Monday, February 11, 2008

Just Another Darwin Day

So, former game show host and present Nixon apologist Ben Stein has a new film out in which he argues that God-talk is forcibly kept out of the classroom by jackbooted professorial thugs, possibly linked up with this whole Liberal Fascism movement I keep hearing so much about...

Here's how he described Expelled on his

In a scientific world gone mad, EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed is the controversial documentary that will chronicle Ben Stein’s confrontation with the Neo-Darwinian machine, exposing widespread suppression and entrenched discrimination in his heroic quest to bring back freedom in our institutions, laboratories and most importantly, in our classrooms, with the help of the world’s top scientists, educators and thinkers.

I've got to say, it's pretty ballsy to come right out and call your Creationism documentary No Intelligence Allowed. This is the easiest punchline for critics and satirists since the heydey of '90s alt-rock mainstay Garbage.

You've also got to love the epic language with which Stein describes his bitchy academic slapfight. "You big meanies won't give my nonsensical bullshit beliefs the same weight as your rigorously-tested scientific theories!" suddenly becomes "Let My People Go!" I mean, his confrontation with the Neo-Darwinian machine? Is that "machine" anything like a large, disconnected group of angry nerds with mild superiority complexes? Seriously, his heroic quest to bring back freedom in our institutions? Freedom to believe made-up fake shit? This is too much...

The whole blog is chock full of complete dumbfuckery. I can't imagine how silly the movie is going to be. I mean, say what you will about Ben Stein...I enjoyed (and once appeared on) his game show. His single scene in Ferris Bueller is mildly amusing. Those Clear Eyes commercials weren't the worst thing I've ever seen. Um, he's probably not the single most oily douchebag from the Nixon administration...

But strong, well-reasoned argumentation has never been his strong suit. Attentive readers will recall his unspeakably distasteful, sociopathic reaction to Hurricane Katrina. The main post on the site right now is about how Charles Darwin's birthday has supplanted Lincoln's birthday in the "imagination" of Americans. (They were both born on the same day: February 12, 1809). Which, of course, is not true. Like most people who believe evolution is essentially correct, I couldn't have told you Charles Darwin's birthday off the top of my head.

But Stein doesn't stop with mere mendacity. Check this out:

The title of Charles Darwin’s book is not “The Origin of The Species.” The full title seems shocking: “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” That last half of the title, often overlooked, sounds like it could come straight out of a Ku Klux Klan manual - which is precisely why Big Science rarely quotes the full title (even though Darwin was not referring specifically to “man” in his use of the words “favoured races.”). Big Science is uncomfortable with even the suggestion that evolutionary theory might favor politically incorrect thinking.

This is some intensely intellectually dishonest writing right here. Stein essentially acknowledges that his analysis is incorrect. Darwin used the term "favoured races" in a way that had nothing to do with our current ideas about racial diversity in humans. Then he just goes ahead and discusses implications of his incorrect analysis anyway. I mean...what? That's the opposite of how persuasive argumentation works. You establish a premise and then back it up with evidence, guy.

Darwinian evolution theory is a viable scientific theory. Author of The God Delusion Richard Dawkins has stated that Darwin’s evolution theory has provided atheists with “intellectual fulfillment.” If you grant that, then you must also grant that it has given a great many racists “intellectual fulfillment,” too.

Because...some racists...many years ago...were inspired and comforted by elements of Darwin's theories...that means they are wrong? Or it means they are right, but so toxic, we should pretend they are wrong? W

Ben Stein is an old man, and I'm pretty sure a reasonably intelligent middle-school student could unravel this argument. I mean, it's not like racists have exclusively used evolution to justify their racism. They'll use any means to justify it they can think of. What about religion? Ann Coulter said we should go kill the leaders of Middle Eastern countries and convert the people to Christianity, not Secular Humanism. That mean we should give up on Christianity? Hey, Ann Coulter used it in a racist context!

What a child this man is. If you want to be super-super-religious, go for it. No one's telling you not to. But why do strangers have to justify your belief system to you? If Ben Stein's answer really is The Truth, then Science will come around to it eventually through the standard process of hypothesis and experimentation. He knows that won't happen, so he has to cheat, to bully and pester people into accepting his unique brand of ignorant twaddle.

But cheating is all Stein knows how to do. A little box on his website features insulting snippets from comments/e-mails from detractors and reads: "Intelligent Quote of the Day!" Rather than present arguments from his critics and then take them on honestly in the forthright manner that might spark an actual dialogue, he prefers to cherry-pick substance-free insults and present them as the sole opposition. See, I must make a lot of sense if all these hysterics come here unprovoked and insult me! What a loser.

[Hat tip: Sadly No]

1 comment:

Peter L. Winkler said...

George Glder, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, the intelligent design lobbying group, made two very revealing statements. Admitting that he'd never even read a biology textbook, Gilder then said, "Intelligent design has no content."