Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"It fills me with contempt."
December 6, 2008 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Roger Ebert gives Ben Stein a spanking.

Ben Stein's movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" has displeased Ebert, but he can consider himself lucky: the film's climax culminates in a debate between Stein and Richard Dawkins, and they've had a long and colorful history of exchanges. (Previously: 1, 2, 3)
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (173 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
And previously, in the Roger Ebert spankings department. (And what a department it is.)
posted by bicyclefish at 11:22 AM on December 6, 2008


Pappy's Staff: Gonna paddle a little behind.
Pappy's Staff: Ain't gonna paddle it - gonna kick it, real hard.
Pappy's Staff: No, I believe he's gonna paddle it.
Pappy's Staff: I don't believe that's a proper characterization.
Pappy's Staff: Well, that's how I'd characterize it.
Pappy's Staff: I believe it's more of a kickin' sitcheyation.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:27 AM on December 6, 2008 [9 favorites]


Thank you for that. I can't stand Ben Stein.
posted by Nattie at 11:28 AM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now you are faced with two choices: (A) Darwin's Theory of Evolution, or (B) Intelligent Design.

The movie more or less rejects this all-or-nothing dichotomy more closely questioning origin, how did life start, not how did it develop once started. The remainder of the spanking depends on maintaining this zero-sum view.
posted by scheptech at 11:29 AM on December 6, 2008


I say this on Bad Astronomy the other day, and enjoyed it a lot. Ebert's a pretty smart dude.
posted by Caduceus at 11:31 AM on December 6, 2008


This is great. It's the beatdown of the century!

It should probably settle any doubts about the level of sarcasm in that one Ebert piece from awhile back.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:32 AM on December 6, 2008


Damn.
posted by billysumday at 11:34 AM on December 6, 2008


Aw, come on. You could have deleted the one without the typo.
posted by Caduceus at 11:39 AM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


The movie more or less rejects this all-or-nothing dichotomy more closely questioning origin, how did life start, not how did it develop once started.

Actually, as the spanking is predicated on Ben Stein's hogwashy approach to pricking the scientific establishment, which, in large part, has meant aligning himself with cranks and religious demagogues who throw money at vanity projects like this if the results support their hogwash, the spanking remains intact.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:41 AM on December 6, 2008 [10 favorites]


Was Nixon the result of Intelligent Design or Evolution? I would guess the former since I can't imagine Ben Stein worshiping any result of the latter.
posted by tommasz at 11:42 AM on December 6, 2008


What bothers me about Ben Stein most is that he has successfully crafted the image as some kind of intellectual. You see him on Larry King as the thoughtful guy.

He's not smart. What Stein is is a complete narcissist incapable of any kind of self scrutiny or examination. If he thought it it must be right. You can see that in his politics as well. The dude can't admit when he is wrong. And that is the singular earmark of stupid. It's embarrassing how wrong that dude has been.
posted by tkchrist at 11:46 AM on December 6, 2008 [25 favorites]


The movie more or less rejects this all-or-nothing dichotomy more closely questioning origin, how did life start, not how did it develop once started.

You haven't seen it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:48 AM on December 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


I sap this on Bad Astronomy the other day, and enjoyed it a lot. Ebert's a pretty smart dude.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:48 AM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm all for the lynching of Ben Stein, since his financial views are so moronic that he makes Paulson look like a white knight, but Ebert writes this:

Your suit argues that the "correct" answer was chosen because of a prejudice against the theory of Intelligent Design, despite the fact that .025 of one percent of all scientists support it.

I could have sworn that this type of argument was used against Copernicus about 500 years ago. Now, I'm no creationist, but you'd think that Ebert would rely on better reasons to tout Darwinian theory than: "nyah nyah, everyone else is doing it".
posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:50 AM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Roger Ebert is awesome across all media.
posted by grounded at 11:54 AM on December 6, 2008


I sag this on Bad Astronomy the other day, and enjoyed it a lot. Ebert's a pretty smart dude.
posted by chlorus at 11:57 AM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Now, I'm no creationist, but you'd think that Ebert would rely on better reasons to tout Darwinian theory than: "nyah nyah, everyone else is doing it".

Yes, you're right, he should've included a twenty-page summary of the evidence for evolution. For the purposes of the essay, noting that Intelligent Design is without any significant support from scientists whatsoever is totally insufficient.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:58 AM on December 6, 2008 [12 favorites]


Rub it in why don't you, Meatbomb.
posted by Caduceus at 11:59 AM on December 6, 2008


This is going to change everything! Stein and his ilk have only been waiting for someone to point out they are wrong. Rationalism and facts, baby! We'll be able to lay this one to rest now. I for one, am glad Ebert took the time to lay this one to rest.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:01 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm a fan and all, but this is utter twaddle:

Even the obligatory "shocked neighbors" standing in their front yards after a murder usually have some powder brushed on by the camera person.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:02 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was this on Sad Astronomy the other way, and unfolded it a dot. Ebert's a pretty start frood.
posted by Michael Roberts at 12:04 PM on December 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


Ebert.


Ebert.


Ebert.
posted by fleetmouse at 12:08 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


You haven't seen it.

Actually I did, last week. The movie makes a distinction between creationism and ID, arguing for the possibility of the latter but especially for the right to freedom of thought, particularly the right of paid academics to entertain or discuss any idea publicly without fear of losing their livelihoods.
posted by scheptech at 12:10 PM on December 6, 2008


SeizeTheDay: "I could have sworn that this type of argument was used against Copernicus about 500 years ago. Now, I'm no creationist, but you'd think that Ebert would rely on better reasons to tout Darwinian theory than: "nyah nyah, everyone else is doing it"."

I don't know about that. I bet the majority of scientists agreed with Copernicus. Unfortunately, there were probably only like 12 scientists at the time.
posted by team lowkey at 12:15 PM on December 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


I sag thise in Bed Astrenomy teh ether dai, und enjayed ot a tot. Ebrrt's a potty smirt dud.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:15 PM on December 6, 2008


I attended a debate between Michael Shermer and Douglas Jacoby a few months ago. I understand that they had debated before, but not since the Kitzmiller verdict.

After Jacoby finished his opening remarks, Shermer and the audience realized that Jacoby's basic argument was: "I agree with all tenets of the modern theory of evolution. I also believe that god is behind everything." Shermer kept on trying to draw Jacoby into a debate only to be rebuffed by his complete agreement. By the end of the debate it became apparent that Jacoby was only there to argue for the existence of god through some hazy deistic theory. I'm ok with that. If you want to argue for the existence of god outside the scope of a falsifiable theory, then carry on.

I briefly spoke with Shermer afterwards and asked him if this was a common stance among former ID/Creationists. He essentially said that since Judge Jones' decision, the ID proponents have disintegrated. They haven't come up with a newer, vaguer guise to package creation science.

So until they come up with a new lie to waste our time on; they're pretty powerless.
posted by Telf at 12:17 PM on December 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


What bothers me about Ben Stein most is that he has successfully crafted the image as some kind of intellectual.

How he manages to keep up the charade while continuously spewing hilariously flawed arguments . . .

"Can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible? He ended the war in Vietnam, brought home the POW's, ended the war in the Mideast, opened relations with China, started the first nuclear weapons reduction treaty, saved Eretz Israel's life, started the Environmental Protection Administration. Does anyone remember what he did that was bad? Oh, now I remember. He lied. He was a politician who lied. How remarkable. He lied to protect his subordinates who were covering up a ridiculous burglary that no one to this date has any clue about its purpose. He lied so he could stay in office and keep his agenda of peace going. That was his crime. He was a peacemaker and he wanted to make a world where there was a generation of peace. And he succeeded. That is his legacy. He was a peacemaker. He was a lying, conniving, covering up peacemaker. He was not a lying, conniving drug addict like JFK, a lying, conniving war starter like LBJ, a lying, conniving seducer like Clinton—a lying, conniving peacemaker."*


. . . is a mystery for the ages.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:18 PM on December 6, 2008 [13 favorites]


the right to freedom of thought, particularly the right of paid academics to entertain or discuss any idea publicly without fear of losing their livelihoods.

Which is bollocks of course. If I entertained and championed the idea that we should replace all our computers company wide with Babbage machines I would immediately be fired, and properly so.

Science proceeds by getting the job done. Does evolution get the job done (i.e. make testable predictions)? yes. Does Intelligent Design? If so no one has bothered to mention it.
posted by Skorgu at 12:19 PM on December 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


Thanks for posting this.
posted by tiger yang at 12:23 PM on December 6, 2008


The movie makes a distinction between creationism and ID, arguing for the possibility of the latter but especially for the right to freedom of thought, particularly the right of paid academics to entertain or discuss any idea publicly without fear of losing their livelihoods.

Should chemists in academia start entertaining ideas of turning lead into gold?
posted by krinklyfig at 12:23 PM on December 6, 2008 [12 favorites]


The movie makes a distinction between creationism and ID, arguing for the possibility of the latter

But scientists do concede there is a possibility. It's just that they also point out that there is absolutely no evidence for it, and therefore ID cannot be science.

The film even climaxes with this point - it finishes with a supposed "gotcha" moment with Dawkins conceding life on Earth could concievably have been seeded from another planet, one which might even contain an advanced civilisation more intelligent than ours. Pure speculation of course, but admittedly so. The point is: why can't creationists admit the same?
posted by dydecker at 12:27 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes, you're right, he should've included a twenty-page summary of the evidence for evolution. For the purposes of the essay, noting that Intelligent Design is without any significant support from scientists whatsoever is totally insufficient.

If the entire point of the essay is to publicly mock Stein, and just preach to the choir, mission accomplished. Which is fine. But calling the man intelligent and making this puff piece into something that it isn't (pragmatic in any sense of the word) was my objection. The bathroom scrawlings of a well reputed film critic aren't exactly what I call great reading material.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 12:34 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


purple monkey dishwasher?
posted by blue_beetle at 12:35 PM on December 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


A pretty bad smart astronomy dude says the other day, 'Ebert on this. And I enjoyed it a lot.

Ben Stein's trajectory confuses me greatly. The guy jumps from speechwriter to actor to law professor to game show host to ID advocate documentarian. His career path was not intelligently designed.
posted by Remy at 12:39 PM on December 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


The movie makes a distinction between creationism and ID, arguing for the possibility of the latter but especially for the right to freedom of thought, particularly the right of paid academics to entertain or discuss any idea publicly without fear of losing their livelihoods.

Yeah. There's no such right there. Not even close. Job security isn't a fundamental interest, ID Proponents aren't a suspect class, and the whole idea of teaching Judeo-Christianity gussied up as science - just, you know, the kind where we state the conclusion we'd like and don't bother with any method - runs clearly counter to the establishment clause, at least at public schools and universities.

A right for someone hired and given a salary presumably based on their ability to teach with authority, to then turn around and teach whatever the fuck they want without accountability, and sitll retain a paycheck? No. There is, and will never be, any such "right" in any nation on earth.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:51 PM on December 6, 2008 [18 favorites]



Should chemists in academia start entertaining ideas of turning lead into gold?


Might as well. Science always starts with a question.
On the other hand, should chemists in academia start teaching that turning lead into gold is the ultimate and only goal of chemistry, and that all attempts to understand real chemical processes and follow where the information gathered leads only matters if the end result is turning lead into gold? Most certainly not.
My problem with ID is that it misrepresents science at an extremely fundamental level. It basically presumes that science (or rather scientists as a group) have some sort of anti-religious agenda. This actually helps their position in that it sets up religion as an equal and similar philosophy, which is completely false. In fact, what religion (generally) seems to be doing in this area is explaining the world, whereas science is attempting to understand the world. A subtle difference? Not so much.

Ultimately, one must examine the results of the ID movement and see that one, if not all, of their goals have been resoundingly accomplished. The goals that spring to mind include putting religion up as a rival to science and creating yet another "mass debate" with no possible end due to the very nature of the concepts being discussed. If I say "Some being of intelligence could have designed life." that statement is completely unproveable unless I drag the actual being into the room or bring you his manifesto and research notes. Even ENGAGING with this ridiculously flawed statement from any stance which uses reason or factual evidence as ammunition is doomed to failure. "Well, you can't PROVE that there WAS NOT an Intelligent Designer." Of course I can't, but I can prove that the argument being presented is completely flawed and, in fact, not an argument at all.

In short, the fact that the ID movement is even being discussed by any serious-minded person is, in a way, a victory for them. It makes me sad.
posted by eparchos at 12:53 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


He sure nuff made a monkey out of Ben. Sure nuff!
posted by doctorschlock at 12:56 PM on December 6, 2008


Flagged. This thread belongs in AskMe, or at least MetaChat.
If the astrologer washes her hair with José Eber products, that's her business.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:58 PM on December 6, 2008


My problem with ID is that it misrepresents science at an extremely fundamental level. It basically presumes that science (or rather scientists as a group) have some sort of anti-religious agenda. This actually helps their position in that it sets up religion as an equal and similar philosophy, which is completely false.

Yeah, that was my point. Of course, lead into gold is just shorthand for alchemy. Putting them on equal footing would be absurd, but so would putting religion and science. But who is around to defend alchemy?
posted by krinklyfig at 12:58 PM on December 6, 2008


But who is around to defend alchemy?

A somewhat related short story, and a fun read.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:03 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


We love you best when you're snarky, Roger.
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:04 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Should chemists in academia start entertaining ideas of turning lead into gold?

Been there, done that.

... "Rutherford, this is transmutation!" Rutherford snapped back, "For Christ's sake, Soddy, don't call it transmutation. They'll have our heads off as alchemists."
posted by benzenedream at 1:07 PM on December 6, 2008


There is no ID debate. ID asserts that the god-of-the-gaps has everything answered, end- debate. It has nothing to do with science, nor should academics be paid to give it anything more than scowl, or pained sigh. I'm all for scientists debating incredibly varied theories -- from as far left and right of the field as possible -- as long as they actually pertain to science. The debate of, essentially, the Imaginary Friend Theory, is something that belongs in theological studies, not in science.

What scientists pursue in their spare time, and pursue when they're "off the clock" is their own business. But when your job is to further the cause of science, giving credence to -- even by mentioning -- whack-job fundamentalist theories is contrary to the job. There SHOULD be repercussions.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:10 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I know, benzenedream, and I should have just said alchemy instead, because people are taking it too literally.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:14 PM on December 6, 2008


Well whatever the merits of Mr. Stein's case, freedom of thought and speech is the main point of the movie, thus the title.

does evolution get the job done (i.e. make testable predictions)? yes. Does Intelligent Design?

Again, the all-or-nothing dichotomy. Stein is not denying evolution. He questions particularly the origin of life, how did it start, not how it developed and asks for the freedom to consider all possibilities. Simply painting Ben Stein's movie as a promo for loopy dinosaurs-lived-with-humans style creationism misses the point.

why can't creationists admit the same?

Again equating creationism with ID. They are two separate ideas with the former being a clear opponent of evolution and the latter allowing for the possibility of evolution.

Aside from exploring other worth-considering issues related to evolution-gone-wrong (eugenics, racism) the movie focuses on origin. Creationism clearly claims an absolute direct and final answer which is very appealing to many because of that. ID claims a possible answer of sorts. Evolution claims no such answer. Evolutionists, as Mr. Dawkins indicates, quite correctly and honorably admit they don't know how life started (yet anyway).

There is a conflict between creationism (as it is understood in the Southern US at least) and evolution. There is no conflict between ID and anything other than the notion of a "involved higher power" or however you want to put it. Mr Ebert's spanking depends on the old time-worn conflict.
posted by scheptech at 1:15 PM on December 6, 2008


krinklyfig: I was actually just trying to make a long post which expanded on your statement. I got the idea first try!
posted by eparchos at 1:19 PM on December 6, 2008


I miss "Win Ben Stein's Money."
posted by kjh at 1:21 PM on December 6, 2008


Mr. Ebert, you are hereby forgiven for all those shitty movie reviews.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:21 PM on December 6, 2008


I sat this on Sad Astrology the mother way, and unfolded it a dot. Peebert's a pretty stamp froot.
posted by newfers at 1:21 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed the piece, and I'm glad Ebert tried to at least work in explanations of a few things about evolution in it, but honestly, this was not an attempt at a serious rebuttal to Stein's film. It was, indeed, a "spanking" and little more. And well done.

The movie more or less rejects this all-or-nothing dichotomy more closely questioning origin, how did life start, not how did it develop once started. The remainder of the spanking depends on maintaining this zero-sum view.

Did you read the article, or just skim it? None of the parts that really got to me had much to do with the dichotomy in question. I haven't seen it. Was Ebert lying when he said Stein wanted to call it "from Darwin to Hitler"? Was he lying about the end, where Stein walks around a Nazi concentration camp, invokes the memory of millions of murdered Jews, and equates the theory of evolution with Nazism and genocide? If so, I am disappointed in Roger Ebert.

If not, how dare you defend this human piece of excrement!
posted by Xezlec at 1:22 PM on December 6, 2008


Again equating creationism with ID. They are two separate ideas with the former being a clear opponent of evolution and the latter allowing for the possibility of evolution.

Insofar as they both depend on casting a total absence of evidence as the most potent evidence, they are identical. Where you actually draw the line for the origin of ALL species is a sleight-of-hand designed to conceal the true nature of "intelligent design" theories.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:23 PM on December 6, 2008


They are two separate ideas with the former being a clear opponent of evolution and the latter allowing for the possibility of evolution.

How generous of them.

There is no conflict between ID and anything other than the notion of a "involved higher power" or however you want to put it.

Yet, interestingly, ID proposes no mechanism, has no evidence, and relies heavily on "common sense" and other such non-scientific appeals. It is in no way science. Going "I think there was a creator... I mean 'designer', so therefore it must be taught in schools!" is not exactly the scientific method.

Freedom of speech and of thought are lovely concepts and are definitely precious to our way of life, but misrepresenting ID as science when it is NOT and then demanding hat it be taught as an "alternative theory" in science classrooms around the country? That's not free speech, that's propaganda. Perhaps they should teach it in civics classrooms or in theology classrooms, but until it becomes an ACTUAL SCIENTIFIC THEORY, there's no reason to pretend that it is such.
posted by eparchos at 1:26 PM on December 6, 2008


And in Ebert's defense, he does preface the article by saying "I've been accused of refusing to review Ben Stein's documentary "Expelled," a defense of Creationism, because of my belief in the theory of evolution. Here is my response." So to his credit, he did initially refrain from even commenting on the film.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:27 PM on December 6, 2008


My point being, Ebert didn't want to spank; it was demanded of him.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:28 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well whatever the merits of Mr. Stein's case, freedom of thought and speech is the main point of the movie, thus the title.

False. The point of the movie is to smear and slander science and scientists as religion-hating, mass-murdering monsters.

Again, the all-or-nothing dichotomy. Stein is not denying evolution.

"He's not, like, denying it, he's just saying that its proponents are no-good shits and that it's the cause of the Holocaust!"

Again equating creationism with ID. They are two separate ideas with the former being a clear opponent of evolution and the latter allowing for the possibility of evolution.

WRONG.

Aside from exploring other worth-considering issues related to evolution-gone-wrong (eugenics, racism)

The claim that eugenics and racism are the result of the theory of evolution is pernicious and false. Giving time to these arguments- and in fact making that claim a central argument of the film- is despicable and dishonest.

There is no conflict between ID and anything other than the notion of a "involved higher power" or however you want to put it.

ID directly contradicts and denies evolution and was invented for no other reason than to provide a cover for teaching creationism in schools, as was found in Kitzmiller vs. Dover. The term "Intelligent Design" (I'm explaining this here because I know damn well you aren't going to be clicking any links) was invented whole-cloth by the authors of Of Pandas and People, a creationist textbook. When public schools were banned from teaching creationism, the authors of Of Pandas and People did a search-and-replace of "creationist" with "design proponent." We know this because, as was found in Kitzmiller vs. Dover, the search-and-replace function fucked up and left behind one instance of "cdesign proponentist". ID is creationism given a bare sheen of what its proponents believe science looks like. It is not compatible with evolution.

You are either not sufficiently informed to participate in this discussion in a productive and useful way, or you are deliberately and vexatiously participating in bad faith. Please desist.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:32 PM on December 6, 2008 [80 favorites]


I guess, by Usenet rules, Ben Stein's discussion thread is over.
posted by Xezlec at 1:32 PM on December 6, 2008


And seriously, if you haven't read the Kitzmiller vs. Dover decision, do so. It's tremendously entertaining reading.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:34 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not an atheist, I'm a prosecularist! WOOHOO!
posted by eparchos at 1:39 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Was Ebert lying when he said Stein wanted to call it "from Darwin to Hitler"?

The movie's connection from Darwin all the way through to Nazi racial theory and practice is a clearly traceable and historically accurate argument but a sour note given the context of the movie in my opinion. Were I Mr. Dawkins or Bill Maher, I'd be hugely offended to be included on "that side" of the movie. But this is in the nature of always boiling everything down into only two sides isn't it? This sort of polarization of thought is what leads to things like insisting on the equivalence of creationism and ID.

I guess, by Usenet rules, Ben Stein's discussion thread is over.

Heh, which is probably why no one brought it up earlier.
posted by scheptech at 1:42 PM on December 6, 2008


The movie's connection from Darwin all the way through to Nazi racial theory and practice is a clearly traceable and historically accurate argument but a sour note given the context of the movie in my opinion.

You are so full of shit that it is coming out of your ears.

But this is in the nature of always boiling everything down into only two sides isn't it?

No, it's the nature of being a dishonest, lying little shit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:48 PM on December 6, 2008 [11 favorites]


You are either not sufficiently informed to participate in this discussion in a productive and useful way, or you are deliberately and vexatiously participating in bad faith. Please desist.

oh_snap_flowchart.jpg
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:52 PM on December 6, 2008 [9 favorites]


Remy: His career path was not intelligently designed.

No. It evolved.
posted by tzikeh at 1:54 PM on December 6, 2008


...the equivalence of creationism and ID.

You know, it's funny, but for the number of times I've seen that accusation laid, I have NEVER seen a proponent of ID actually tell me the difference. You know, using logic and stuff. Because, for all intents and purposes, changing the name of the Creator to the Designer really doesn't change the fundamental fact that what is being proposed by ID is IDENTICAL to creationism.
Or should we think of the "Designer" like Saruman, sitting in his tower while he makes the orcs do all the work?
Seriously, I would love to see another laughable attempt to describe the difference.
posted by eparchos at 1:55 PM on December 6, 2008


No. It evolved.

Thus providing further evidence for the non-teleological nature of evolution, I suppose. *snerk*
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:57 PM on December 6, 2008


The movie's connection from Darwin all the way through to Nazi racial theory and practice is a clearly traceable and historically accurate argument but a sour note given the context of the movie in my opinion.

The only "connection" between Darwin and Hitler is the same "connection" between Darwin and me, Darwin and the president of the National Academy of Sciences, or Darwin and any of the other billions of normal people around the world. Namely, modern human civilization, particularly Western civilization, mostly accepts it as fact, and those of us who are a part of that civilization tend to be aware of it. If that's a reasonable argument, then so is this: there is a clear connection between your beliefs and slavery. Slavery is your fault. Angry? You should be. I would be an incredible jerk to try and make such a spurious and ridiculous "connection". Obviously there were Christians both for and against slavery. Obviously most scientists on both sides of WWII believed the theory of evolution. Stop defending this garbage as "clearly traceable and historically accurate". Pope Guilty is right; you are arguing in bad faith.

Read Pope Guilty's links. Creationism and (the original version of) ID are equivalent. This is not just some accusation we've made up. It was literally a search-and-replace. We have actual hard evidence of that proposition. You have little more than a claim to the contrary, which you refuse to back up. As far as your preferred brand of ID, whatever that may be, if you really think it is different from Creationism, I would welcome an explanation of how you feel that experimental evidence has pointed toward the presence of an intelligent designer. Obviously, the existence of experimental evidence is the one difference with creationism that would matter. It's the one thing that would entitle it to be called "science" rather than "religion".
posted by Xezlec at 1:59 PM on December 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


Can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible?

why, yes, ben, i can

He ended the war in Vietnam,

he could have ended it in 1969 - and for all the good that it did our country or vietnam, he may as well have

brought home the POW's,

that's not what i hear from all those bumper stickers

ended the war in the Mideast,

really? what are our troops doing there, then?

opened relations with China,

i'll be fair and give him that - what's good for walmart is good for the country

started the first nuclear weapons reduction treaty

and yet we still have thousands on this earth, don't we?

saved Eretz Israel's life,

a - there is no such country
b - if there was, it's not in the borders that it's supposed to be
c - it's not the american president's job
d - a brief course in demographics will tell you why it would be doomed anyway

started the Environmental Protection Administration.

and 35 years later, our climate is going out of control

Does anyone remember what he did that was bad?

how about those wage and price controls? - an economist like you must be able to judge how well they worked

Oh, now I remember. He lied. He was a politician who lied.

he subverted the constitution he was sworn to protect - he used the government's bureaucracy to harass his political opponents - he hired people to play dirty tricks on his opponents' political campaigns

How remarkable. He lied to protect his subordinates who were covering up a ridiculous burglary that no one to this date has any clue about its purpose.

that's still a criminal act, isn't it? and if it had no purpose, then why would covering it up serve any purpose?

He lied so he could stay in office and keep his agenda of peace going.

as i've already pointed out, if he'd had a real agenda of peace, he'd have started it years earlier

That was his crime. He was a peacemaker and he wanted to make a world where there was a generation of peace. And he succeeded.*

*offer not good in afghanistan, cambodia, iraq, iran, israel, palestine, lebanon, honduras, el salvador, nicaragua, laos, tibet, rwanda, the congo, yugoslavia, or the falkland islands and god knows what other countries i've forgotten about

That is his legacy.

his legacy is an america where no one STILL trusts their government - americans only suspected their politicians were lying to them before watergate - after watergate, they KNEW

He was a peacemaker. He was a lying, conniving, covering up peacemaker. He was not a lying, conniving drug addict like JFK, a lying, conniving war starter like LBJ, a lying, conniving seducer like Clinton—a lying, conniving peacemaker.

they all had their reasons for lying and conniving - some good, some bad, but none as crass and banal as doing it because the controversy can get you money - right ben?

i'll say one thing for you, ben, baby - when you sell your soul to the devil, at least you don't try to buy it back or try to sell it off to other bidders - no, when nixon bought you, you stayed bought
posted by pyramid termite at 2:24 PM on December 6, 2008 [25 favorites]


How remarkable. He lied to protect his subordinates who were covering up a ridiculous burglary that no one to this date has any clue about its purpose.

For those playing along at home, the purpose of the Watergate burglary was to install illegal wiretaps so that the GOP could listen in on Democratic strategy session and spy on the Dems to gain an advantage in the election.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:31 PM on December 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


I will repeat what other have said: ID === Creationism.

Got that scheptech?

If you want to have a nice laugh, look up the whole “cdesign proponentsists” issue.

Here is a summary: When accused of trying to teach creationism in science classes, the advocates of ID claimed that the book “Of Pandas and People” had nothing to do with creationism. The drafts of the books were subpoenaed, and it became clear that someone tried a search and replace to turn every "creationists" into "design proponents". Their problem is that they just replaced the "reation" in "creationists".

If you want more just visit Pharyngula and search for all the "Another proof that ID == creationism" type of articles. The ID guys constantly put their feet in their mouth (made extremely difficult, whit their head already so far up their asses).

And regarding the freedom of expression and job security issues, most of the people in the movie were fired not (just?) for their thinly veiled creationist crap, but for being very bad at their jobs.

Just an example: Gonzales, the astronomer, was denied tenure in a place with 66% approval ratio for tenure candidates. He had published some stuff while getting his PhD, but nothing significant since he got to Iowa State, and unlike any other candidate who did get tenure, he had no grants at all from NASA or the NSF. The average tenured faculty brought in more than 1M USD in grants during the 6 year period Gonzales was there. Gonzales brought in $200,000. Of those, $64,000 were used to pay someone at another university, and $58,000 to produce his creationism book. Would you give this guy tenure?
posted by dirty lies at 2:31 PM on December 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Do I suck at preview...

At least the last 2 paragraphs above are original in this thread.
posted by dirty lies at 2:33 PM on December 6, 2008


...a lying, conniving war starter like LBJ...

Hmm, I must have read the wrong history books. And here I thought Eisenhower started the war. Darn liberal revisionists.
posted by Xezlec at 2:36 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well whatever the merits of Mr. Stein's case, freedom of thought and speech is the main point of the movie, thus the title.
Baloney. The main point of the movie was to make money off of the all-too-pervasive martyr syndrome. Help, help, the by-far-the-largest religion in America is being repressed.

And ignoring that, "freedom of thought and speech" has precious little to do with, for example, the fact that any actual scientist is not going to give much credence to, say, geocentrism or astrology, nor with the fact that institutions of learning have a duty, to their students, to make sure that such things aren't being taught in their astronomy classes.
posted by Flunkie at 2:40 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


By the way - JFK = Drug Addict? What is he referring to here? Hope me hivemind?
posted by Navelgazer at 2:44 PM on December 6, 2008


The "legacy" of Nixon is adequately summed up by this direct quote.

All else - "started the EPA" and such - is mere trivial apologistics.
posted by Flunkie at 2:45 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Academic freedom, even with tenure, is not a blank check permitting the tenured professor to knowingly *lie* about anything s/he wishes.

/tenured radical
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:45 PM on December 6, 2008


Wait. So "ID" says that there was a designer, perhaps Invisible Sky Dude, perhaps...aliens? So who designed the aliens? Or the sky dude?
posted by maxwelton at 3:03 PM on December 6, 2008


Wait. So "ID" says that there was a designer, perhaps Invisible Sky Dude, perhaps...aliens? So who designed the aliens? Or the sky dude?

It's Invisible Sky Dudes all the way down....
posted by eparchos at 3:16 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


By the way - JFK = Drug Addict? What is he referring to here? Hope me hivemind?

In J.F.K. File, Hidden Illness, Pain and Pills

The first thorough examination of President John F. Kennedy's medical records, conducted by an independent presidential historian with a medical consultant, has found that Kennedy suffered from more ailments, was in far greater pain and was taking many more medications than the public knew at the time or biographers have since described.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:18 PM on December 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Oh I see. The drugs were for numerous, actual afflictions. Classy, Ben.

Thanks, Blazecock.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:24 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wait. So "ID" says that there was a designer, perhaps Invisible Sky Dude, perhaps...aliens? So who designed the aliens? Or the sky dude?

Michael Behe's shitty little book Darwin's Black Box addresses this point, by disallowing any Designer who is within the "natural" paradigm. So no aliens, no time travelers. In order for the Designer to not be itself designed, it must be of another order entirely.

Meaning, a supernatural being. Specifically, God, the father almighty, the one true god.

Although Behe doesn't outright say that.

Because he's a dishonest little shit.

Who, as I said, wrote a shitty little book.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:26 PM on December 6, 2008 [9 favorites]


Aside from exploring other worth-considering issues related to evolution-gone-wrong

I picture scientists examining the fossil record suddenly flashing their tits.

Scheptech, the evolution of your argument is the only example of "evolution-gone-wrong".

We can connect the dots between Christianity and Nazism. Hey. We can even connect the dots between Richard Wagner and Hitler.

My god. OPERA IS NAZISM!

Stop humming that libretto, YOU RACISTS!
posted by tkchrist at 3:28 PM on December 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


*gives two thumbs up*
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:29 PM on December 6, 2008


And claiming this is a free speech issue is like claiming they won't let you teach interpretive dance in Wood Shop a free speech issue.
posted by tkchrist at 3:32 PM on December 6, 2008 [20 favorites]


We can even connect the dots between Richard Wagner and Hitler.

Say, what was the theme song for Win Ben Stein's Money again?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:35 PM on December 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


In J.F.K. File, Hidden Illness, Pain and Pills

You think that was bad? FDR was a lay-about lazy aristocrat. For fuck sake the guy had people push him around in a frigg'n wheel chair. What? Was the guy some sort of degenerate Maharajah or something? Who'd he think he was? The Pope?
posted by tkchrist at 3:37 PM on December 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


In order for the Designer to not be itself designed, it must be of another order entirely.

Yeah, the attention this argument gets has always amazed me. I have never heard or understood why "being of another order" means you don't have to be created too, or why this uncaused cause somehow has to be a being and not something less likely to alarm Occam, like, say, a physical principle "of another order". The connection between lack of causation and either supremehood or beinghood just seems to be based on "well, cause it kinda seems like it should be, don't it?"
posted by Xezlec at 3:39 PM on December 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Great thread, BTW.
posted by Xezlec at 3:39 PM on December 6, 2008


FDR who? Oh, I think that's the guy Stein referred to as the "lying, conniving cripple" in the unabridged quote.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:43 PM on December 6, 2008


Was he just called Roger Bert before he started posting online?
posted by davemee at 3:43 PM on December 6, 2008 [9 favorites]


The dishonesty of the entire ID movement is to divert the study of evolution (changes over time) into something it's not suited for, which is cosmology.

I know why that is. Physics is too hard a subject for the mouth breathers - and if they mess with it too much they really ARE afraid they may stumble into answers they no only don't fully understand but ones that might really prove them mathmatically incorrect in all their assumpsions.

But biology they think they can get a handle on. Which, obviously, they do not. And hilarity ensues.
posted by tkchrist at 3:45 PM on December 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


"I could have sworn that this type of argument was used against Copernicus about 500 years ago. Now, I'm no creationist, but you'd think that Ebert would rely on better reasons to tout Darwinian theory than: "nyah nyah, everyone else is doing it"."

I don't know about that. I bet the majority of scientists agreed with Copernicus. Unfortunately, there were probably only like 12 scientists at the time.


Actually, the Copernican model wasn't that much better than the geocentric model at the time; it was mainly chosen due to its philosophical appeal rather than its scientific model. Tycho Brahe made a composite model that incorporated both geo and heliocentric theories. One of the reasons that he was doing this was because he didn't measure any parallax on stars throughout the year; this of course being because the stars were much further than anyone imagined at the time. It wasn't until Kepler gave the heliocentric theory math and Galileo gave the theory visible evidence that the scientific community really got behind it.

The lesson here? Even most scientists can be dead wrong sometimes. Never forget that the Universe can throw you for a loop and that you may not be getting the whole picture. I say this as someone who is not a creationist or IDer or whatever. Just for perspective.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:46 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh I see. The drugs were for numerous, actual afflictions. Classy, Ben.

Yeah, basically Ben Stein is a dick. But then, he's always been a dick. This is just another nail in the coffin.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:48 PM on December 6, 2008


The lesson here? Even most scientists can be dead wrong sometimes. Never forget that the Universe can throw you for a loop and that you may not be getting the whole picture. I say this as someone who is not a creationist or IDer or whatever. Just for perspective.

I suppose. I mean the Angel Moroni could blow his horn tomorrow and the sky will fill with ascending bodies going to the transcelestial kingdom.

And if that happens I'm blaming you guys for leading me astray.


"Heeey! On Metafilter they told all this was bullshit!"
posted by tkchrist at 3:50 PM on December 6, 2008


I want to thank Ebert for spanking Stein.

And thank Pope Guilty for spanking scheptech
posted by strontiumdog at 3:54 PM on December 6, 2008


You are so full of shit that it is coming out of your ears

Heh, thanks for the personal assessment Pope Guilty. I guess? Think of me as an outlier rather than a liar on this one - I don't take up with either the far left or the far right, preferring to think for myself, which in such a highly polarized debate of course leaves one the enemy of both sides. Trust me I've done it before: having this same discussion on a right-leaning site would leave me in the same position, I'd be arguing a more inclusive centrist view than I'd find there. Sorry for any political or personal sensibilities offended, I really do think about this stuff more in the abstract without worrying about politics or who thought of what when and what they tried to do with it.

For the record: I like both Ebert and Stein as entertainment personalities, I just think Ebert in this case is missing Stein's point. I think Charles Darwin was a good man (has was in fact concerned about the mis-use of his ideas in eugenics afaik), I don't think Dawkins or Maher are Nazis, don't like Nixon or Bush(I or II), do like Kennedy and Obama. I have no idea about FDR.
posted by scheptech at 3:54 PM on December 6, 2008


Also, "Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul" is an entertaining read about the Dover case. And it brings to light what would likely happen if Creationists had the unlimited power nationally that they had locally in Dover, PA.
posted by strontiumdog at 4:01 PM on December 6, 2008


"ID claims a possible answer of sorts."

Not really, if you give it a moment's thought. The answer is always "God did it." But the question isn't "Who made evolution," to which "God" may be a perfectly acceptable answer (not really, but closer). The question is "How does this mechanism work?"

I mean, when you ask how the transmission in your Escort works, the answer "Ford built it" isn't really a possible answer.

Which is why I'm fine with "teaching" Intelligent Design in schools—every high schooler should be able to demolish the ID arguments within ten minutes of thinking, since the only two possible responses to "God did it" are "So what?" or "Prove it."
posted by klangklangston at 4:05 PM on December 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Wait, so a position between verifiable science and wishful thinking is centrist?
posted by maxwelton at 4:16 PM on December 6, 2008 [13 favorites]


I have no idea about FDR.

Well. I'll tell you. That lazy sonofabitch wouldn't walk across the room to fetch his own glasses. And his wife had buck teeth and hung out with poor people.

POOR PEOPLE!
posted by tkchrist at 4:21 PM on December 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


Wait, so a position between verifiable science and wishful thinking is centrist?

Well. He didn't want to start any arguments.
posted by tkchrist at 4:28 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Think of me as an outlier rather than a liar on this one - I don't take up with either the far left or the far right, preferring to think for myself

Oh man, it's internet fuckwad excuse #27a. It's right up there with the guy under attack who "is just sitting back and laughing at all this, really".

You can take whatever disconnected apolitical hunch-based position you like, but if you're talking shite, you're talking shite.

Oh, and the "record" could give a fuck who you like and dislike, though it is odd that you even record this, given your avowed love of the "abstract" and carefree disregard of the who-what-when-why-do. Actually, with them all gone, what does this "abstract" thinking leave you? Nothing beyond pretty shapes and emotions, I guess. Hence the ID.
posted by bonaldi at 4:32 PM on December 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


As much as I like Ebert's writing on film - where a wandering tone is acceptable and often even funny - his political writings seem muddled. Not in the sense of incorrect, necessarily, but in the sense of unstructured. He started off with a metaphor about game shows, then let that wander away without ever paying it off, then there was a middle portion sliming the films backers that wandered without warning into a review of the film itself, then, bam! an insult is your out of nowhere conclusion.

Looking at the way his argument swerved on a ridiculous dime, I have to say: this wasn't an essay as much as it was a Simpsons episode without good characters or jokes.
posted by Kiablokirk at 4:37 PM on December 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don't take up with either the far left or the far right, preferring to think for myself, which in such a highly polarized debate of course leaves one the enemy of both sides.

The statement that ID has nothing to do with creationism is false, however.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:50 PM on December 6, 2008


I always like to take the middle position too, so I always choose to place myself somewhere between truth and bullshit. For instance, I believe the moon is made of cheese, but I find it unlikely that the cheese is green. That's just silly.

This ability to hedge my bets has marked me as a freethinker, and not some wild lunatic fringe type, like those who only believe falsehoods, or those who only believe truth. Those people are crazy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:06 PM on December 6, 2008 [28 favorites]


Should chemists in academia start entertaining ideas of turning lead into gold?

Actually, krinklyfig, my father did turn lead into gold in the 1970s, but it took National Geographic to point that out to him. But he used a cyclotron (as benzenedream pointed out), so it probably doesn't count as chemistry, but apparantly both he and some Swede did it as a byproduct of other research.

Back on topic, though, it ends up none of those poor expelled scientists were, um, expelled: they just didn't get tenure, so moved on to other things. Or so says the nice Interwebs.
posted by bclark at 5:10 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sheptech, it is better to stay silent about issues you apparently know nothing about than to simply demonstrate your idiocy.

I don't take up with either the far left or the far right, preferring to think for myself

Correction. You see two extreme positions and automatically plot a course between them. That is not thinking - that is reacting in a knee jerk fashion. And what you miss here is that the far left is sometimes anti-Darwinian evolution. But creationism is known to be crap by most of the far left, most of the centre-left, most of the centre, and most of the centre-right. It is only the Religious Right that will touch it with a ten foot bargepole.

And I'd call a conservative republican judge appointed by George W Bush pretty far right myself. Judge E Jones of the Dover/Kitzmiller trial was such a judge. And after listening to the evidence he was highly unflattering about the Cdesign Proponentsists that were trying to pretend ID was something other than a thinly disguised form of creationism.

having this same discussion on a right-leaning site would leave me in the same position

Full of crap and speaking from ignorance? Or trying to be fair and balanced in the same manner as Faux News?

I really do think about this stuff more in the abstract without worrying about politics or who thought of what when and what they tried to do with it.

I'll buy that. You think about this stuff without tying it to anything including the real world.
posted by Francis at 5:23 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't know about that. I bet the majority of scientists agreed with Copernicus. Unfortunately, there were probably only like 12 scientists at the time.

Just because science was working with different assumptions at the time, that doesn't mean they weren't trying to understand the world they lived in. That the earth was at the center and the sun, moon and other planets circled it, with a few odd little twists thrown in here or there, was a perfectly sensible assumption given the available empirical data. It certainly does not feel like the earth is hurdling through space at 67,000 mph.

Yeah, I know, benzenedream, and I should have just said alchemy instead, because people are taking it too literally.

too literally? what do you think alchemy was? they were medieval scientists who thought all chemicals were ultimately of the same nature and therefore that it must theoretically be possible to change one element to another. And in principle they were not wrong. They were not sophisticated enough to have any idea how to actually do it, and they were enormously wrong on the high cost of energy it would entail, meaning it could never be profitable, but the initial theory that motivated alchemists, that nature is all made of the same stuff, "prime matter" or whatever they called it, is philosophically congruent with being able to transmute an atom of lead to gold.

There's no reason to dismiss early scientists. Plenty of them were reasonable, thoughtful and empirical. And it's not as if we have it all figured out now either - not that Ben Stein has a clue, but science is not finished. There is plenty about the world, including, perhaps especially, about life, consciousness & their origins, that we do not understand.
posted by mdn at 5:28 PM on December 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Looking at the way his argument swerved on a ridiculous dime, I have to say: this wasn't an essay as much as it was a Simpsons episode without good characters or jokes.
The caption for the Alley Oop cartoon was a good joke.
posted by Flunkie at 5:45 PM on December 6, 2008


And I'd call a conservative republican judge appointed by George W Bush pretty far right myself. Judge E Jones of the Dover/Kitzmiller trial was such a judge. And after listening to the evidence he was highly unflattering about the Cdesign Proponentsists that were trying to pretend ID was something other than a thinly disguised form of creationism.
My personal favorite quote from his decision was "breathtaking inanity".
posted by Flunkie at 5:51 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well. He didn't want to start any arguments.

I believe I started the whole argument, although at the time I was thinking of it more as an interesting discussion.

Sheptech, it is better to stay silent about issues you apparently know nothing about than to simply demonstrate your idiocy.

Yes, although I'd prefer "ignorance" to "idiocy" if that's ok. Apparently, living in Canada as I do, I was not sensitive to the American political implications related to all this, and that these politics are apparently of far greater interest than the idea of ID itself. Well ok then - go about your business eh?
posted by scheptech at 6:10 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't take up with either the far left or the far right, preferring to think for myself, which in such a highly polarized debate of course leaves one the enemy of both sides.

If you can't take a definitive stance on a fundamentally flawed theory as ID, the transvestite of religious creationism then I question weather you are actually thinking for yourself. Sometimes being in the middle is not a martyr position but a disengaged, unwilling to commit position, at which point you can't really contribute anything to the argument. Either shit or get off the pot.

Evolution is not some "far-left" whack-job theory, any more so than gravity. Both have questions that are still outstanding but both do more to advance the sum total of human knowledge than any given alternative.

The whole eugenics push was at best a horrible misinterpretation of anything approaching evolution, and saying the one leads to the other is misapplying the guilt for such practice. Perhaps analogous to blaming the discover of the wheel for traffic accidents.
posted by edgeways at 6:20 PM on December 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


My personal favorite quote from his decision was "breathtaking inanity".

Thanks! That was the phrase I was trying to remember.
posted by Francis at 6:23 PM on December 6, 2008


Has anyone tried to find a theory that includes both evolution AND creationism?

Cuz I came up with one:

Evolution is in a race against entropy. So far, evolution always won.

Big Bang.

Life springs up, life evolves. A race of beings conquers fire, electricity, the atom, and so on until they achieve control over the fabric of reality.

Then they realized "oh crap. there's nothing left to do. no more purpose in existence. let's blow it all up, maybe next time, entropy wins."

Big Bang.
posted by titboy at 6:29 PM on December 6, 2008


Yes, although I'd prefer "ignorance" to "idiocy" if that's ok.

It isn't. You started trying to correct people. At that point it becomes idiocy. Compounded when you started claiming the link from Darwin to Hitler despite the fact that Mein Kampf is full of things that were far closer to creationism, and any evolution mentioned refers to microevolution. (There is a line there via Galton and the eugenicists, but it certainly isn't direct and by the time Hitler got ahold of it Darwin had been weeded out).

Apparently, living in Canada as I do, I was not sensitive to the American political implications related to all this, and that these politics are apparently of far greater interest than the idea of ID itself.

I'm not an American. On the other hand I am scientifically literate and educated. I looked into it because I was interested and ignorant and started asking questions. And the case for ID was so fallacious that I then started asking why the IDers were using such blatant lies and half-truths to back their case. Which lead immediately to the political context.

The political context is relevant because there is nothing of any substance in ID. It offers nothing to human knowledge (the only predictive power being to say "God did it" is not useful). It offers no testable predictions that have worked. There is no need for ID to allow God in - there are many scientists who firmly believe in God and are using ID to try to understand God's creation. On a scientific level I'm not sure whether it's fair to say it's not even wrong - but it's certainly close. At that point the only context in which it makes any sense is the political/religious.

So to say you don't care about the political context is to say two things. Firstly that you haven't got a grip on the scientific issues at all. And secondly that you've missed the point.
posted by Francis at 6:48 PM on December 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Should chemists in academia start entertaining ideas of turning lead into gold?
My sister actually has (had?) that on her resumé, having been a reactor operator long enough that it was likely. She's doing soil chemistry now (in academia).

(Also, what mdn said.)
posted by hattifattener at 7:01 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Has anyone tried to find a theory that includes both evolution AND creationism?

My parents, like (I would guess) a lot people, believe in evolution, the Big Bang, and all that. They believe that these things happened, and that science is useful and the appropriate tool for investigating how things happen in the physical world. They also believe in God; my stepfather used to be a United Methodist pastor (which church is about as liberal as you can get and still be in the rough mainstream of Protestantism). They simply believe that those things happened, and that God caused them to happen. God said "Big Bang, I choose you!" and thus the cosmos was created, and then God said "Go Evolution through natural selection!", and so created humanity.

There is, to be sure, a critique (I would say a strong one) to be made of this viewpoint, but it's not that uncommon, and as theistic viewpoints go, it's a pretty harmless one.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:19 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


edgeways - my far-left / far-right thing is an example of group-kool-aid-drinking from politics and I'm saying I have no taste for kool aid of either flavor. Problem is of course anyone not in either compound automatically looks like an enemy and I think that's what we get here on some issues. I misunderstood that ID would be one of them, that ID would be equated with creationism, political oppression etc. To me Expelled looks like an interesting movie related to some of the Big Questions, not a salvo in an American culture war. Meh, what can I can say.

francis - I don't follow your "correcting" point. Are you tracking all my comments or cherry picking what you want to argue with - I don't much like the direct Darwin/Hitler connection as made in the move, as I mentioned I found it to be a sour note and expect it would be hugely offensive to both Dawkins and Maher, but I'm not clear what your complaint is about that, you don't like the historical connection but immediately admit to it's existence and ignore my remark earlier about Darwin being a good man and concerned that his ideas not be misused.

Pope Guilty - agree with every word in your last post
posted by scheptech at 7:28 PM on December 6, 2008


Kitzmiller vs. Dover

I seriously see "Killdozer" every time I scan past it.

Which means it rules.
Hard.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 7:30 PM on December 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


If I could eat popcorn right now, I would.
posted by Samizdata at 7:51 PM on December 6, 2008


I misunderstood that ID would be one of them, that ID would be equated with creationism, political oppression etc.

ID IS creationism, there's no "equated" about it.

To me Expelled looks like an interesting movie related to some of the Big Questions, not a salvo in an American culture war.

It's a 97 minute Godwin argument on behalf of a position which is almost entirely held by conservatives. How is that not a "salvo in an American culture war?

I don't much like the direct Darwin/Hitler connection as made in the move

The movie's connection from Darwin all the way through to Nazi racial theory and practice is a clearly traceable and historically accurate argument

One of the clearest signs of bridge-dweller is being unable to keep your story straight.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:54 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm first in any w00t-for-ebert-spankings line, cheering as loud as I can, but this one is rather tedious a read.
posted by krautland at 8:05 PM on December 6, 2008


If the universe encompasses everything, and the universe is expanding, what's it expanding into? And whatever it is expanding into is obviously being displaced, but to where? Can nothingness even be observed?
posted by chlorus at 8:07 PM on December 6, 2008


my far-left / far-right thing is an example of group-kool-aid-drinking from politics

this isn't a political question - no matter how some people on the RIGHT, demands that it be

it's a scientific viewpoint - or a metaphysical viewpoint if one believes god created the universe

it is not and should not be a political viewpoint - if my daughter is in a biology class, i want her to learn BIOLOGY, not metaphysics - i want her to learn SCIENCE, not creationism or intelligent design

i don't pay taxes so people can distract from my daughter's education with debates and ideas that have nothing to do with the business at hand, even if i DO think god created the universe

i'll tell her about that, thank you - i want my school to teach her SCIENCE and leave the other stuff out of it

that's not a political stand - it's a stand of someone who wants the government to do the job that it is being paid to do and no more
posted by pyramid termite at 8:19 PM on December 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Okay yeah, Ben Stein can be an ass, but he was incredibly freakin' nice to my mom. Sooooooo... it's kinda my duty as a loyal daughter to keep my opinions neutral regarding any argument on this topic.
Cuz see... politics aside, for a while there Ben Stein was kinda like my geriatric mother's imaginary boyfriend. I've gotta give him some serious props for that.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:30 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


To me Expelled looks like an interesting movie related to some of the Big Questions, not a salvo in an American culture war.

Looks like? You're doing an awful lot of defending of a movie you haven't even seen.
posted by graventy at 8:31 PM on December 6, 2008


Can nothingness even be observed?

Not by its very definition. It cannot be annotated, or studied, it is the absence of everything.

At least, that's my half-assed personal theory. YMMV.
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:31 PM on December 6, 2008


edgeways - my far-left / far-right thing is an example of group-kool-aid-drinking from politics and I'm saying I have no taste for kool aid of either flavor.

It's funny that people who bray about not falling into the trap of cliched thinking always use this particularly moronic cliche to express it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:52 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Pope Guilty, funny you should mention your parents. My father is a botanist, and was a professor that taught biology. He also was a researcher. My mother is quite religious in the Episcopal church, and is a conundrum in many ways. She's pro-choice, and quite liberal, but anti-gay. My father is also quite religious, and has been active in the church. It's funny to hear my parents have arguments about evolution. My mother saying "I didn't come from monkeys." And my father saying "Eh, we probably split off from the apes." My father doesn't find any contradiction in his beliefs. It's an interesting dichotomy, but it also comes from a time when things weren't so polarized as they are now. No "if you're not for us, you're against us" thinking. Also, my father doesn't look to religion for answers to life's questions, but more at it's philosophy.

I also had a professor in college that taught organic chemistry, and he was a fantastic lecturer. A couple of times during the quarter he'd stop, and say "that's enough, for the rest of our time today I'd like to share the magic of Robert Frost." He'd been at it a long time, and was a respected chemist. One day he said that he had been getting a lot of questions regarding religion, and belief in god, and how that balanced with his research and teaching chemistry. It was a long time ago, so I'll give the gist here, but he said that the more he learned, and the older he got, the more wondrous the world and life seems to him, and that made him believe more in god. But he also said that the more he learned and discovered, the more he wanted to do research. I respect thought like that. I have no use for the I.D./creation "science" folks and their divisive routine. A thinly veiled attempt to get religion taught in public schools.
posted by Eekacat at 9:07 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


You guys are missing a big point here- a solution was already proposed ages ago (well, 1986). God made Adam and Eve who had Seth, Abel and Cain. The wives of Seth and Cain evolved from a common ancestor. We're both right!
posted by Hactar at 9:08 PM on December 6, 2008


scheptech, do you still think I.D. has nothing to do with creationism? I'd appreciate a simple answer.

thank you in advance.
posted by dirty lies at 9:09 PM on December 6, 2008


To me Expelled looks like an interesting movie related to some of the Big Questions

That is exactly the fraud that Stein et al. are trying to pull. They would like to make disinterested people think "huh, there's a difference of opinion on this ID thang". They are trying to prey on two currents of lazy thinking:

1) Reflexive tendency of the press to present everything as differing opinions of two talking head "experts" rather than provable facts. If you launch enough movies and stage enough events, people will get the idea that there is a 50:50 split of opinion on the matter, even if the real difference of opinion among experts is 99.9:0.1.

2) Everything is a point of view, and everyone has a right to a point of view. Creationists want to pretend that they are postmodernists who are only interested in presenting differing points of view, and have invoked postmodern critiques of science to advance their claims. This is BS, since science is not a matter of opinion, only hypotheses to be tested and disproved. The predictive ability of these hypotheses does not depend one whit on the cultural context or opinions of those involved. H2SO4 does not care about whether you believe in it while it is burning a hole through you.

In this way, Theocratic wannabes are trying to use a modern distrust of facts and generosity towards differing opinions to establish a beachhead for their own set of favorite set of absolute unquestionable beliefs.
posted by benzenedream at 9:27 PM on December 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


The guy in this picture (center) turned Led into gold.
posted by Rykey at 9:34 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I want to just draw attention to this coinage for a moment - "evolutionists". Who the hell is an evolutionist? Is that people who are themselves evolving? People who believe in evolution? People who make evolution happen?

It's just like the word "abortionists". Noone in America, or very very few people perhaps, are in favor of abortions. But it's always a manipulation from the right in America to lump everybody who is not directly fighting WITH them as the worst kind of scoundrel fighting against them. Some kind of shadowy cabal of anti-Godly types. And everything is a fight, because without a fight, how to manipulate the witless masses, er, the faithful?

Many scientists use the theory of evolution in their work, and for most scientists their work intersects it at some point. I used to work among some four-thousand-yearsy kinds of Creationists, and in order to make their theories even kinda sorta work, so many different branches of science had to be undermined, the whole endeavor had to be presupposed to be a cathedral of lies. Genetics, cellular biology, atomic physics, geophysics, astronomy, cosmology, carbon dating, quantum mechanics ... I am an electrical engineer by trade, and when I raised this objection, one of the ballsier of them told me "Your work will be spared". WTF? This kind of arrogance has nothing to do with truthseeking.

When you refuse, in an argument, to let the other side describe themselves in a term that is neutral and descriptive, you remove yourself from the group of civil and persuadable actors. It's just like "liberal" in America is no longer neutral and descriptive but is broadly understood to be a pejorative (and now similarly with the word 'elite').
posted by newdaddy at 9:38 PM on December 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Yes, although I'd prefer "ignorance" to "idiocy" if that's ok. Apparently, living in Canada as I do, I was not sensitive to the American political implications related to all this, and that these politics are apparently of far greater interest than the idea of ID itself.

Stop it. Stop it right now. You have not yet been yelled at for your politics. You have been yelled at for trolling one point of view, over and over, without even attempting to defend it, and for ignoring a lot of people going to a lot of trouble to make well-researched arguments for their side. I, for example, have not brought up politics except to refute a point you made, and I didn't just whine or rant about your political views, I actually demonstrated them to be wrong insofar as they related to ID. I did this calmly and carefully, and only to rebut a point you made about ID.

Rather than rebutting any of my points or providing any arguments of your own, you simply repeated your original statement. And then...

I misunderstood that ID would be one of them, that ID would be equated with creationism, political oppression etc.

You are trying (again!) to imply that it was equated with creationism glibly, as a purely political knee-jerk reaction. People have explained to you that it wasn't, and why it wasn't, and how you can tell the difference, and why the equivalence of the two matters (hint: it's not politics). I guess you ignored them, because rather than rebutting any of their arguments, links, and explanations, you simply repeated your original statement.

One of the reasons I've started hanging out here is that dissent is respected. People who make good arguments for weird positions are taken seriously much of the time. You are not being railroaded for assuming an unpopular position, you are being "spanked" for refusing to even acknowledge the effort put forth by your opponents.

Just a synopsis of this thread:

scheptech: The whole review is pointless because it assumes ID=Creationism. Stein showed that it doesn't.

chorus: No it isn't, Ebert makes other good points.

scheptech: [ignoring the above] Yeah I saw it, Stein says ID is not Creationism. And he says academics should have freedom of thought.

chorus (multiple times!): Academics shouldn't have quite that much freedom. Here's why (several very good arguments). Also, even if ID isn't creationism, it's still not science (list of good reasons why), and the only possible relevant distinction between ID and Creationism, with regards to this argument, would be if it were more scientific.

scheptech: Well, Stein just says people should have freedom of thought. And ID is not Creationism. Also, ID provides something evolution doesn't.

chorus: No, ID does not provide anything else (good arguments why). And ID is creationism (extremely, extremely, well-the-argument-is-pretty-much-over-now good argument why). And even if it weren't, it still isn't different in a way that matters (more good reasons). And Stein doesn't just say that about freedom, he says some nasty stuff about Hitler too.

scheptech: Well, the problem here is that you're all so politically polarized. That's the kind of thing that makes people think ID=Creationism. It doesn't.

chorus: WTF did you just say?! You're being a troll and making no attempt to argue or acknowledge us. Little bitch. *smack* (lots more good, well-researched arguments and links)

scheptech: Well you're all just so political. I'm a centrist. I'm sorry I've offended your politics. You're just missing Stein's point. And I think Charles Darwin was a good man [seriously, WTF did this have to do with anything?]

chorus: (lots more good arguments, directly rebutting your main point and all peripheral points.)

scheptech: Well I'm Canadian. I'm just arguing the actual points. I didn't realize you would all just get into some political thing.

chorus: No you aren't, we're arguing the actual points and you're sticking to politics and jabs with no substance. (more good points and logic)

scheptech: Well you're just automatically assuming I'm the enemy and assuming I'm wrong. I didn't know it was going to get all political and you were all going to just assume ID=Creationism without even thinking about it.

GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
posted by Xezlec at 9:43 PM on December 6, 2008 [11 favorites]


Creationists and ID proponents, however you distinguish them, both favor calling the opposing side in their discussions 'evolutionists', but they won't admit that the alternative is to call them 'all the scientists', which is what they really are. That's my point.
posted by newdaddy at 9:59 PM on December 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Hey! I just came up with another argument to refute Stein! This time at his own level!

Using the idea of "Freedom of Thought"* to support the proposition that ID should be taught in Science departments because some non-scientists prefer God to evolution is akin to using the same arguments in favor of teaching the beliefs of Holocaust-deniers in Trigonometry because some non-mathematicians prefer antisemitic propaganda to dealing with cosines.

*I'm not sure how a state may manage to truly curtail "Freedom of Thought," outside of Science Fiction, but considering that he's really using the phrase as a charged euphemism for "freedom of expression," which is clearly defines and is often abridged by the state, I'm not going to completely laugh off the concept either, even if I laugh at how mis-informed Stein (a former law professor!) appears to be about it.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:38 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie - just a point of order: I was not braying about cliched thinking, but about rigid extremism on both the left and the right

dirty lies - since you ask: first show me where I say they have nothing to do with each other, please

Xezlec - you got a bit of selective spin there in your summary, not all of your chorus's contribution was reasoned thoughtful argument, there was enough gratuitous personal attack to affect my view of the overall proceeding - but you make a good point about my playing the victim and seeing even reasonable comments as something for me to personally argue with, it's funny how these sorts of threads have a way of taking on a life of their own when one person takes a contrary (or ignorant) view of the general zeitgeist of the topic, can't say I've ever been at the center of one before, it's been interesting to watch how it works from inside the whirlwind.
posted by scheptech at 11:16 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was not braying about cliched thinking, but about rigid extremism on both the left and the right

Don't care. "Drinking the Kool Aid" should be dropped immediately from the vocabulary of anybody who wants to be taken seriously when they talk. Not only is it a grotesque historic allusion to be just tossing about, but it disregards the well-considered opinions of other people by suggesting that they have not considered their viewpoint, but instead are blindly following some preset and toxic viewpoint. In this thread, so far, you have been the one who seems to have the least considered and defensible viewpoint, and to suggest that people who disagree with you are somehow ideologically comparable to 900 people who committed suicide or were forced to swallow poison in Guyana is preposterously ill-considered.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:27 PM on December 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


scheptech: As one who hasn't been as offended by your dissent as others, and who has found myself within the whirlwind once before, I appreciate that you keep coming back to the discussion.

Here's the time that I was "in the whirlwind":

It was a thread about the proof that .999... = 1. Now, numerous mathematical proofs will bear this out, and I could do nothing to refute them on those terms, but it just seemed, well, wrong to me. It still does, as a matter of fact.

So I spent tons of time in that thread trying to make the point that .999... = 1-∞/1. To no avail. I am not a mathematician by any means. I was just passionate (for no good reason) about recognizing the infinitesimal. At one point I began ignoring all of the arguments that were being made against my position - by people who knew what they were talking about - and instead claiming (essentially) that if I wasn't right then our mathematical system itself was fundamentally flawed, because it couldn't reach the conclusoin I "knew" to be right.

I was wrong. My detractors were right. And interestingly (in the sense that it's allegorical to this current conversation) it all centered around that fact that I was obsessed with defending an idea (the infinitesimal) which was entirely irrelevant to the pursuit of study that was being dealt with (mathematics.)

I see, I think, the point you are trying to make in this thread, that ID, as you wish to define it, is an explanation for the origins of the universe and life, and doesn't need to be in any necessary conflict with evolution, and doesn't need to take in the tenets of creationism either. I appreciate how polite you've been throughout all of this, as well. Still, you are wrong. We are right. We've demonstrated this pretty thoroughly. ID = Creationism. It's absolutely political, and in fact exists for no other purpose (as it cannot serve any scientific purpose.) There are no issues of legal rights at play, except those which likely go against the teaching of ID.

You've been piled on here, because you've been the one voice of dissent. I respect dissent, but in this instance, I believe you are wrong. So if we are to continue the discussion (which would be entertaining, at least) I request that you either meet us on our terms or else clarify your own so that we may meet you there instead.

Thanks, and all my best.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:35 PM on December 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Astro Zombie - you read too much into this Jim Jones reference - a guy at work used it the other day referring to a marketing department working a new plan he didn't like. As you say, it's a common reference. Anyway I'll offer you one I myself don't like at all which is also common: the use of the word "pimp" in a positive context as in pimp my ride. Sounds asinine to me like the speaker figures pimping not a particularly low nasty crime but something acceptable and indeed admirable.

Navelgazer - thanks for the remarks - you're right of course, the basis of this dispute is my alternate notion of the key term "ID". I will now have to discover whether it's just my own private delusion or the term is in fact used differently where I live.

Meanwhile on your terms: sure, I get how you see ID as a purely political construct and tool invented to advance agendas and make social changes.
posted by scheptech at 12:55 AM on December 7, 2008


As you say, it's a common reference.

And a stupid one. Why defend it? It's exactly the sort of empty headed rhetoric favored by people who have thought about something too little, but want to declare themselves a freethinker, and so they behave like everybody else is just a bunch of Kool-Aid guzzling simpletons, while they alone have managed to maintain an open mind. Seriously, have you noticed who uses the phrase? Blowhards, cranks, and tinpot demagogues, often paired with the equally contemptuous term "sheeple." It's not good company to be in, but it's hard to avoid seeming like a sneering crank when you out that expression, since the phrase itself is rooted in contempt for someone else's ideas.

And, anyway, it's a grotesque phrase with an ugly, bullying history, and, unless you have some excellent reason for using it beyond simple laziness at expressing yourself, I can't think why you wouldn't drop it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:21 AM on December 7, 2008


Apparently, living in Canada as I do, I was not sensitive to the American political implications related to all this, and that these politics are apparently of far greater interest than the idea of ID itself.

Wait, what?

I don't take up with either the far left or the far right, preferring to think for myself, which in such a highly polarized debate of course leaves one the enemy of both sides.

These two sentences do not agree. How do you know it's such a highly polarized debate between the far left and far right, yet "because you live in Canada", you don't know the scope of the debate? Every post you make backpedals away from taking responsibility for what you said in your previous post.

The "preferring to think for myself" thing is terribly condescending, too. What's next, calling all of us "sheeple"? (On preview, Astro beat me to this reference.)

I want to just draw attention to this coinage for a moment - "evolutionists". Who the hell is an evolutionist? Is that people who are themselves evolving? People who believe in evolution? People who make evolution happen?

This isn't even the worst part that the creationism pushers' agenda. (I refuse to call it ID, because that only helps these people hide what it really is.) The real ruse? The false controversy. There's no debate in the scientific community. There's no debate in the educational institutions. It isn't true, it doesn't exist, the entire premise of there being a "debate" in the "scientific and academic community" is bullshit. But the more they can get on TV news and reference this non-existent conflict, the more they can create one.

If you can create a conflict, you can declare yourself to be on one side of it. If the debate you've falsely conjured up has an oppressive majority, you can be the easy-to-sympathize-with minority voice. This is what the creationism assholes are doing, and it's working. People without enough perspective or knowledge about how science really works have no idea that it's all bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. Instead of presenting evidence and making honest, falsifiable arguments, which is how you normally get a place at the table at a scientific debate, they've done it simply with crafty P.R. that casts them as the victims of God-hating intellectuals who refuse to allow themselves to be proven wrong about the truth.

That is not science. That's bullshit.
posted by Mikey-San at 3:03 AM on December 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


For clarity's sake, the "it" in "it's all bullshit" is not God, religion, or even creationism itself. I'm talking about the lie of controversy being spun.

Like Public Enemy said, don't believe the hype.
posted by Mikey-San at 3:08 AM on December 7, 2008


MeFi = echo chamber. You make me feel bad for anticipating.
That aside, I echo my own original statement to the Radical Apposition here: Explain yourself. Burden of Proof, etc.... This should be much more clear with much less badgering. Thanks for the input, peanut gallery: You've muddled it as usual.
posted by eparchos at 3:45 AM on December 7, 2008


DRINK UP, SHEEPLE!!!11!!!!!
posted by theroadahead at 4:17 AM on December 7, 2008


Yeah, this shit is tired. I can't believe anyone takes creationism seriously. A stupid idea doesn't improve with age. The biblical story of creation is the sort of thing we told to each other in caves when we still had hair all over our bodies. Fucking sad.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:42 AM on December 7, 2008


in caves when we still had hair all over our bodies

*looks down*
*sobs*
posted by graventy at 7:14 AM on December 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


there was enough gratuitous personal attack to affect my view of the overall proceeding

Shall we see about gratuitous attacks here?
The movie's connection from Darwin all the way through to Nazi racial theory and practice is a clearly traceable and historically accurate argument
1: No it isn't. The historical record is more like the following:
  1. Based on an incomplete understanding of the work of Darwin, his cousin Francis Galton founded eugenics. Galton was a very smart man (arguably the greatest statistician who ever lived)and was obsessed with measuring everything, finding correlations (and preferably causations) and trying to improve things.
  2. Galton's work gained huge traction just about everywhere. On the Origin of Species was not necessary for this - and eugenics was employed in most of the Western world to some extent.
  3. Hitler picked up the idea of Eugenics from somewhere (it could have been just about anywhere) and liked it. (The oldest problem in Moral Philosophy: the search for a superior justification for self-interest). He added his own twists to it.
  4. Hitler also rejected the idea of one species evolving into another. In short he rejected the body of Darwin's work, which was neither necessary nor sufficient for Eugenics.
  5. Hitler then put his version of Eugenics into effect. The results made Eugenics a dirty word.
As you can see it was neither clear, nor was the version presented by Ben Stein historically accurate. I can probably using such a set of contortions link any popularly held belief to any ideology.

2: You've just said that Ben Stein was right - i.e. one side of the debate inspired the Nazis. Instant Godwin. At that point claiming that the mean people are being rude to you is somewhat disingenuous.

3: You've claimed that a movie which tries to tie the other side to the Nazis is an interesting attempt at answering various questions. Did you never stop to ask yourself what relevance the Nazis had to the actual question? Instant Godwin on the film right there. And that did not cause extremely heavy alarm bells to ring about what the film was trying to do?
posted by Francis at 7:34 AM on December 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


See, this is why for the longest time I hesitated signing up for a MetaFilter account.
scheptech expressed a viewpoint, which was reiterated I think effectively by Pope Guilty and Navelgazer, and for that scheptech is called an idiot and shut up you piece of shit.

Yes, his initial comment was a bit of a derail--he doesn't seem to be defending Ben Stein or addressing the "spanking" by Roger Ebert--he's just saying a person can believe in a creator and still acknowledge that Creationism has no place in a science class. At most it warrants admonishment for being off-topic.

Getting really angry at him and calling him [her?] names makes YOU sound unreasonable, which actually squares with his taking what he calls a "centrist" position . . . you guys will at other times gush about how Science! will give up her secrets of faster-than-light space travel, AI and transhumanism someday, as an article of faith, but you'll bite the head off of anyone who invokes the Watchmaker Analogy. Okay: scheptech, passive-aggressive ad hominem (maybe), tut tut.

The rest of you need to dial it way back, for fucks sake.
posted by Restless Day at 9:43 AM on December 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


On not previewing, sorry.
posted by Restless Day at 9:45 AM on December 7, 2008


He wasn't called a piece of shit, he was told that he was full of shit for claiming that there was an undeniable and clearly forged link between Darwin and Hitler. The language is sort of tough, but, then, when you start Hitlering things up, unless you can really make your case, people aren't going to respond well -- they are especially not going to respond well when you're just parroting unresearched horseshit.

Especially since people have been responding to scheptech with a lot of links and arguments rooted in real history, instead of just flapping hands and saying its all political and they are above that because they are some clearheaded Canadian.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:54 AM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm supposing that my latest bioethics CME, which also drew clear parallels between Darwinism and eugenics (in context, defining how Darwin's theories had been misappropriated by the Social Darwinist and informed medical practice in the 1930s) is nothing more than propaganda aimed at advancing ID ideas (who knew judicious use of antibiotics would be so fraught with political intrigue)?

Pity too. I paid good money for that.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 10:47 AM on December 7, 2008


I refuse to respond to lies and pernicious nonsense with a nod of approval, and if you think that lies and pernicious nonsense- which is exactly what scheptech came to this thread to peddle- should be coddled or ignored, I'm not sorry to tell you that we don't do that here.

There are issues on which sensible, reasonable, decent people can disagree. This is not one of them. There is an objectively true side which is consistent with the facts and there is a side whose every claim and argument is false and dishonest. Claiming that it is somehow valid to strike a position halfway between truth and lies is ridiculous and pernicious.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:48 AM on December 7, 2008


I'm supposing that my latest bioethics CME, which also drew clear parallels between Darwinism and eugenics (in context, defining how Darwin's theories had been misappropriated by the Social Darwinist and informed medical practice in the 1930s)

The keyword is "misappropriated". Nothing about evolution supports Social Darwinism or eugenics; those are right-wing and racist ideologies, respectively, which seized upon the convenient parts of evolutionary theory to support their previously-existing pathologies. The equivalent would be blaming Erwin Schrödinger for those dumbasses who claim that quantum mechanics proves the existence of magic and so forth.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:50 AM on December 7, 2008


Medical practice in the 1930s was a racist and right-wing ideology? The force with which eugenics captured the imagination of medical thought for the improvement of mankind was some preexisting pathology?

Certainly wouldn't want to lay the idea of Nazism at Darwin's feet, but I certainly wouldn't hold you to be the harbinger of truth either.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 11:13 AM on December 7, 2008


See, this is why for the longest time I hesitated signing up for a MetaFilter account.
scheptech expressed a viewpoint, which was reiterated I think effectively by Pope Guilty and Navelgazer, and for that scheptech is called an idiot and shut up you piece of shit.

Yes, his initial comment was a bit of a derail--he doesn't seem to be defending Ben Stein or addressing the "spanking" by Roger Ebert--he's just saying a person can believe in a creator and still acknowledge that Creationism has no place in a science class. At most it warrants admonishment for being off-topic.


Now go and re-read the thread.

scheptech expressed a viewpoint and it was pointed out to him that it was not in line with the facts ("You are free to your own opinions but not to your own facts"). The discourse at this point wasn't particularly insulting.

However, there is farily normal advice to someone at the bottom of a hole: stop digging. sheptech continued to defend the film and claim that ID was something other than a dishonest attempt by Creationists to sneak into science classrooms. For that it was pointed out he really really didn't know what he was talking about.

Had sheptech merely posted the first assertion he made then the response wouldn't be half as strong. But instead he chose to support a liar who tried to link his opponents to Nazis and claim that the link was true and direct. After someone has called the other side Nazis then they have placed themselves outside the realms of civilised discourse. ANd it was only after that he was called so full of shit it was coming out of his ears.

Now you come along and try to imply that both it was his first comment that caused this reaction (it wasn't) and that the person that was saying the other side had directly caused the Nazis was the reasonable one. I suggest you re-read the thread. And I suggest that sheptech puts away his JCB.
posted by Francis at 11:23 AM on December 7, 2008


Navelgazer:

I was wrong. My detractors were right.

This is the Internet. You never, ever say this. It simply is Not Permitted.
posted by illiad at 11:41 AM on December 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Medical practice in the 1930s was a racist and right-wing ideology? The force with which eugenics captured the imagination of medical thought for the improvement of mankind was some preexisting pathology?

The concept of heritable characteristics, and of breeding for results, far predates Darwin; farmers and cat/dog fanciers have been doing both since time immemorial. To lay eugenics at the feet of Darwin is to not understand Darwin; as doctors are not scientists, let alone evolutionary biologists, it is understandable that many doctors followed the popular misunderstandings of Darwin's research.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:59 AM on December 7, 2008


you guys will at other times gush about how Science! will give up her secrets of faster-than-light space travel, AI and transhumanism someday, as an article of faith

quotes, please
posted by pyramid termite at 12:03 PM on December 7, 2008


The rest of you need to dial it way back, for fucks sake.

We all know PB can get a little, uh, passionate about these kinds of things. But scheptech was quite deliberately engaging in a dishonest argument, and not just in the "Darwin leads to Hitler" thing, either. Por ejemplo:

The movie more or less rejects this all-or-nothing dichotomy more closely questioning origin, how did life start, not how did it develop once started. The remainder of the spanking depends on maintaining this zero-sum view.


Which is of course not true. If you scroll down Ebert's article, you find the following:
The assumption of "Expelled" is that no one could possibly explain how Prof. Monty Python's molecules and their joy-riding crystals could possibly produce life. As luck would have it, at about the same time as the film was being made, teams of scientists at the universities of Oregon and North Carolina explained it. They "determined for the first time the atomic structure of an ancient protein, revealing in unprecedented detail how genes evolved their functions."

"This is the ultimate level of detail," said the evolutionary biologist Joe Thornton. "We were able to see exactly how evolution tinkered with the ancient structure to produce a new function that is crucial to our own bodies today. Nobody's ever done that before." Unfortunately, this momentous discovery was announced almost too late to be mentioned in Ben Stein's film. It wasn't totally too late, but it would have been a great inconvenience for the editor.
So for scheptech to assert that Ebert's article never addresses the question of the origin of life is false. Either he didn't read the article, or he did and decided to make his claim anyway. Either way, it's a dishonest argument, a derail. I don't blame people for getting upset about that. For me, it has nothing to do with agreeing with ID *or* evolution and everything to do with an honest exchange. That said, point taken on the name calling.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:11 PM on December 7, 2008


I will now have to discover whether it's just my own private delusion or the term is in fact used differently where I live.
posted by scheptech at 3:55 AM on December 7


I'm from Canada. "Intelligent Design" is used in precisely the same way as it is in the US, and by the same groups of people.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:59 PM on December 7, 2008


when you start Hitlering things up

Astro Zombie - this particular aspect is such an egregious issue I feel it is worth responding for the sake of general sanity. To save anyone interested re-reading: I did not Hitler up, I first heard the term "Godwin" years ago, like yourself and most everyone else here no doubt. It's a piece of basic net lore and a laughing point when someone does it.

I did not raise the Nazi connection first and had no plans to whatsoever, Xezlec brought it up first, allowing that what I was actually talking about wasn't a major issue but saying my (guessed/inferred/supposed?) support of Darwin as Nazi was! (yes, Xezlec is addressing me directly, as in "Did you read the article...")

Xezlec:

Did you read the article, or just skim it? None of the parts that really got to me had much to do with the dichotomy in question. I haven't seen it. Was Ebert lying when he said Stein wanted to call it "from Darwin to Hitler"? Was he lying about the end, where Stein walks around a Nazi concentration camp, invokes the memory of millions of murdered Jews, and equates the theory of evolution with Nazism and genocide? If so, I am disappointed in Roger Ebert.

If not, how dare you defend this human piece of excrement!


(Ben Stein presumably)

Scheptech:

The movie's connection from Darwin all the way through to Nazi racial theory and practice is a clearly traceable and historically accurate argument but a sour note given the context of the movie in my opinion. Were I Mr. Dawkins or Bill Maher, I'd be hugely offended to be included on "that side" of the movie.

Re-reading my own post, I can see how it could be read as blaming Darwin for Nazism, I'll guess the "all the way through" could be read as emphasizing a strong connection rather than indicating a distant connection. In any case what I was doing was acknowledging the thing in order to say what I said after the "but" in the remainder of the paragraph. Would it be unfair to suspect some did not read beyond the word "Nazism" in this? Note the offended context I'm referring to in this is Dawkins and Maher. I'm saying given their presence in the film, the implied Nazi connection to anyone not on Stein's side was inappropriate.

Here's a PBS link, hopefully this is a neutral enough reference to indicate what I was acknowledging: history. Understand, this was never meant to be argumentation supporting the idea of Darwin as proto-Nazi!
posted by scheptech at 1:37 PM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is this still going on?
Damn scheptech, step out.
Burn the account and start anew with a different alias.
Get a Fresca, walk the dog, make a sandwich.
Do something else.
You are never going to parse your way out of this.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:43 PM on December 7, 2008


Senor Cardgage - you may be right, how-about these nics:

godwinschild
movie?whatmovie
IdiDit
reapthewhirlwind
Dartler
Hitwin
posted by scheptech at 2:03 PM on December 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I personally think IdiDit is the funniest of those, scheptech.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:10 PM on December 7, 2008


My suggestion:

'Bove-Panders and Sheeple
posted by defenestration at 2:21 PM on December 7, 2008


The movie's connection from Darwin all the way through to Nazi racial theory and practice is a clearly traceable and historically accurate argument

and then

I'll guess the "all the way through" could be read as emphasizing a strong connection rather than indicating a distant connection ... the implied Nazi connection to anyone not on Stein's side was inappropriate.

Which is it then?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:22 PM on December 7, 2008


Having calmed down from my last post...

I did not raise the Nazi connection first and had no plans to whatsoever, Xezlec brought it up first, allowing that what I was actually talking about wasn't a major issue but saying my (guessed/inferred/supposed?) support of Darwin as Nazi was!

OK, yes I did. Mainly, I was trying to argue that Ebert had plenty to spank even without the ID vs. Creationism thing. It wasn't until later I decided to step into that mess too.

I'm saying given their presence in the film, the implied Nazi connection to anyone not on Stein's side was inappropriate.

OK, I'll buy that. I somewhat wish I had not even brought up the point (not that it wouldn't have gotten here eventually). In fairness, maybe it was not any of us who "Hiltered up" the discussion, it was only Ben Stein who did so, and you and I just touched it and got it all over ourselves.
posted by Xezlec at 2:46 PM on December 7, 2008


Thank god he's parsed it out, because while I thought he was a fuckwit for calling it just a "sour note", I in fact learn that I just stopped reading before the "but".

Forget the new nic, just take the middle ground between keeping this name and finding a new one: keep this name, and don't post again.
posted by bonaldi at 4:16 PM on December 7, 2008


There are very few cases where I support the use of GTFO language on Metafilter, and this isn't one of them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:51 PM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


as if the whole new sockpuppet dance isn't precisely the same thing? "Hey, we hate you, pretend you're somebody entirely different so we can pretend you've left"? Anyway this is practically MeTa, so enough
posted by bonaldi at 5:00 PM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


This Side of the Blue
posted by Restless Day at 3:15 AM on December 8, 2008


Hiltered up

This thread is like Christmas. Without it, it's conceivable I could have gone my whole life without thinking of "Hitlering up." It'll be a challenge to work it into conversation, true, but....

As for the drinking of Kool-Aid, I maintain it's okay to playfully refer to to it. (Have you tried their awesome new flavor, Ben's Lime?)
posted by JHarris at 4:28 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Expelled producer admits lying to atheist interviewees
posted by homunculus at 5:13 PM on January 4, 2009


« Older Two of Six Washed Up Feet Matched by DNA...  |  Idle Theory: Life Does The Lea... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments