Pharyngula

Guess who UVM is bringing in to deliver their commencement address?

Ben Stein.

I am very sorry, seniors at that otherwise fine university. You’re going to have a hack wingnut with a history of incompetence at economics, politics, and science standing up and giving you advice. I don’t know what the administrators at your school were thinking; this is a man with no qualifications other than a droning monotone and a stint on a game show. It’s an expression of profound disrespect to the students.

And I’m really sorry for the biology department at UVM — it’s a real slap in the face for the university to drag in this disgrace who has been a figurehead for a movement that is trying to replace science with superstition; a demagogue who accuses modern biology of being a destructive force responsible for the Holocaust.

I am really baffled by this decision. It’s not just that they must have been desperate for a speaker, but that someone with a real axe to grind had to have been on the committee that picked this old fraud.

Comments

  1. #1 Daemonax
    January 30, 2009

    Religion seems to be creeping into universities all over the place.

    At mine there is a Christian chapel, and a new Muslim prayer room, with seperate entrances for black people and white people, oh woops, I meant females and males.

    I feel like making up a poster saying something along the lines of “The Christians have their chapel, the Muslims have their prayer room. Where is the Jewish temple? Where is the Thetan free room? Where is the Hindu Temple? And where is my fucking university?”.

    Universities should be places of learning and courage to speak out against superstition and nonsense.

  2. #2 szqc
    January 30, 2009

    One of my friends at UVM bio emailed me on this decision as well; I suggested they invite PZ next year as an antidote or at least a clear message – too late for this year’s class though.

    Quite bizarre; having sat on speaker committees, usually the idea is to get rich people who want to give you money, famous alumni who don’t have a doctorate (so they get a LLD), or someone famous but likely to spew pablum.

    Of course, Stein will ‘expel’ something akin to pablum perhaps.

  3. #3 ggab
    January 30, 2009

    Unbelievable!!
    UVM, if you’re out there, complain loudly.
    Especially the science departments.
    You may not be able to change it, but you can make it known what a horrible idea this is.
    Also, let the rest of us know if he says anything unsavory.

  4. #4 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    And I’m really sorry for the biology department at UVM

    They had to suffer JAD this should be peanuts.

    ooops. I hope that doesn’t attract him

  5. #5 Physicalist
    January 30, 2009

    The administration at UVM should at least send all the students a link to Set Ben Straight to prepare them for his speech.

  6. #6 Sherry
    January 30, 2009

    I just sent the following to UVM:

    Subject: Class of 2014
    Message:
    We have struck UVM off the list of colleges my daughter was considering. Any university that would engage a fraud like Ben Stein to be a commencement speaker is not going to be on my child’s resume. (Seen the film Expelled?) I will be sharing this information with everyone we know and come in contact with at ski races and snowboard competitions. Shame on whoever made this decision because you now have a real blight on the reputation of your school. Sincerely and regretfully, Sheryl E. Young

  7. #7 Ryan
    January 30, 2009

    At least if they picked Ken Ham, it would have been entertaining.

  8. #8 Gordy
    January 30, 2009

    Creationists know that if they can’t win the intellectual battle between creation and evolution (and even they know they can’t), they can still win the PR battle. And, because their beliefs are religiously inspired, they don’t care about real-world evidence or objective truth, they only care about making other people agree with them. Any opportunity for them to look intellectually respectable without having to engage in honest intellectual debate is likely to be seized with both hands. Expect more of this sort of thing.

  9. #9 Ryan
    January 30, 2009

    At least if they picked Ken Ham, it would have been entertaining.

  10. #10 The Science Pundit
    January 30, 2009

    I hope the students and faculty give Ben Stein the same kind of respect that UM Amherst gave Andy Card. (BTW, if you haven’t yet watched the video I just linked to, I highly recommend it!)

  11. #11 Marion Delgado
    January 30, 2009

    If Davison is so wrong, explain the 20 billion-mile long floating white-bearded robed carcass our telescopes have detected near the Crab Nebula!

  12. #12 Michael Hawkins
    January 30, 2009

    Ben Stein is not a serious thinker. He makes emotional appeals and appeals of ignorance, but that’s about it.

  13. #13 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    I assume that the Seed Overlords are addressing the commenting issue but for those that are having problems.

    DO NOT REPOST your comment when you get the submission error. Just hit the back arrow and reload. It will be there.

  14. #14 raven
    January 30, 2009

    Great Cthulhu. Ben Stein isn’t controversial. He is just a brain dead fascist idiot.

    A two time loser.

    1. He claims that scientists ran the Holocaust and killed all the Jews. Before and after they started the Commie movement and took over half the world. “Science leads you to killing.” So I guess we all should go back to the Dark Ages.

    2. His financial advice was completely wrong. He missed the financial Holocaust that is the USA and world today. Anyone who followed his advice, and there were some, lost huge amounts of their assets.

    A commencement isn’t the right place to bring a speaker like Stein. April Fools would be a more appropiate choice.

  15. #15 Sherry
    January 30, 2009

    Dear Ryan,

    If they picked Ken Ham, people like me with weak stomachs would be puking in the aisles.

  16. #16 Zeno
    January 30, 2009

    Ryan thinks that with Ken Ham it would at least have been entertaining.

  17. #17 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    If Davison is so wrong, explain the 20 billion-mile long floating white-bearded robed carcass our telescopes have detected near the Crab Nebula!

    /snicker

    time to break into the whiskey

  18. #18 Oskar Kennedy
    January 30, 2009

    Drexel University’s law school is graduating its inaugural class this year. They picked Rudy Giuliani as the speaker for our commencement. Three years of hard work and a six-figure debt, and my reward is to get to listen to Rudy was poetic about his response to 9/11.

  19. #19 helvetica
    January 30, 2009

    And I’m really sorry for the biology department…
    And the drama department, and the economics department, and the political science department, and the history department…

  20. #20 Zeno
    January 30, 2009

    The selection of Ben Stein as the University of Vermont graduation speaker is an irresistible opportunity for a little political theater. Since Stein is a conscience-lacking goon, perhaps students would like to dress up as scientists in lab coats with badges that say “Arbeit macht frei.” I mean, scientists were responsible for the Nazi concentration camps, right? Stein is the man who said science leads to killing people.

    I’m sure protests in better taste would also be possible, but for the sake of visiting parents and not for Stein’s.

  21. #21 Marion Delgado
    January 30, 2009

    Bigdumbchmp i am sorry. it turns out i had my telescope wrong and that was DAVISON and he says he’s not even dead. And he’s not in the crab nebula he’s out on the lawn.

    Other than that I had most of the details right. But I know accuracy is a big deal to science fans.

  22. #22 woody
    January 30, 2009

    Why?how could they do this?

    At the insistent behest of a donor with a big bequest.

    Like the guy who bought Ayn Rand into the curriculum of some unscrupulous hack business school (ooops: OXYMORON ALERT)…

  23. #23 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    And he’s not in the crab nebula he’s out on the lawn.

    Telling some kids to get the hell off it no doubt.

    Just to be safe someone should call his family so they can keep an eye on him. When he wanders off it’s very embarrassing for everyone.

    “A past dementia is questionable, a present dementia is undeniable”

    “I love it so”

  24. #24 James Earl
    January 30, 2009

    Oh Comeone PZ Myers, are you jealous they want Mr Stein instead of you? Growup.

  25. #25 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    Oh Comeone PZ Myers, are you jealous they want Mr Stein instead of you? Growup.

    Too late. He’s wandered off already.

    Someone call the family.

  26. #26 PZ Myers
    January 30, 2009

    Jeez, James Earl, are you a moron? I did not suggest myself, and think they can do far better than me, and far, far better than Stein.

  27. #27 Superman
    January 30, 2009

    “I am very sorry, seniors at that otherwise fine university. You’re going to have a hack wingnut with a history of incompetence at economics, politics, and science standing up and giving you advice.”

    I’m surprised they’d let you out of Minnesota to give advice to UVM students, PZ.

    Oops…you were speaking of Ben Stein. My mistake (easily made given your typically “wingnut” commentaries).

  28. #28 Imcurious
    January 30, 2009

    Not only that: “The multi-talented Ben Stein, actor/comedian/lawyer/economist/presidential speechwriter/filmmaker, will address the graduates and receive an honorary degree at the University of Vermont’s 205th commencement ceremony …”

  29. #29 skyblue
    January 30, 2009

    My daughter is a junior at UVM. She reported on Stein’s speech via text message last year when he was there. He was NOT well received. Apparently he is a college chum of the UVM president. And yes, they’ll get a letter from me. Hey. I make a quarterly donation (as well as tuition payments). Maybe I’ll withhold that.

  30. #30 JohnnieCanuck
    January 30, 2009

    Wow. That must have been a multi-million dollar bequest.

    Lets hope it goes into general University funding and not some Intelligent Design facility.

  31. #31 The Science Pundit
    January 30, 2009

    @Imcurious (#29)

    All the more reason that Burlington should give Stein the same reception that Amherst gave Card!! (see my previous comment)

  32. #32 CalGeorge
    January 30, 2009

    He spoke at a University of Cincinnati commencement in 2002.

    He spoke at the UCLA Law School commencement in 2004.

    And the Ithaca College commencement in 2005.

    Also the Lynn University commencement in 2006.

    Shame on you all.

  33. #33 Pev
    January 30, 2009

    I truly hope that my graduation is not ruined by the invitation of a speaker who is willing to whore out his intellectual honesty to the highest bidder.

  34. #34 Wowbagger
    January 30, 2009

    Re: James Earl, #25

    Oh Comeone PZ Myers, are you jealous they want Mr Stein instead of you?

    I’ve never really understood the mindset of someone who reacts to criticism by claiming that the critic is jealous of the person they’re criticising. It just makes so little sense.

    Then again, I’m not a clueless tool with a limited intellect – so I’ll probably never understand.

  35. #35 PharmDude
    January 30, 2009

    Doesn’t the fact that UVM is giving this nutball a platform, totally shoot down the idea of being “Expelled??

  36. #36 bobxxxx
    January 30, 2009

    Everyone who visits this blog knows about the disgusting Expelled movie, but perhaps the people who chose Ben Stein to deliver the UVM commencement address never heard of it. In any case I hope the students give Stein the reception he deserves.

  37. #37 Pev
    January 30, 2009

    I truly hope that my graduation is not ruined by the invitation of a speaker who is willing to whore out his intellectual honesty to the highest bidder.

  38. #38 Sherry
    January 30, 2009

    Science Pundit (#9)

    Thanks for the link to Card’s appearance at UM Amherst!

    I enjoyed it very much. It made me proud to be a rational and moral human being.

  39. #39 Longtime Lurker
    January 30, 2009

    Stein HAS to have nekkid pictures of somebody…

    Make that LOTS of people!

  40. #40 yorktank
    January 30, 2009

    It really says a lot about how corrupt/inept/despicable the Bush administration was that I couldn’t remember that bastard Card at first.

    Thanks Science Pundit. That video was quite cathartic.

    As for Ben Stein…what an unbelievable whore.

  41. #41 Martin
    January 30, 2009

    The University of Vermont seems to have serious problems with science.

    You might remember the Eric T. Poehlman: the biggest scientific fraud in 2 decades.

    He was working there.

  42. #42 Soapy Sam's Monkey
    January 30, 2009

    Attention UVM graduates:

    Your graduation gown will easily conceal a dozen rotten eggs.

    Just be careful how you wrap and handle them.

    (And someone please post the video on YouTube afterwards.)

  43. #43 tm61
    January 30, 2009

    It’s interesting that the blurb on the UVM website doesn’t list “Expelled” as one of his accomplishments….

    Are they embarrassed? Ignorant?

    I’ve always thought that “Expelled” might be Ben Stein’s best joke ever…”I made this absurd movie about a ridiculous idea, and everyone thought I was serious!!!”

  44. #44 Ray Cumfart
    January 30, 2009

    LEAVE BENJAMIN ALONE!!!! </Chris Crocker mode>

    Ben Stein. What a clown.

  45. #45 Justin Chase
    January 30, 2009

    Don’t worry the speech their giving him simply reads:

    bueller?
    bueller?
    bueller?

  46. #46 Superman
    January 30, 2009

    PZ Myers: “I’m really sorry for the biology department at UVM ? it’s a real slap in the face for the university to drag in this disgrace who has been a figurehead for a movement that is trying to replace science with superstition; a demagogue who accuses modern biology of being a destructive force responsible for the Holocaust.”

    It’s hard to know if such gross misrepresentations arise from stupidity, dishonesty, or ignorance. My guess is all three.

    Could we have a show of hands of all those who know all about “Expelled” but have never seen it?

    By the way, I heard Stein speak at UVM last year. He had nothing to say about “Expelled” (which opened in Burlington a week before his talk), except during the question and answer period. He was quite cordially received by those in attendance, as one should expect in a university that lives up to the ideal of intellectual and academic freedom. UVM can proudly thumb its nose at wannabe censors, such as the presumptuous know-it-alls tossing rhetorical eggs from Pharyngula, a blog whose main contribution to science is to shame it.

  47. #47 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    Are you really defending Expelled and Ben Stein?

  48. #48 Julie Stahlhut
    January 30, 2009

    Who the hell’s next — Jessica Simpson?

  49. #49 bobxxxx
    January 30, 2009

    Supermoron @47 is a creationist.

  50. #50 Jadehawk
    January 30, 2009

    Who the hell’s next — Jessica Simpson?

    personally, I think it’s far worse to confuse the Bible for a Science Textbook than tuna for chicken. At least tuna and chicken are related.

  51. #51 yorktank
    January 30, 2009

    Superman, eh? Lemme just tell you straight up – it takes a real pissant to defend Ben Stein.

    By the way, you don’t have to have seen Expelled to know all about Ben Stein.

  52. #52 Rich Loam
    January 30, 2009

    Superman,

    My guess is all three too. But it is hard to know. A censor too, you’re right. So, four! Presumptuous wanna be sham scientist. Six. All six! Ha!

    Slink, slink away you pretentious wanna censor me sham bam fake scientist man.

    All my love,

    Rich Loam

  53. #53 NFPendleton
    January 30, 2009

    Superman, everyone. He’ll be here all week.

    Don’t forget to tip your waitress.

  54. #54 Zeno
    January 30, 2009

    Superman: Could we have a show of hands of all those who know all about “Expelled” but have never seen it?

    Seen it. Know all about it. Reviewed it in detail for the benefit of the people who were curious but not masochistic enough to want to waste 90 minutes of their lives watching tripe. (And thus people know it’s tripe and can say so with a modicum of confidence, since they can base that claim on the testimony of somewhat disgusted but reliable eyewitnesses such as yours truly.)

    My conclusion is that Stein is a demagogue who accuses modern biology of being a destructive force responsible for the Holocaust. (QED) Others are welcome to cite my results.

  55. #55 timebender13
    January 30, 2009

    Why wont this guy go away already? You would think he would get the hint after he had to endorse his own movie!

  56. #56 Rich Loam
    January 30, 2009

    Superman, I think your gross misrepresentations arise from all three – stupidity, dishonesty, and ignorance.

  57. #57 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Oh, Superman. Most noble and enlighten one. Could you please teach us about the message of Expelled? Apparently, most of us here cannot understand. Please, Superman, save us from ourselves.

    This is the hand, the hand that takes. This is the
    hand, the hand that takes.
    This is the hand, the hand that takes.
    Here come the planes.
    They’re American planes. Made in America.
    Smoking or non-smoking?

  58. #58 C. M. Baxter
    January 30, 2009

    Superman, enter nearest phone booth, close door, do not change clothes, do not exit phone booth…ever.

  59. #59 C. M. Baxter
    January 30, 2009

    Superman, I forgot: While in phone booth, DO NOT use phone!

  60. #60 Jimminy Christmas
    January 30, 2009

    Superman:

    I agree. Hitler wasn’t really such a bad guy. He got a lot of things right while he was being an observant Christian. I mean, him and the Pope got along smashingly during WWII, so therefore he’s no worse than your average christian or catholic cardinal. Right?

  61. #61 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    Just checking back in.

    Has anyone located JAD yet? It’s been a while and I’m sure his family is getting worried. You know with the whole forgetfulness and dementia he could be a danger to himself if he’s not watched closely.

  62. #62 flatlander100
    January 30, 2009

    It surprises me not in the least that the senior administration of UVM would find a speaker most known for his bloviating pomposity suitable for the occasion. After all, what is it they say about birds of a feather….?

  63. #63 flatlander100
    January 30, 2009

    It surprises me not in the least that the senior administration of UVM would find a speaker most known for his bloviating pomposity suitable for the occasion. After all, what is it they say about birds of a feather….?

  64. #64 Geoff
    January 30, 2009

    I just don’t get Ben Stein. A small child could figure out that ignorance and fear have led to some of the greatest atrocities in human history. Stein has a degree. That should be reason enough for not having Ben Stein talk at a commencement address.

    Quick, someone get UVM a small child!

  65. #65 Your Mighty Overload
    January 31, 2009

    I sent them this bad-boy!

    Dear Sir / Madam,

    I recently learned of your decision to invite Ben Stein to give the University of Vermont commencement address.

    I truly hope that the University may reconsider this invitation, given the history and track record of Mr Stein. Mr Stein?s 2008 ?documentary? Expelled, aside from being horrible cinematography, was a tirade against the very things that an institution such as the University of Vermont should be seeking to uphold. Faculties of Science are the very backbone of most institutions of higher learning, perhaps mainly due to the fact that science underpins the whole of our society. Yet, astonishingly, UoV chooses to invite someone who?s stated mission is to undermine science, scientific progress and teaching!

    Mr Stein – a man who smugly used the holocaust in his film, making light of one of history?s worst genocides, twisting and deforming the real history in order to try and turn society against science, a man who over the last few years has fully demonstrated his incompetence (on national television) by mocking economists who predicted the current financial crisis ? is this really the person who UoV would endorse to act as a role model for the young people who worked hard to come to UoV? Is a man who uses genocide as his tool to undermine vital scientific research really to be your poster boy? By supporting people like Mr Stein, you devalue your own standing in respectable academia, and worse, devalue and disrespect the staff and students who worked hard, and continue to work hard for the country, for the university, and for their own success.

    I truly hope the management of UoV wake up in time to avert this debacle from occurring.

    Yours, very disappointedly,

    Louis J Irving, PhD

  66. #66 yorktank
    January 31, 2009

    Okay, that’s enough! His name has been uttered twice now. If it’s said one more time some unholy combination of Betelgeuse and Bloody Mary will manifest through our monitors and devour our skepticism. I beg you all, whatever you do, do not mention JAD again…

    Dear FSM, what have I done?

  67. #67 Kristine
    January 31, 2009

    Interestingly, none of the articles that mention his upcoming talk and regurgitate his CV mention Expelled even once.

  68. #68 defectiverobot
    January 31, 2009

    Ubermensch (#47),

    Get off your high horse before you fall off and hurt someone.

    As a matter of fact, I did have the misfortune of seeing Expelled as it was available for instant viewing on Netflix. I figured I’d watch it to see what all the fuss was.

    The fact is, if hadn’t known about it beforehand, I wouldn’t have been able to pick its point out of a lineup that consisted solely of its point! It was one of the most ill-conceived, ill-considered, unfunny, poorly made pieces of crap I’ve ever had the displeasure of sitting through. An E! True Hollywood Story about one of Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends would have been more intellectually challenging than seeing David Berlinski (a man more pompous and arrogant that Ben Stein, as if that were possible) in repose waxing about…er…what, exactly?

    This movie didn’t make me think. It didn’t make me laugh. Hell, it didn’t even make me angry. It didn’t arouse any sort of passion in me at all other than, well, dispassion.

    Shit, PZ got kicked out of a free showing and still should have asked for money back! I’m surprised Richard Dawkins’ brain didn’t melt.

  69. #69 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    Okay, that’s enough! His name has been uttered twice now. If it’s said one more time some unholy combination of Betelgeuse and Bloody Mary will manifest through our monitors and devour our skepticism. I beg you all, whatever you do, do not mention JAD again…

    Dear FSM, what have I done?

    Oh no. Dear Cosmic Muffin we are dooooomed!!!@2@#3@

  70. #70 Capital Dan
    January 31, 2009

    Though the commencement address is somewhat disappointing, I find the very notion of rewarding this man who is such an advocate of anti-science and anti-education with an honorary degree to be a colossal insult to anyone at that university.

    Was Carrot Top busy or something?

  71. #71 Kevin Beck
    January 31, 2009

    This is sad. I thought it was a pox on my alma mater when they had to cancel the entire 1999 men’s ice hockey season thanks to a hazing fiasco, but that was just boys being boys compared to this shit.

    Any former or present Catamounts out there? I think a concerted effort is in order.

    Class of 1992

  72. #72 defectiverobot
    January 31, 2009

    Ubermensch (#47),

    Get off your high horse before you fall off and hurt someone.

    As a matter of fact, I did have the misfortune of seeing Expelled as it was available for instant viewing on Netflix. I figured I’d watch it to see what all the fuss was.

    The fact is, if hadn’t known about it beforehand, I wouldn’t have been able to pick its point out of a lineup that consisted solely of its point! It was one of the most ill-conceived, ill-considered, unfunny, poorly made pieces of crap I’ve ever had the displeasure of sitting through. An E! True Hollywood Story about one of Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends would have been more intellectually challenging than seeing David Berlinski (a man possibly more pompous and arrogant than Ben Stein, if that were possible) in repose waxing about…er…what, exactly? Hell if I could tell; he prattled on as endlessly and pointlessly as only a man in love with his own voice could, doing little else than contributing his breath to the cause of global warming.

    This second-grade Sunday school art project of a movie didn’t make me think. It didn’t make me laugh. Hell, it didn’t even make me angry. It didn’t arouse any sort of passion in me at all other than, well, dispassion.

    Shit, PZ got kicked out of a free showing and still should have asked for money back!

  73. #73 Kevin Beck
    January 31, 2009

    This is sad. I thought it was a pox on my alma mater when they had to cancel the entire 1999 men’s ice hockey season thanks to a hazing fiasco, but that was just boys being boys compared to this shit.

    Any former or present Catamounts out there? I think a concerted effort is in order.

    Class of 1992

  74. #74 bornagain77
    January 31, 2009

    Hell; A Warning To Atheists Who Are “Too Smart” To Believe In God

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3sEMmnKNsA

    Mathematically Defining Functional Information In Molecular Biology – Kirk Durston

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWi9TMwPthE

  75. #75 defectiverobot
    January 31, 2009

    Crap, posted twice. Sorry all. Read the second one, it’s better than the first….

  76. #76 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    Born again 77.

    I can’t say this much clearer.

    Your video’s SUCK.

  77. #77 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    and my random apostrophes suck too.

    the crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe

  78. #78 Aquaria
    January 31, 2009

    I don’t have to watch BA77′s idiotic crayon drawings digitized to answer this bullshit:

    I’d rather be in hell than in the heaven you think you’re going to. Eternal life, especially in the horrific Xian heaven, would be the worst torture I could imagine.

    So FOAD.

  79. #79 raven
    January 31, 2009

    superidiot:

    It’s hard to know if such gross misrepresentations arise from stupidity, dishonesty, or ignorance. My guess is all three.

    OK, your gross misrepresentations arise from stupidity, dishonesty, and ignorance. Also mental problems, insanity. Thanks for wasting the space to describe your deficiencies. Are you a drug addict or alcoholic as well? You have trouble cogitating.

    Just going to repeat my description of Stein, a piece of human garbage. Since superidiot can’t read very well, maybe repetition is the answer. Stein lied about the group, scientists, that created the 21st century, extended our life spans by 30 years in a century, and feed 6.7 billion people. The US lead in science is largely reponsible for our place in the world.

    Stein’s, “science leads to killing” is a lie that the Expelled clowns have even admitted is a lie.

    Stein’s other accomplishment, bad financial advice, helped his victims lose millions and millions of dollars.

    There are thousands of more accomplished, intelligent, and worthwhile people to invite than Stein.

  80. #80 NFPendleton
    January 31, 2009

    BornAgain77 will be around to your tables soon to take your drink orders. Please remember to speak slowly – he’s the owner’s retarded brother.

    Thank you, the management.

  81. #81 Shaden Freud
    January 31, 2009
  82. #82 Martin
    January 31, 2009

    Hey, BornAgain77? Let me clue you in on something. We don’t believe in hell either. So you see, responding to atheists for not believing in something that doesn’t exist by threatening us with something else that doesn’t exist…well, let me say this gently. It’s totally stupid.

    But I get the impression stupidity is your stock in trade, so we’ll just let you off with mild mockery this time. Toodles.

  83. #83 Martin
    January 31, 2009

    Hey, BornAgain77? Let me clue you in on something. We don’t believe in hell either. So you see, responding to atheists for not believing in something that doesn’t exist by threatening us with something else that doesn’t exist…well, let me say this gently. It’s totally stupid.

    But I get the impression stupidity is your stock in trade, so we’ll just let you off with mild mockery this time. Toodles.

  84. #84 Martin
    January 31, 2009

    Oh shit. Got caught in this stupid comment bottleneck. SOrry for the doouble post.

  85. #85 Kristine
    January 31, 2009

    BornAgain77 has ratings and comments disabled. Hm, are we being expelled?

    P.S. BA77, you should actually read that paper that Kirk Durston cites. It does not support his argument at all.

  86. #86 clinteas
    January 31, 2009

    Oh,not Ben Stein…..

    If what a commenter upthread wrote is true and he’s some buddy of the Uni President,that would at least explain how this could possibly happen.

    Doesnt make it any better though,to let an intellectually bancrupt money whore with no integrity whatsoever speak at an occasion such as this.
    Maybe people should question this Uni President,too.

    As to trolls,I see we still are having a considerable influx of mentally ill,retarded,or intellectually crippled people at the moment,why is that,is it just because the US now has a President who can spell his own name?
    I wonder.

  87. #87 BGT
    January 31, 2009

    Dear lard, someone please alert teh atorities….BA^77 has excaped his nanny filter at teh common descent website….

    someone save all from his “Teh Argument Regarding Desine”

    Will Dave”TARD” be too far behind???!!!??

  88. #88 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    January 31, 2009

    Posted by: bornagain77 | January 31, 2009

    Hell; A Warning To Atheists Who Are “Too Smart” To Believe In God

    Wait. What can I do so I am no longer “Too Smart”? I know. I will block the flow of blood to my head, thus keeping oxygen from my brain. I figure after about five minutes I will no longer be “Too Smart”. Don’t worry, for now I am smart enough to know that I should not do this unsupervised. Perhaps after I damage my brain, I will be worthy of bornagain77′s gift.

    Until that time, look at me Ma, I’m on my way to the promiced land!

  89. #89 The Science Pundit
    January 31, 2009

    Being a denizen of YouTube, I’ve become familiar with the character known as bornagain777. I recommend killfiling and ignoring.

  90. #90 BGT
    January 31, 2009

    My previous comment makes about as much sense as Bornagain77 does over at UD. And, that is about as much effort as anyone here needs to put into replying to his comments.

    As the great Yoda said “mmmm… The tard is strong in this one”

  91. #91 The Science Pundit
    January 31, 2009

    Ignore the extra 7.

  92. #92 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    January 31, 2009

    Either my computer is wonky or I am. This is the video I meant to play.

  93. #93 BGT
    January 31, 2009

    Science Pundit,

    If you haven’t been mainlining the straight stuff over at UD, then you haven’t seen the full blossom of ba^77.

    He is an amusing chap. I am a simple business major, and he even makes my head hurt when I sample his comments over at UD.

  94. #94 deadman_932
    January 31, 2009

    Dear BornAgain777 : I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to step on over to Pandas Thumb’s “After the Bar Closes” for a nice discussion. Unlike Dembski’s crappy little site, you won’t be censored/banninated there so long as you don’t pull a DaveScot and threaten to “hack” the site –which got his dumb ass canned. You can do better than that, I’m sure, and you’ve made a lot of noises at UD pretending to be able to debate your points in an open forum.

    Let’s see that. Step on over to AtBC’s “Uncommonly Dense” thread and say hello and we’ll set you up with your own little thread to back your claims. I look forward to seeing you there. Be bold. Have the ethics to back your convictions with science-y evidence. *snort, giggle*

    Your Friend, deadman_932

  95. #95 Caveat
    January 31, 2009

    OK, I don’t do this often but when I wandered in here and read ‘Ben Stein’ I actually shouted “Oh, come on, PZ, now you’re going too far!”

  96. #96 Janeothejungle
    January 31, 2009

    Did I just read in the link that, not only are the letting that horses ass speak, they are also giving him an honorary degree?? In what, pray tell?

    ~Kat

  97. #97 BGT
    January 31, 2009

    deadman_932,

    I have been lurking at ATBC for the past three years, and I can safely bet that if ba^77 and his n^nn^ f^lt^r show up there, he will make even less sense than Danial Smith, and have less staying power.

    I bet Louis’ mum and Chatfield’s bum. I can raise various family members of Carlson, Ras, and Story.

  98. #98 deadman_932
    January 31, 2009

    BGT: But, but…Denial Smith is all worn out, and a new chew toy is so much fun :)

    Poor Louis and Arden et al. are gnawing at each other’s shinbones at this point. They need a distraction from their…er…current focus (mums and butts and mum’s butt and so forth).

    Hey BornAgain777: can you bring Gil Dodgen with you? I’d like to make him cry, and I’m sure Zachriel and Recip. Bill would appreciate it.

  99. #99 Caveat
    January 31, 2009

    I believe he is receiving a Doctorate in Douchebaggery.

  100. #100 Chris Tucker
    January 31, 2009

    http://www.grabup.com/uploads/bfcd29898f56dbcd78993a7e84245558.jpg

    UVM students (and anyone else where that smug fraud will be speaking) feel free to use this image as you see fit.

  101. #101 Rounder Bob
    January 31, 2009

    Funny UVM’s announcement doesn’t mention Expelled. Wonder why?

    http://www.uvm.edu/~uvmpr/?Page=News&storyID=13522

  102. #102 Strangest brew
    January 31, 2009

    ‘Did I just read in the link that, not only are the letting that horses ass speak, they are also giving him an honorary degree?? In what, pray tell?’

    Matters not a jot!
    As long a it has letters he can tack on the end of his name…seems to open doors into places where stupid folks think he is ‘intelligent’…but not by design!
    And it saves a few bucks that otherwise would be spent at some hick campus that sells degrees for lusting after jeebus…

  103. #103 Rounder Bob
    January 31, 2009

    Strangest brew
    The twit is awarding the honorary degrees in addition to giving the commencement. He is not getting a honorary degree.

  104. #104 Richard Dawkins
    January 31, 2009

    The President of the University of Vermont, who is presumably responsible for this decision, is Daniel Fogel.
    http://www.uvm.edu/~presdent/?Page=contacts/list.html&SM=submenu1.html

    His email address is Daniel.Fogel@uvm.edu

  105. #105 Samantha Vimes
    January 31, 2009

    If I was a student there, I’d have some cephalopod theme going on, maybe tentacles hanging out of the sleeves of my robe, and unfurl a banner with friend while Stein is speaking, saying “Expelled From Expelled”.

    No need for rotten eggs. Let his past humiliate him.

  106. #106 PD
    January 31, 2009

    I suppose the university will bring JA Davison out of retirement to be Stein’s fluffer for the day?

    I love it so!

  107. #107 Tilsim
    January 31, 2009

    Might there be an opportunity to show a video compilation of his past ‘accomplishments’ before he is given the floor?

  108. #108 John C. Randolph
    January 31, 2009

    Was Mortimer Snerd not available, perhaps?

    -jcr

  109. #109 'Tis Himself
    January 31, 2009

    Ben Stein is a charming actor and writer who graduated at the top of his class from Yale Law School. He’s also an idiot.

    For years Stein wrote columns in the New York Times claiming the various financial markets were just going to go up and up with no end in sight. A year ago he blasted economist Jan Hatzius for warning of the impending subprime collapse. When Hatzius turned out to be right, Stein wrote a series of columns basically saying that the various bubble bursts were because traders and short sellers were selling fear.

    One of many problems with Stein’s thesis is that traders and investors who want the market to go up greatly outnumber traders who want it to go down. Rumors, spin, and sentiment can affect prices temporarily, but the idea that a few evil traders are responsible for the decline in equity prices is just silly.

    Stein has made a fool of himself with Expelled and with his economic wrongheadedness. That UVM would think he’s worthy to give a commencement address just says they’re not paying attention.

  110. #110 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    Stein’s creotardy isn’t even the worst thing. That he said repeatedly in interviews that science (in itself) leads mass murder is the worst thing. Every scientist in the place (and anyone else that cares about honesty of knowledge) should boycott and picket the ceremony.

    Out of interest which department is awarding his honorary degree? Economics, biology, history… he’s so multi-talentless it would hard to decide.

  111. #111 Vronvron
    January 31, 2009

    OT

    Canadians seem to love polls. Here is another one from the United Church of Canada. The UCC is planning to counter atheist bus ads with its own, ?There’s probably a God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life? and is asking for votes at

    http://www.wondercafe.ca/

  112. #112 Michael
    January 31, 2009

    I believe Ben Stein was accurate about Wallstreet being “greedy shills.” Although I have mixed emotions about his theory on the bubble burst based on people’s fears. It was the sub prime loans that made the bubble burst. Just like back in the 1920′s when marginal loans were just as popular. Same concept, people could loan more money than they could afford, with the hopes of the market going up and up so they could make profits. It was the fear afterward that enable the bubble to keep bursting. Banks ran out of money in need of a bailout in both eras.

    Only this time it’s worse, the value of the dollar is being crushed by the Federal Reserve creating more money with interest to bailout bad business practices, and the current President who wants that created money supply to add numerous government jobs which has no affect on the private sector.

    Another thing is, global warming research money is not a economic stimulus. Were kinda going back a little to the Clinton years were bills contain spending that has nothing to do with the bill itself. An honest way of doing it is, if they want more Global Warming research, than pass it on another bill that is dedicated for things like that. It’s dishonest putting on a economic stimulus bill.

    This is what Ben Stein should be writing about. But congrats to Ben Stein for being able to give the speech!!!

  113. #113 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    “I believe Ben Stein was accurate about Wallstreet being “greedy shills.”" Even a stopped clock…

  114. #114 Ploon
    January 31, 2009

    And he is (was) great on The Most Smartest Model. A fracking genius compared to the contestants!

  115. #115 MH
    January 31, 2009

    The Science Pundit #9 wrote: “I hope the students and faculty give Ben Stein the same kind of respect that UM Amherst gave Andy Card. (BTW, if you haven’t yet watched the video I just linked to, I highly recommend it!)”

    That was spectacular! Everyone at UVM should watch that. I’d love to see a similar response to Stein.

  116. #116 Matt7895
    January 31, 2009

    Why do people keep thinking Ben Stein is somebody to be respected?

  117. #117 Logicel
    January 31, 2009

    Don’t be too hard on poor Superman. Times are very stressful and difficult for mild-mannered reporters for city print newspapers. He probably has resorted to eating dog food, especially if he was stoopid enough to exercise his company’s stock options.

    I weep for you, Superman, as I chomp into my flan de legumes a la Provencale, coq au vin, a copious plateau de fromage and Tarte Tatin, not to mention espresso followed by a warming glass of cognac.

  118. #118 TheThomas
    January 31, 2009

    @#6
    Good word…good word.

  119. #119 Stanton
    January 31, 2009

    Why do people keep thinking Ben Stein is somebody to be respected?

    Because, although he isn’t a scientist, he’s played one on tv.

  120. #120 NewEnglandBob
    January 31, 2009

    I also sent an e-mail to Daniel.Fogel@uvm.edu suggesting they rescind the invitation to Stein.

  121. #121 Marc Abian
    January 31, 2009

    I’ve never really understood the mindset of someone who reacts to criticism by claiming that the critic is jealous of the person they’re criticising. It just makes so little sense.

    Then again, I’m not a clueless tool with a limited intellect – so I’ll probably never understand.

    Small petty Wowbagger, you’re just jealous you’re not the the insightful intellectual juggernaut that James Earl is.

  122. #122 Strangest brew
    January 31, 2009

    104*

    “Strangest brew
    The twit is awarding the honorary degrees in addition to giving the commencement. He is not getting a honorary degree.”

    ahhh! Poor Ben…He must be so gutted not to get letters behind his moniker to impress gullible idiots with…

    What can be done?…I know!..

    I shall award the gentleman a…

    First class honours degree in…

    Advanced Fuckwittery in Sentient thought…

    This has the acronym AFSt…also known in academia as being ‘A Fucking Slimy twat’

    there…fixed that right up!

  123. #123 Superman
    January 31, 2009

    Dear Louis J. Irving, PhD,

    I read your letter to UVM with interest. Regrettably, I could find nothing in it that was true. If you’d actually seen “Expelled,” you’d know that it was made to defend academic freedom and freedom of scientific inquiry, not to attack them. You’d know that the movie did not make light of the Holocaust, nor did it blame the Holocaust on Darwin. You’d know that the movie was not a defense of intelligent design theory nor an attack on Darwinian evolutionary theory (the movie had nothing to say about the propositional contents of either theory). Instead, the movie focused on the demonstrable intellectual tyranny practiced by the Darwinian establishment (and helpfully demonstrated over and over again here on Pharyngula). It’s the kind of movie that ought to cause those who are on the side of academic and scientific freedom to stand up and cheer. I did. Students at UVM can be proud that their university is willing to stand up to the censorious voices of scientific “political correctness,” such as the voice of Louis J. Irving, Ph.D. If your letter to UVM is read by reasonable people, it will receive the treatment it deserves: a dismissive toss into the nearest wastebasket.

    Regards,
    Superman

  124. #124 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Superman, what Darwinian establishment? Can you give us an address? Or do you really mean scientists doing science, and ignoring those with non-scientific ideas?

  125. #125 Zeno
    January 31, 2009

    Superman: You’d know that the movie did not make light of the Holocaust, nor did it blame the Holocaust on Darwin.

    Expelled presents David Berlinski saying that Darwin was a “necessary” (if not “sufficient”) condition for the existence of the Nazis. In other words, no Darwin, no Nazis. How is that not blaming Darwin for the Holocaust? Expelled portrays Darwin as bearing major responsibility for the ills of the 20th century, including the mass murder of World War II.

    Expelled defends academic freedom and scientific inquiry? It does not. It presents a series of supposed victims of scientific orthodoxy and misrepresents each and every one. The movie does not defend academic freedom; it makes excuses for smarmy little ideologues who got caught abusing their positions and authority to advance their nonscientific ideology.

    You’re a creationist troll, Superman, and it’s a mistake to indulge you here. Perhaps I should not have bothered to respond to you at all, since you’re merely parroting dishonest talking points. Nevertheless, I am a kind man, so please accept this parting gift of a lovely ID bracelet. It’s made of sparkling kryptonite.

  126. #126 James F
    January 31, 2009

    Superman,

    If you want to make a convincing argument, please explain how Sternberg, Gonzalez, Crocker, Marks, Winnick, and Egnor were victims of “demonstrable intellectual tyranny.” The case against yours is laid out here under “The Expelled.”

  127. #127 Fatpie42
    January 31, 2009

    Daemonax
    “The Christians have their chapel, the Muslims have their prayer room.”

    A Muslim prayer room is not the same as a Christian chapel. Muslims are required to pray to Allah formally 5 times a day. If necessary they will drive off to Mosque several times during the day or they may simply roll out a rug somewhere and pray on that. The prayer room benefits non-Muslims and Muslims equally because it assures that Muslims are not bothering anyone else when they bend over in praise of Allah as part of their traditional practice.

  128. #128 Richard Dawkins
    January 31, 2009

    I have sent this message to the President of the University of Vermont, Daniel.Fogel@uvm.edu

    I hope he receives very many such letters.

    Dr Daniel Fogel,
    President, University of Vermont

    Dear President Fogel

    I am dismayed to learn that the University of Vermont has invited Ben Stein to give the Commencement Address, and to receive an Honorary Degree. I can only presume that neither you, nor anybody else responsible for this lamentable decision, has seen the film ‘Expelled’. Was anybody in the Biology Department consulted before you issued an invitation to a notoriously mendacious propagandist for creationism? Was anyone in the History Department consulted before you issued this invitation to somebody who seriously tries to blame Darwin for the Holocaust? For a deplorable consequence of the latter, see
    http://richarddawkins.net/article,2488,Open-Letter-to-a-victim-of-Ben-Steins-lying-propaganda,Richard-Dawkins
    What kind of a signal do you think you will send to the world about the University of Vermont, if you honour this man?

    You may think I am personally biased, as I am one of several evolutionary biologists who, in good faith, agreed to be interviewed by Stein and his team, on the basis of what turned out to be flagrant lies as to the true purpose of the film. In my case, Stein and his team then went on deliberately to distort my words, as I explain here:-
    http://richarddawkins.net/article,2394,Lying-for-Jesus,Richard-Dawkins
    So do not take my word for it. See the film for yourself and then consider whether you do not have a duty, to your university (whose reputation is in danger of being besmirched), to your graduating students (whose big day is in danger of being sullied), and to the other recipients of Honorary Degrees (who would have to shake hands with this odious liar), to withdraw your invitation.

    Yours very sincerely

    Richard Dawkins

  129. #129 'Tis Himself
    January 31, 2009

    Superman, you picked the wrong blog to defend Expelled. PZ Myers, whose blog this is, was one of the people interviewed for Expelled. Myers, along with friends and family, went to a pre-release private screening of the film. While the group was standing in line outside the theater, Myers was recognized by someone affiliated with the film and ordered by security personnel to leave the premises immediately. That’s right, PZ Myers was singled out and booted from a film that complains about exclusion. However, in an amazing oversight, the production crew somehow failed to recognize Richard Dawkins, who was standing right next to Myers but was allowed in.

  130. #130 'Tis Himself
    January 31, 2009

    Oops, forgot to close an italics tag. Sorry.

  131. #131 Paul
    January 31, 2009

    This Superman is much funnier than the comic book version. But less super also.

  132. #132 Engywook21
    January 31, 2009

    I am currently a graduate student at UVM and last year at his talk my cousin made a ton of fliers and handed them out in protest of his work. Turns out a retired professor was also passing out professional pamphlets in semi-protest. I’m not sure what those said but at least there were a few people upset about Ben Stein being there. Unfortunately I don’t think the majority of UVM has probably ever heard of Expelled or heard Ben Stein’s ridiculous claims. To most he is the droning monotone teacher from Ferris Bueller and Win Ben Stein’s Money. They knowledge probably stops there. It seems like most people these days don’t care about too much beyond their getting completely wasted as much as possible, if they did we might actually be able to see an uproar about this. I unfortunately am not much of a protester, especially on the large scale. My boyfriend also gets upset with me for bringing up anything about religion with just about anyone. He thinks I’m obsessed (which he might be mildly to extremely correct about) and that I’m going to ruin someone’s life by taking away their crutch. So I have a feeling he’d be slightly exhasperated if I was to make a big stink about Ben Stein and his terrible anti-scientific/pro-creationist views. Also my boyfriend is a senior at UVM and graduating this year, it’s really too bad he’s not so passionate about these things so that he could share with friends how terrible a decision it is, but to him, and probably most, it matters little, unfortunately.

  133. #133 Thuktun
    January 31, 2009

    Posted by: James Earl | January 30, 2009 9:16 PM
    “Oh Comeone PZ Myers, are you jealous they want Mr Stein instead of you? Growup.”

    Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp | January 30, 2009 9:19 PM
    “Too late. He’s wandered off already.”

    Interesting timestamps. I smell a sock puppet.

  134. #134 'Tis Himself
    January 31, 2009

    Thuktun,

    Whatever else Rev BDC is, he’s not a sockpuppet.

  135. #135 bootsy
    January 31, 2009

    @128: I think Daemonax was lamenting the incursion of religion onto the University, not going into a discourse about religious architecture. If Muslims are going to bend over for an imaginary man five times a day, they can build their own house for it.

    All these religious structures on campuses are a waste of time and money. I wish I was in college still so I could get any of my tuition refunded that was used for that bullshit.

  136. #136 KI
    January 31, 2009

    I hope the graduates can get it together to sing a John Lennon song for him (Stein was one of the Nixon scmucks who tried to get the former Beatle thrown out of the country for bogus drug entrapment in England).

  137. #137 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Thuktun, the first was a reference to PZ, the second to JAD, a known retired KOOK from UVM. The Rev.’s remark was a follow up to an earlier post describing the KOOK.

  138. #138 KI
    January 31, 2009

    ooops, “schmucks”.

  139. #139 Marc Abian
    January 31, 2009

    All these religious structures on campuses are a waste of time and money

    But the universities aren’t paying, are they? Are they?

  140. #140 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    Dear Louis J. Irving, PhD,

    I read your letter to UVM with interest. Regrettably, I could find nothing in it that was true.

    Only because you are deluded.

    If you’d actually seen “Expelled,” you’d know that it was made to defend academic freedom and freedom of scientific inquiry, not to attack them.

    Only if you are a deluded person would you believe that line of drivel. It was made to build strawmen and then light them afire using disgusting and false comparisons.

    You’d know that the movie did not make light of the Holocaust, nor did it blame the Holocaust on Darwin.

    Only a completely idiotic moron would think that. Stein tries to make direct connections. The Anti Defamatin Legue even issued this statment

    The film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed misappropriates the Holocaust and its imagery as a part of its political effort to discredit the scientific community which rejects so-called intelligent design theory.
    Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people and Darwin and evolutionary theory cannot explain Hitler?s genocidal madness.

    You shill.

    You’d know that the movie was not a defense of intelligent design theory nor an attack on Darwinian evolutionary theory (the movie had nothing to say about the propositional contents of either theory).

    Um

    ?Intelligent design was being suppressed in a systematic and ruthless fashion? (Ben Stein, Expelled).

    That claim by Stein pretends that ID actually has some scientific merit. It does not. If it does show me the science supermoron.

    Instead, the movie focused on the demonstrable intellectual tyranny practiced by the Darwinian establishment (and helpfully demonstrated over and over again here on Pharyngula).

    You of course mean the rigorous effort by the actual scientific community to keep standards high and to root out attempts by cranks to inject psuedo-scientific nonsense into academia.

    It’s the kind of movie that ought to cause those who are on the side of academic and scientific freedom to stand up and cheer.

    No, its the kind of movie that people who are so deluded by the cranky claims of known kooks and scientific failures would stand up and cheer in the heat of self caused persecution complex convulsions and spasms. If you call that cheering, so be it.

    I did.

    See above

    Students at UVM can be proud that their university is willing to stand up to the censorious voices of scientific “political correctness,” such as the voice of Louis J. Irving, Ph.D.

    UVM students should be angered that this idiot is given any respect. Until the ID crowd has actual science they should be kept out in the same way astrology, alchemy and homeopathy should be.

    If your letter to UVM is read by reasonable people, it will receive the treatment it deserves: a dismissive toss into the nearest wastebasket.

    If that happens it will settle in to find a place right next to Creationism Intelligent design.

    Regards,
    SupermanGenius!!!1

    you idiot

  141. #141 Shadow Caster
    January 31, 2009

    Who gives a damn? Honestly, what does it really matter to you? I couldn’t care less about the guy, why do you care?

  142. #142 Superman
    January 31, 2009

    “Superman, you picked the wrong blog to defend Expelled.”

    Agreed. None of Stein’s critics here – even those who claim to have seen “Expelled” – seem capable of nuanced, insightful thinking. For example, one of Pharygula’s bright lights took Berlinski’s claim that Darwinism was a necessary condition for the Holocaust to mean that Darwinism inexorably led to the Holocaust, which is, of course, nonsense. The Holocaust could be laid at Darwin’s feet only if Darwinism were a sufficient condition for its occurrence, something that Berlinski explicitly denied. His point – like that made by historian Richard Weikart (who also appeared in “Expelled”) was that the Nazis – however logically or illogically – used Darwinian principles to provide scientific “justification” for their genocidal project, not that Darwin caused the Holocaust. No one here seems capable of contextual interpretations of points made in the movie (such as Stein’s off-hand remark that “science leads to killing”). No one here – starting at the top with PZ Myers – seems capable of even making a good-faith effort to understand what “Expelled” was about. What the “arguments” made here by Myers and his amen chorus display are minds comfortable in the assurance that they’ve got all the right answers to life’s mysteries. As anti-scientific and deplorable as that is, it’s not nearly as deplorable as their desire to impose their way of thinking on everyone else, which was the main point of “Expelled.” What one finds on Pharyngula is a vulgar, condescending – even childish – defense of Darwinist dogma, not a mature defense of genuine, open-minded, self-correcting science.

    I’ve seldom encountered a more repulsive blog. I feel soiled for sticking around for as long as I have.

    Cling to your nonsenses, and have a nice day.

  143. #143 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    Posted by: James Earl | January 30, 2009 9:16 PM
    “Oh Comeone PZ Myers, are you jealous they want Mr Stein instead of you? Growup.”

    Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp | January 30, 2009 9:19 PM
    “Too late. He’s wandered off already.”

    Interesting timestamps. I smell a sock puppet.

    Did you get your detective skills from the Keystone Cops?.

  144. #144 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Did you get your detective skills from the Keystone Cops?

    Must be the same place Superman got his analytical skills.

  145. #145 waldteufel
    January 31, 2009

    Supermoron, we feel soiled for your having been here. Asshole.

  146. #146 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    Actually I was probably being a bit harsh. Seems like an honest mistake.

  147. #147 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    Shadow caster@145: Why do you care if people care? Implying that something is too trivial to care about and then taking the time to complain that someone paid it attention is fail.
    Superman@143″I’ve seldom encountered a more repulsive blog. I feel soiled for sticking around for as long as I have.”
    LOL butthurt.

  148. #148 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    What one finds on Pharyngula is a vulgar, condescending – even childish – defense of Darwinist dogma, not a mature defense of genuine, open-minded, self-correcting science.

    Ok, how about showing us some actual science?

    You have a couple choices.

    Take some research currently accepted by evolutionary scientists and tell us exactly why you think it does not support the ToE. You must show your work including research you’ve done or that someone else has done that refutes it.

    You can also show us some actual research done on the side of ID. Please show your work here as well.

  149. #149 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    Who gives a damn? Honestly, what does it really matter to you? I couldn’t care less about the guy, why do you care?

    Just because you are filled with apathy doesn’t mean others shouldn’t actually care about a hack fraud being propped up as an honorable person by a University.

    You can just keep not caring.

    Why do you care that we care?

  150. #150 Your Mighty Overload
    January 31, 2009

    Superman

    Oh, but I did watch Expelled! At least as much of it as I could stomach.

    You seem to be confused about the concept of academic freedom. Intellectual / academic freedom is merely the right to form and hold opinions (and investigate them where funding is available). Academic freedom is not the freedom to claim whatever you like and be taken seriously in the absence of any evidential backing – as ID supporters would have you believe.

    “Expelled” is clearly a propaganda movie, attempting to create a groundswell of opinion against evolutionary theory. Pray tell, if Expelled, an anti-evolution movie was not trying to link evolution with Auschwitz, why the heck did Ben visit a concentration camp?

    The anti-defamation league (a group trying to prevent the defamation of Jews) felt it necessary to put out a statement;

    On April 29, 2008, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued this statement about Expelled:

    The film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed misappropriates the Holocaust and its imagery as a part of its political effort to discredit the scientific community which rejects so-called intelligent design theory.
    Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people and Darwin and evolutionary theory cannot explain Hitler?s genocidal madness.

    The ADL press release also said, ?Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry.?
    http://www.adl.org/PresRele/HolNa_52/5277_52.htm

    (from expelledexposed.com)

    Indeed, in America, it was the churches (http://calms.umc.org/2008/Text.aspx?mode=Petition&Number=1175) who were on the front lines of the eugenics movement – not the scientists.

    So, bucko, get your facts straight before you tangle with me again.

    And that’s called an ass-whupping!

  151. #151 Vic
    January 31, 2009

    Ben Stein is perhaps the most embarrassing choice I can possibly think of.

  152. #152 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    Rev@150: You’re giving him/her/it too much credit. If someone can be bothered to making a public show of not caring, they aren’t even sincere in their apathy. They are just making a bullshit show of their supposed lack of bovveredness.

  153. #153 raven
    January 31, 2009

    SuperIdiot lying some more:

    If you’d actually seen “Expelled,” you’d know that it was made to defend academic freedom and freedom of scientific inquiry, not to attack them.

    Expelled was just A Goebbellian Big Lie. And you are just lying some more. Sorry, I called you a meth head. You are a sociopath of some sort, probably a Death Cultist xian.

    The truth is the opposite of what Expelled, the universally condemmed movie said. Evolutionary biologists and science supporters have been beaten up, fired, threatened, and even murdered by creationists. The documentation is below. When the facts aren’t on their side, they resort to violence.

    The real story is the persecution of scientists by Fundie Xian Death cultists, who have fired, harassed, beaten up, and killed evolutionary biologists and their supporters whenever they can.

    This is, of course, exactly the behavior of zealots who long ago forgot what the Christ in Christian stood for. These days, fundie is synonymous with liar, ignorant, stupid, and sometimes killer.

    http://www.sunclipse.org/?p=626 [link goes to Blake Stacey's blog which has a must read essay with documentation of the cases below.]
    As usual the truth is the exact opposite. The creos have been firing, beating up, attempting to fire, and killing scientists and science supporters for a while now. They are way ahead on body counts.

    Posting the list of who is really being beaten up, threatened, fired, attempted to be fired, and killed. Not surprisingly, it is scientists and science supporters by Death Cultists.

    I’ve discovered that this list really bothers fundies. Truth to them is like a cross to a vampire.

    There is a serious reign of terror by Xian fundie terrorists directed against the reality based academic community, specifically acceptors of evolution. I’m keeping a running informal tally, listed below. They include death threats, firings, attempted firings, assaults, and general persecution directed against at least 12 people. The Expelled Liars have totally ignored the ugly truth of just who is persecuting who.

    If anyone has more info add it. Also feel free to borrow or steal the list.

    I thought I’d post all the firings of professors and state officials for teaching or accepting evolution.

    2 professors fired, Bitterman (SW CC Iowa) and Bolyanatz (Wheaton)

    1 persecuted unmercifully Richard Colling (Olivet)

    1 persecuted unmercifully for 4 years Van Till (Calvin)

    1 attempted firing Murphy (Fuller Theological by Phillip Johnson IDist)

    1 successful death threats, assaults harrasment Gwen Pearson (UT Permian)

    1 state official fired Chris Comer (Texas)

    1 assault, fired from dept. Chair Paul Mirecki (U. of Kansas)

    1 killed, Rudi Boa, Biomedical Student (Scotland)

    Death Threats Eric Pianka UT Austin and the Texas Academy of Science engineered by a hostile, bizarre IDist named Bill Dembski

    Death Threats Michael Korn, fugitive from justice, towards the UC Boulder biology department and miscellaneous evolutionary biologists.

    Death Threats Judge Jones Dover trial. He was under federal marshall protection for a while

    Up to 12 with little effort. Probably there are more. I turned up a new one with a simple internet search. Haven’t even gotten to the secondary science school teachers.

    And the Liars of Expelled have the nerve to scream persecution. On body counts the creos are way ahead.

  154. #154 'Tis Himself
    January 31, 2009

    Superman,

    . None of Stein’s critics here – even those who claim to have seen “Expelled” – seem capable of nuanced, insightful thinking.

    You’re so right. It’s that darn “scientific method” stuff, the insistence on logic and rationality, that keeps us from thinking insightful nuances about mythology masquerading as reality.

    Pharygula’s bright lights took Berlinski’s claim that Darwinism was a necessary condition for the Holocaust to mean that Darwinism inexorably led to the Holocaust, which is, of course, nonsense. The Holocaust could be laid at Darwin’s feet only if Darwinism were a sufficient condition for its occurrence, something that Berlinski explicitly denied.

    If it’s nonsense, then why did Stein spend 20 minutes trying to make the point that Hitler used evolution as the basis for the Holocaust? The Anti-Defamation League thought Expelled linked evolution to the Holocaust. Incidentally, Stein’s response was, “It’s none of their fucking business”.

    His point – like that made by historian Richard Weikart (who also appeared in “Expelled”) was that the Nazis – however logically or illogically – used Darwinian principles to provide scientific “justification” for their genocidal project, not that Darwin caused the Holocaust.

    I fail to see the difference between “evolution led to the Holocaust” and “evolution justified the Holocaust.” Perhaps you could send some insightful nuances my way.

    No one here seems capable of contextual interpretations of points made in the movie (such as Stein’s off-hand remark that “science leads to killing”).

    Many of the Holocaust victims were killed by cyanide gas. So should we should denounce and refute chemistry since it led to killing? Or was Stein not referring to that part of science?

    No one here – starting at the top with PZ Myers – seems capable of even making a good-faith effort to understand what “Expelled” was about.

    We know what Expelled was about. It was a piece of creationist/ID propaganda. It was an attempt to denegrate reality and replace it with mythology.

    What the “arguments” made here by Myers and his amen chorus display are minds comfortable in the assurance that they’ve got all the right answers to life’s mysteries.

    We don’t claim to have all the right answers. We spend enough time arguing with each other that we’re obviously not in agreement on too particularly much. However, we do agree that science trumps mythology. We also know that the people who do say they’ve got all the right answers to life’s mysteries are religious folk.

    As anti-scientific and deplorable as that is, it’s not nearly as deplorable as their desire to impose their way of thinking on everyone else, which was the main point of “Expelled.”

    We’re not the people who keep trying to push religious education in the guise of science. It’s the creationists/IDers riding that horse. We’re not the people trying to keep gays from getting married because “god thinks it’s icky.” Nor are we the people who want to turn the world into a theocracy.

    What one finds on Pharyngula is a vulgar, condescending – even childish – defense of Darwinist dogma, not a mature defense of genuine, open-minded, self-correcting science.

    Mythology, either of the creationist or ID flavor, is not science. We don’t accept creation myths as science.

    I’ve seldom encountered a more repulsive blog. I feel soiled for sticking around for as long as I have.

    That’s okay. I feel soiled having wasted part of my life replying to you.

  155. #155 wòÓ†
    January 31, 2009

    John A. Davison is a great man and not a kook so STOP SAYING THAT.

  156. #156 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    w?, you feeling ok?

  157. #157 Walton
    January 31, 2009

    Ben Stein claims to be a conservative, but he is nothing of the sort. He’s advocated a higher tax rate on the wealthy, for a start, and he has quite unpleasant authoritarian tendencies. I don’t agree with his general economic or social standpoint at all.

    He’s also one of those people who considers himself an expert in everything. Like Stein, my degree is in law and I’m interested in politics and economics; unlike Stein, I recognise that this does not give me the ability to say anything intelligent about evolutionary biology, which is a long way outside my subject area and which I know next to nothing about. It’s better, IMO, to leave science to the scientists; Stein doesn’t seem to agree.

  158. #158 raven
    January 31, 2009

    Ben Stein has spent his whole life allied with the Forces of Darkness trying to destroy our society. He is basically a slightly more literate Rush Limbaugh.

    1. Speechwriter to Nixon, the disgraced and resigned president.

    2. Lying and slandering science and scientists for the Xian Dom. creationists of Expelled whose stated goal is to overthrow the US government and head on back to the Dark Ages.

    3. Giving simple minded and completely wrong financial advice while the USA and the world spirals into the worst recession since WWII.

    We know what is wrong with Stein. What is wrong with the University of Vermont? I would expect Stein to be speaking at Liberty, Oral Roberts, Regents, or Bob Jones U., not some place in Vermont for Cthulhu’s sake.

    Assuming U. of Vermont isn’t some coven of lunatic fringe Xian cultists, this is a real insult to the students and faculty there.

  159. #159 'Tis Himself
    January 31, 2009

    Ben Stein claims to be a conservative, but he is nothing of the sort…he has quite unpleasant authoritarian tendencies.

    Walton, read a little history about fascism and Nazism. You’ll find that the political right wing is full of authoritarians.

    (Walton complains when I call him a historical illiterate. For someone going to a good university, he’s shockingly iggerant.)

  160. #160 Porco Dio
    January 31, 2009

    @bornagain77 #75

    praise the lord…. so we all know what hell is… but did you ever stop to consider that heaven has never ever been described?

    think about this before you think any other thoughts…

    heaven, the ultimate reward you desire, is not something that you really know anything about.

    you spend your dour existence fantasising about the punishment that awaits others (you aint going there because you are too perfect) but you have absolutely no idea where YOU ARE going for all your goodness.

    you are a sad and lonely excuse for a mammal.

  161. #161 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    wOO+ are you drunk?

  162. #162 Richard Hubbard
    January 31, 2009

    @105

    Dr. Dawkins,

    Thank you for the info. I have just sent Mr. Fogel this email:

    Mr. Fogel. I have two sons who are in their second and third years of high school, and they are currently trying to evaluate different schools they may wish to attend. As you understand, the decisions can be hard for them, as it will affect the rest of their lives, and they don’t want to make a poor decision.
    Your recent decision to invite Ben Stein as a commencement speaker for the class of 2009 adequately demonstrates to me that you have absolutely no regard for the science that clothes you, puts nutritious food on your table, transports you safely, allows you unprecedented communications worldwide, and keeps you alive through many medical miracles brought to you by hard working scientists.

    This has allowed our family to place the University of Vermont in the same category as Liberty University, Bob Jones University, Baylor, Oral Roberts, ITT Technical Institute, Bryant and Stratton, and Devry.

    You should be proud.

    Regards
    Richard Hubbard

  163. #163 Walton
    January 31, 2009

    Walton, read a little history about fascism and Nazism. You’ll find that the political right wing is full of authoritarians.

    The “political right wing” doesn’t exist in any meaningful, philosophically coherent sense. Fascism and libertarianism are both described arbitrarily as being “on the right”, yet they have absolutely nothing in common, except their shared opposition to socialism. I therefore prefer not to use it as a point of reference, since it is completely meaningless.

    I did not say that Ben Stein was not “right-wing”. I said that he was not a conservative, in the traditional American sense of the word. “Conservatism”, of course, means different things in different countries and cultural contexts. In nineteenth-century Europe, for instance, a “conservative” was someone who advocated the retention of monarchy and aristocratic rule. Conversely, American conservatism has traditionally been characterised by a defence of liberty, small government, state and local as opposed to federal power, and low taxation. I am pointing out that Ben Stein, though he may call himself a “conservative”, does not adhere to these values. Much the same could be said, of course, of George W. Bush (hence why some of the brightest conservatives, such as William F. Buckley and George Will, were harshly critical of Bush).

    So you can fucking well stop calling me a historical illiterate. Maybe I was imprecise in just saying “Ben Stein is not a conservative” without qualifying the term “conservative”; but he is certainly not an American conservative in the orthodox, meaningful sense. I refuse to use sloppy, meaningless terminology such as “right-wing”, which wrongly implies that there is some commonality or ideological connection between the vast array of movements so characterised.

  164. #164 Fatpie42
    January 31, 2009

    Bootsy
    “I think Daemonax was lamenting the incursion of religion onto the University, not going into a discourse about religious architecture.”

    Your comment reveals your ignorance I’m afraid. A Muslim prayer room does not normally involve any kind of architecture. Unlike Christians who are irritated when there is no cross, Muslims specifically deny the need for any kind of decoration (they are similar to the Christian denomination of ‘Quakers’ in this respect). The reason for fancily decorated mosques is simply because people prefer to worship in pretty buildings than in ugly ones. The chances are that your university’s prayer room will simply be a designated room, not somewhere specially built-for-purpose.

    “If Muslims are going to bend over for an imaginary man five times a day, they can build their own house for it.”

    With whose money? All Muslims receive (at most) is a designated room (probably only one per campus – and you know how big your average university campus is). If they weren’t provided with a room, they would work around it (either by driving to mosque or by finding a spot of their own to lay out their prayer rug). However, the university doesn’t want students to have to drive back and forth from the university when they have lectures to attend and they most likely don’t want Muslims praying out in public either. As such, it benefits the university to have a seperate room designated to the purpose.

    “I wish I was in college still so I could get any of my tuition refunded that was used for that bullshit.”

    How much money are you expecting to receive for Muslims being designated a small empty room most likely too small to be used for seminars? Heck, I’m sorry if your university decided to spend extra money unecessarily on making the prayer room look pretty – but I hardly see how it warrants this kind of hostility.

  165. #165 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    Ben Stein claims to be a conservative, but he is nothing of the sort… he has quite unpleasant authoritarian tendencies.

    Forget the suggestion above to look at fascism; you will only claim that they have nothing to do with conservatism. Look instead at conservatism. Conservatism and authoritarianism have marched together much more often than they have clashed. The word “conservative” has, almost always and in every country referred to the defenders (and would-be strengtheners) of existing authority. Absolute monarchy was what conservatives stood for much of history. The German conservative parties fell in line with Hitler in a heartbeat. Salazar and Ptain were both much more in the tradition of conservative anti-republicanism than that of fascism. Those who call for strict Sharia law in muslim-majority countries today are conservatives.

    Those who call themselves “conservatives” and order torture in Guantanamo have every right to the word. They are the true inheritors of what it has always meant.

  166. #166 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    Walton, adding “American” to “Conservative” does nothing to make it incompatible with authoritarianism. Ever since there has been a recognisable American Conservative movement it has contained at least two of the following as entirely mainstream members: neo-Confederates/white supremacists, armed union busters, McCarthyites, neocons and Christian-right enemies of the first amendment.

  167. #167 arekksu
    January 31, 2009

    Porco Dio @161

    i think Revelation describes Heaven as a perfectly cube-shaped city with just enough room for 144,000 people, if i remember rightly. bizarre.

  168. #168 natefoo
    January 31, 2009

    @CalGeorge, #34

    And he didn’t go all publicly anti-science and anti-intellectual until 2007. So what’s there to be shameful for on our side?

  169. #169 Sven DiMilo
    January 31, 2009

    If you don’t like the simplistic left/right false dichotomy, have a look at the 2-dimensional political compass scheme. They use 2 axes, basically social and economic. There are many examples there that suggest that “conservative” economic attitudes tend to cluster near the “authoritative” social pole.

  170. #170 wÒÓ†
    January 31, 2009

    John A. Davison changed my life.

    And yes, I’m drunk, but that’s hardly the point.

  171. #171 Renee
    January 31, 2009

    There, I did my part:

    Daniel,

    When I read that the University of Vermont was inviting Ben Stein to give your commencement address, I was relieved – it meant that there was no chance that he’d be available to speak at my own commencement. However, since I go to a world-class university that is respected for its science research, there was never any chance of that in the first place. Too bad UVM can’t say the same.

    Renee Stephen
    Queen’s University, BAH ’09

  172. #172 Sherry
    January 31, 2009

    Heaven:

    The only version of heaven that has ever intrigued me is described by Mur Lafferty (goddess) in her “Heaven” series.

    Heck, I’d volunteer to be a belly-rubber in that dog heaven.

  173. #173 Guy Incognito
    January 31, 2009

    Superman:

    Given your description of Expelled, Bizarro would be a more appropriate handle for you.

  174. #174 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    You aren’t wOO+.

  175. #175 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    w?

  176. #176 w?
    January 31, 2009

    Hey, if you guys can’t see the genius behind John A. Davison’s Semimeotic Hypothesis then I can’t be of much help.

    Dude’s an unappreciated genius.

  177. #177 Sven DiMilo
    January 31, 2009

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaa! Rev BDC, no! Supernormal stimulus!!! Make it stop, I got stuff to do today!!

  178. #178 'Tis Himself
    January 31, 2009

    So you can fucking well stop calling me a historical illiterate.

    I’ll call you a historical illiterate every time you show your ignorance. Someone who claims that Stein isn’t a conservative because “he has quite unpleasant authoritarian tendencies” is pretty ignorant about politics and history.

    You consider yourself a conservative. Stein, who self-identifies as a conservative and is generally regarded by others to be a conservative, holds certain views that you disagree with. Therefore, using the No True Scotsman fallacy, you unilaterally defrock him from conservatism. Sorry but it doesn’t work that way. In fact, as a libertarian, you’re less conservative than Stein is. Certainly his conservative credentials are stronger than yours.

    Matt Heath, in #166 & 167, explains why conservatives can be authoritarian. The only thing I’ll add is that conservatives are considered right wing not only in the U.S. but generally throughout the world.

    I’d be a lot more forgiving about your naivete if you weren’t also a prissy, pompous prig. So suck it up, you little twit.

  179. #179 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    If you don’t like the simplistic left/right false dichotomy, have a look at the 2-dimensional political compass scheme. They use 2 axes, basically social and economic. There are many examples there that suggest that “conservative” economic attitudes tend to cluster near the “authoritative” social pole.

    Yeah, have a look at it, but bear in mind that it is bollocks.

    They pulled the two dimensions out of their arses (they are plausible dimensions but they didn’t do anything like factor analysis to show that they really are the best pair for placing people politically).

    The connection between the questions and the dimensions is pulled out of their arses and sometimes implausible (whether abstract art is art!).

    It kicks down and to the left. I’m happy down there; it fits with my own view of myself, but I’ve seen the scores of people who pretty conservative and it seems to put everyone in the third segment anti-clockwise.

    They claim all world leaders are top-rightists. All of them! And they aren’t, because if you gave them truth serum they would give answers similar to normal people (perhaps slightly skewed towards authority). Maybe policies are (nowadays) pushed to the right but in many cases that is from leaders who think free-market policies serve even the weakest and it doesn’t ask much about specific policies only aims. Pols will answer “The well-being of the poor is important” and such like anyone else.

  180. #180 dNorrisM
    January 31, 2009

    I’m suddenly curious as to whether Imagine was released before or after Stein tried to get Lennon Expelled. I’ll look it up…..

  181. #181 w?
    January 31, 2009

    I should probably point out that, aside from bringing loaded weapons to work at UVM, the only really bad thing John A. Davison ever did was spearhead the campaign to get Firefly cancelled.

  182. #182 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    wOOt = VMartin, banned idiot?

  183. #183 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    Dammit Chimpy! You weren’t supposed to share my picture.

  184. #184 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    w?; “the only really bad thing John A. Davison ever did was spearhead the campaign to get Firefly cancelled.”

    Seriously? Cause they are rude to the preacher guy? Or something else?

  185. #185 Zeno
    January 31, 2009

    Superman: For example, one of Pharygula’s bright lights took Berlinski’s claim that Darwinism was a necessary condition for the Holocaust to mean that Darwinism inexorably led to the Holocaust, which is, of course, nonsense.

    Superman can’t read, can he? Perhaps my gift of a kryptonite ID bracelet impaired his vision. He uses “inexorably” as if it were part of my statement that Berlinski declared Darwin to be a prerequisite for the Holocaust. Pas du tout, you silly wanker. But if you argued on the basis of what people actually say, there’d be no point, would there? (I will, however, forever treasure being called one of “Pharygula’s [sic] bright lights,” even if it was both misspelled and voiced by an idiot.)

  186. #186 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    Has everyone checked the batteries in their ??????? detectors?

  187. #187 w?
    January 31, 2009

    Seriously? Cause they are rude to the preacher guy? Or something else?

    I’m not sure exactly why he did it. I’ll have to ask my new girlfriend Morena, she’s all down with the Firefly stuff.

    Also, Davison has a patholgical hatred of bioluminescent animals, maybe that had something to do with it.

  188. #188 Sven DiMilo
    January 31, 2009

    they are plausible dimensions but they didn’t do anything like factor analysis to show that they really are the best pair for placing people politically

    Hmm. I’m neither equipped nor interested in defending the poitical compass (though its output usually makes intuitive sense to me). Are you aware of any serious multivariate analyses such as you propose? Seems like that’s something “political scientists” ought to be working on.

  189. #189 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    Also, Davison has a patholgical hatred of bioluminescent animals, maybe that had something to do with it.

    Well honestly, who doesn’t?

  190. #190 Sven DiMilo
    January 31, 2009

    wOOt = VMartin, banned idiot?

    Nah, way too literate. I suspect it is the real, ever-enigmatic, w?.

    Hey, I like bioluminescence!

  191. #191 Eric Saveau
    January 31, 2009

    The “political right wing” doesn’t exist in any meaningful, philosophically coherent sense.

    What planet are you from? The political right-wing is a very coherent and well-organized machine that has ruthlessly worked to advance very specific goals for decades.

    Fascism and libertarianism are both described arbitrarily as being “on the right”, yet they have absolutely nothing in common, except their shared opposition to socialism.

    Nothing arbitrary about it; the “difference” is that fascism initially saw power being solely invested in the state, whereas libertarianism initially saw power invested solely in a corporate-run feudal system. Over the last several decades these positions have merged – they both now see the role of the state as wielding power to preserve corporate privilege, which means there’s no functional difference between them at all regardless of their differences in rhetoric.

    “Conservatism”, of course, means different things in different countries and cultural contexts.

    Sophistry. Even if true, it would be irrelevant since we’re dealing with the conservatism that threatens our liberty NOW.

    In nineteenth-century Europe, for instance, a “conservative” was someone who advocated the retention of monarchy and aristocratic rule.

    The late twentieth-century American expression of that SAME ideal was called “permanent Republican majority” and was characterized by legislation that advanced the interests of the wealthy elite over the rest of us and allowed them in many cases to write the laws themselves in a blatantly display of aristocratic rule.

    Conversely, American conservatism has traditionally been characterised by a defence of liberty, small government, state and local as opposed to federal power, and low taxation.

    American conservatism has, in a tradition stretching back many decades, attacked our liberties, made our government larger, advanced state and local power strictly for the benefit of the local cronies of those who wielded federal power, and lowered taxes on the wealthy while placing greater burdens on the working class and middle class.

    I am pointing out that Ben Stein, though he may call himself a “conservative”, does not adhere to these values.

    And many people here (who, unlike you, actually know what the fuck they’re talking about) have continually pointed out the Dubya reigned in the long-standing tradition of conservative values.

    Much the same could be said, of course, of George W. Bush (hence why some of the brightest conservatives, such as William F. Buckley and George Will, were harshly critical of Bush).

    You mean “tepidly and half-heartedly critical of Bush when they realized that they needed to strike an occasional note of relevance.”

    So you can fucking well stop calling me a historical illiterate.

    We will fucking well continue to call you an historical illterate becasue that’s exactly what you are. You are morally no different from any other lying, child-raping, freedom-hating monstrosity that wears the label “conservative”. You’re just another Reich-wing propogandist-in-training, so FOAD.

    Maybe I was imprecise in just saying “Ben Stein is not a conservative” without qualifying the term “conservative”; but he is certainly not an American conservative in the orthodox, meaningful sense.

    Answered above…

    I refuse to use sloppy, meaningless terminology such as “right-wing”, which wrongly implies that there is some commonality or ideological connection between the vast array of movements so characterised.

    … and answered above again. You have had many commenters here supposing that you are merely ignorant; I think it’s pretty clear by now that you know damn well how full of shit you are and are merely honing your rhetoric for your target audience. I have no doubt that will find some measure of success; if the last several decades have taught us anything, it’s that arrogant, deceitful, hateful, condescending venom like yours will always find a market.

  192. #192 GILGAMESH
    January 31, 2009

    Ben Stein having the honor of giving the commencement speech at the UofV is only slightly less disgusting then the time Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted cop killer, gave the commencement speech (via recording) at Evergreen Collage in Washington State.

  193. #193 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    Sven@189: yeah they’ve been doing forever: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_spectrum

    There used to be a fairly cool alternative to Political Compass online with the methodology all open and the dimensions determined by statistical methods; I can’t find it now. It basically showed that (in anglophone, western democracies) the traditional left/social-liberal to capitalist/reactionary model pretty much holds up accounting for most of the variance with a fairly small error. The second, less important, dimension it picked out was something like “consequentialism vs. absolutism”.

    In my experience, you’re actually right that Political Compass puts people taking it in what seems like vaguely the right places relative to each other. I was a bit harsh calling it bollocks. But it’s the sort of thing (hiding your methodology, selling seminars) where we’d call out someone working in the natural science pretty hard. I don’t think we should give (possible) social pseudo-scientists too easy a rife.

  194. #194 Martin Stone
    January 31, 2009

    OPEN LETTER TO MR. DANIEL FOGEL:

    Greetings Mr. Fogel:

    I recently came to my attention that Mr. Ben Stein is being undeservedly honored with delivering the commencement address to this year?s UVM graduating class, as well as being the recipient of an honorary degree from UVM. What could you possibly be THINKING??????

    After years (and perhaps, in some cases, decades) of immersion in study, learning and thoughtful research, UVM has now decided to send off your 2009 graduating class with the words and thoughts of a foolish and willfully ignorant hate monger of scientific illiteracy ringing in their heads. BRILLIANT! What could you possibly be THINKING??????

    As you may be aware, Ben Stein is the infamous narrator/protagonist of the recently (and less than miserably received) ?Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed? movie. A movie that is so full of logical fallacies, straw men, outright lies, anti-science propaganda and misinformation ? that if would have made Josef Goebbels (the infamous Nazi Minister of Propaganda) blush. In fact, any clear thinking person would be loathe to associate with someone of Mr. Stein?s mendacity, let alone invite him to speak at your university?s commencement ceremony. What could you possibly be THINKING??????

    If you are somehow unaware of the level to which Mr. Stein has lowered himself, please take a few moments to look at the following website: http://www.expelledexposed.com/.

    Then, please tell me, what could you possibly be THINKING??????

    Mr. Stein is a proponent of ?Intelligent Design? which is neither intelligent or, in itself, a well designed argument/body of ?knowledge. Those of the so-called Discovery Institute (and those of their ilk) seem to completely miss (or misrepresent) the point that the ‘theory’ which Darwinian evolution puts forward is DESCRIPTIVE at its heart.

    It is a terrible shame that there are people like Mr. Stein, who enjoy a similar and all too ordinary state of willful ignorance with regards to the power of observation, documentation and subsequent reflection (including logic, reasoning, deduction, and the constant testing of hypotheses and conclusions). Or what is commonly known as the SCIENTIFIC METHOD. And it is exactly what science helps us to understand – the nature of things – through what is ultimately a descriptive process. The Physical, Natural, Biological laws and/or rules are simply the BEST DESCRIPTIONS of reality that we have – at the moment.

    That which determines if a scientific theory (let us take Darwinian evolution, for example) is worth a damn is if it helps us to make predictions about the future. And the genius of Darwin’s ‘theory’ is that it is very good at helping us to make accurate predictions about the future of speciation in the natural world. It even predicted a mechanism for inherited traits when Darwin himself had no idea of genes, DNA, RNA, etc.

    What is clear from Mr. Stein’s willfully ignorant dribble is that he has never read “Origin of Species”, “The Descent of Man”, or even modern texts like those of Dawkins (“The Ancestor’s Tale, “The Blind Watchmaker”, or “The Selfish Gene”) when he (and his ill fated movie) links science and knowledge with the Holocaust ? as if human history had never seen genocide, warfare or the insanity of despots and tyrants before Darwin began to study the natural world. To equate modern societal ills as having arisen out of the publication of what is most certainly one of the greatest scientific discoveries of any age, is beyond the pale. Humanity, and indeed nature herself, was cruel – and remains cruel and viscous – before Darwin set pen to paper and provided an honest description of the likely process of speciation. In fact, the phrase, “survival of the fittest” was never written (nor likely uttered) by Darwin. Yet it does provide a powerful synopsis of the theory of evolution, as it is only those individuals who reproduce (i.e. are fit) that pass on their inheritable characteristics to the next generation.

    I can only hope that your 2009 graduating class is composed of intelligent clear thinking adults who will see Mr. Stein for what he is (and his inane notions for what they are) and will have the maturity not to hold it against UVM ? for perpetrating such an insult on their hard won academic achievements.

    What could you possibly be THINKING??????

    Rationally yours,
    Martin Stone

  195. #195 Sven DiMilo
    January 31, 2009

    I don’t think we should give (possible) social pseudo-scientists too easy a ride.

    Agreed (with friendly point mutation).

  196. #196 Roger
    January 31, 2009

    I’m angrier that the moron calling himself “Superman” has sullied the name of my favorite comic book character and fictional hero (yes, I rank Superman above Jesus in terms of fictional heroes) by spreading his stupid godbottery.

  197. #197 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    Sven, I found that “open” compass I was referring to http://politics.beasts.org/

  198. #198 Joshua
    January 31, 2009

    Whoa, Renee (comment #172), take it easy.

    I appreciate that you took the time to email our president regarding his atrocious decision, but get off your high horse. We have some amazing scientists at this university, who also do “world-class research.”

    We are just as appalled as you regarding President Fogel’s decision, and we will do everything we can to stop Stein from appearing. And if he does appear, he will be sure to know that he is not welcomed by all. If there is one thing people love to do in Burlington, its protest.

    He’ll hear our voice. And yours.

    Josh

  199. #199 Silver Fox
    January 31, 2009

    Read part of an article on evolution and design by someone named K.D. Kelinsky – identified only as a scientist

    I can’t even google this guy. anyone has any idea as to who he is? What he is? Where he is?

  200. #200 Strangest brew
    January 31, 2009

    199*

    ‘He’ll hear our voice. And yours.’

    Maybe it might also be prudent to also inform President Fogel… in no uncertain terms… that he has defecated on his own doorstep…the dirty dog!

    Then maybe this sort of embarrassment might be avoided in future years…it is not fair on the students… the faculty or the University…that is not so much a shame… that is just plain careless!
    If a University loses reputation then why is it a University?

  201. #201 Monado
    January 31, 2009

    If Stein has been invited, and has accepted, and presumably is being paid for his speech, is that not a contract? How can the university legally retract it?

    Hitler actually burned Darwin’s books, so it’s unlikely that evolutionary ideas had much to do with the Holocaust, when a rich vein of self-congratulatory Christian anti-Semitism runs through Hitler’s writings.

    If intellectual freedom la Ben Stein is so great, excuse me while I rush off to insert Norse mythology into your local seminary and Atlas holding up the world into astronomy classes.

  202. #202 Ice-Man
    January 31, 2009

    I recently graduated with a B.Sc. degree and Im currently scouting grad schools. I will now, for OBVIOUS reasons not even begin to consider UVM as an option.

    I just sent an email to Fogel and told him I was thankful for his help in narrowing down my choices. UVM has a program I would have liked to seriously consider but I cant now. I just cant do that to myself….

    UVM is out…. thanks Fogel

    From Iceland,
    Ice-Man

  203. #203 ricklend
    January 31, 2009

    Please, someone clue me in. What am I missing? How does someone so idiotic as Ben Stein and the former President get through prestigious Ivy League schools?

  204. #204 MH
    January 31, 2009

    arekksu #168 wrote: “i think Revelation describes Heaven as a perfectly cube-shaped city with just enough room for 144,000 people, if i remember rightly. bizarre.”

    Close. The real figure is 129,000.

  205. #205 Strangest brew
    January 31, 2009

    “Please, someone clue me in. What am I missing? How does someone so idiotic as Ben Stein and the former President get through prestigious Ivy League schools?”

    Daddy and his wallet!

  206. #206 Muffin
    January 31, 2009

    Ben Stein?

    I call Poe’s Law on reality.

  207. #207 Jean McLain
    January 31, 2009

    As a UVM graduate (in the field of Biology, no less!), I am extremely dismayed at this decision from a school that I have, to this point, held in high esteem. Thanks for the heads-up on this — I will now be writing an email to pull my promised financial support from UVM.

    Jean McLain, Ph.D. (B.S., UVM, 1982)

  208. #208 Lilian Nattel
    January 31, 2009

    I think they should be giving the flat-earth folks equal time. Also phlogiston. Who says there’s oxygen?

  209. #209 natefoo
    January 31, 2009

    @Martin Stone, #195

    Your letter reads not entirely unlike a piece by one of PZ’s slightly off-balance creationist spammers. What with all the CAPS and repetitious inquiry as to the recipient’s mental state.

    @Ice-Man, #203

    Yeah, because the rational response to a boneheaded commencement invitation by an out-of-touch school administrator is to reject that school’s academic programs outright, regardless of how prestigious and highly ranked they may be.

    This is one of the few times I’ve delved in to comments here, but I have to say I’m not impressed. =/

  210. #210 jay
    January 31, 2009

    American conservatism has, in a tradition stretching back many decades, attacked our liberties, made our government larger, advanced state and local power strictly for the benefit of the local cronies

    Oh you forgot to mention the illuminati. And the Knights Templar.

    While calling out others for using the ‘no true Scotsman’ argument, you create an inverse yourself. You decide what ‘true conservatives’ are and know just why they do what they do, (unlike the ‘true left’ who always have altruistic motives) apparently you are privy to their inner motivations.

  211. #211 Polyester Mather D.D.
    January 31, 2009

    The diplomatic alumni response would be to demand the the graduation speech be converted into a debate with a comparable Vermont intellectual, like Middlebury’s renowned Cow.

    The winner gets to be the next president of the University of Vermont, while the loser stars in the sequel to Expelled.

  212. #212 Eric Saveau
    January 31, 2009

    @Jay the apologist for lies and hatred-
    You decide what ‘true conservatives’ are and know just why they do what they do, (unlike the ‘true left’ who always have altruistic motives) apparently you are privy to their inner motivations.

    Nope, I didn’t decide a damn thing; I just point out obvious matters of fact. If this is an attempt to mock me, you’re going to have to try a lot harder.

  213. #213 'Tis Himself
    January 31, 2009

    Conservatives like to pretend they’re all for liberty, small government, mom, and apple pie, and against the man-eating shark. In reality, they want to legislate their particular morality, support corporations, cut taxes for the rich, defund the social safety net, deregulate the financial markets, and send deficits as high as possible.

    And yes, Jay, I can support each and every one of those statements. You conservatives whine about “tax and spend liberals.” Well, here’s one liberal who doesn’t like “charge it and owe it conservatives.”

  214. #214 Porco Dio
    January 31, 2009

    @arekksu #168

    well, it beats the hell outta hell

  215. #215 gwendolyn
    January 31, 2009

    I am choking.
    University of Vermont? That means one thing to me–the academic home of my favorite literary biologist Bernd Heinrich, who has delighted bibliophilic laymen like me with The Mind of the Raven, The Trees in My Forest and many other engrossing best-sellers.
    How could University of Vermont squander the lustre that Dr. Heinrich has brought them–for what? a well-paying gig for the boss’ buddy?
    I am dismayed and disgusted.

  216. #216 Jon Fincher
    January 31, 2009

    Why does it matter who speaks? Does UVM withhold your degree if you don’t attend commencement? My university didn’t.

    It’s a ritual, no more or less meangingful than any of the rituals the old charlatans at the local church put you through. The real accomplishment was getting the 120 hours of study done – the rest is pomp and circumstance, empty of any real substance.

    Let Stein talk – spend your time doing something more important than listening to him. Like clipping your nose hair…

  217. #217 Kevin
    January 31, 2009

    I sent my email.

    What a tragic mistake.

  218. #218 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    Why does it matter who speaks? Does UVM withhold your degree if you don’t attend commencement? My university didn’t.

    It’s a ritual, no more or less meangingful than any of the rituals the old charlatans at the local church put you through. The real accomplishment was getting the 120 hours of study done – the rest is pomp and circumstance, empty of any real substance.

    Let Stein talk – spend your time doing something more important than listening to him. Like clipping your nose hair…

    Do you make it a habit of missing the point or just ignoring it?

  219. #219 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    I smell an idiotic apologist with Jon Fincher. With the truth, it does matter. Stein is a liar and bullshitter, and deserves no pulpit to preach his ignorance, especially if he is being rewarded for doing so.

  220. #220 Marion Delgado
    January 31, 2009

    “A past dementia is questionable, a present dementia is undeniable”

    This would be a phenomenal ATBC sig.

  221. #221 cleve hicks
    February 1, 2009

    Daniel.Fogel@uvm.edu

    The Ben Stein Debacle

    Dear President Fogel,
    As a biology student studying the Bili apes in Northern Congo, I would like to add my voice to those that have been raised in protest over your decision to invite Ben Stein to give this year’s commencement address at your university. Ben Stein has revealed himself to be not only anti-scientific but anti-academic. What you have done is the equivalent of inviting a racist to address the NAACP. Stein has, for example, blamed Charles Darwin for the Holocaust, and wants to bring God back into science. Of course Mr. Stein is welcome to his opinion, but it baffles me as to exactly how he qualifies to give this commencement address. What kind of a message are you sending to our young people about scientific and academic integrity?
    The fact that, ommitting his celebrity as an actor/game show host, Mr. Stein is most famous as a speechwriter for the criminal Nixon administration — well, it seems to me that you are doing nothing less than honoring a dishonest propagandist for his ‘work’.
    What will your biology students think?
    Please reconsider your choice. Our young people need a better example to follow.
    Sincerely yours,
    Cleve Hicks
    The Bili Ape Project
    The University of Amsterdam

  222. #222 marginallymanic
    February 1, 2009

    When I decide whether to spend my hard earned dollars on a film, I read the reviews. In the case of Expelled, I read Roger Ebert’s.

    http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/12/win_ben_steins_mind.html

    I decided against.

  223. #223 Jim in Vermont
    February 1, 2009

    “Hitler actually burned Darwin’s books…”

    I tried, without success, to verify this assertion. Googling “books burned by Hitler” returned 309,000 hits, but none that I examined listed Darwin’s books among those burned by the Nazis. So I googled “Hitler’s list of banned books,” which returned 233,000 hits. None of the sites I examined actually listed any of the books banned by Hitler, but one site (http://www.answers.com/topic/list-of-authors-banned-during-the-third-reich) listed authors banned during the Third Reich. Tellingly, Darwin was not among the banned authors.

    I also found that the Nazis had an official journal (Die Bucherei) that established guidelines for lending libraries(http://www.library.arizona.edu/exhibits/burnedbooks/documents.htm#guidelines). According to the guidelines in Die Bucherei, “(w)ritings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism” were unacceptable. It’s not altogether clear what is meant by “primitive Darwinism.” Rather than banning Darwinism as elucidated by Darwin, the guidelines may have banned ill-informed (or “primitive”) presentations of Darwinism because such presentations provided “false scientific enlightenment.” In any event, the guidelines didn’t specifically ban “The
    Origin of Species” (or any of Darwin’s works) and it’s speculative to presume that they did.

    Not so long ago Nick Matzke (of Panda’s Thumb fame) also argued that Hitler banned Darwin’s books. Historian Richard Weikart’s reply to Matzke follows….

    http://post-darwinist.blogspot.com/2006/11/hitler-as-social-darwinist-another.html

    >Recently Nick Matzke unearthed a neat piece of evidence that he…thinks delivers a knock-out blow to my arguments in “From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany.” Unfortunately, his evidence is to the history of Nazism what the Nebraska Man is to
    evolutionary theory – an extrapolation of fragmentary evidence that wildly misses the mark. To be fair, Matzke makes a few comments showing that he recognizes some of the problems with his evidence, but nonetheless he persists with nonsequitur comments, such as: “The above lists do not prove that books by Darwin…were actually physically burned, only banned [by the Nazis].” Do they really?

    >….just how do Matzke’s objections destroy my thesis, which properly stated is this: Darwinism (note: not just Darwin – I discuss many Darwinian-inspired scientists and scholars) produced new thinking about morality and ethics, especially medical ethics, helping bring about (note: I didn’t say “inevitably producing”) the rise of ideologies such as eugenics, infanticide, euthanasia, and racial extermination. I never claimed Darwinism was the only influence on these ideologies (I stated the exact opposite in my book). However, even if Darwin had believed in the
    equality of races (he didn’t), even if he denied that races were annihilating each other in the struggle for existence (he argued the contrary), even if he completely rejected eugenics (he only rejected compulsory eugenics measures), and even if he viewed infanticide and euthanasia as immoral (lo and behold, he did!), and even if he was anti-militarist (he was, and I say so in my book); this would not undermine my point that leading Darwinian biologists, anthropologists, medical professors, physicians, and other social thinkers in Germany overtly used Darwinian principles to promote eugenics, infanticide, euthanasia, and
    racial extermination. I’m sorry if you don’t like this, but it happened. Instead of criticizing me for pointing it out, you should argue with these nineteenth and early twentieth-century Darwinists.

    >Having cleared this up, what is this new evidence that Matzke produced in his October 1, 2006 blog that allegedly demolishes my thesis? He perceptively discovered that in guidelines for banned books issued by the Nazis in 1935, one of the categories of banned books were those about
    “primitive Darwinism and Monism (Haeckel).” Matzke then claims that Darwin was banned under the Nazis (once he concedes that it might just have been something called “primitive Darwinism,” so he apparently recognizes one of the huge problems with his claim but he persists nonetheless).

    >There are many reasons why Matzke’s discovery, interesting though it is, does not present a serious challenge to my own scholarship.

    >First of all, Matzke himself apparently realized that by modifying Darwinism with the word primitive, this list did not really mean Darwinism per se. Good observation, but then why does he persist in maintaining that Darwin’s works were banned? Darwinian biologists (and Darwinian theory)
    under the Nazi regime were promoted, not silenced. There are many good scholarly books that clarify this issue, such as Ute Deichmann’s “Biologists under Hitler” (Harvard UP, 1996)and Paul Weindling’s “Health, Race and German Politics between National Unification and Nazism,” 1870-1945 (Cambridge UP, 1989). These works and many others show that
    Darwinian biologists thrived under Nazism. Hans F. K. Guenther, who was appointed to a professorship in social anthropology by the Nazi minister Frick after the Nazis came to power in the state of Thuringia (against the
    objections of the faculty there), was committed to Darwinian theory. Eugen Fischer, a Darwinian anthropologist and eugenicist, was named rector of the University of Berlin in July 1933, and he headed up the Kaiser Wilhelm
    Institute on Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, a leading research institute. In 1944 (that’s still under Nazi rule) the institute was even named after Fischer! Many other Darwinian biologists landed in important positions under Nazism: Fritz Lenz, Emil Abderhalden, Konrad Lorenz, and the list could go on and on.

    >Another problem for Matzke’s critique of my position is that just about all historians discussing Nazi eugenics, euthanasia, and racism have mentioned the importance of Darwinism as a precursor to Nazi ideology and policies. Also, most historians writing about Hitler’s ideology have
    discussed the role of Darwinism in his thinking. Many other Nazi leaders were enthusiastic about Darwinism, too. Sure, some of these historians may call it “vulgar Darwinism” or “social Darwinism,” or some other such appellation, but these still all had Darwinian elements of some sort. You
    cannot be a “social Darwinist” without first embracing Darwinism. This should be an obvious point, but apparently it eludes some people….< (end quote)

    I anticipate that the responses to this will be largely limited to sneers, jeers, and ridicule. I’ve noticed that most of the Pharyngula regulars don’t actually argue; they just hurl rhetorical stinkbombs.

  224. #224 Wolfhound
    February 1, 2009

    What? You’re C&Ping dribblings from Weikart the DI shill? You must forgive us if we consider his “scholarship” to be less than trustworthy given who is paymasters are.

    From the Wikipedia bio of ID parrot Weikart:

    Richard Weikart (born July 1958) is head of department of history at California State University, Stanislaus, and is a senior fellow for the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute.[1] In 1997 he joined the editorial board of the Access Research Network’s Origins & Design Journal.[2] Weikart’s work focuses on the impact of evolution, which he and the Discovery Institute term Darwinism, on social thought, ethics and morality. His work and conclusions are controversial.

    Oh, and so I disappoint you (since you were obviously asking for it), consider this a sneer.

  225. #225 Jim in Vermont
    February 1, 2009

    Wolfhound,

    A sneer? Yes, also a logical fallacy (argumentum ad hominem). Do you have anything substantive to say against Weikart’s arguments?

  226. #226 senecasam
    February 1, 2009

    Here’s the announcement from UVM’s Communications staff regarding Ben Stein’s commencement appearence.

    No mention of “Expelled…”, or his “Expelled…” related appearances where he uttered some of his most memorable lines.

    Link to announcement – http://www.uvm.edu/~uvmpr/?Page=News&storyID=13522

    “The multi-talented Ben Stein, actor/comedian/lawyer/economist/presidential speechwriter/filmmaker, will address the graduates and receive an honorary degree at the University of Vermont’s 205th commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 17.

    Popularly known as the host of Comedy Central’s seven-time Emmy award winning game show, “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” and for an iconic classroom scene in the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Stein is also an accomplished writer who has published 30 books and written for publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times to E! Online and New York Magazine. Stein earned his undergraduate degree with honors in economics from Columbia University and went on to graduate as valedictorian of his class from Yale Law School. He has taught at American University, the University of California at Santa Cruz and Pepperdine University in subjects ranging from political and social content of mass culture to securities law. Along with his academic and entertainment achievements, Stein has as served as a trial lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission and as White House speechwriter for presidents Nixon and Ford.”

  227. #227 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    February 1, 2009

    Jim In Vermont, bullshit.

    6. Schriften weltanschaulichen und lebenskundlichen Charakters, deren Inhalt die falsche naturwissenschaftliche Aufklrung eines primitiven Darwinismus und Monismus ist (Hckel).

    6. Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Hckel).

    You did not look very hard, did you?

  228. #228 Richard Dawkins
    February 1, 2009

    “Someone with a real axe to grind had to have been on the committee that picked this old fraud”. Layla Nasreddin, posting on RichardDawkins.net, has found the probable answer to the identity of that ‘someone’. Ben Stein is an old pal of the President of the University of Vermont, Daniel Fogel. One is bound to wonder, therefore, whether the letters that many of us have been writing to Fogel will cut any ice. If you have written to Fogel, therefore, it would be a good idea to Forward your letter now to the entire Board of Trustees of the University of Vermont, and the two administrators in charge of the Trustees. Here’s a handy list of three addresses:
    trustees@uvm.edu, Corinne.Thompson@uvm.edu, estjohn@uvm.edu

  229. #229 Porco Dio
    February 1, 2009

    can we please have a physical address for the university so we can bury them in snail-mail?

    thanks!

  230. #230 Jim in Vermont
    February 1, 2009

    Janine: “You did not look very hard, did you?”

    Huh? I cited the same quote from Die Bucherei that you cited. You didn’t read very carefully, did you?

  231. #231 Richard Dawkins
    February 1, 2009

    can we please have a physical address for the university so we can bury them in snail-mail?

    General Contact Information:
    The University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

    http://www.uvm.edu/talk_to_us/
    http://www.uvm.edu/offices/?Page=governance.html
    http://www.uvm.edu/trustees/?Page=members/allmembers.html

    A number of posters on RichardDawkins.net are suggesting that, if the University won’t withdraw the invitation, a better plan in any case would be to suggest to students that they silently WALK OUT of the hall, as soon as Stein starts to drone. If anybody has contacts at the University of Vermont, it would be nice to spread the idea about.

  232. #232 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    February 1, 2009

    Someone is lacking in comprehension. Whatever.

  233. #233 Jim in Vermont
    February 1, 2009

    Richard Dawkins: “One is bound to wonder, therefore, whether the letters that many of us have been writing to Fogel will cut any ice.”

    Probably not. Since Fogel knows Stein personally, he’ll know that the smears in those letters are gratuitous, and he’ll quite properly ignore them (as any reasonable person would).

  234. #234 Tony Whitson
    February 1, 2009

    #227 quotes from the announcement:

    The multi-talented Ben Stein, actor/comedian/lawyer/economist/presidential speechwriter/filmmaker

    An hour-long C-Span interview reveals Stein to an incoherent mess, not the conniving opportunist I had assumed him to be. He says he’s ghost-written an autobiography for Jesse Jackson, and he was planning to vote for Ralph Nader in 2008, so he is not easily pigeonholed as just a Nixon/Ford speechwriter who’s moved on to other right-wing causes.

    I thought he was being cynically manipulative toward the dupes who follow him when he said that “Darwinism cannot explain gravity, it cannot explain thermodynamics …,” but it turns out he really thinks that way. See
    http://curricublog.wordpress.com/2008/11/23/stein-darwinism-gravity-2/
    (with links to the CSpan page with video & transcript links)

  235. #235 Richard Dawkins
    February 1, 2009

    Probably not. Since Fogel knows Stein personally, he’ll know that the smears in those letters are gratuitous, and he’ll quite properly ignore them (as any reasonable person would).

    Obviously you haven’t seen the film, ‘Expelled’. Please do so and make up your own mind when you have. I hope President Fogel will do the same. If he is an honest man who loves the life of the mind, as a University President should, his friendship with Stein will not survive the experience.

  236. #236 Jim in Vermont
    February 1, 2009

    Jimminy Christmas described Hitler as “an observant Christian.”

    This brings to mind a message I posted to another forum some time ago, to wit:

    Some have suggested that Hitler’s policy of racial extermination was not informed in the slightest way by Darwinian principles, but was instead shaped by Christianity. This argument is difficult to sustain in light of historical realities.

    It’s true that Hitler was raised in a nominally Catholic family (his mother, at any rate, was said to be a devout Catholic) and that he often made public pronouncements that could be taken to mean that he remained a Catholic in his adult life. However, given that he was a master propagandist and liar, and given the pagan overtones of Nazism and its genocidal project aimed at creating a super race of Aryans (Aryans, not Christians), there’s no good reason to think that Hitler actually was a practicing Catholic who regarded himself as answerable to God. Indeed,
    Hitler himself wrote: “With the appearance of Christianity the first spiritual terror has been brought into the much freer world.” He also said: “The Catholic church is corrupt through and through and must vanish.”

    Nazism made the elimination of Christianity one of its goals, although Hitler and his underlings differed on the timing for achieving this goal. Goebbels, Rosenberg, and others thought that the destruction of Christianity should be a part of the war effort; Hitler thought it should
    wait until after the war. Hitler also thought that the Christian clergymen and their flocks should be enlisted as allies in the war effort. Hence, he frequently made disingenuous public statements about his faith in “the
    Lord” and about Christianity being the basis of Nazi morality. We now know that it was all a lie. Support for my claims follows, taken from:

    1) “The Hitler Myth,” by Ian Kershaw, professor of modern history, Univ. of Nottingham
    2) “Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis,” by Kershaw
    3) “Inside the Third Reich,” by Albert Speer (himself a Nazi and one of Hitler’s confidants)
    4) “A History of Modern Germany,” by Hajo Holborn, professor of history, Yale
    5) “Hitler and Nazi Germany,” by Frank McDonough, historian
    6) “From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany,” by Richard Weikart, historian, Cal State Stanislaus

    1) On the opposition of the Christian churches to Nazism…

    - “The Christian churches (Protestant and Catholic) expressed opposition to the attempts of the Nazis to undermine long-standing Christian doctrines and practices….In the long term, Nazism and Christianity were incompatible. After all, the Nazis were educating the
    German people to see Nazism as the ‘National Religion.’” (McDonough, HNG)

    - “The strength of the Catholic opposition to the (Nazi) regime is emphasized by the fact that a total of 400 Catholic priests were incarcerated in the Dachau concentration camp alone.” (McDonough, HNG)

    - “The most obvious example of the bitter ideological dispute in the Third Reich is provided by the confrontation of the Nazi regime with the major Christian denominations.” (Kershaw, THM)

    2) On Hitler’s ability to mesmerize many of the people and some Christian leaders into thinking he was a defender of Christianity…

    - “The ‘Church struggle’ stirred up animosity against the Nazis, but had a far less negative impact on Hitler’s popularity. In escaping much of the odium the bitter conflict produced, in fact, Hitler was frequently viewed – remarkably, it seems, also by some Church leaders – as the
    defender of the religious values of Christianity against the ideological fanatics of the Nazi movement.” (Kershaw, THM)

    - “Far more remarkable than Goebbels swallowing the religious nimbus of the Fuhrer which his own propaganda had helped to manufacture is the fact that even prominent churchmen – some of them hardly won over to National Socialism – appear to have convinced themselves that Hitler was deeply religious in character. No less a figure than Cardinal Faulhaber…wrote ‘(Hitler) recognizes Christianity as the builder of Western Culture.’” (Kershaw, THM)

    3) On the Nazis’ efforts to destroy Christianity…

    - “Hitler’s impatience with the churches prompted frequent
    outbursts of hostility. In early 1937, he was declaring that ‘Christianity was ripe for destruction,’ and that the churches must yield to the ‘primacy of the state,’ railing against any compromise with ‘the most horrible
    institution imaginable.’” (Kershaw, H:N)

    - “…in Berlin…surrounded by male cohorts, (Hitler) spoke more coarsely and bluntly….’Once I have settled other problems,’ he occasionally declared, ‘I’ll have my reckoning with the Church. I’ll have it reeling on the ropes.’” (Speer, ITR)

    - “…however much Hitler on some occasions claimed to want a respite in the conflict (with the churches), his own inflammatory comments gave his immediate underlings all the license they needed to turn up the heat in the ‘Church struggle,’ confident that they were ‘working towards
    the Fuhrer.’” (Kershaw, H:N)

    - “The continuing conflict with both the Catholic and Protestant churches…amounted to a recurring irritation…rather than a priority concern as it was with Goebbels, Rosenberg, and many of the Party rank-and-file.” (Kershaw, H:N)

    - “In February 1937 Hitler made it plain to his inner
    circle…(that) calm should be restored for the time being in relations with the churches. Instead, the conflict with the Christian churches intensified.” (Kershaw, H:N)

    - “The assault on the practices and institutions of the Christian churches was deeply embedded in the psyche of National Socialism.” (Kershaw: H:N)

    - “Despite Hitler’s own repeated expressed wish for calm in
    relations with the churches as long as the war lasted – the reckoning with Christianity, in his view, had to wait for the final victory – a wave of anti-church agitation…had taken place during the first half of 1941. The activism appears to have come from below…but it certainly had
    encouragement from above, particularly through Bormann and the Party Chancellary….Bormann had expressly declared that Christianity and National Socialism were incompatible.” (Kershaw, H:N)

    - “(Hitler) realized that it was not necessary to win full control of the churches by the Trojan horse of German Christianity but rather that in order to achieve his ultimate goal, namely the destruction of Christian
    beliefs and their replacement by some kind of racist German philosophy, the Party should display open hostility to all churches and keep away from all church parties, including the German Christians.” (Holborn, HMG)

    - “…(Nazi) harrassment of the churches by the imposition of penalties on those opposing paganism or racism continued. The intention was to isolate the churches and undermine their influence on the people’s thoughts and manners.” (Holborn, HMG)

    4) On Hitler’s scorn for Christian morality…

    - “(Hitler) scorned humaneness and Christian morality, which would promote weakness, thereby producing decline, degradation, and ultimately the demise of the human species. In a 1923 speech Hitler explained the
    relationship between struggle and right: ‘Decisive (in history) is the power that the peoples (Volker) have within them; it turns out that the stronger before God and the world has the right to impose its will. From history one sees that the right by itself is completely useless, if a
    mighty power does not stand behind it. Right alone is of no use to whomever does not have the power to impose his right. The strong has always triumphed…All of nature is a constant struggle between power and weakness, a constant triumph of the strong over the weak.’” (Weikart, FDH)

    - “…in ‘Mein Kampf’ Hitler clearly denied that morality has any objective, permanent existence. He argued that all ethical and aesthetic ideas – indeed all ideas except those that are purely logical deductions – are dependent on the human mind and have no existence apart from humans….Hitler’s view that morality is purely a human construction undermines any system of ethics claiming transcendence, such as Judeo-Christian ethics or Kantian ethics.” (Weikart, FDH)

    - “Hitler…redefined humaneness by stripping individuals of any rights and by arguing that the destruction of the weak by the strong is humane. He thus stood traditional morality on its head.” (Weikart, FDH)

    - “Hitler derided any morality inimical to the increased vitality of the ‘Aryan’ race, especially traditional Christian values of humility, pity, and sympathy. He considered these unnatural, contrary to reason, and
    thus detrimental and destructive for the healthy progress of the human species. He spurned the idea of human rights, calling it a product of weaklings. ‘No,’ he explained, ‘there is only one most holy human right,
    and this right is at the same time the most holy duty, namely, to take care to keep one’s blood pure,’ in order to promote ‘a more noble evolution’ of humanity.” (Weikart, FDH)

    If Hitler was acting on Christian principles, it’s hard to account for his intention and efforts to destroy Christianity. Also, the things he had to say against both Christianity and Catholicism belie the claim that
    he was a Bible-believing Catholic. As his words and actions clearly show, he wasn’t on a fanatical, Christianity-inspired crusade to rid the world of “Christ-killers,” rather his mission was to promote “a more noble
    evolution” of humanity. He was just giving natural selection a helping hand by eliminating what he saw as inferior human beings. On Darwinian grounds, who could object?

  237. #237 Porco Dio
    February 1, 2009

    @Dawkins #232

    thanks for the heads-up…

    i shall be posting a letter each weekday until the invite is withdrawn or the scallywag appears at UVM

  238. #238 Jim in Vermont
    February 1, 2009

    Richard Dawkins: “Obviously you haven’t seen the film, ‘Expelled’. Please do so and make up your own mind when you have.”

    Actually, I have seen “Expelled” (twice). That’s why I know that both the movie and Stein’s beliefs are being grossly misrepresented here. Perhaps you’re simply annoyed by how you came across in the movie. The letter-writing campaign against Stein will no doubt reinvigorate interest in the movie, giving it a wider viewership than it might otherwise have. Ideas tend to spread when they come under attack.

  239. #239 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    The “political right wing” doesn’t exist in any meaningful, philosophically coherent sense. Fascism and libertarianism are both described arbitrarily as being “on the right”, yet they have absolutely nothing in common, except their shared opposition to socialism. I therefore prefer not to use it as a point of reference, since it is completely meaningless. – Walton

    The first sentence is partially true, in that “right-wing” (like “left-wing”) covers movements and individuals who would disagree violently. However, it is not difficult in most countries to identify the main party or parties of the right – they are the ones getting the bulk of corporate donations, where these are permitted; and opposing public provision of health, welfare and eduction, public ownership, redistributive taxation, trade union rights, and legislative attempts to prevent discrimination on the grounds of race, sex and sexual orientation. Usually, but not always, they will want strict limits on immigration, and support the involvement of religion in the public sphere. Yes, Walton, I know your views don’t fit this profile perfectly, but in case you hadn’t noticed, nowhere are “libertarian” groups of much significance politically.

    The second sentence is unequivocally false: there is nothing arbitrary about placing both fascism and “libertarianism”, along with traditional conservatism, on the right: all are in favour of extensive socio-economic inequality. They also all either oppose, or seek to limit, democracy. The fact that you would prefer not to be associated with fascists is neither here nor there; I’d prefer not to be grouped with Leninists, but I don’t try to deny they are part of the left. “Libertarians” are engaged in a systematic, and highly dishonest, attempt to change the meaning of long-established political terms, in order to claim that they are the supporters – and the only supporters – of freedom.

  240. #240 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    February 1, 2009

    Funny, I read both Nemesis and Hubris by Ian Kershaw. There is no discussion of how Darwin influenced Hitler to be found. I sure sure that Kershaw is pleased to be used in a propaganda hit piece.

  241. #241 Strangest brew
    February 1, 2009

    ‘Actually, I have seen “Expelled” (twice). That’s why I know that both the movie and Stein’s beliefs are being grossly misrepresented here.’

    Of course they are honey bunch!

    “The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued the following statement regarding the controversial film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

    The film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed misappropriates the Holocaust and its imagery as a part of its political effort to discredit the scientific community which rejects so-called intelligent design theory.

    Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people and Darwin and evolutionary theory cannot explain Hitler’s genocidal madness.

    Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry.

    Nowhere does Stein mention the centuries of anti-Semitism before Darwin — in fact, Expelled all but ignores anti-Semitism as a reason for the Holocaust. Consequently, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement saying, “Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry.”

    When asked about this statement, Stein’s response revealed his hostility toward the Anti-Defamation League more than anything else.

    “It’s none of their fucking business.”

    Ben Stein has decided that the Holocaust is none of the ADL’s business. Err, “fucking business.”

  242. #242 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    He was just giving natural selection a helping hand by eliminating what he saw as inferior human beings. On Darwinian grounds, who could object? – Jim in Vermont

    “Darwinian”, if it means anything, refers to a scientific theory. The fact that natural selection operates on populations of organisms has no moral implications whatever.

    You can of course be a “social Darwinist” without understanding evolutionary theory – in fact, it is considerably easier to be one if you misunderstand it.

    I notice you steer well clear of the Vatican concordat with the Nazis. Not to mention the fact that whatever the beliefs of Hitler and his immediate circle – and he was most certainly both a baptised Catholic and a lifelong theist, although not an orthodox Christian – the vast majority of those who carried out his orders, including those for the holocaust, were orthodox believing Christians. Both Catholicism and Lutheranism have long histories of the most vicious antisemitism – which has, of course, no possible “Darwinian” or even “social Darwinist” justification.

    In short: you’re a lying piece of shit.

  243. #243 Jim in Vermont
    February 1, 2009

    Janine: “Funny, I read both Nemesis and Hubris by Ian Kershaw. There is no discussion of how Darwin influenced Hitler to be found.”

    Nor did I say that there was. I quoted passages from Kershaw that were relevant to my argument that Hitler was not “an observant Christian.” Nonetheless, the link between Darwin and Hitler is a demonstrable historical reality. As British historian Paul Johnson wrote (in “Modern Times”):

    “Darwin’s notion of the survival of the fittest was a key element both in the Marxist concept of class warfare and of the racial philosophies which shaped Hitlerism. Indeed the political and social consequences of Darwinian ideas have yet to work themselves out…”

    This does not, of course, mean that the Holocaust can be blamed on Darwin. As Johnson also wrote:

    “Darwin himself always stressed the limits of his discoveries. He discouraged those who sought to build ambitious projections on them. That is why he gave no license to the theories of the ‘Social Darwinists,’ which terminated in Hitler’s holocaust…”

    No doubt Darwin – a decent man – would have wanted to contain the adverse moral/social/political fallout from his theory, but he was helpless to do so. Once he published “Origins,” the cat was out of the bag, and the principles inherent in his theory were pressed into service for purposes he would have never intended. Weikart makes this point in his book “From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany,” writing:

    “When I draw connections between Darwin, German Darwinists, eugenicists, racial theorists, or militarists, I am not thereby endorsing their logic…Nor am I making the absurd claim that Darwinism of logical necessity leads (directly or indirectly) to Nazism…But however logical or illogical the connections are between Darwinism and Nazism, historically the connections are there and they cannot be wished away.”

    Even Niles Eldredge has acknowledged the link between Darwin and Hitler, writing:

    “Social Darwinism has given us the eugenics movement and some of its darker outgrowths, such as the genocidal practices of the Nazis in World War II–where eugenics was invoked as a scientific rationale to go along with whatever other ‘reasons’ Hitler and his fellow Nazis had for the Holocaust.”

    Eldredge describes social Darwinism as the “illegitimate offspring” of Darwinism, but it is nonetheless derived from Darwinism. Without Darwinism, there could be no social Darwinism and no consequent social pathologies traceable to it. Of course, none of the moral/social/political fallout from Darwin’s theory has the slightest bearing on the scientific legitimacy or the theoretical merits of Darwinism (in either its original or its modern form).

  244. #244 Sven DiMilo
    February 1, 2009

    *sigh*
    Eugenics, Nazi or otherwise, has very little to do with Darwin’s natural selection and everything to do with selective breeding (artificial selection), the principles of which long predate recorded human history. Eugenicists and genocide perpetrators mentioning Darwin as an “scientific” influence or justification were and are merely demonstrating their failure to understand Darwin.
    The whole discussion is a red, red clupeiform.

  245. #245 Jim in Vermont
    February 1, 2009

    KnockGoats: “In short: you’re a lying piece of shit.”

    I thought this was worth repeating – not for what it says about me, but for what it says about you (and about the adolescent level of discourse that characterizes Pharyngula). What is it about advocates of Darwinism that prevents them from disagreeing without being disagreeable? No wonder that no one who hasn’t swooned to Darwinism sticks around for very long.

  246. #246 Matt Heath
    February 1, 2009

    Jim in VT@246: Again with the butthurt.

  247. #247 Nerd of Redhead
    February 1, 2009

    Jim, what is Darwinism? It is not a term used by scientists, but only by creobots. What evolution is called these days is “Modern Synthesis”, and includes genes, genomes, DNA, and a lot of other science that was discovered long after Darwin proposed his theory. It is 150 years stronger than what Darwin proposed. And science does not make gods out of fallible people.

  248. #248 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    February 1, 2009

    Amazing, Jim cannot tell the difference between evolution and social Darwinism. Here is a hint, Herbert Spencer released his ideas about society before Darwin released On The Origans Of Species.

    He might also check on how animal husbandry and a warped view of Roman history influenced Heinrich Himmler’s ideas of the warrior-farmer.

  249. #249 Notagod
    February 1, 2009

    Jim in Vermont thunked:
    “Ideas tend to spread when they come under attack”

    Well, did you pray to your christian god-idea prior to your comment?

    I think not because, had you prayed about it your mind’s god-idea could have informed you of your error. For had your statement been true in the past, which is the only way your use of ‘tend’ could apply, Atheism would be wonderfully more popular than the jesus-bus of stupidity.

    Now your real reason for commenting was an attempt to apply the fear that is a hallmark of your god-idea, correct?

    Be afraid Jim-in-Vermont, be very afraid! No, I’m just kidding you, don’t be afraid. Be happy Jim, there is no true god-idea.

  250. #250 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    February 1, 2009

    What is it about advocates of Darwinism that prevents them from disagreeing without being disagreeable? No wonder that no one who hasn’t swooned to Darwinism sticks around for very long.

    Now he is going to swoon from harsh language.

  251. #251 Maggie Eppstein
    February 1, 2009

    As a UVM faculty member who has proudly served in that capacity for 25 years, I am dumbfounded, embarrassed, and frankly horrified by the decision to invite Ben Stein as commencement speaker. This decision IS causing a large stir on campus, and I and many other members of the UVM community have written our own letters of protest to President Fogel. I believe that the majority of UVM faculty and students embrace the #1 value stated on the UVM mission page, which espouses “a commitment to rigorous intellectual inquiry and critical thinking”, in stark contrast to the ill-founded anti-science propaganda promoted by Ben Stein. I am hopeful that President Fogel, for whom I have a great deal of respect, will act decisively and reverse this decision.

  252. #252 Patricia, OM
    February 1, 2009

    The adolescent level of discourse can change to slutty in about an instant.

  253. #253 Walton
    February 1, 2009

    KnockGoats at #240:

    You have a point, but I respectfully differ from parts of your analysis (while acknowledging that I didn’t express my own stance on the issue very clearly).

    “Conservatism”, in any given socio-cultural context, is the name we apply to those political movements which seek to uphold the “establishment” and the traditional order of the relevant society. Thus, in nineteenth-century Europe the conservatives were aristocratic monarchists; conversely, in the late twentieth-century Soviet Union, the conservatives were those who wanted to return to doctrinaire Stalinism. (Of course, the latter type of “conservatives” would have been described, and would have described themselves, as left-wing.)

    You rightly identify certain characteristics common to those modern-day movements in Western democracies which are characterised as “right-wing” and “conservative”: they support small government and the free market (or at least claim to do so), while simultaneously advocating the restriction of immigration and the preservation of traditional culture and religion (and sometimes also advocating trade protectionism). This combination of beliefs, of course, is in itself philosophically incoherent: someone who applied the principles of the free market and individual freedom to all aspects of politics would, naturally, be broadly in favour of relaxed immigration laws and open borders, as well as freedom of religion and culture. Yet it makes sense if we identify the underlying paradigm: to preserve the established order. That, and nothing else, is the definitive characteristic of conservatism. Thus a hardline Marxist-Leninist in the 1980s Soviet Union was a conservative; so too a monarchist in a long-established monarchy; and so too a free-marketeer in a country with a tradition of small limited government, such as the US.

    The free market, therefore, has no necessary connection to “conservatism”. Indeed, nineteenth-century conservatives were usually in favour of protectionism and restrictions on trade, and opposed the growth of business and industry (since they saw these as undermining the traditional dominance of the landed aristocracy). Rather, it was the liberals who were in favour of the free market and free trade.

    By contrast, libertarianism shares none of these features, and has no inherent connection to or affinity with conservatism. Libertarianism grew out of nineteenth-century liberalism. Unlike Anglo-American conservatives, who tend to support economic freedom (up to a point) but not social freedom, libertarians consistently support freedom and limited government in all areas of political life.

    A pithy way of looking at it, I think, is that “conservative” and “liberal/progressive” are culturally relative ideological designators; in any given cultural context, a “conservative” is someone who supports the established order – whatever it may be – whereas a “liberal” or “progressive” is someone who challenges it. In contrast, “libertarian” refers to someone who holds a consistent philosophy of individual freedom, regardless of the time and place; thus in some countries and time periods a libertarian will be deemed a progressive, whereas in others s/he will be deemed a conservative.

    I realise I’ve completely undermined my original post at #158, and, indeed, I have realised that said post was complete crap. What I should have said was “Ben Stein is not a libertarian” – which would have been a waste of kilobytes, since, to my knowledge, he has never claimed to be a libertarian. So I apologise for wasting everyone’s time; but I hope this post makes my real view clearer.

  254. #254 Patricia, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Poor Knockgoats – throttled with a poker.

    All that drivel just to call bullshit on yourself, Walton you are in fine form today.

  255. #255 Jim in Vermont
    February 1, 2009

    Nerd of Redhead: “Jim, what is Darwinism? It is not a term used by scientists, but only by creobots.”

    “Darwinism” is a term quite commonly used to refer to the theory of evolution – from Darwin’s original formulation to its modern formulation. Using the search-inside-this-book feature of Amazon.com, I found that Dawkins uses the word “Darwinism” on 14 different pages of “The God Delusion.” There is nothing unusual about this. Dawkins routinely uses the word “Darwinism” to refer to evolutionary theory in his books:

    1) “The Selfish Gene” – Darwinism used on 18 different pages;
    2) “The Blind Watchmaker” – Darwinism used on 42 different pages;
    3) “The Ancestor’s Tale” – Darwinism used on 6 different pages;
    4) “Unweaving the Rainbow” – Darwinism used on 5 different pages;
    5) “A Devil’s Chaplain” – Darwinism used on 26 different pages;
    6) “Climbing Mount Improbable” – Darwinism used on 14 different pages.

    I also found that Ken Miller used “Darwinism” on 28 different pages in “Finding Darwin’s God.” I found that Stephen Jay Gould used “Darwinism” on 250 different
    pages in “The Structure of Evolutionary Theory”; on 13 different pages in “Ever Since Darwin”; on 9 different pages in “The Mismeasure of Man”; on 16 different
    pages in “Dinosaur in a Haystack”; on 12 different pages in “Rocks of Ages”. I found that Ernst Mayr, arguably the dean of 20th-century Darwinists, used “Darwinism” on 25 different pages in “What Evolution Is”; on 12 different pages in “This Is Biology”; on 49 different pages in “The Growth of Biological Thought”; on 27 different pages in “What Makes Biology Unique?”. I found that Eugenie Scott and Niles Eldredge used “Darwinism” on 27 different pages in “Evolution vs. Creationism”. And I found that Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross used “Darwinism” on 129 different pages in “Creationism’s Trojan Horse.”

    By your lights, all of these advocates of Darwinism must be “creobots.”

  256. #256 Richard Dawkins
    February 1, 2009

    On 1 Feb 2009, at 17:38, Daniel M. Fogel wrote:

    Dear Professor Dawkins,

    As one who has been deeply instructed by your work and who applauds your scientific leadership, I was honored to find a personal email from you in my inbox, but very sorry indeed that the occasion was the decision to invite Ben Stein to be a Commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient. Although we have recently learned that Mr. Stein will be unable to receive the honorary degree here or to serve as Commencement speaker, please know that it was our expectation that his remarks would address the global economic crisis and that he would speak from his widely acknowledged area of expertise on the economy. We regret that he will be unable to do so.

    With thanks again for writing, with admiration, and with every good wish?Daniel Mark Fogel, President, The University of Vermont

    Dear President Fogel

    Thank you very much indeed for your extremely gracious letter.

    I cannot disguise my gladness that Ben Stein will not be going to Vermont. Thank you very much for letting me know. I wish you, and your great university all good fortune. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

    With my very best wishes, and thanks again for your letter

    Yours sincerely

    Richard Dawkins

  257. #257 Mark O' Reilly
    February 1, 2009

    what a complete disgrace,
    Every one of those students will be more knowledgeable than Mr. Stein.
    The only thing i hope is that he gets torn apart for the nonsense conained in his expelled film.

    Personally i would of preferred James Randi lol

  258. #258 Nerd of Redhead
    February 1, 2009

    Jim, pseudointellectual. The British always do things differently. And Dawkins has acknowledged that he needs to stop using the term. We are in America. Either speak of Modern Synthesis or nothing.

  259. #259 Jim in Vermont
    February 1, 2009

    NerdofRedhead: “Jim, pseudointellectual. The British always do things differently. And Dawkins has acknowledged that he needs to stop using the term. We are in America. Either speak of Modern Synthesis or nothing.”

    A not-so-artful dodge. You may recall that your claim was that only “creobots” use the term Darwinism, which – as I showed – is false (you can verify it for yourself if you’ll do as I did). I’ve got no quarrel with the term “Modern Syhthesis,” or with “neo-Darwinism,” or with “Darwinism.” In the proper context, they all refer to the same thing.

    By the way, is there something in the Darwinist Kool-Aid that infects advocates of Darwinism with an inability to be respectful towards those with whom they disagree?

  260. #260 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    February 1, 2009

    Jim Clueless In Vermont continues to swoon because of harsh language. Such a delicate little flower.

  261. #261 Jim in Vermont
    February 1, 2009

    Janine,

    Insults tend to block the exchange of ideas, not facilitate it. Is that really so hard to understand? If people want to call me names, that’s their business. I just don’t find any reason to take their thoughts seriously when they do. It’s not a matter of being delicate; it’s a matter of quickly losing interest. I prefer adult conversation.

  262. #262 strangest brew
    February 1, 2009

    ‘I prefer adult conversation.’

    Nothing adult about attempting apologetics for a ID shill like Stein!
    More like desperation of the waning influence of cretinism and jeebus lovin anti science clowns like him!

  263. #263 Nerd of Redhead
    February 1, 2009

    Jim, if I want adult conversion, I won’t talk to you. I detest pseudointellectuals, and I have known too many of those pretentious morons over the years. That’s why I prefer real intellectuals, who understand the limits of their expertise, and can present their ideas without posing.

  264. #264 Ben
    February 2, 2009

    @253 “The adolescent level of discourse can change to slutty in about an instant.”

    Promises, promises.

  265. #265 phantomreader42
    February 2, 2009

    Since I know bornagain77 is too much of a coward to allow the comment I posted on his video to ever see the light of day, here it is:

    Thank you for admitting that your religion is founded on fear and promoted through terrorism. Hell is nothing but a scare tactic to frighten the gullible into obedience. If such a place actually existed, the god who created it would have to be the most evil being imaginable. Even if your god were real it would be evil and unworthy of worship.

    Also thanks for disabling ratings so it’s obvious what a coward you are.

    And to go beyond the YouTube character limit, your video is poorly-edited garbage. And if your imaginary god didn’t want anyone to go to hell, he could have easily achieved this goal, by NOT CREATING HELL! It’s such a simple solution, so obvious to anyone with a brain. Why would any sane being worship a being both so evil and so mind-bogglingly STUPID? Of course, you wouldn’t know, as you clearly are not a sane being.

  266. #266 Notagod
    February 2, 2009

    Jim, if you are wanting an adult response you could start by commenting in an adult way, not:

    ‘I haz googed an haz hit 92, 75 wit, 43 an haz 21!’

    You should be aware that the term ‘Darwinism’ has been and is used to mean different things. The problem I see is the christians have a habit of twisting terms and then popularizing the twisted version. The christian does not generally hold true honesty dearly. But, then they are forced into the twisting habit to defend the basically faulty foundation of their faith, so the twisting is of course a manifestation of habit.

    Why just yesterday a christian stated “We have been blessed with such wonderful weather”. The christian was either ignorant, stupid, or dishonest.If you don’t understand think of what the opposite conditions would mean. Another, in an attempt to help you focus more clearly. A man was talking about a child murder case and stated that he understood how bad it was because he had a child about the same age, he made the statement “there but for the grace of god”. So isn’t he lucky that his god-idea saved his child but not the murdered child. Rather selfish and inconsiderate of the christian isn’t it.

    If you insist on being a typical christian no one is obliged to respect you.

  267. #267 Rey Fox
    February 2, 2009

    “By the way, is there something in the Darwinist Kool-Aid that infects advocates of Darwinism with an inability to be respectful towards those with whom they disagree?”

    He just compared us to a murderous cult. I think I’m going to stomp off in a self-righteous huff now.

  268. #268 KnockGoats
    February 2, 2009

    You rightly identify certain characteristics common to those modern-day movements in Western democracies which are characterised as “right-wing” and “conservative”: they support small government and the free market (or at least claim to do so), while simultaneously advocating the restriction of immigration and the preservation of traditional culture and religion (and sometimes also advocating trade protectionism). – Walton

    No, Walton, I did not say that. What I said was:

    “However, it is not difficult in most countries to identify the main party or parties of the right – they are the ones getting the bulk of corporate donations, where these are permitted; and opposing public provision of health, welfare and eduction, public ownership, redistributive taxation, trade union rights, and legislative attempts to prevent discrimination on the grounds of race, sex and sexual orientation. Usually, but not always, they will want strict limits on immigration, and support the involvement of religion in the public sphere.”

    Do you see the difference? I said nothing about “small government” or “the free market” because these are not common features of either “conservative” or “right-wing” beliefs, movements or parties. As far as “conservative” goes, you are right to note that this tends to be a relative term, which is why I generally specify further e.g. as “traditional conservatives”, “neocons” or whatever. As far as “right-wing” goes, the common feature, as I have noted several times, is opposition to egalitarianism.

    In contrast, “libertarian” refers to someone who holds a consistent philosophy of individual freedom – Walton

    Crap. “Libertarians” are only bothered about limitations on freedom imposed by the state – not limitations imposed by employers, parents, race/class/sex based discrimination, or poverty. In practice, that means they care only about the freedom of the rich, privileged and powerful.

  269. #269 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2009

    What is it about advocates of Darwinism that prevents them from disagreeing without being disagreeable? – Jim in Vermont

    The fact that creationist propagandists are, invariably, lying pieces of shit – like you and Ben Stein.

  270. #270 thruthcounts
    February 2, 2009

    I just received a reply from the Biology dept head at UVM. His frustration was evident. I had written him as my daughter had recently been accepted as a biology major at UVM. He evidently had not yet learned of the change that took place over weekend.

  271. #271 Dan
    February 2, 2009

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/create.php?customize&gid=66714072056#/group.php?gid=66714072056

    A group for UVM alumni and current students to express EXACTLY how they feel about Stein speaking at UVM.

  272. #272 Bjoern
    February 2, 2009

    test

  273. #273 cleve
    February 2, 2009

    President Fogel was kind enough to send a courteous response to my previous email protesting Mr. Stein’s scheduled appearance at the commencement ceremony. He informed me that Mr. Stein would be unable to make it, and then pointed out that he had been asked to come to speak on economics. I sent President Fogel the following reply (I borrowed a few ideas from other entries on the Richard Dawkinssite):

    Dear President Fogel,
    Thank you for your quick response to my email. It seems that now the issue has become a moot point. I would however call your attention to remarks that Mr. Stein made in an interview with the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Here is an exerpt from his interview with Paul Crouch:

    Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [i.e. biologist P.Z. 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 ? 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.

    Crouch: Good word, good word.

    Stein is also on record (in his film ‘Expelled’) as trying to show that Darwin’s theory led to the Holocaust (and he selectively quotes Darwin out of context to drive home this point). This to me is the equivalent of blaming, say, the Spanish Inquisition on Jesus. Though as I said, Mr. Stein is welcome to his opinion, I think it is very questionable to invite him to send forth into the world a new generation of academics. This is American anti-intellectualism at its most shameful! I am sure that Mr. Stein would be happy to return the glasses that he wears, as they are a product of the same ‘science’ that, in his mind, led to the slaughter of the Jews.

    All the best,

    Cleve Hicks

  274. #274 phantomreader42
    February 2, 2009

    cleve @ #274:

    President Fogel was kind enough to send a courteous response to my previous email protesting Mr. Stein’s scheduled appearance at the commencement ceremony. He informed me that Mr. Stein would be unable to make it, and then pointed out that he had been asked to come to speak on economics.

    As has been previously mentioned, he’s a dismal failure at economics too.

  275. #275 Alan Stockman
    February 2, 2009

    Ben Stein is also totally unfamiliar with economics. No economist at any competent academic institution would consider Stein an economist, and most would not even know who he is. He is not even a competent popularizer like Levitt (Freakonomics) or Landsburg (Armchair Economist, and More Sex is Safer Sex).

  276. #276 Smart in Vermont
    February 2, 2009

    To check out UVM Pres. Fogel’s direct comments to the media about Ben Stein’s withdrawal as commencement speaker, look at this interview transcript: http://straightfromthesource.wordpress.com/

  277. #277 ben
    February 2, 2009

    almost as bad as Southern Utah University choosing the LDS prophet as their keynote speaker.

    state school. state religion.

  278. #278 Joe Goat
    February 5, 2009

    You can be a real wack-job and still give a commencement speech… but, you may NEVER commit one of the 3 deadly sins of Secular Progressive Doctrine. Evolution, Climate Change, Abortion. NEVER EVER question the Secular Trifecta. This is a mortal sin that is not to be tolerated.
    From the 2006 Commencement Adress of the Great Gustavo Estava quote, “I am a radical critic of representative democracy, I am closely involved with radical social movements”….. no doubt he was a great hit! Honorary degree with all the applause! The “Progressive Goats” are the most intolerant people in society. But, the most important thing is how good you “feel” about yourself…

  279. #279 thinking above my pay grade
    February 9, 2009

    Ben Stein Was EXPELLED from this speaking engagement…as you can see by any internet search.

    Maybe Bill Ayers is available to speak. Or, his wife.

    (PS Stein’s “thesis” is proved. Only certain types of “controversial speakers” are allowed. (see his infamous EXPELLED dvd)
    Again, maybe Bill Ayers – or his wife Bernardine Dohrn – are available. Maybe Bernardine will expound on her famous “fork in the stomach” quote…!)

  280. #280 hery
    January 25, 2010

    If what a commenter upthread wrote is true and he’s some buddy of the Uni President,that would at least explain how this could possibly happen