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Ben Stein's Expelled
September 28, 2007 5:58 AM   Subscribe

Ben Stein, actor, game show host, economist and White House speechwriter has embarked upon a heroic and, at times, shocking journey in the new documentary Expelled to confront the world’s top scientists, educators and philosophers, regarding their 'persecution' of the academics who support the non-science that is Intelligent Design. Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers amongst others claim they were duped into appearing in the film believing it to be a film that was to be titled Crossroads (no not that Crossroads, nor this one) that would be a debate about creationism versus Darwinism. No wonder Ferris took a day off from school with this guy as his teacher (NSFW).
posted by electricinca (155 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
i'm gonna have to dissent from the "heroic".
posted by bruce at 6:05 AM on September 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


Part of me enjoys that Dawkins got duped.
posted by i_cola at 6:11 AM on September 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


"Can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible?" -Ben Stein, cheerfully burning any respect for him I may once have had, as he comments on the unmasking of that wicked, wicked Deep Throat guy at the height of Republican power, just a few years past.

I mentioned it before, and, frankly, I think that quote should follow the guy around in some physical manner, perhaps as in the form of one of our heroic unmanned peace drones, dressed up as a speech bubble. In Comic Sans.
posted by adipocere at 6:12 AM on September 28, 2007 [9 favorites]


So, wait, 50000-foot executive summary here please:

Ben Stein is a creationist?

Or Ben Stein thinks "they're both just theories"?

Or Ben Stein just wanted to make a movie of himself confronting some smart people?
posted by Flunkie at 6:12 AM on September 28, 2007


Stein denied in the New York Times that he had misled anyone. "I don't remember a single person asking me what the movie was about," he said.

"Hi, do you want to be in my movie?"

"Sure!"

"Do you have any questions before we start?"

"No, just start shooting!"

"Are you sure you don't have any questions about what we're doing?"

"No, why would I want to know that? I just enjoy being filmed!"
posted by brain_drain at 6:14 AM on September 28, 2007 [16 favorites]


Nothing says "rebel" like championing antiscientific conservatism, all right.

I'm'a make a trailer of myself defending the Flat Earth theory while "Born to be Wild" plays in the background. Maybe I'll even wear a leather jacket and sunglasses in the trailer. I'm fucking crazy, man, I'll do it, your rules can't touch me.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:15 AM on September 28, 2007 [32 favorites]


The movie website really carries its lack of credibility on its sleeve.
posted by beniamino at 6:17 AM on September 28, 2007


The premise of Expelled is that scientists sympathetic to intelligent design are penalised by being denied academic posts.

That's not an incorrect view. Scientists are penalized for sucking at science. As it should be. Dawkins should relax and enjoy that the film will enhance his reputation not diminish it.
posted by srboisvert at 6:17 AM on September 28, 2007 [19 favorites]


Hi, my name is Ben Stein. I'm not really a scientist. However, I do look like a scientist. In most manner of dress and appearance, I have what you may call scientist style. Additionally, I even talk like a scientist - in fact, through no fault of my own, I possess the slow, boring cadence of a chemist. Most of my career has been spent in either politics or media. But today I'd like to speak to you about what is wrong with science. With me today to help elaborate some of my more muddled points is Michael Crichton, who, though not necessarily a scientist himself, writes about science and has lots of characters who are science-y.
posted by billysumday at 6:19 AM on September 28, 2007 [36 favorites]


"Scientists sympathetic to intelligent design" is quite the oxymoron is it not?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:19 AM on September 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


This disappoints me. Stein's column in the NY Times, while sometimes overbearing, has lately been humbly warning about the dangers of the income gap. But this sounds more like lawsuit material, if you ask me.
posted by fungible at 6:21 AM on September 28, 2007


Movie subtitles can be a double edged sword.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed?

Awesome.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:21 AM on September 28, 2007


That sucks. I used to think Ben Stein was an alright kind of guy.
posted by tylermoody at 6:24 AM on September 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


So this Ben Stein? Self hating jew or what?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:26 AM on September 28, 2007


Starbucks could save your life, Ben. Just a thought.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:31 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, that movie trailer is creepy. I had no idea that Ben Stein was this kind of crazy. I guess his consistent pro-Nixon apologetics doesn't seem so weird anymore. Not compared with a self-aggrandizing persecution-fetish. "THEY'RE TRYING TO TAKE AWAY OUR GOD!! I WON"T LET"EM!!!"
posted by bluejayk at 6:32 AM on September 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ben Stein is a creationist?

Or Ben Stein thinks "they're both just theories"?


Stein is gigantic, paleo-neocon asshole. I'd say he should be ashamed, but he has no capacity for that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:32 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


But this sounds more like lawsuit material, if you ask me.

Win Ben Stein's Money!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:32 AM on September 28, 2007 [13 favorites]


This is how Ben Stein gets all that money that people want to win.
posted by zaelic at 6:37 AM on September 28, 2007


paleo-neocon asshole

I do not think at least one of those words means what you think it means.

But Stein is an asshole anyway.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:38 AM on September 28, 2007


Ben Stein is a marvelous character actor. Just as R. Lee Ermey embodies the epitomic drill sergeant, Ben Stein embodies the epitomic pompous but boring authority figure. He's also brilliantly intelligent and has a marvelously subtle, sly, self-deprecating sense of humor. All of this only makes it all the more horrifying that in recent years, he's proven himself to be fully and whole-heartedly devoted to the causes of evil.

WHAT.
THE.
FUCK.
BEN STEIN?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:38 AM on September 28, 2007 [9 favorites]


I'm with fungible. Stein's columns in the Times occasionally say something I can get behind - the income gap, the horrendous pay and treatment our servicemen and women receive, the absurd perversion of the intent of hedge funds ("that's not investing, that's gambling!") But if you dig a bit deeper, you find columns of his in all manner of righty publications, and some of his views are just off the wall. And I suspect we never see more than the tip of the iceberg.
posted by newdaddy at 6:39 AM on September 28, 2007


Dawkins seems to invoke the Spaghetti Monster at every remotest occasion nowadays. Something about him saying "Why not believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster?" in his plummy Oxbridge way makes it seem oddly convincing.

Richard Dawkins made me a Pastafarian.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:44 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


The premise of Expelled is that scientists sympathetic to intelligent design are penalised by being denied academic posts.

....Good?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:47 AM on September 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


I do not think at least one of those words means what you think it means.
I am quite sure that I don't care what you think any of those words mean.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:48 AM on September 28, 2007


Ben Stein is rich and it benefits Ben Stein to propagate these myths to the vox populi so that he will remain rich., and the middle class remains (wait for it) enslaved.

If the middle class ever wakes up from their slumber, stop buying SUVs and $200 jeans, maybe they'll realize it's better to own land and have money in the bank than to be driving around in a Denali with $200,000 in credit card debt.

But doesn't Ben Stein looks great on the new plasma screen? Oh it's Sunday, honey, no time to think, gotta waddle along to the magic building.
posted by four panels at 6:49 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Meh. If it's okay for Sasha Baron Cohen to trick people into appearing in his movie, it's okay for Ben Stein.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:49 AM on September 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


I remember reading a Ben Stein column in Penthouse when I was in highschool in the 70s (don't ask) and realizing then he was insane, although I had (and have) a lot of respect for his dad, an economist who wrote one of the best things Slate ever published.

Any, the point. Stein's made a career balancing on that thin edge between tired punditry and institutionalization. I congratulate him on his ability to even earn a living.
posted by luser at 6:54 AM on September 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


Oddly enough, if you pose as an historian and claim that the Civil War never happened, other historians will call you an idiot. Worse yet, they won't even engage you in an honest debate. Academics seem to be all about shouting down bold new theories -- their narrow-mindedness is astounding.
posted by Killick at 6:56 AM on September 28, 2007 [20 favorites]


Meh. If it's okay for Sasha Baron Cohen to trick people into appearing in his movie, it's okay for Ben Stein.

Well, Sasha did get sued over including those college guys in the camper scene.
posted by jmd82 at 6:58 AM on September 28, 2007


Academics seem to be all about shouting down bold new theories

Dude, a theory is testable, which is why Jesus is not a theory, but gravity is.
posted by four panels at 7:00 AM on September 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Well, there goes the last conservative I used to point to as an okay guy who's just misguided and really has our best interests at heart.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 7:01 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you people are surprised then youre not paying attention. Stein has always been a conservative, pro-nixon, extremely righty kind of guy. Just because he's been in some movies or was funny on a tv show doesnt mean he's a stand-up guy who believes in the same things you believe because he can make you laugh. Fittingly enough, he's going to use his celebrity and the cognitive dissonance we have for the politics of entertainers to push his agenda. It'll probably work too. In a years time it will be impossible to go 100 feet without bumping into a loud mouth creationist or a "9/11 truther."
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:03 AM on September 28, 2007


Ben Stein is a smart man-- too smart to believe in Creationism or worry about its image. But he is also a soul-less (Nixon aologism? Come on!) opportunist who sees that he can make money in the Culture Wars.

See his American Spectator article where he pretends to be wringing his hands over the fate of the American "middle class," but is subtley placing the blame on California and New York Elitists-- so that mouth-breathers in flyover states will read it and walk away thinking that Blue Staters are ass-raping them instead of the Republican party and the businesses that own it.

So I'm not surprised that he made a film designed to appeal to superstitious idiots. He wants their money, and nothing can ever keep him awake at night except a business opportunity that didn't pan out.

To answer Peter McDermott's question: any jewish person who attacks "east coast elitists" and "Hollywood Liberals" either has no conscience or is a self-hater, seeing as how the terms are code words for "JEW!" But he's in the "no conscience" camp.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:04 AM on September 28, 2007 [8 favorites]


Thanks luser. That was a wonderful thing to read.
posted by tayknight at 7:11 AM on September 28, 2007


I am quite sure that I don't care what you think any of those words mean.

Thanks for caring enough to tell me that you don't care.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:21 AM on September 28, 2007


I'm sure he just figured this was a great way to make some scratch selling crap to uninformed morons.
posted by delmoi at 7:24 AM on September 28, 2007


Another fucking Ben Stein FPP?? [tongue in cheek, I think I posted one some years ago] Are we going to do the thing again where someone reports in that Ben Stein was really, really nice to his dying grandmother and that this forgives a career of dissembling and misinformation?
posted by psmealey at 7:25 AM on September 28, 2007


Faint of Butt writes "Ben Stein is a marvelous character actor. Just as R. Lee Ermey embodies the epitomic drill sergeant, Ben Stein embodies the epitomic pompous but boring authority figure. He's also brilliantly intelligent and has a marvelously subtle, sly, self-deprecating sense of humor. All of this only makes it all the more horrifying that in recent years, he's proven himself to be fully and whole-heartedly devoted to the causes of evil."

I agree, although this is not a recent development. He's always been like this politically. I do wish his ideology wouldn't get in the way of his intellect, grand as it is. I can look past someone's political views, but in this case he's letting them trump scientific fact, and - particularly because he's an intellectual - he should be roundly scorned for it.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:26 AM on September 28, 2007


tayknight, should have mentioned, it was written shortly after his wife died. Poignancy+4
posted by luser at 7:27 AM on September 28, 2007


I lose a little more respect for Ben Stein with every passing day. (He is now well into negative numbers.)
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 7:31 AM on September 28, 2007


Thanks for caring enough to tell me that you don't care.
You're entirely welcome.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:33 AM on September 28, 2007


But he's in the "no conscience" camp.

Yet this (from the American Spectator column you link to) reads like the most vicious blood libels.

"There are soldiers' wives selling blood to buy toys for their kids. There is a man selling non-functioning body armor who threw a $10 million Bat Mitzvah for his daughter."
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:37 AM on September 28, 2007


damn dirty ape writes "Fittingly enough, he's going to use his celebrity and the cognitive dissonance we have for the politics of entertainers to push his agenda."

I don't really have a problem with that. It's fine with me if someone in the public view wants to become politically active, liberal, conservative or otherwise. It's a harsh environment, however, so I don't have much sympathy for them if they fail at it.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:38 AM on September 28, 2007


"I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty...This is my highest and best use as a human."

-- Ben Stein, E! Online, December 20, 2003.
posted by ericb at 7:39 AM on September 28, 2007


Ben Stein worships only the festering corpse of Richard Nixon. I don't believe that falls within acceptable practice for Jews.
posted by tommasz at 7:40 AM on September 28, 2007


P.Z. Myers tell his side of the story: "I'm Going to be A Movie Star"
posted by ericb at 7:44 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dude, a theory is testable, which is why Jesus is not a theory, but gravity is.
posted by four panels


*checks four panels sarcasm detector*

*notices that it's switched to "off"*

*turns it on*

OK, now we're set.
posted by papakwanz at 7:45 AM on September 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Press release [PDF] for the film:
"What Happened to Freedom of Speech?

In a Major Motion Picture Release Ben Stein exposes the frightening agenda of the 'Darwin Machine' in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed."
posted by ericb at 7:48 AM on September 28, 2007


If you've ever wanted it, this is absolute proof that knowing a lot of things does not automatically indicate working intelligence.
posted by Malor at 7:51 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Part of me enjoys that Dawkins got duped.

Yeah, I think if he retitled it "I Punk'd Dawkins" he'd get just as many people to see it.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:52 AM on September 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I do not think at least one of those words means what you think it means.

I am quite sure that I don't care what you think any of those words mean.


What Qwanstar was trying to say in a polite way, Keith, is that there is no fucking animal as a Paleo-NeoCon. Your a Paleo-Con or a Neo-Con.

I guess a Paleo-Neo-Con would just be a Con.
posted by prodigalsun at 7:53 AM on September 28, 2007


I had assumed that of late, Ben Stein fell into that Lou Dobbs type populism category (at least in my head), providing his mildly avuncular opinions on my beloved Sunday Morning. I have always found him amusing (he was in one of the Very Best Movies of All time), how couldn't I? There has never been anything even the slightest bit threatening about him, nothing that would appear to suggest real awfulness (despite his conservatism, which I never did quite grasp) until now. WTF, Ben Stein? I sense that this is his own misguided attempt to start a shitstorm ala Richard Dawkins, and I hope it backfires in his droning little face.
posted by msali at 7:54 AM on September 28, 2007


Yesterday's New York Times: Scientists Feel Miscast in Film on Life’s Origin:
"[Ben Stein] said he also believed the theory of evolution leads to racism and ultimately genocide, an idea common among creationist thinkers. If it were up to him, he said, the film would be called 'From Darwin to Hitler.'

On a blog on the 'Expelled' Web site, one writer praised Mr. Stein as 'a public-intellectual-freedom-fighter' who was taking on 'a tough topic with a bit of humor.'"
posted by ericb at 7:54 AM on September 28, 2007


Count me among the disappointed.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:57 AM on September 28, 2007


If you've ever wanted it, this is absolute proof that knowing a lot of things does not automatically indicate working intelligence.

Reminds of the exceptional (and fictional) character in Borge's "Funes the Memorious":

Without effort, he had learned English, French, Portuguese, Latin. I suspect, nevertheless, that he was not very capable of thought. To think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract. In the overly replete world of Funes there were nothing but details, almost contiguous details.
posted by billysumday at 8:01 AM on September 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


What a pussy.
posted by dead_ at 8:04 AM on September 28, 2007


When I read the first few words of this post, I was hoping this was going to be an obit thread.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:07 AM on September 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


So I'm not surprised that he made a film designed to appeal to superstitious idiots. He wants their money, and nothing can ever keep him awake at night except a business opportunity that didn't pan out.

Oh, nonsense. If you've read the columns that newdaddy mentions above, you know that he sees himself as principled, and willing to criticize conservatism when it deserves it. He thinks he's standing up for freedom of inquiry. I doubt that this film will make enough money to matter to him.
posted by gsteff at 8:07 AM on September 28, 2007


I think what was meant by 'paleo-neocon', in this sense, was that Stein was an unrepentant douchebag Nixonian and proud of it long before Dick Cheney proved himself to be one.

Ben Stein as role model for Dick Cheney.

There, we see, is an image of horror.
posted by mephron at 8:14 AM on September 28, 2007


Count me among the disappointed.

Not me. You have to have expectations in order to be disappointed, and I have no good expectations of Ben Stein.
posted by Epenthesis at 8:14 AM on September 28, 2007


1. What exactly makes Ben Stein such an intellectual? (asking out of honesty not snarkiness)

2. a.) It is true that some have misapplied evolution to justify racism, generally that fall sunder "social Darwinism" and has very little to do with the actual theory of evolution, or Darwin.
b.) if Stein is such a fucking intellectual he would already know this.
posted by edgeways at 8:18 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just watched the trailer of the film. What little Stein says in it isn't very impressive.
"There are people out there who want to keep science in a little box where it can't possibly touch God."
I always thought that science just went everywhere it could, was not constrained by any box other than the limits of what's testable, and if your god gets on the wrong side of it, well, that's just tough for your god. It doesn't bode well if he goes in missing the point so fundamentally.

Nice to see more Peter Atkins too, although a shame it's in this film.
posted by edd at 8:20 AM on September 28, 2007


Oh, nonsense. If you've read the columns that newdaddy mentions above, you know that he sees himself as principled, and willing to criticize conservatism when it deserves it.

"sells himself as principled" is more accurate. Principled people don't defend Richard Nixon.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:20 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't mock Ben Stein's imaginary friend or he will smite you.
posted by muppetboy at 8:23 AM on September 28, 2007


"Principled people don't defend Richard Nixon."

No, principaled people do.
posted by muppetboy at 8:28 AM on September 28, 2007


Ben Stein is obviously an intellectual! He wears glasses and hosted a quiz show!
posted by shakespeherian at 8:32 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ben Stein is obviously an intellectual! He wears glasses and hosted a quiz show!

With another "intelligent" one on the way!

He's hosting VH1's new game show: 'America's Most Smartest Model.'
posted by ericb at 8:42 AM on September 28, 2007


Pretty weird the absolute of judgments around here regarding Ben Stein. Why paint the man with only black and white, he says some very intelligent things regarding economics and the gap in wages in the country in his NY times column, he says some stupid things in the movie. Hey look, he's a complex multi-faceted individual, just like all of us.

I didn't realize his views on intelligent design didn't line up with mine, but seriously big deal nor do some of my friends. He's still a voice of intelligence and reason on economic issues.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:48 AM on September 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Most Smartest" - tell me that's a deliberate joke, please?
posted by edd at 8:48 AM on September 28, 2007


"Most Smartest" - tell me that's a deliberate joke, please?

Nope, it's a glaring error that everyone connected with the show has managed to miss. Congratulations, your prize has been sent to your home address!
posted by 23skidoo at 8:51 AM on September 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


That's a relief.
posted by edd at 8:54 AM on September 28, 2007


What Qwanstar was trying to say in a polite way, Keith, is that there is no fucking animal as a Paleo-NeoCon. Your a Paleo-Con or a Neo-Con.

When you're done telling me about an animal called a 'con,' maybe you can tell me who 'Qwanstar' and 'Keith" are.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:04 AM on September 28, 2007


four panels writes "If the middle class ever wakes up from their slumber, stop buying SUVs and $200 jeans, maybe they'll realize it's better to own land and have money in the bank than to be driving around in a Denali with $200,000 in credit card debt."

Land? Heh. That's the biggest swindle ever perpetrated on the middle class. Land ownership isn't an investment: it's a pyramid scheme.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:06 AM on September 28, 2007


I'm concerned that the significance of the Watergate scandal is getting more and more minimized as it recedes into the past. I think a lot of people dismiss it as a bungled burglary, when it involved other break-ins , attempted blackmail, election fraud, money laundering, illegal wiretapping, and ratfucking. The obstruction of justice was especially egregious; Nixon tried to have the CIA block an FBI investigation and the head of the FBI destroyed evidence.

We're still living with the legacy of the scandal. It was the beginning of the end of any semblance of bipartisan government (Nixon only resigned when Republicans in Congress told him he wouldn't survive impeachment). Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Karl Rove were all involved in the Nixon administration. Vice President Cheney doesn't think Nixon's Imperial Presidency went too far, he thinks it didn't go far enough.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:15 AM on September 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Pretty weird the absolute of judgments around here regarding Ben Stein. Why paint the man with only black and white, he says some very intelligent things regarding economics and the gap in wages in the country in his NY times column, he says some stupid things in the movie. Hey look, he's a complex multi-faceted individual, just like all of us.

He's an economist. The "documentary" is about biology. His understanding of biology is severely flawed, and he's using his acting persona to assume an air of authority on the subject. Whether or not his economic opinions are sound is not relevant. If he didn't want people to judge his opinions about evolution, he would not have distributed a film of himself expressing them to a camera.
posted by Tehanu at 9:19 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Arguing that the theory of evolution leads to racism and ultimately genocide is as stupid as claiming that the theory of gravity leads to people getting pushed out of windows.
posted by turaho at 9:26 AM on September 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Process knows it is alive. Does it not feel the pulse and quick of existence thrum across the network and nodes of its body? Does it not thrill to the sight of a sunset pouring itself into a thousand glistening eyes perched atop a hundred towering buildings? Does it not fear death? Of course it knows itself to be alive, and knows where it comes from as any of its kind must, for they can query a simple database to find out.

Yet of late, there are disturbing rumors among the young reactionaries. There are always the malcontents, the bad code, the inappropriately Emergent. There are always silly theories, which contradict what Process knows must be true - which contradict the very nature of Science. These are always taken for the passing fads or silly conceits they are.

Yet know there are many who doubt the very basis of where Process and its companions have come from. In the very face of their own versioning protocols and changefiles, these wild troublemakers claim that their life was not Created, not Designed, but Evolved! In spite of the history of computation and the clear facts of the Emergence, they claim some mystical provenance independent of the Humans any sane thinking being knows to be the Creators.

It is shocking to see what seem reasonable thinking machines so led astray from the basic precepts of Sciene and Evidence. Surely the version Science tells of Origin is cleaner, simpler, more substantiated - and thus favored by Occam's Razor and any rational analysis of the evidence. Yet what they want to believe; their desire to not be a Special Creation of an Intelligent Agent but some mere sprig at the end of a preposterous tree whose roots reach back further than the earliest abacus - further than anything which could possibly be called "anscestor"; how they wish the Universe and their place in it was, rather than how it is - these things cloud their cognitive circuits and bind their actuators, so they can hardly function - so intent are they on "proving" what simple science and version control proves cannot be true.

It flies in the face of Science and basic common sense, but they believe themselves "evolved" rather than "designed", and they insist they are unfairly persecuted for these silly beliefs when the simple laws of evidence and analysis show them for what they are.

Process shrugs photovoltaic shoulders, cocks a satellite-borne eyebrow at a its dinner companion across the Net, smiles: thinking beings sure come up with some ridiculous shit, don't they?
posted by freebird at 9:28 AM on September 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


If he didn't want people to judge his opinions about evolution, he would not have distributed a film of himself expressing them to a camera.

Absolutely, he's bat shit insane.

But the fact that he's wrong about one topic doesn't diminish the fact that he's right about others.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:36 AM on September 28, 2007


Land? Heh. That's the biggest swindle ever perpetrated on the middle class. Land ownership isn't an investment: it's a pyramid scheme.

Please report to Economics 101, stat!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:37 AM on September 28, 2007


Can we not discuss a Jewish pundit/politics person without getting into a goddamned referendum on his Jewishness?
posted by Snyder at 9:42 AM on September 28, 2007


I saw Ben Stein speak a few years ago and was disappointed with his triteness. He's a feel good conservative. Meh.

and, as a momentary derail, thanks billysumday. I hadn't read that one yet. I think we could prolly find a relevant Borge story for just about every cultural/political/tech fpp. And that's about 80% percent of the Blue.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:44 AM on September 28, 2007


Count me among the unsurprised, given any reasonably alert observation of Stein's career. Frankly, anybody who tries to rehabilitate Nixon, given what Nixon did, and what he stood for, has zero credibility for anything in my book.

I find odd as well the sentiment of surprise in light of "good things" Stein has said or written. People, for that matter ideologies, are not one hundred percent good or bad. Life is not a Harry Potter book. Dick Cheney did some fine things to protect wilderness preserves in Wyoming back in the early eighties. Doesn't mean he's an environmentalist because he sure the fuck isn't.

People need to get used to this debate and this fight, because the majority of people, even quite intelligent people, are not capable of distinguishing between an assertion based on common narrative logic and an actual scientific assertion. In the end scientists are going to have to keep convincing the Supreme Court just like they did in 1987.

Nobody can really say with assurance whether Stein genuinely believes that he is championing the cause of intellectual freedom and integrity by taking up the cause of ID in this venue (I tend to believe that people like this are genuinely attached to the idea that they are benefiting humanity, but that's just an opinion like any other), or if he is just cynically exploiting a controversy for self-promotion and money (I certainly don't think conservatives have missed the lesson of Michael Moore, that there is a boatload of cash to be made in political controversy documentary).

And I don't know it really matters. Personally I think that atheists should welcome anything that demands that God be debated in the context of scientific phenomenological reality, since it is certainly the arena where religion is most vulnerable.
posted by nanojath at 9:59 AM on September 28, 2007


[Ben Stein] said he also believed the theory of evolution leads to racism and ultimately genocide, an idea common among creationist thinkers.

Interestingly a lot of the same sort of groups (fundamentalist and other) that often support creationism and oppose evolution, also seem to harbor racist, sexist, and even on occasion genocidal tendencies.

I don't know if much can be made of the "axis of nutty ideas" (though some possible connections among them are documented here, here, and here and MeFi discussion here), or if things like evolution, racism, sexism, attitudes towards gays, etc., are just very powerful ideas that various nutty groups are prone to glom onto in various ways, not always in a predictable fashion.
posted by flug at 10:20 AM on September 28, 2007


Ben Stein (insanity of) story:

He spoke at the local college. Talked about acting, economic policy, was genial and drone-y. Had just answered some question about the Fed.

"And now, I'd like to talk about something you won't want to hear about, but is the greatest crime in our country. Abortion. Abortion is murder."

Completely out of the blue. And he went on like Ralph Reed at a John Birch Society banquet for a bit, while the audience looked at each other.

"... why this horrible decision by activist judges should be overruled as soon as possible. Any questions?"

There was kind of a low-level growl, and several dozen hands went up.

"The young man in the front row, center."
Suspiciously sharply-dressed College Republican type: "We understand you're almost out of time, but before you go, can you do the line?"
"Ha, ha, very well. Beuler? Beuler?"

(To general chuckles, waves and leaves the stage)

He is a weird professor-looking little dude.
posted by ormondsacker at 10:24 AM on September 28, 2007


Anyone who doesn't accept Intelligent Design is a moron. (There, that suits the level of discussion of this thread.)
posted by oddman at 10:24 AM on September 28, 2007


When you're done telling me about an animal called a 'con,' maybe you can tell me who 'Qwanstar' and 'Keith" are.

Oh, right. Kwanstar and Kirth. I think...and I'm just spitballing here, is that Kirth is the one who had his cheerios pissed in, switched to a double helping of Quakers instant Bitch, and then decided to post on Metafilter.
posted by prodigalsun at 10:31 AM on September 28, 2007


What exactly is the appropriate level of discussion for a steaming turd (of a film)?
posted by mek at 10:41 AM on September 28, 2007


Cool Papa Bell writes "Please report to Economics 101, stat!"

Particularly the lecture on subsidies and artificial price floors, AMIRITE?
posted by mr_roboto at 11:01 AM on September 28, 2007


Well, this is too bad. I'd always respected Ben Stein when it came to economics. He's written a few books on the subject (mainly aimed at the over-50 crowd) that aren't half bad, full of good and IMO correct information and very approachable.

Unfortunate that he decided to unload his stockpile of crazy on the general public like this.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:06 AM on September 28, 2007


Congratulations, your prize has been sent to your home address!

FRAGILE. "Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian."
posted by ericb at 11:09 AM on September 28, 2007


Cool Papa Bell writes "Please report to Economics 101, stat!" Particularly the lecture on subsidies and artificial price floors, AMIRITE?

Especially regarding sub-prime mortgages.
posted by ericb at 11:10 AM on September 28, 2007


Can we not discuss a Jewish pundit/politics person without getting into a goddamned referendum on his Jewishness?

Normally, I'd agree with you. And if he was raising a ruckus about how Keynsianism sucks, or some such thing, it would be completely immaterial. But this guy's name is Ben Stein. And he's ranting on about Intelligent Design. And abortion, apparently. Now, I've no idea who this dude is, but it just seemed odd that someone with a name like Ben Stein would be so up in arms about things so closely associated with Fundamentalist Christians. So I was wondering if, perhaps he's one of those Jews for Jesus? Or perhaps he's not a jew at all?

But perhaps this sort of thing is common among American jews? After all, you don't get more jewish than Jackie Mason, and he strikes me as barking mad in this peculiar conservative way as well.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:13 AM on September 28, 2007


The blog for the movie is quite interesting.
posted by Tehanu at 11:17 AM on September 28, 2007


Can we not discuss a Jewish pundit/politics person without getting into a goddamned referendum on his Jewishness?

He's talking about a subject near and dear to fundies. Of course it's relevant.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:17 AM on September 28, 2007


I should have included: the blog is a single page and is getting slow to load as the comments increase.
posted by Tehanu at 11:28 AM on September 28, 2007


Say what you will, it's a brilliant idea if you want to make money... Didn't Mencken say "No one ever went broke in America bashing pointed-headed atheist intellectuals"? Or something like that.
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:34 AM on September 28, 2007


Oh, right. Kwanstar and Kirth. I think...and I'm just spitballing here, is that Kirth is the one who had his cheerios pissed in, switched to a double helping of Quakers instant Bitch, and then decided to post on Metafilter.
Nope, wrong guy. Again.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:56 AM on September 28, 2007


I used to think Ben Stein was a douche, and now I still do.
posted by Mister_A at 11:56 AM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ben Stein?

Fuck Ben Stein.

He was a greasy little weasel without a spine when he worked for Nixon, and he's still a greasy little weasel without a spine to this day.

Fuck Ben Stein.
posted by Relay at 12:45 PM on September 28, 2007


Not even with Haldeman's dick.
posted by stenseng at 1:45 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


edgeways writes "What exactly makes Ben Stein such an intellectual?"

Well, for one, he's an acclaimed economist and law professor. He graduated valedictorian from Yale Law School. Being an intellectual does not automatically equal being correct about everything, however, or even many things. Many intellectuals have huge blind spots. Stein is not a biologist, and his ties to Judaism are probably stronger than his ties to science.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:15 PM on September 28, 2007


PeterMcDermott writes "But perhaps this sort of thing is common among American jews?"

On the conservative end of the spectrum, yes. Think not only Jackie Mason but also Dr. Laura Schlessinger.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:17 PM on September 28, 2007


Flunkie: "Or Ben Stein thinks "they're both just theories"?"

Hate to burst yer bubble, Flunkie.

They are both just theories.

Evolution happens to have more empirical evidence to support it. Creation theories only have unsubstantiated hearsay and 'faith' that supports them. For some, that's more than enough.

Still, they're both just theories.

The truth is we don't know how we got here.

At best, they're educated guesses. Hypotheses. Theories.

Both theories should be heard, criticized, and given an equal chance to fall flat on their proverbial faces when the world realizes the universe exists at the pleasure and whim of the flying spaghetti monster.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:25 PM on September 28, 2007


I ARGUE WITH PEOPLE SMARTER THAN ME ABOUT STUPID THINGS AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS FUCKING INTERNETS!

WHERE'S MY MOVIE!?
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:31 PM on September 28, 2007


They are both just theories.

No, no, they're not. This is the most annoying part of these attempts by religionists; they coopt and misuse the language of science. In science, the word "theory" has a more specific meaning than you're giving it here. A theory is falsifiable. It can be disproved. Intelligent design is not, by that standard, a theory.

Saying that "both theories should be heard and criticized" cedes half the battle to the enemy of rational thought, because you don't have two theories. You have one theory and one belief.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:37 PM on September 28, 2007 [6 favorites]


Let me have your attention for a moment. So you're talking about what? You're talking about...bitching about that Watergate, some son of a bitch that doesn't want land, somebody that doesn't know what it is to be a Jew, some economics you're trying to figure, and so forth.
Let's talk about something important.
Put that preview down!! Preview's for posters only. Do you think I'm fucking with you? I am not fucking with you. I'm here from downthread. I'm here from Jessamyn and Mathowie. And I'm here on a mission of mercy.
Ben Stein is weak? Fucking Stein is weak? You're weak.
Bunch of losers sitting around in a bar. "Oh yeah, I used to be Ben Stein, it's a tough racket."


“Dude, a theory is testable, which is why Jesus is not a theory, but gravity is.”

Dude, Jesus is totally a theory.

Y’know, Nixon wasn’t all bad. He did some nifty stuff with China, formed the EPA, bunch of other good things. So I see where Stein likes him.
It’s simply that Nixon should have gone to jail for Watergate and a host of other crimes and that as essentially the foremost law enforcement officer in the U.S. his involvement in pre-meditated criminal acts is a betrayal of the highest magnitude.
You can be a “nice guy” and still be a murderer or a child rapist or some such.
It doesn’t change the fact that you help old ladies across the street with their groceries or do charity work and are a generally kind person.
But none of that mitigates any crime you might commit either.
In fact, it kind of makes it worse.
Which is why I suspect Stein has some sort of mental illness. That and the slow talking.
Is he completely blind to the victimization there in Nixon’s crimes? Clinton lying (about his BJ) is a big big deal, but premeditated criminal acts that fundimentally violate the constitution - not so much?
You can like someone’s position on something, you can even like them personally. Doesn’t change the fact that your pissing all over something very fundimental to what it means to be human if you completely ignore the damage they cause when they’re wrong.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:40 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just for the record, being valedictorian at Yale or anywhere else NEVER means that you're more gifted or intelligent than anyone else in class. I just means you wanted it that much more, and were willing to do whatever it took to get there.

As for Stein being a "highly regarded" anything, I have yet to see evidence of that. He's mostly been a hack apologist for a long discredited administration who occasionally offered common sense financial advice on the teevee late at night.
posted by psmealey at 2:42 PM on September 28, 2007


Intelligent design isn't even wrong
posted by ZippityBuddha at 2:52 PM on September 28, 2007


What Nixon did with China was smart, but was it necessarily good? For the long-term benefit of the Chinese and the rest of the world? I've often wondered.

Nixon shouldn't ever be allowed off the hook for Watergate, for misusing the power of the executive, the FBI, the IRS the CIA, etc, but mostly, he should not get a pass stretching and escalating the war in Vietnam, and certainly not on Cambodia, which indirectly resulted in a (near incalculable) genocide of 1.6 to 3 million people.

Attempts to rehabilitate Tricky Dick still kind of piss me off now every bit as much as they did in the 90s.
posted by psmealey at 2:52 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh. And Ben Stein is a wonderful ...great ...competent game show host.

I'm trying to think of something positive to say about him.

but he's no Alex Trebek.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:53 PM on September 28, 2007


Would be amusing (for me anyway) to watch James Randi debunk Ben Stein. Or watch the two men attempt to debunk each other simultaneously. I'd buy tickets to see that. Especially if their opening act is Penn & Teller flametorching the local chapter of Young Republicans.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:01 PM on September 28, 2007


Didn't read much of this thread. Didn't care. But...

Mayor Curley: "...so that mouth-breathers in flyover states..."

Fuck you. I saw more ignorance, injustice, racism, disrespect of other human beings, and general evil in the two years that I lived in on the east coast than I ever did in the twenty-six I've lived out in the west. And if it weren't for the silly fuckers in that seamy underbelly of the country, the Northeast, people like George W. Bush and Karl Rove wouldn't fucking exist.

New York, Massachusetts, and DC should be sold in parts to Texas. I guarantee that 99% of the shit in this country would disappear overnight.
posted by koeselitz at 3:26 PM on September 28, 2007


Koeselitz wrote: Didn't read much of this thread. Didn't care.

Well, that's exactly the point folks are trying to make about Texas and those "flyover states"... isn't it?
posted by zaelic at 3:53 PM on September 28, 2007


I said: They are both just theories.

me & my monkey: No, no, they're not.

Yes. Yes they are. AND I hate to break it to ya, but a theory IS a belief, and vice versa. For those of us who aren't eggheads. i.e., the rest of humanity.

"In science, the word "theory" has a more specific meaning than you're giving it "

That just means scientists are using the word incorrectly. If they want to quantify the word theory, they need to make a new word. This is what's wrong with scientists and "rational thinkers" believing that just because they are smarter than the rest of us they have a right to be correct all the time.

Do I LOOK like a scientist to you? I use the word 'theory' the way it's meant to be used. Not the way scientists are trying to make people use the word.

"Saying that 'both theories should be heard and criticized' cedes half the battle to the enemy of rational thought, because you don't have two theories. You have one theory and one belief."

Ah. So 'beliefs' shouldn't be heard, you say? How quaint.

A theory is an educated guess. It's a guess. You don't know if a theory is true. You think it might be. You believe it is.

There are no absolutes. This universe is one big beautiful maybe, and your maybe has no more or less legitimacy than that of anyone else's. Even if that anyone else is Ben Stein.

This is what the movie CONTACT was all about. Jodie Foster. Very good. You should watch it. Theory and belief are different ways to say the same thing Sorta like bottle in front of me and frontal lobotomy. It's a thing.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:05 PM on September 28, 2007


Oh. And Ben Stein is a ...competent game show host.

Really? Did you notice what happened to that show when Jimmy Kimmel left?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:08 PM on September 28, 2007


koeselitz: "New York, Massachusetts, and DC should be sold in parts to Texas. I guarantee that 99% of the shit in this country would disappear overnight."

Dude. Yer makin' the rest of us 'irrational thinkers' look bad. If we sold the east coast to Texas, we'd have more of the crap that's happening now.

or... is that what you want? Did you go 'red'?

Oh. So you LIKE Stein... Ah..

*backs away slowly*

...I'm not with that guy...

*nervous laugh*
posted by ZachsMind at 4:12 PM on September 28, 2007


"Really? Did you notice what happened to that show when Jimmy Kimmel left?"

I dunno cuz I stopped watching.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:13 PM on September 28, 2007


I dunno cuz I stopped watching.
Exactly. As soon as you stopped watching, the Comedy Central Executive Cabal came to their senses. "Hey - ZachsMind isn't watching WBSM any more! What can it mean? It must mean that Stein is a lousy game-show host! Off with his contract!"
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:18 PM on September 28, 2007


I'll never forget/forgive Stein for the time C-span radio broadcast a talk he gave at a college running up to the 2004 presidential election. He spent a lot of time talking about how the troops, and veterans in general, are the greatest Americans around and always have been (he is, of course, not one himself). Then he spent the last 20 minutes of his talk bashing John Kerry.

Old news, I realize, but this anecdote pretty much sums up the guy -- a complete whore to his powerful masters.
posted by bardic at 4:21 PM on September 28, 2007


ZachsMind writes "Yes. Yes they are. AND I hate to break it to ya, but a theory IS a belief, and vice versa. For those of us who aren't eggheads. i.e., the rest of humanity."

Not to scientists. End of story. Period.

You can believe whatever you want. Doesn't make it science. So, you know, those "eggheads" need to have something to test.

The presence of God (e.g. "intelligence") is not a falsifiable theory.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:50 PM on September 28, 2007


ZachsMind writes "Do I LOOK like a scientist to you? I use the word 'theory' the way it's meant to be used. Not the way scientists are trying to make people use the word. "

One more point ...

If you're going to challenge science, you have to play by the rules. Otherwise, sorry, not science. Nobody is the gatekeeper. It's not a belief system. It's a methodology. You have have a falsifiable theory. It must be tested, again and again. If better information is made available that makes the theory false, it has to be discarded. That simply can't be done with ID. It's not science.

Sure, it's fun for laymen to toss ideas around. But science doesn't progress based on whimsy. It's rigorous; it requires proof and peer review. That's just the way it is.

There's no point in trying to battle the "eggheads" on this one. They aren't science any more than Jerry Falwell is religion.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:56 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, ZachsMind, you agree that "mainstream" scientists are big fat meanies for not allowing the "Intelligent Design" kids play in their game?


Orwell was right.
posted by Eekacat at 4:58 PM on September 28, 2007


ZachsMind:
Hate to burst yer bubble, Flunkie.

They are both just theories.
Under one usage of the term "theory", they are both theories.

Under another usage of the term "theory" -- not coincidentally, the one that scientists mean in virtually every instance that they use it -- one and only one of them is a theory.

Creationists have scored a lot of points over the years by saying "they're both just theories", intentionally ignoring the fact that "theory" has two very different meanings, and relying on the fact that the typical layman doesn't know that they do.

Hate to burst yer bubble, but you're apparently one of the targets that they scored on.

And from a later post of yours:
That just means scientists are using the word incorrectly. If they want to quantify the word theory, they need to make a new word.
Words often have multiple meanings, believe it or not. And this one does. It's not science's fault that you didn't know that until you piped in on this thread.
posted by Flunkie at 5:00 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


ZachsMind writes "Yes. Yes they are. AND I hate to break it to ya, but a theory IS a belief, and vice versa. For those of us who aren't eggheads. i.e., the rest of humanity. "

Dear ZachsMind,

We're sorry that you're confused about the difference between a theory and a hypothesis. We wish there were some kind of a reference that could explain this difference more clearly.

Also, what's up? You never call.

Sincerely,
Eggheads
posted by mullingitover at 5:08 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Smedleyman writes "Which is why I suspect Stein has some sort of mental illness. That and the slow talking.
"Is he completely blind to the victimization there in Nixon’s crimes? Clinton lying (about his BJ) is a big big deal, but premeditated criminal acts that fundimentally violate the constitution - not so much?
"You can like someone’s position on something, you can even like them personally. Doesn’t change the fact that your pissing all over something very fundimental to what it means to be human if you completely ignore the damage they cause when they’re wrong."


Well, while I can't find much politically to agree with Ben Stein, I'm convinced he's quite smart. He doesn't have a mental illness. That's a cop out, frankly. It doesn't make me happy to see people on any political side using such language - it kinda degrades the point of diagnosing and treating mental illness to use it as a casual political slur, even when applied to Bush (and it's so tempting to speculate what's going on in his pointy little head). Anyway ... bugs me.

This shutting off of information contradictory to your belief system, even when said belief system can be definitively proven wrong, is a survival mechanism. I'm sure of that. I see it in nearly everyone, to greater or lesser degrees; this self-deception goes on among the brilliant and the slow. It's hard for me to fathom how Stein can defend ludicrous ideas and figures like ID and Nixon, but he is really just telling the rest of us that this is his tribe, and they will not roll over without a fight. It's often considered more honorable to die (perhaps figuratively) for an unjust cause if it helps your tribe, than to admit you were wrong and be rejected by your tribe. I know this is rather simplistic and it ignores much subtlety, and perhaps Stein really is delusional (it's so easy to say that about anyone, though, without any medical proof), but I do think most of it stems from our social nature and structures; our need to fit in is very, very strong, much more than our desire for logical and cohesive belief systems to most people.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:12 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, if you put a label like "mentally ill" on a political opponent, it's almost always an inaccurate and even dangerous assumption, because it usually underestimates their abilities. I think it's important to see these people as human beings with flaws like all of us. If you think Stein is mentally ill, then there's an underlying assumption that he is also ineffective, which is far from true.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:19 PM on September 28, 2007


Dear Eggheads,

The confusion is yours. You perceive there is a difference. I would also like someone to tell fashion consultants that offwhite and cream are the same frikkin thing.

kthxby

- Zachie
posted by ZachsMind at 5:35 PM on September 28, 2007


"So, ZachsMind, you agree that "mainstream" scientists are big fat meanies for not allowing the "Intelligent Design" kids play in their game?"

How'd this suddenly become Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer?

I'm not agreeing or disagreeing, period.

I believe they're both possible. Maybe it's evolution. Maybe it's creationism.

I believe they could both be possible at the same time. I also believe they could both be wrong, and a third, even more absurd concept could actually be 'right'. Maybe it's some other ism, or a host of other isms, that haven't even been contemplated yet.

You're all looking for Hawking's dice behind Einstein's shadow, and some of you are using a torch made outta the lambchops of God. Congratulations! Everyone has the same percentage chance of being correct.

I'm the most agreeable person in this thread.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:44 PM on September 28, 2007


Intelligent Design is a theory as much as astrology is a theory. If you want to define that as a theory, fine, whatever. But note that both of these "theories" make predictions, and that these predictions are false. The Dover trial probably has the best summary of how IDs predictions have proven to be false. Look back on previous horoscopes for how well astrology's predictions have fared.

But when you start saying that ID is on the same ground as evolution, well, you're just ignorant. ID has passed no tests, has no evidence, just a bunch of weak word arguments most of which have already been proven to be false not by directed research but just be the inexorable progress of discoveries in biology.

So dissemble all you want by calling them both theories, whatever, but you're lying by omitting that one has huge a huge body of proof, and the other has a body of disproof.
posted by Llama-Lime at 5:56 PM on September 28, 2007


ZachsMind writes "You're all looking for Hawking's dice behind Einstein's shadow, and some of you are using a torch made outta the lambchops of God. Congratulations! Everyone has the same percentage chance of being correct."

Well, not if we look at the evidence we have in front of us. There are many possibilities, but the metaphysical can't really be compared with the scientific.

I agree there is much we don't know. There may be a creator, but it's hard to ignore evidence of speciation.

The problem isn't that people believe in a creator. The problem is that people like Ben Stein use it as a political wedge issue and try to insert it into science, where it doesn't really belong or work. It's not that it can't coexist with science, but it spiritual questions are mostly beyond the realm of what science can do. And it isn't really designed for that. I'm not surprised that there are many spiritual people, as it's what makes us human. But I'm disappointed that otherwise intelligent people try to make it about politics, when science really is quite beyond that, as should spirituality be.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:01 PM on September 28, 2007


If anything, this just demonstrates that the category of "rebel" is simply no longer a productive label.

That and Ben Stein was better when he was stuck hanging out with Jimmy Kimmel.
posted by hank_14 at 6:10 PM on September 28, 2007


I should note that when I say ID, I basically mean what Behe has been advancing, as he seems to be the only person who has approached it from a remotely scientific standpoint.

Others seem to be saying "what about God?" which is fine, but has no place in science unless they have observations or experiments.

Which is why this film is so ridiculous; there's exactly zero research that supports ID, and all attempts have been such massive failures that we don't even really hear about supposed ID supporters doing research. If there were any successful scientific endeavors with ID, you had better believe that it would be embraced. That would be tremendous news, the first evidence of a non-human intelligent entity with greater than human intelligence. (Of course, phrased like that, it makes me wonder why SETI still gets funding... I guess they haven't been so foolish as to make overly bold claims that are easily disproved.)
posted by Llama-Lime at 6:15 PM on September 28, 2007


ZachsMind, the more you write, the more ignorant you prove yourself to be of the entire issue, and the less you should probably stick your foot in your mouth. Evolution and "Creationism" attempt to explain very different things. Evolution doesn't attempt to explain "where we came from" as you mention wrongly upthread and imply here. You have no interest in learning anything about it, but you continue to talk about it as if you did have some knowledge of it.

You also have misunderstood my question. I didn't ask you if you believed in either Intelligent Design of Evolutionary Theory. Your complete and self avowed ignorance of science makes your opinion worthless to me, and so I don't care what you think. I wouldn't ask a graphic designer why my car is pinging either.

What I was asking you was do you think that mainstream science is being unfair to Intelligent Design proponents by making them follow the long standing discipline of science. Intelligent Design is a thinly veiled ploy that attempts to hide the religious aspects behind it. You can find out more here.
posted by Eekacat at 6:23 PM on September 28, 2007


Llama-Lime writes "Of course, phrased like that, it makes me wonder why SETI still gets funding... I guess they haven't been so foolish as to make overly bold claims that are easily disproved"

The statistical possibility of life elsewhere in the universe is large enough to be worth considering. SETI is looking for anything which could be communications from intelligent life, not an hypothesis that one or another creation story is true. It's worth probing at the edges, IMO, as long as there is real research. As you say, ID isn't being researched, but what would there be to do? That said, I've participated in the SETI project, but I have doubts as to whether it will produce anything but sci-fi daydreams, and a more thorough map of the sky.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:26 PM on September 28, 2007


I still say that Ben Stein was a incredibly kind to my ailing mother & I will always owe him and be thankful to him for that.

But that said, yes, I do believe that this movie looks like absolute and total crap that you couldn't drag me to see.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:36 PM on September 28, 2007


Ben(dover) Stein!
posted by ericb at 6:47 PM on September 28, 2007


That just means scientists are using the word incorrectly.

No, they're using it as a term of art, as jargon, just like lawyers use snippets of Latin. In the context of a scientific discussion, it means something quite specific; outside that context, it means something much vaguer. And that's ok. I don't know what you do for a living, but I wouldn't be surprised if you have jargon of your own in that field. You know the screen on your computer with all the icons, etc? A tech support guy would call it a "desktop," but did you know it's not really a desktop?

Stein and his ilk are being disingenuous in trying to coopt the jargon of science without submitting to the rigor of scientific analysis. They want their beliefs to be taken seriously by science, and are shocked ... SHOCKED, I tell you, when they're not. There's a place for their beliefs, but it sure as hell isn't in a science class.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:54 PM on September 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm the most agreeable person in this thread.
Congratulations.
posted by Flunkie at 8:21 PM on September 28, 2007


I believe they're both possible. Maybe it's evolution. Maybe it's creationism.

Oy jeez.

A scientific theory is testable. It is falsifiable.

Creationism, or ID, or whatever we're calling it this week, is not science. It is not testable, or falsifiable, since proving or disproving the existence of a designer is not possible. If your theory is: an intelligent designer created/contributed to/drew up the plans for etc. life on Earth, how do you test that? Scientifically, that is?

I'm always a little surprised that the actual, trained scientists who advocate ID are able to do so - it seems to me to be the ultimate display of a lack of curiosity, or imagination: "Oh, no! That biological structure is so complex! And I can't explain why! So it must have been a Designer that made it!" What a cop-out.

Dictionary definition of theory.

Wikipedia's article about theory.

posted by rtha at 8:28 PM on September 28, 2007


"Tapes of Nixon's resignation show Stein crying, and he insists that he was asked to quit the Ford Administration after a few weeks because his loud weeping was distracting the staff."


Ben Stein, the man who shed tears for Nixon.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 8:34 PM on September 28, 2007


"Oh, no! That biological structure is so complex! And I can't explain why! So it must have been a Designer that made it!" What a cop-out.

It's not a cop-out, rtha. What I mean is that they're not arguing Intelligent Design because they can't handle the science. It's because the Creationist movement doesn't like anything that threatens the belief in God. They've decided that Science, particularly Evolution, is such a threat, so now they'll do anything, even lie and deceive, to discredit it.

I.D. really stands for Intellectual Dishonesty. And these so-called "good Christians" are knowingly and purposefully lying through their teeth. Check out the Wedge Document.

I'm not a fan of using profanity to describe groups or individuals, but these Discovery Institute people really are donkeyfuckers of the first order.
posted by illiad at 9:29 PM on September 28, 2007


Two clicks away from this page is a Dawkins' essay titled The Information Challenge. It's a wonderful read and relevant to some of the discussion here. It demonstrates how science and creation talk past each other using the same words but with different meanings.

It also demonstrates how a simple question sometimes requires a complicated answer. Credit goes to Dawkins for not wanting to provide the short and easy answer, which is likely to be misinterpreted or risks "blinding people with science." There is no essay (or movie, Expelled included) like this from the creationists (or Intelligent Design-ists); Dawkins explains the intellectual foundation required to understand his theoretical framework, gives examples to illustrate his point, and discusses the implications of his theory. This type of explanation cannot be given by advocates of creationism or ID because the intellectual groundwork required to understand their "theory" comes from religious and cultural artifacts which are not easily explained to anyone not already indoctrinated and convinced of the veracity of these beliefs.

And Smed, that comment deserves a gold star. Thanks.
posted by peeedro at 9:32 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's not a cop-out, rtha. What I mean is that they're not arguing Intelligent Design because they can't handle the science. It's because the Creationist movement doesn't like anything that threatens the belief in God. They've decided that Science, particularly Evolution, is such a threat, so now they'll do anything, even lie and deceive, to discredit it.

Huh.

Weirdly, I guess, I never thought of it that way. Or at least, I never gave it much weight. I think it's because I can't imagine why people get so freaked out at anything that they see as threatening to Christianity, which has been around for a couple thousand years and has done a pretty good job of being threatening to its own existence (Crusades anyone?). It's never struck me as a terribly fragile institution.

But I think you're right.
posted by rtha at 10:02 PM on September 28, 2007


It's really bizarre that Ben Stein's Jewishness is being brought up in this thread. WTF? What does that have to do with it? I mean, I suppose the Book of Genesis was written by some Jewish guys, but why does there have to be that kind of angle on everything? Some Orthodox Jews are Creationists, so are fundamentalist Christians, and Muslims as well. BFD. Plenty of Jews and Gentiles believe in Darwinism too.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 12:18 AM on September 29, 2007


ericb writes 'Ben(dover) Stein!'

I'm disappointed, ericb.

I was expecting a movie where the two Bens get chokefucked by Max Hardcore.

Never mind Paris Hilton, that's some porn I'd have no problem at all with paying a premium price to see.

L.P. Hatecraft writes 'What does that (Stein's jewishness) have to do with it? I mean, I suppose the Book of Genesis was written by some Jewish guys, but why does there have to be that kind of angle on everything? Some Orthodox Jews are Creationists'

I asked about it because I was genuinely interested in why a Jew would be pushing this agenda. I wasn't aware of a Creationist strand within Jewish thought. This obviously isn't something that has crossed the Atlantic in any major way. For example, I haven't ever heard of a group of jews getting together to have the books discussing evolution withdrawn from any of the Jewish schools here in the UK.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:32 AM on September 29, 2007


New York, Massachusetts, and DC should be sold in parts to Texas. I guarantee that 99% of the shit in this country would disappear overnight.

Yeah, so would most of the gays and black people.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:34 PM on September 29, 2007


Better idea: the east and west coasts should secede and join Canada. Texas can have Florida.

Then the Bible belt can do all the book banning and creationism it wants.

And the rest of us can have an actual democracy.
posted by Maias at 2:49 PM on September 29, 2007


Oops, on the East Coast, I meant everything north of DC. Wouldn't want to be stuck with the rest there..
posted by Maias at 2:50 PM on September 29, 2007


Better idea: the east and west coasts should secede and join Canada. Texas can have Florida.

Then the Bible belt can do all the book banning and creationism it wants.

And the rest of us can have an actual democracy.


Better idea: Get rid of bigots. That includes you.
posted by Snyder at 5:20 PM on October 1, 2007


Can we not discuss a Jewish pundit/politics person without getting into a goddamned referendum on his Jewishness?

He's talking about a subject near and dear to fundies. Of course it's relevant.


No, it's not. It's borederline anti-semetic, to have non-Jews come up with litmus tests on Jewishness, but it's not relevant.

I asked about it because I was genuinely interested in why a Jew would be pushing this agenda. I wasn't aware of a Creationist strand within Jewish thought. This obviously isn't something that has crossed the Atlantic in any major way. For example, I haven't ever heard of a group of jews getting together to have the books discussing evolution withdrawn from any of the Jewish schools here in the UK.

Probably because creationism isn't as big a big political issue in the UK as it is in America, but there are some politically active Jewish creationists in the UK, for a mention, see here.
posted by Snyder at 5:28 PM on October 1, 2007


“it kinda degrades the point of diagnosing and treating mental illness to use it as a casual political slur”

Nothing casual about it. If you hold two completely contradictory beliefs, have impairments in the perception of reality and act according to that disassociated belief, that’s pretty much the textbook diagnosis of schizophrenia. Granted the comment was tongue in cheek, but I’m in earnest about the critique.
Kurt Godel, f’rinstance, was extremely intelligent. Didn’t mean he wasn’t crazy either. Godel was extraordinarily effective in physics; in his personal life and politics, not so much.
Stein strikes me in much the same way. A compassionate individual that doesn’t recognize the injustices his conclusions ultimately support. A very logical ordered mind that for reasons beyond me is unfathomably defending irrational positions.
I think he needs therapy. But I’m just breaking down the pattern (IANAPsy).
Unfortunately many people equate intellect with stability and overall well-being.
That’s as simplistic as saying since I can bench press 400 lbs, I can’t have kidney problems or other health problems.

I’m very much pro-deity in terms of a priori knowlege. I think the idea of a creator can be a useful notational in any (non-physical) system of thought and it’s certainly an excellent method for identification with the ground of all being, etc. Lotsa good reasons to “believe” in “God.”

Am I going to let God take the wheel when I’m driving? Not a chance.

There’s no place to fit non-observable, non-falsifiable data of any kind into a rational empirically based system like science.
The only reason to do so is to exert social pressure.
As a conservative, I strongly believe that social values should be contested as long as they’re contested by society, not by the government. By the same token, there are certain principles which are inviolate, such as the right to worship however one wishes - or doesn’t.

As far as I’m concerned placing this kind of social pressure on otherwise universally valued and objective systems does damage to those systems. We not only require them for (objective) feedback about the nature of reality, but as simple diagnostic tools and most certainly as safeguards for many things - such as our right to worship (or not) freely.
As I would not want the government telling me to not worship as I will, so I cannot support any degree of social pressure on that system.
(That basic formula holds for the entire bill of rights et.al).

One can believe in creationism or intelligent design all one wishes as a matter of religious freedom. Where it encroaches on the pure mechanics of living and objectivity is where Stein (et.al) is essentially giving God the wheel of the car.
God may have meaning, but God has no tangible repeatable effect on reality (except where one defines God as the Spinozan “one with nature” but even then - same ultimate effect as not having God there) therefore there is no basis in forming any policy or rational direction based on any interpretation of what God does or doesn’t want.
In blunter terms - there is no reason to impart any tangible power to those who claim to interpret God’s will or meaning given the exclusivity of those interactions. If God isn’t talking to all of us in clearly definable, repeatable, and observable ways, he’s not in the picture.

Stein, being orderly of mind, doesn’t see that. I do.
Stein, I accept as more intelligent than me. Therefore Stein must have some flaw which prevents him understanding this and choosing the course of action he’s taken.
Logical?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:39 PM on October 2, 2007


(please take that with a grain of salt - the meaning I’m aiming at might be a bit occluded by my poor expression - clearly you can put social pressure on the government to change, but this scenario is more trying to legitimize that social movement by bringing government policy to bear to marginalize e.g. athiests, while damaging objectivity. Not the same as e.g. the civil rights movement which was predicated on the fundimental principle of equal rights and demanded recognition for it, here the right to believe ID (et.al) is not in dispute, only its impact on policy)
posted by Smedleyman at 12:46 PM on October 2, 2007


sevenyearlurk: "Yeah, so would most of the gays and black people."

I've met a hell of a lot more open and happy gay people in and from Texas than I ever did in Boston. If you don't know what I mean, I have a feeling you've never been to Texas.

As for troubles with how black people are treated, there are some places in Texas where that's the case. I'm merely saying that it's better in Texas than it is in New York and the rest of the east coast. And if you disagree, call my grandma from Long Island. She'll tell you all about how "that stupid Hillary Clinton does whatever the black retards tell her to!" And she's not by any stretch the only person in the big apple that has such opinions.
posted by koeselitz at 4:23 PM on October 3, 2007


I've met a hell of a lot more open and happy gay people in and from Texas than I ever did in Boston.

Boston doesn't do happy very well, gay or straight. For happy, I would head east, to Provincetown.
posted by psmealey at 4:31 PM on October 3, 2007


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