that we should just let all those unfortunate brown folk in other parts of the world die of starvation and disease because they’re not strong enough or smart enough to figure out how to grow enough food or fight the disease. Think about it a minute. Is that really what you mean?

    Your understanding of how evolution works, by the way, is as poor and twisted as that of the Nazis–or of Ben Stein and the makers of Expelled! Evolution does not say that the strong survive. It says that creatures best adapted for their environment survive and reproduce, thus over time evolving to be even more able to fill a niche in their environment and succeed. Neither strength nor intelligence are necessarily part of that equation. For example, mosquitos are neither strong nor intelligent, but they are among the most successful creatures in terms of numbers and distribution throughout the world. Or what about rabbits? They are certainly neither strong nor intelligent, but they are fast and breed like–well–rabbits. And they are very successful as far as numbers and living in many environments. Finally, a trait that allows success in one environment may actually be detrimental in another. Boiling “Darwinism” down to “only the strong survive” is more than just a misunderstanding of evolution, it’s been misused as a justification for more atrocities than just those committed by Hitler.

    One last point: Altruism and cooperation are a product of evolution. In your version of evolution, it would make zero sense for any creature to cooperate with another or to exhibit altruism, yet many creatures other than humans do just this. There is good evidence that such behaviors are evolutionarily derived because they provide survival advantages.

  28. #28 wolfwalker
    May 4, 2008

    Well said, Orac.

    I once constructed a pretty good (or so I thought) evolution-based justification for the stronger assisting the weaker among us. The short version of it was that “altruistic” behavior strengthens the social group, and thereby increases the odds of any group member’s offspring surviving.

    How do rational, scientific people deal with such a toxic mix of antiscientific activism? Some people are clearly beyond reaching, so how can we combat them and keep them from dragging the U.S. back to a new Dark Age?

    I wish I had a good answer. At the moment, I don’t. Sometimes it seems like the only way to save the human race is to subject all ideologues, of whatever political position, to a short drop and a sudden stop.

    The best answer would be to teach people the ways of critical thinking so that they can see through the propaganda tactics employed by twerps like Stein and Chick. Unfortunately, too many scientists believe that all they have to do is train people in how to recognize the other side’s use of propaganda (where “the other side” means “those who disagree with them politically”). They never realize that the politicians they agree with often use those same tactics, and it’s just as wrong for their side as for the other side. When a scientist decries one side’s lies in one sentence and then echoes the other side’s lies in the next … it isn’t long before scientists become just another breed of politician, and nobody on either side really trusts science as an objective-producer-of-facts anymore.

  29. #29 Colugo
    May 4, 2008

    To be fair to Ayn Rand she would never write something like this:

    “In the most primitive living creatures the instinct of self-preservation does not go beyond concern for their own ego. …

    The greater the readiness to subordinate purely personal interests, the higher rises the ability to establish comprehensive communities. …

    This self-sacrificing will to give one’s personal labor and if necessary one’s own life for others is most strongly developed in the Aryan.”

    Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, ‘Nation and Race’.

    Whatever its failings, the Randian ethos diverges markedly in several respects from National Socialism. Interestingly, they are arguably both rooted in “Social Darwinism” (in the broad sense) even though they have arrived at different conclusions.

    Objectivism really only works in fiction (Gary Cooper is a hoot in The Fountainhead), in the same way that those futuristic communist utopias are viable only in sci fi.

  30. #30 has
    May 4, 2008

    Firstly, the general tones of entire sections of this blog are that some people seem excessively defensive.

    Dear Mr Concern Troll,

    Please may I come round to your house every day and crap on all your carpets? I’m sure you won’t object to this, not being an excessively defensive sort yourself.

    XOXO

  31. #31 Anthony McCarthy
    May 4, 2008

    I still say you’re thinking about what Ben Stein thinks too much, the guy’s a hooker who will say whatever he figures his clients want to hear him say. He’s been doing it for four decades, it’s not as if he doesn’t have it down pat, or dick as the case actually was.

    The key is to maintain enough skepticism to not have a romantic view of any part of life blind you to reality, as true for science as for religion or politics or the arts…. On fundamentalist and right wing blogs they have a romantic, unrealistic view of religious fundamentalism and on a lot of science and leftist blogs they’ve got a completely romantic and unrealistic view of science. Though I’d say that the right-wing political blogs don’t actually have a romantic view of religion, they’re faking it to rope in the right-wing religious rubes. The god of conservatives is and always has been Mammon. Jesus got that one exactly right, it’s not that it’s very difficult to serve both but impossible to serve both God and Mammon.

    Leftists have to have both a less romantic view of these things and a more pragmatic one. Both are lacking on the blogs of the left, certainly on most science blogs. To our mutual cost. Science isn’t any great beacon of light, it’s just another human endeavor as susceptible to every human failing. It’s methods are designed to try to get a specific type of reliable knowledge about the physical universe, it can’t deal with anything else and people should stop pretending it can. Most of life is not susceptible to the methods of science due to either being prohibitively complex or insufficiently known or knowable.

  32. #32 Anthony McCarthy
    May 4, 2008

    To be fair to Ayn Rand

    It’s my practice never to be fair to Ayn Rand.

  33. #33 Gingerbaker
    May 4, 2008

    “And peoplelike you keep believing that to keep the dying alive and the poor weak people fed from the backs of the strong is great for our species…..NOT! It’s completely counter productive to humanity and destroys the inner fire of humans in general. Are you familiar with Ayn Rand?”

    We are all familiar with Ayn Rand. The difference is that we all figured out in high school that your interpretation of her is completely full of shit. What is your excuse?

  34. #34 Sastra
    May 4, 2008

    William wrote:

    Point in fact, here is a statement from one of the posts from one of the “science people” here on this chain “That brings to mind the old suburban Chicago expression that “I’m rubber, you’re glue; bounces off me and sticks to you.”"
    For Christ sakes, grow up and get with the program.

    Ahem. It was a scientific observation drawn from the discipline of Chemistry.

    Seriously, it was intended as gentle humor and parody of a similar folksy expression used in another post, and is I think a rather poor example of virulent hostility and scathing condescension from the “academic elite.” I don’t think it wounded anyone. It was supposed to make them laugh.

    Critics of evolution have a bad tendency to shift the debate from content to tone. But I suspect the real problem isn’t that creationists are treated as if they are inferior — the problem is that they’re being treated as equals. You come in with a poorly supported argument in science, you will be shredded. None of the “well, thank you for sharing we respect that this is true for you” sort of thing which seems more common in other fields. I’m not a scientist (though I guess I get to be ‘science people!’), but the image creationists try to build of scientists sitting around comfortably with each other and rousing themselves only to bark and snap at outsiders doesn’t seem to be the image scientists themselves have of scientists. It’s nothing but bark and snap, or so I hear. Between the occasional cooperation, of course.

    In context, the rubber/glue remark could be translated as “if expressing exasperation over an insult is a sign that one must secretly realize that the criticism is deserved, then that could also apply — and perhaps apply more aptly — to someone expressing exasperation over someone being exasperated.” But that is more awkward, and less elegant.

    For the sake of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, lighten up.

  35. #35 Chris Noble
    May 4, 2008

    I don’t think it’s about evolution but rather materialism.

    I’ve heard exactly the same arguments from “psi” proponents who want to believe in telepathy, precognition and telekinesis etc.

    For them the idea that we are “just” made up of atoms is extremely frightening.

    If we are just a bunch of atoms they reason that there can be no purpose to life, no conciousness and no morals.

  36. #36 Phoenix Woman
    May 4, 2008

    MWB, you forgot to throw in a whole bunch of misspellings; otherwise, your parody of the concern troll was spot-on.

  37. #37 Matt McIrvin
    May 4, 2008

    I’m starting to wonder if Ben Stein is intentionally mimicking Jacob Bronowski’s most famous moment from The Ascent of Man in inverse image. One could argue that Bronowski was himself invoking the Hitler Zombie, but I think he actually makes his case, and it’s precisely the opposite of Stein’s.

  38. #38 Colugo
    May 5, 2008

    Anthony McCarthy:

    “it’s just another human endeavor as susceptible to every human failing.”

    Agreed.

    “It’s methods are designed to try to get a specific type of reliable knowledge about the physical universe, it can’t deal with anything else … Most of life is not susceptible to the methods of science due to either being prohibitively complex or insufficiently known or knowable.”

    Interesting. But I’m not so sure.

    In any case, I think you might be interested in what Stuart Kauffman has to say:
    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/kauffman08/kauffman08_index.html

    “My claim is not simply that we lack sufficient knowledge or wisdom to predict the future evolution of the biosphere, economy, or human culture. It is that these things are inherently beyond prediction. Not even the most powerful computer imaginable can make a compact description in advance of the regularities of these processes. There is no such description beforehand. Thus the very concept of a natural law is inadequate for much of reality. If this radical new view is correct, it challenges what I call the Galilean spell, the belief that all in the universe unfolds under natural law.”

    (As they say, read the whole thing.)

  39. #39 Christophe Thill
    May 5, 2008

    Oh, by the way…

    I just saw the “Expelled” super-trailer.

    That was sooooo depressing. Really, literally painful to watch.

    I don’t want to start a new flame war about the movie’s success or failure. Never mind the number of viewers, the money made, etc. But when I saw this, I knew it’s a success. Because it’s a cocktail of lies, misinformation and dishonesty (wrapped in a clever lawyer’s rhetoric) that beats simple truth everytime, especially if the viewer knows nothing about science. If you never heard of the lowly deeds of Sternberg or Gonzalez, you’ll think “oh, the poor guys” when you hear them complaining about their fate. If you don’t know how science works, you’ll follow Stein when he asks why it’s not a democracy.

    And if the trailer is a good indication of what the movie is (and I think it’s the case) then it’s a cleverly, devilishly made movie, whose aim is to stir hatred against science. In this regard, Stein’s “killing people” statement is mere after-sale service for the film.

    And it will work. Perhaps not on many people. But even if there’s very few of them, it’s still way, way too much.

  40. #40 Shygetz
    May 5, 2008

    academic elitism: The belief that the people who have knowledge about a subject should be taken more seriously than the people who don’t have knowledge about that subject during conversations regarding said subject.

    Guilty as charged.

  41. #41 Patrick
    May 5, 2008

    Yes, the very same science that allows him to be conveyed by auto and jet, the very same science that allowed production of his POS movie, the very same science that enables him to collect pay/interest.

    Let’s see Mr Stein truly renounce all of the evil science and live by the power of his own works.

    I, for one, would likely not be here if it were not for the advent of modern medical science. Due to an extreme staph infection, and consequent medical care, at about 18 months of age.

  42. #42 Steve
    May 5, 2008

    Wasn’t Ben Stein prostituting himself on MTV’s “Smartest Model” program? Man, talk about the “Whore of Babylon”. I’m assuming that MTV is part of this amoral/immoral popular culture. Mr. Stein certainly has no problem cashing his check.

    BTW, does he still get residuals for appearing as a science teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?

  43. #43 Inquisitive Raven
    May 5, 2008

    but we need a collection of science literature that passes what I call “the mother-in-law test” — that is, grandma can read and understand it without getting a headache.

    I like to think of this as the “Stephen Hawking’s nurse” test, as in when Hawking was writing A Brief History of Time, he knew he’d gotten the level of explanation right when his nurse could understand it.

  44. #44 Leni
    May 6, 2008

    Or, I should perhaps say, a contraction. That’ll teach me to edit without proofreading.

    LOL. Ha ha! Nothing better than seeing a grammar Nazi eat it. Well, at least you admitted your sin. Your life will be spared, this time.

    Isles wrote:

    Is it possible that Ben Stein actually *is* in the early stages of dementia?

    I’ve considered that too. Dementia or Alzheimer’s are not really something I feel comfortable joking about it, but would any of us be surprised if it came out a few years from now that he was? I wouldn’t it. It would explain the paranoid accusations, poor judgment and reasoning.

    Mark Mathis, on the other hand, just appears to be an enormous jackass.