Ben Stein: "science leads you to killing people"

Discuss

185 Responses to “Ben Stein: "science leads you to killing people"”

  1. Mingross says:

    It really irritates me when people thoughtlessly attack science like Ben Stein has started doing recently. Science can be put to bad uses (and, of course, so can religion), but I see the most basic function of science as a means of attempting to understand the universe in which we live, and I think that’s a profoundly human thing.

    I used to like Ben Stein, but not anymore.

  2. Zyklon says:

    I’m still convinced Ben Stein made Expelled as a comedic venture. He cannot possibly be fucking serious.

  3. Terry Karney says:

    Nelson C. He could elect to go back to the “cud” thread and explain the relevance of the (typical to semitic languages) use of the root in gerah to the lack of anal scraping in the actual definition according to those who actually speak Hebrew.

    :)

  4. Stacyj says:

    Not to be ugly, but before this whole “Expelled” thing came about I’d had no idea what an absolute moron Ben Stein was … so I guess that’s one useful thing this movie has achieved – maybe I’m not the only one to have been disabused of the notion that Ben Stein was a reasonably sharp guy thanks to this movie …

  5. Antinous says:

    Mindpowered,

    My bad.

  6. Takuan says:

    ja,not like ze Triumph of Der Will or der Birth Of Der Nation

  7. reptiles_and_samurai says:

    So…I’m pretty sure this means he won’t win Ben Stein’s Money.

  8. Chris Sullins says:

    Vaporlock @ 129

    The documentary is not by any means dead. Plato demonstrated the guileful potential of rhetoric thousands of years ago. All it means, and this has always been true, is that you must always question your sources.

    With the ubiquity of information these days, false and otherwise, the younger generations are going to become phenomenally good at that. Advertisers have been in a war with their audiences for years, and they’re fast falling behind. The next Ben Stein has his work cut out for him if he’s going to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.

    That said, I may underestimate the power of religious brainwashing. But it’ll be due to that, not twisted science. If Google can turn up counter-arguments, the kids are going to find them. Whether they’re convinced by them will depend on their own willingness to question.

  9. scottfree says:

    have you ever seen Triumph of the Will? There is something seriously weird about it. I’m a Jewish bisexual communist, and after watching it I was totally Aryan ho. I mean it wears off, but it’s a very strange experience.

  10. Antinous says:

    Nixon was a peacemaker. Science makes you kill. It all makes perfect sense. Right?

  11. the_boy says:

    I think there is a serious flaw in assuming poor intelligence and malicious intent on behalf of people who accept ID. ID, while unscientific, is not Creationism, which is specifically anti-scientific. It is a step in the right direction, an attempt to reconcile deeply held religious beliefs with accepted scientific practice. It’d be going to far to say that this is something that needs to be taught or the scientific truth, but to discard entirely these peoples opinions as identical to the pre-enlightenment consensus is a failing. That we can distinguish between ID and Creationism is a step in the right direction. And this is more applicable to evolution – Creationism attacks abiogenesis, while ID posits an alternative (and, yes, faulty and problematic) theory of evolution. Relentlessly decrying this train of thought is the wrong way to go about things. Yes, ID shouldn’t be taught in school. Yes, it is terrible science. And yes, it is religiously motivated in a nation that doesn’t allow for imposition of religion. But it’s a believed-in concept despite it not being taught in schools, it’s a good example of how to use the scientific method to detect bullshit/expose flaws, and this is a nation where the vast majority of the populace is religious. It is divisive to dismiss people out of hand, to assume poor intelligence, to attribute religion as the cause of all this strife, and to assume being a scientist is such an overpowering aspect of a person’s personality that they cannot also be religious, or that their decisions are not motivated by ideologies and personal beliefs (which most humans happen to have).

    The point here is that attacking ID is the wrong way to go. The discussion has moved from Ben Stein, though his inability to distinguish the use of the scientific method from the application of ideologically motivated results is relevant, as it is the same flaw being made in a blanket attack on ID. The way to stop being frustrated by ID is to assume good faith in, but a poor understanding of, the scientific method. Taking that, a rigorous application of the scientific method to ID will show it as flawed. Important care must to taken, however, to show that evolution, which is a process, does not exclude the possibility of God (which is a worldview that may or may not pertain to the overall shaping of the process, but given a vague enough input doesn’t have to interfere with the science of the process). Also, evolution needs to be understood as a natural process, but not one that automatically leads to the dehumanizing “survival of the strongest” ideology (that’s eugenics, which is based on altering natural selection, but is not itself part of the understanding of the process of natural selection).

    ID is an attempt at science, and it is poor form for people who are fond of science to throw away an opportunity by dismissing ID as just ideology.

  12. License Farm says:

    A fun project might be to compile all the old episodes of Win Ben Stein’s Money to show him being quite facile in matters of science or, conversely, all the answers on the topic he got wrong, interspersed with his deadpan “Wow” from his Clear-Eyes campaign.

    Parenthetically, as a Jew, even a secular one, I find that his tendency to pander to sectors who behind closed doors likely call him a Christ-killer and worse, to say nothing of his pedigree as a speech-writer to one of the most virulently anti-Semitic presidents of the past 60+ years, betrays a self-loathing that outstrips even the most burlesqued caricatures. I’m tempted to compare it to Zionist lapdogs of fundamentalist immanentizers, but that’s a tired discussion that I’m satisfied to put to bed.

  13. Takuan says:

    ja,zat Leni…sigh

  14. Zan says:

    I’ve had the pleasure of having dinner with Mr. Stein, and I found him to be an extremely intelligent speaker, but completely lacking in common sense. He was able to wonderfully craft an argument explaining absolute nonsense. He was the kind of person who sounds smart until you actually listen to the words.

    Is it any surprise that his first prominent position was as Richard Nixon’s speechwriter?

  15. jackgreg says:

    Nope. Those were ideologists, not scientists. Maybe some of them were also scientists, but they were ideologists above all. It’s sophistry, don’t buy the language. Just like the pro-life stance- ask a pro-lifer if they’re willing to adopt a child from your list of foster homes. And there ya go.

  16. Irene Delse says:

    @ WWEBOING: “scientific socialism” ? It was neither scientific nor socialist. It was ideology masquerading as science, and bad science being made a tool by a power-hungry clique.

    As for “socialism”…

    You know what’s ironic? Stalin himself boasted once to have “killed more Communists than Hitler”, for putting to death the majority of party members who had a part in the October revolution. He didn’t want to have historic revolutionaries standing between him and absolute power.

  17. Antinous says:

    This film had me converted to fascism.

  18. Takuan says:

    bottom line: “Intelligent Design” means “I can’t or won’t do the work of understanding how things work”
    Learning is hard. Faith is easy.

  19. willibro says:

    Is this over now? Can I go back and enjoy Stein’s plaintive cries in Ferris Bueller again?
    Anyone?
    Takuan?
    Anti?
    Takuan?.

  20. Kennric says:

    Oddly, the image that popped into my mind was Karl Pilkington – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Pilkington .

    When you assume people are normal, intelligent, thinking beings, and something like that comes out of their mouth, there is a moment of utter discombobulation, as if you have just walked into a transparent glass wall. You have to step back and run it over in your mind to make sure that’s what they really said.

    Pilkington, in a conversation about what he would do with a clone of himself, famously said “But how would I know which one was me?” – Ben Stein’s comments hit me very much the same way – he can’t really mean that, can he? Surely that’s a joke, a character he’s playing? ….

    When you hang around rational, smart people, you tend to forget that a lot of people aren’t.

  21. Takuan says:

    ogling the youths does not constitute fascism

  22. Tenn says:

    Mr. Stein, please kindly stop driving, taking medicine, eating processed foods, going to / taking relatives to hospital, watching television, using the internet, using the telephone, and anything else science has brought you.

  23. noen says:

    Some have trotted out the usual “evolution means I get to be a murderous sociopath” meme. It’s true that those among us who pursue only their own narrow self interest and maybe this is adaptive in the short term. However altruism also exists and it is also adaptive only on a more long term scale.

    A society composed entirely of individuals seeking only their own rational self interest would, I think, fall apart rather quickly. And one made exclusively of highly altruistic people would be easy pickings for a few ruthless sociopaths.

    And so we have a mix of different strategies. Currently the sociopathic motherfuckers are on top, hopefully this too will change. I think we need to start thinking a little more long term.

    Besides, isn’t the view that society is composed of individuals seeking their rational self interest only precisely that promoted by the right? Why then give Ben Stein any support at all? If you are a consistent rightwinger shouldn’t you denounce Ben Stein for his heresies and fully embrace your inner genocidal sociopath?

  24. Phil Hilliker says:

    My wife is a molecular biologist. I guess should be afraid of her. Perhaps she’s going to kill me in my sleep tonight. Great. Just great.

    I don’t think that’s a good word at all…

  25. scottfree says:

    Point being, fascist hysteria isn’t /just/ something that happens to other people.

  26. Jake0748 says:

    Beuller… Beuller… Beuller…

    Um… he’s sick.

  27. liberpolly says:

    Funny thing about ID – if you mentally replace “god” with “aliens”, it suddenly makes sense.

    As for killing people, ideologies are killing people; not science, not religion. Communism, fascism, various other -isms killed more people in last century than all religions combined through history of mankind.

  28. the_boy says:

    @ 104

    ID means “I have serious qualms reconciling my deeply held convictions with a scientific practice that is portrayed as eroding all deeper value in human life. I like science, I want to accept science, but I don’t want science to discard morality out of hand. Please help me find a way to reconcile morality and science.”

    Soundbites are easy. Real understanding of the problems we are faced with is hard.

  29. Lyzard says:

    I saw a broadcast of this interview of Ben Stein by Lee Strobel. (author of Case for Christ)

    I just googled it for reference and found it on
    “GodTube: Broadcast HIM” lolz
    This isn’t the full thing I saw on local TV but it’s worth noting:
    http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=cd2c6616cf2eeaaa8fb3

    This interview made my head hurt.
    It included a lot of the same rhetoric about science leading you to death camps.

  30. padster123 says:

    Not sure about #102, saying that ID is a step in the right direction, away from full-on creationism.

    Some proponents of ID might be attempting to “reason in good faith.”

    However, I still see it as a pretty sinister and calculated attack on reason, and reasonableness. A slip backwards down the slope to superstition, and, frankly, the medieval.

    But in the end, I guess I agree with you, that the way to get rid of ID is to attack it as science. As science, it’s up there with healing crystals and alchemy.

  31. vaporlock says:

    Chris Sullins @ 132

    Good points!

  32. Kibble says:

    @140 Wow, Kibble, way to totally, totally miss the gist of what was being said.

    *smacking self in forehead*

  33. SKR says:

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

    Oh…Does that mean Torquemada was a scientist?

  34. Nur says:

    That’s a wonderfully skillfully played Holocaust card – you’re never going to defend the scientists at the death camps on and you’d never get away with saying “Well, actually, NASA really appreciated their research for the space program, do you hate creating Amercian jobs?” on Fox news

    He’s a very good speaker and he assumes he’s right when he speaks – it’s his gut reaction. People like that are hard to get around, he’ll either shout you down or he’ll pull out a show stopper that’ll unhinge your argument.

    It’s sad how much better a skilled and experienced orator speaking from his gut sounds than reasoned scientific method debating.

  35. Cannonball Jones says:

    “Not to be ugly, but before this whole “Expelled” thing came about I’d had no idea what an absolute moron Ben Stein was”

    Hmm, can top that. Before this whole “Expelled” thing came about no-one outside a small TV audience in the US had any idea about the hell Ben Stein was. As far as most of Europe is concerned it’s just that Ferris Bueller bit-part guy waffling some unintelligible fantasy nonsense and offending a bunch of people by trivialising the Holocaust.

    Give it a month, maybe two. No-one will even remember this film ever existed, except Mr Stein who will remember it as the last time he ever got hired…

  36. Antinous says:

    I think that fascism is a predictable outcome of the untrammeled human psyche. Not a good one, but just an extension of the pack mind.

  37. the_boy says:

    @ 122

    I’m not saying evolution discards morality, I’m saying evolution is presented as discarding morality by religious fundamentalists, and the ID is the compromise accepted by people who want to trust science, but want to trust religion as well.

    And I’m not speaking about the people who advocate ID, but the people who follow it, and who have moved to follow ID from following creationism. These people are well-intentioned, but they aren’t putting in the full effort to understand the science of evolution, which is a problem.

  38. Antinous says:

    If you ask most people who believe in evolution to describe evolution, they describe something closer to intelligent design. But then, the majority of American college seniors think that you see because your eye sends out a ‘ray’ to interact with the seen object.

  39. scottfree says:

    Interesting also that the ADL has criticised the film. They sort of try to play nice with the Christian Right, so good to see they aren’t too happy about people throwing around the holocaust every time someone disagrees.

  40. the_boy says:

    @ 108

    ID is any attempt to be scientific without really understanding what science is. It’s not good science, but at least they want to try science instead of just renouncing it as the devil’s work. I see this as progress, and I take their attempt at science in good faith.

  41. Takuan says:

    in two days a thirty eighth year anniversary comes;
    I dedicate these lyrics to Ben Stein, speech writer for Richard Nixon

    Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’.
    We’re finally on our own.
    This summer I hear the drummin’.
    Four dead in Ohio.

    Gotta get down to it.
    Soldiers are cutting us down.
    Should have been done long ago.
    What if you knew her and
    Found her dead on the ground?
    How can you run when you know?

    Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.
    Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.
    Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.
    Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.

    Gotta get down to it.
    Soldiers are cutting us down.
    Should have been done long ago.
    What if you knew her and
    Found her dead on the ground?
    How can you run when you know?

    Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’.
    We’re finally on our own.
    This summer I hear the drummin’.
    Four dead in Ohio.
    Four dead in Ohio.
    Four dead in Ohio.
    Four dead in Ohio.
    Four dead in Ohio.
    Four dead in Ohio.
    Four dead in Ohio.
    Four dead in Ohio.
    Four dead in Ohio.

  42. MITTZNZ says:

    What a fucking imbecile.

  43. Tom says:

    Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place…

    Just to make that guy in the thread about dropping babies off of high towers happy…

    There is certainly nothing like love, compassion and empathy. The Bible is just full of them.

    For example, here is Deuteronomy 21:10-14 on the rules for raping prisoners of war: “When you wage war against your enemy and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take some of them captives, then if you see a comely woman among the captives and take a liking to her, you may marry her. You shall bring her into your house, where she shall shave her head, pare her nails, and discard the clothes which she had when captured. Then she shall stay in your house and mourn for her father and mother for a full month. After that you may have intercourse with her; you shall be her husband and she your wife. But if you no longer find her pleasing, let her go free. You must not sell her, nor treat her harshly, since you have had your will with her.” Really, what could be more compassionate than that?

    I once argued with a Christian who claimed that the Bible prohibited the rape of prisoners, and cited this passage. It was never clear to me why he thought that a passage detailing the rules for raping prisoners was a prohibition against it.

    Then there is our acceptance of ourselves, from the son of god himself: “If your hand is your undoing, cut it off… and if your foot is your undoing cut it off… and if it is your eye, tear it out…” (Mark 9:43-47). Jesus never mentions what to do if your brain is your undoing, but I think we can see in Stein the recommended action.

    But perhaps Stein believe the literal word: “Everything is possible to one who has faith.” (Mark, 9:23). Everything, that is, except reaching rationally justified conclusions based on evidence.

  44. scottfree says:

    weeeeeeeeeell, Freud argued that the family model tends to replicate itself socially, so groups will tend to form around a central strong phallic figure.

    Reich argued that the violent aspects of fascism, the hyper-masculinity, was an overcompensation for repressed homoerotic urges. hence, for instance, all that leather and nice tight fitting uniforms. And indeed, it doesn’t take much imagination to look at a swastika and see two people bumping nasties. In other words, by repressin the sexual drive, people under fascism must sublimate that enery into other activities, so the ideoloy tends to present labour, for instance, as an expression of love for the leader.

    And interstin quotation for discussion:

    ‘Tyrants are never born out of anarchy. One only ever sees them rise up in the shadows of laws; they derive their authority from laws. The rein of law is, therefore, evil; it is inferior to anarchy. The greatest proof of this position is the obligation of any government to plunge back into anarchy whenever it wants to remake its constitution. In order to abrogate its ancient laws, it is obliged to establish a revolutionary regime in which there are no laws. Under this regime new laws are eventually born, but the second is less pure than the first since it derives from it, since the first good, anarchy had to occur if one wanted to achieve the second good, the States constitution. ‘

    —De Sade

  45. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    I have to wonder what made Ben Stein decide to suddenly discard what had been a pretty good reputation as an entertainer and become a laughingstock instead. Is he now so rich that he can say any ridiculous thing he wants just for the pleasure of making people angry?

  46. padster123 says:

    If science leads us to genocide, then what does religion lead us to?

    I propose taking Mr Stein, stripping him of all products of science (eg, leave him naked) and drop him in the middle of Gaza. Or maybe the Congo. Darfur? The choices are endless.

  47. Evidence says:

    @ TAKUAN

    “By attacking science he directly kills the innocent by denying them stem cell research, birth control, vaccination and any number of things the fanatic get up to”

    “stem cell research” What stem cells do you mean? From aborted babies? What about their innocence?

    Do you mean cord cells? These have shown the most promising in research and no life is lost. I am with you why is this not promoted?

    “birth control” What kind do you mean. One that prevents conception or one that kills once pregnancy has occurred?

    “vaccination” Which ones? The ones that cause autism?

  48. anthropomorphictoast says:

    Can someone explain to Mr. Stein that:

    Nazi Scientists = mostly evil

    Regular, run-of-the-mill Scientists = not Nazis

    ?

    It’s not a hard concept to understand!

  49. jxeat says:

    #26: You seem to desire a “pretty chart”.

    Here’s one, showing the amazing nested pattern of relatedness of 3000 species based on DNA sequencing of the gene that codes for the small ribosomal subunit.

    http://www.zo.utexas.edu/faculty/antisense/DownloadfilesToL.html

    Not sure what further evidence you require but there is plenty, and some of it easily converted to a “pretty chart”.

    There is much to learn for those who are actually interested in understanding modern evolutionary biology, rather than subjecting it to streams of uninformed commentary. Do nuclear physicists have to provide rejoinders to people who consider it highly unlikely that the nucleii of hydrogen atoms could ever fuse to power the sun?

    Ben Stein does indeed appear to be an idiot. But why join him?

  50. Jeff says:

    Antinous, we’ve also breed some really great plants and animals. We are part of nature and are part of other creatures natural selection, as well as our own. We are not outside the system, but part of it.

  51. gtomkins says:

    #95 – Absolutely, point out how he is wrong. I’m simply stating that name calling only drags the discussion down into the gutter. I have the utmost respect for the man and regardless of my beliefs, I don’t think the answer is to say he’s a moron because of what I believe. Drawing a comparison between him and Hitler is just mean spirited, off base and not at all helpful in creating intelligent discussion.

    That said, you have your opinion, and if you truly believe hitler was a good man, then congrats for believing that. Can’t say I agree with you, given that his beliefs killed millions, and he didn’t state “hey, that’s just my opinion” as Mr. Stein has.

    My apologies for offending anyone by attempting to bring the discussion up above the name calling line.

  52. noen says:

    Science is fundamentally amoral. Therefore, a person armed with only knowledge (science) and without morals would be a very dangerous person. Religious institutions lead by men without any moral center would also do terrible things, as they have.

    There really is such a thing as moral/ethical thought and much of it does spring from spiritual traditions. Traditionally though science hasn’t asked itself those kinds of questions. After the Manhattan Project people began wondering if that wasn’t a mistake.

    Trinity Broadcasting, that’s one fucked up network. Especially that freak Jan Crouch.

  53. Village Idiot says:

    “Science does not remove the terror of the gods!”

    -Bob

  54. Takuan says:

    it’s good when the enemy shows himself clearly

  55. george57l says:

    …and there was me thinking that it was an ideology that led to the the nazi death camps. Glad you cleared that one up for me Ben (with your spiffy new ideology).

  56. Evidence says:

    @PIPENTA

    “We’re all gonna die. That’s the deal. And many take comfort in fairy tales that tell them, oh, no, you won’t really die, you’ll just move on to another place, a better place, a perfect place.”

    “But they don’t really believe it” I do.

    Is life after death a fantasy? Is there no proof?

  57. Johnny Logic says:

    @107

    While I appreciate your nuanced views about ID, evolution and the greater religious culture, the fact is that ID is both abysmal science and a tool for religious zealots (e.g. Wedge Strategy). Moreover, the ID “theorists” have a long record of willful ignorance, quotemining, and lying. This is hardly suggestive of “good” faith.

    The ID-consuming public may be another matter, but the engineers of the ID movement (Johnson, Dembski, Behe, etc.) are sleazy religious hacks.

  58. Antinous says:

    Freud argued that the family model tends to replicate itself socially, so groups will tend to form around a central strong phallic figure.

    It just seems likely that we would have evolved to band together with our den-siblings to drive interlopers from the water hole. Are gorillas fascists? Or lions? It’s a survival strategy which has become antithetical to survival on the global scale. If aggressive behavior favors the survival of the individual but also favors the extinction of the group, what happens? Do we continue endless internecine warfare, become extinct, or evolve through some heretofore unexamined aspect of evolutionary theory?

  59. Spoon says:

    I dunno, I still kinda respect Stein. I don’t agree with him on the anti evolution tirade he’s been sponsoring, but I feel for the ID cause (if only to see it shown to be incredibly unlikely after dissolving it down to the base arguments of ‘but how could an eye evolve without a designer?!’)

    human DNA is 440million bits which evolved in 3.2 billion years. That’s a lot of complexity (7 years per bit considering age to procreation vs base pair size) and can easily cause some amount of doubt.

    While it’s natural for me (a former compsci/math student) to see exponential growth in the length of DNA emerging from mutations that cause DNA to double in size and also bring along some benefit (not necessarily an eye, as that can happen with the non doubling beneficial mutations inbetween), it’s even easier to see in larger animals with billion years and only 14 mutations necessary. But no one seems to want to bring this kind of thing up, how exactly does complexity arise in nature? and not just one random mutation to one to three bits of data, but also a couple of random changes and a whole slew of crap attached at the end (obviously this is an edge case, and only has to happen a few times)

    Evolution is an amazing law of nature, but it’s amazing because of how simple yet complicated it is. I’m all for showing Ben Stein he’s wrong, but I’m somehow against attacking him for being skeptical (even if he does evoke Godwins law and call science evil) when one of my greatest wants is to say ‘this is how Ben Stein! look at my pretty graphs!! look the amazing data!!! behold its glory in biology & statistics being intertwined!!!!’

  60. Joe MommaSan says:

    Ben is still pissed about his entire “Win Ben Stein’s Money” audience vanishing at almost the exact moment the door slammed behind Jimmy Kimmel’s departing ass. So he’s taking his frustrations out on all of us.

    Maybe this behavior is hard-wired into humans as some aspect of pack mentality.

    The herd instinct is strong.

  61. Takuan says:

    PRETTY chart! best part is the leetle, teeny “you are here”

  62. Chris Sullins says:

    In response to the hateful rhetoric expounded in Ben Stein’s documentary, P. Z. Meyers posted a powerful video clip from Jacob Bronowski’s BBC documentary The Ascent of Man on the history of science:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/04/antistein.php

    In it Bronowski, who lost family members and friends to the concentration camps, stands at Auschwitz to discuss its very anti-scientific foundation. Here is a transcript, but watch the video. It is profoundly moving.

    It’s said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That’s false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers.

    Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance.

    When people believe that they have absolute knowledge with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

    Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known. We always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know, although we are fallible.

    In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

    I owe it as a scientist to my friend Leo Szilard. I owe it as a human being to the many members of my family who died here, to stand here as a survivor and a witness. We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order, and the human act.

    We have to touch people.

  63. Nelson.C says:

    Stein can be as skeptical as he wants, but skepticism is no bloody good if it gets in the way of him learning stuff that is already known. Nobody’s attacking him for the skepticism, we’re excoriating him for remaining wilfully ignorant, and now accusing scientists of inventing time machines and going back to the ancient world to start anti-semitism. (That is what he’s saying, isn’t it?)

  64. StridentLobster says:

    @74:

    Speaking of deliberate misunderstandings. Darwin’s theories and the concepts of evolution / natural selection in no way promote the horrid atrocities you’ve posited. Here’s a passage from The Descent of Man, as quoted in the Scientific American article linked in one of the first comments:

    “This is how the original passage in The Descent of Man reads (unquoted sections [included]):

    With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

    The producers of the film did not mention the very next sentences in the book:

    The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.”

    So there you have it. Natural selection as you would seem to understand it notwithstanding, the father of the idea felt it to be immoral to apply the concept mercilessly to humanity.

    Our morality, too, is a product of natural selection and evolution, having come about to promote group cohesion when the human animal first began living in communities.

    It bears repeating:

    “Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature.”

  65. Antinous says:

    I think that Ben Stein suffers from the same problem as Tucker Carlson, Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh. He wants attention. Narcissists commonly pick fights over beliefs that they don’t really hold. It’s a great way to get attention. In online communities, they’re sometimes referred to as “trolls”. Can you say “troll”?

  66. Mr Ascii says:

    @40 posted by Chorske:

    Be careful, you’ve misstated the law. From Wikipedia:

    “The entropy of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_thermodynamics

    The key here is that the second law applies to isolated or closed systems. When it is trotted out to “prove” ID, that part is dropped. The Earth is not a closed or isolated system. It has energy input from the Sun, not to mention a small amount of outside matter being added from space.

  67. ill lich says:

    So Ben Stein thinks morals are better than science, is that it?

    As others have pointed out here– science is amoral (not Immoral, but Amoral, as in “outside the realm of morals”), so he really is comparing apples and oranges.

    Evolution is no more immoral than quantum physics, another branch of science– is Ben Stein making movies or statements about how evil quantum physics is? No. (Perhaps someone should pore through the Bible looking for a passage that can be used to question quantum physics, and see if Ben Stein or his fundamentalist friends take the bait.)

    Fundamentalist Christians are bending-over-backwards to find ways to discredit evolution, and since they are so out-gunned when it comes to actual science, they try to paint it as “evil”– maybe so we can all say “well, it might be true, but it’s bad for humanity, so let’s ban it anyway.”

  68. Antinous says:

    I just caught this at IMDb:

    At the Movies with Ebert and Roeper co-host Richard Roeper wrote today (Thursday) that he has been accused of “liberal bias” for not reviewing the “intelligent design” documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed on the TV show. In his column in the Chicago Sun-Times Roeper insisted that no liberal conspiracy was involved in the omission. “Expelled wasn’t screened for us,” he wrote, but given the attention the film has received he finally managed to see it. “Wow,” he concluded, “What a piece of garbage.”

  69. scottfree says:

    Antinous,

    Evolutionary psychology is a bit tricky, and I tend to deviate to its understanding of evolution, but as it happens it makes a point to support the argument I’m about to make, which is that animals do not have language, the defining element of the human mind, and so are qualitatively different in psychology. The highest mark I ever received at University was for an essay arguing exactly that animals /do/ have language, in the form of grooming, but that’s a whole other debate. Anyway, the human tendency toward authoritarianism can be amply explained by nurture, without needing to resort to speculative evolutionary psychology. It makes sense, for instance, that a child with an unresolved Oedipal issue will seek to replicate the structure from which it was born in a futile attempt to resolve it. Now is that more empirical then I like to play it? Yes, but it derives from a study of the adult human psyche; scratch the surface of someone’s problem and you find the same problem buried underneath.

    When you say ‘we’ engage in internecine warfare, what do you mean by we, white man? Clearly there is a distinction between the behaviour of pack leaders and pack followers. I cant begin to explain, but Lacan posits that the only way to successfully resolve an Oedipal conflict is by admitting ones own primary castration, which people don’t, as a rule, do. So Reich, again, says that the difference between a leader and a follower is a leader knows he is a follower [I'm simplifying because it is a pain to type] whereas a follower deceives himself to be in charge; or a leader admits of his [or her] castration, while a follower repudiates it, and replicates the circumstances previous to castration by positioning his or herself as an adult in the same position he or she was in as an infant in relation to the phallus.

    Does that make any sense?

  70. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    @21
    Bingo. It’s not a belief, it’s a pose. Exploiting the weak minded for screen time.

  71. davhud says:

    Warning!!!! Adolescent ad hominum attack!!!

    Ben Stein is a complete fucking idiot.
    I particularly like the argument the evolution doesn’t explain gravity. Like I said CFI.

  72. ahclem says:

    And this movie is… Anyone? Anyone?
    Utter nonsense.
    It’s intelligently designed to… Anyone? Anyone?
    Separate gullible rubes from their… Anyone? Anyone?
    Money.

  73. Spoon says:

    @#20 posted by Nelson.C

    The stuff that’s already known and told over and over is that random mutations are good here and there, do nothing most places, and are horrible destructive a lot of the time. Then we’re told ‘but over -billions- of year humans evolve! without any models that show the increase in size of DNA or how millions of random changes to DNA that’s been turned off can build up and when finally turned on randomly (over trillions of iterations a day/month/year) finally develop into useful new organs (punctuated equilibrium)… I agree with the idea, and while I’m confident that it’s true no one has yet pretty pretty graphs out there that I’m aware of.

  74. Antinous says:

    It seems to fail Occam’s Razor. We act pretty similarly to other social predatory mammals. On the language note, it turns out that some male spiders induce the females to mate by reflecting UVB off their own bodies in a semantic manner.

  75. Avram says:

    Spoon, you’ll never get Stein to pay attention to your pretty charts, because he’s not interested in actual reasoned debate. That’s why he’s claiming that science leads to the Holocaust.

    That’s also why he sticks “this is just an opinion” in the middle of his claim — so that when someone rightly becomes outraged over Stein’s outrageous nonsense, Stein can say “Hey, man, why get so angry over an opinion?”. His whole argument is a set of nested rhetorical dodges of this kind. It’s pure propaganda.

  76. Antinous says:

    His whole argument is a set of nested rhetorical dodges of this kind.

    Maybe he’s under the malevolent control of Zombie Nixon.

  77. Tom says:

    …science leads you to killing people.

    Could we please disemvowel this guy?

    Noen: “After the Manhattan Project people began wondering if that wasn’t a mistake.”

    That’s one of the differences between scientists and the people-who-believe-without-evidence. Scientists are (in principle, eventually) willing to ask any question whatsoever, including, “Is this such a good idea?” It can take us a long time to get there, because we are only human, but the door is always open, however long it takes for us to walk through.

  78. fightcopyright says:

    Are you all deliberately misunderstanding the argument Stein made?

    What about Eugenics? Or Hitler’s desire for racial purity, or Stalin’s acts of “animal husbandry”, Or Darwin’s explicit call for weaker people to be killed like farm animals?

    Calling Ben Stein an idiot or pointing out that religious people also do evil things is not a valid argument.

    But here is an argument:

    If man evolves through natural selection, then when weak are culled the health of our species is improved. (or am I missing some mysterious component of Darwinism which commends compassion?)

    Time after time the vast majority of commenter’s talk about what’s right and what’s not right as if morality just falls out of the sky. Well how about doing some of the philosophical homework for once?

    Most of you may despise Christianity, but the fact is that our culture is so steeped in the Sermon on the Mount that we just take it all for granted, as if everyone just knows we should all play nice.

    Given evolution, genocide, slavery, and rape are the most natural and logical acts in the world. The strong propagate their genes and the weak are prevented from doing so.

  79. Spoon says:

    @#56 posted by noen , May 1, 2008 9:42 PM

    “Did you even watch the video spoon? He explains why he makes the choices that he does. The reason that the clock universe was seeded with gears and springs was because that is what clocks are made of. He pointedly does not attempt to demonstrate abiogenesis and says so in the video you.”

    I did not say, or describe abiogenesis, I was looking for extra complexity not in the starting case but in the ability of the things we watch to evolve more freely.

    “This makes almost no sense at all. I have to wonder if you are putting us all on and really don’t know what you are talking about. Gears aren’t complicated, they are flat discs with teeth. Clock hands are thin rectangles. Same with springs.”

    If you believe that gears aren’t complicated, then you obviously discount the power of added complexity in gears, if a gear has a few misshaped teeth it could be useless, but see how much good comes of gears with all their teeth misshaped (healical) or the teeth misshaped and going in the wrong direction (worm.. oh but that’s not flat, so does I guess it doesn’t fit your limited definition of a gear…)

    “There is no need to “add complexity”. Indeed this shows that you don’t understand what natural selection even is. cdk7000 has several videos, you should check them out. “How Evolution Causes an Increase in Information[complexity]” looks like it might answer that question.”

    natural selection isn’t evolution, it’s a part of evolution, the other part is mutation which is what adds complexity, without mutations, and given enough time, all the survivors might very well be exactly the same. When I say add complexity I do not mean that it should be seeded with flywheels also, I mean that a cooler program would allow the gears to mutate into flywheels and see how much more interesting things are… and that’s what I would like to see a bigger cooler simulation that allows more complexity(information)

  80. Nelson.C says:

    Shush, Evidence. The cool kids have moved on from this thread. If you want to practice baiting them some more, you’re going to have to do it in a more recent thread.

  81. Pipenta says:

    Was Stein always this loopy?

    Yeah, I know, he worked for Nixon, but there are degrees of crazy.

    There’s a range, in the mental health spectrum, and it seems like the needle on Mr. Stein’s gage is leaning into the red zone, edging past batcracker into the “shithouse rat” zone.

    This is another example of celebrity mental illness. He’s not all over the tabloids with Spears and Cruise and Gibson, and all the other stars having their meltdowns, but only because he isn’t pretty. But Stein has got the tinfoil beanie cred. He’s totally in the club. He might be more articulate than average, but in the internal battle between smart and nuts, crazy trumps intelligence every time.

    One feels sad, in the supermarket checkout lines, that the World Weekly News is no longer with us. I always thought it must have been a really great gig, cooking up those headlines.

    The World Weekly News is gone and we don’t get our alien news anymore. Or do we? Next time you run out for a carton of half & half and some TP, scan the magazine rack at the check out. Clues!

    Is Angelina really a human? How about Travolta? I say they are escapees from Rozwell, the lot of them. They climb over the chain link fence and head straight to Hollywood! If the WWN were still around, they’d be on the story like white on rice.

  82. LogrusZed says:

    I can’t believe the guy who wrote so well in his “Monday at Morton’s” series is the same douchebag who does this now.

  83. Kibble says:

    “If man evolves through natural selection, then when weak are culled the health of our species is improved.”

    That is what NAZIS said. NOT Darwin. He didn’t talk about “improving” the “health” of the human race. He talked about adaptation that increases the chance for survival of species. Nazis (and others) twisted that into eugenics. That isn’t science, it’s a kind of cultish religion.

    Darwin–this may come as a shock to you–at no point said, “We should use my theory of evolution to exterminate people I decide arbitrarily to be inferior.”

  84. Spoon says:

    @#27 posted by Avram , May 1, 2008 7:38 PM

    Pretty graphs are my demand which would show upon cross examination of Stein if he is indeed bad shit crazy or just skeptical with years of derision under his belt from dealing with the wrong people. I, for the obligatory one, hope he’s just bumped into one too many rabid evolutionaries who don’t understand their cause from their own evolved anus… but I’m also optimistic that 99.999% of the world is grey and that Stein, who seems really cool in a lot of ways none of which have to do with his current agenda, isn’t part of the .0005% black. Have a little hope, people aren’t normally as bad as they seem.

  85. scottfree says:

    On the language note the issue isn’t semantics, the issue is grammar. Evolutionary psychologists tend to define language strictly by its use of grammar, which is arguably absent, even in chimps using their little pictogram pad. Sign language experiments are ruled out because primates lack the dexterity to even make signs; exactly as their mouths and throats lacks the structure needed to form the human phonetic alphabet. Animals can communicate even quite complex information, but it does not necessarily follow that they use language to do so, and while it is quite clear that the ability to speak is indeed an evolutionarily recent innovation, it is less clear, to me, that the mental capacity to use and understand language is also new. But the foremost evolutionary psychologists think it is.

    Homo Homini Lupus Est, I suppose. But it is /some/ stretch to say humans behave similarly to other mammals. Animals, for instance, fail to have the same degree of deviance in sexual behaviour, for instance. humans have sex in every way imaginable, whereas even for bonobos and dolphins, sex is pretty straight forward, without approaching anything like the same level of creativity.

  86. TBagTBag says:

    Maybe scientists should boycott Stein-sponsored products such as “Clear eyes”?

    http://putitinh.wordpress.com/2008/05/04/ben-stein-moron/

    Just putting it out there for consideration.

  87. Kibble says:

    Incidentally, I’m furious with Newton for his so-called “theory of gravity.” (Henceforth to be referred to only in snide tones as “Newtonism.”) Or am I missing some component of compassion? I jump off a cliff and I fall to my death.

    THANK YOU ISAAC NEWTON!

  88. ill lich says:

    Was it scientists, or Doctors? (So I guess Ben Stein doesn’t go to the doctor anymore?) Ben Stein could use that same argument to insist we don’t “support the troops”– the last soldiers some of his relatives saw were forcing them into cattle cars or having them dig mass graves. Of course you could extrapolate that even further– it was Jews themselves who released the gas on their fellow Jews in Auschwitz (the so-called “sondercommando”), so I guess Ben Stein shouldn’t trust Jews either.

    The bottom line, it is MEN in general who commit evil acts, not some particular occupational subset like scientists or doctors or soldiers or circus clowns.

    I used to think Ben Stein was a reasonably intelligent man, but if he’s going to use such faulty and self-serving logic as this, how can I show him any respect?

  89. Takuan says:

    what, you haven’t heard of homosexual seal penguin rape?

  90. Spoon says:

    @#31 posted by Takuan

    I would vote for him, but his stance on sacrificing the brains of the living for the good of the zombie populace is just a little bit too far to the left for me.

  91. noen says:

    Spoon
    “how exactly does complexity arise in nature?”

    Evolution IS a Blind Watchmaker

    “In this video I deconstruct the broken watch straw man argument used by creationist / ID supporters to attack evolution.”

    “The basic premise of the argument is that a bunch of parts will never randomly assemble into the correct arrangement to form a properly functioning complex.”

    “Here I deconstruct their straw man argument. Basically, I simulate clocks as living organisms. Selective pressure is focused on their ability to accurately tell time. NO goal is imposed on the design (you can tell this because every simulation ends with a differently constructed clock). And it works. Clocks evolve through a series of transitional forms”

    The program is written in MatLab and you can download the video as well as the program.

  92. Pipenta says:

    I agree with Aceys. It’s fear. Fear, fear, fear. Some may experience it as simply anxiety, some as outright dread, but it is fear.

    For us oh so fragile living things, the universe is as threatening as it is wondrous. We’re all gonna die. That’s the deal. And many take comfort in fairy tales that tell them, oh, no, you won’t really die, you’ll just move on to another place, a better place, a perfect place.

    But they don’t really believe it. And they can’t bear to have other people question the fairy tale because it and the comfort it offers are tissue-paper thin.

    Thinking, in this context, can become precarious. It is like walking across a wide balance beam which is easy as pie, as long as you keep your eyes on your destination. Look around, take in the scenery, look down and you’re gonna fall!

    If you aren’t settling for the fairy tales, then looking around is much less frightening. Because you are curious about the world. You hop off the balance beam, if ever you were on it. And you stomp around in the grass and the mud and the rock. There’s things to see and do! The universe itself becomes the pay off, not some fantasy future life. However imperfect, whatever trials we endure as we travel through our lives, we get to see stuff, we get to learn stuff, we get to think about stuff. And that is our reward.

    And then, looking at those people on the balance beam with their eyes straight ahead, looking at the preacher or the television or the bank account, you can’t help but feel pity for them.

    Until they insist that no one is allowed anywhere else but on their balance beam, or to look anywhere but the authorized direction. Independent thought? Independent speech? Not permitted!

    At that point the feelings change from pity to something else.

  93. cubejockey says:

    MC Rove is at it again.

    Vote flick

  94. scottfree says:

    If that’s the strangest example of animal sex you can come up with, human win out the sexual bizarro award by a long shot.

  95. bardfinn says:

    Ben Stein’s words are an outright lie.

    Hatred and mistrust of Jews was rampant throughout European Protestant / Lutheran / Russian Orthodox / Catholic / Orthodox Christendom for hundreds of years before the 20th century. Accusations ranging from well poisoning to host desecration to deicide were levelled against Jews as a whole. Luther hated Jews, and wove his anti-Semitic views into Lutheran culture.

    Twentieth Century: Along came The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Along came Hitler, and Mein Kampf – which made its’ argument not on science, but on divine right of the German people to hold historically German lands. Hitler hooked into religious sentiment. He got blessings from the Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches.

    Did Nazi Germany employ scientists? Yes. Did they force some scientists to work? Yes. Did some leave before the forced detainments began? Yes. Did some people who weren’t scientists get to claim to be scientists because they were Nazi ideologists? Yes.

    The incredible irony is that Mein Kampf – and Hitler’s ideology and propaganda – draws very heavily on the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion – which explicitly call out “Darwinism” as being a lie and a supposed tool of “Zionists”!

    Ben Stein is depending on his audience to not know the history he’s talking about. And he’s laughing all the way to the bank.

    There is no pejorative fit to print for Stein’s hypocrisy and utter cynical craven pursuit of money.

  96. Nelson.C says:

    Fightcopyright @74: Darwin’s theory is often characterised as the survival of the fittest. The sense of “fit” in this case is not synonomous with “strong” it is in the sense of fitting a key in a lock, or even a pebble fitting in a gap in the shingle on a beach.

    That the mischaracterisation as survival of the “strongest”, i.e the most brutal, is adopted by the most brutal as an excuse for their actions has nothing to do with evolutionary science. It’s a pernicious meme, having as much truth to it as trickle-down economics, adopted by those who feel it benefits them.

  97. noen says:

    Homosexual seal? Is that like a GoodHousekeeping seal only with style?

    Spoon, what on earth are you going on about? Apparently you want a different simulation, fine, build it and lets us all know how it goes. In the meantime, the Blind Watchmaker video by cdk007 is sufficent to refute the ID/creationst claim. If you wish to dispute that then do so.

    Cripes!

  98. william says:

    For those wondering how moral behavior fits well with evolution, take a look at Good Natured by Franz de Waal. It’s a readable exploration of how a moral sense appears to be a natural phenomenon.

  99. Takuan says:

    Thank you very much Noen, that was a truly elegant explanation, I’ll definitely use it in future.

    Of course,it can’t work with some though since there is no mention whatsoever of Jeebus.

  100. scottfree says:

    fightcopyright,

    In the above post Ben Stein does not make an argument. he draws a speculative line between holocaust and science, culminating in the science leads you to kill people line, which, lets all agree, is a bit mad.

    To say Evolution only allows the strongest to survive is a misconception; the best adapted to its environment will tend to reproduce more prolifically would be more accurate. There is nothing mysterious about that, unlike ID which leaves everything up to mystery. And if you look at the evolution of mankind, no other mammal is capable of living in such large groups. I personally go against the prevalent grain when I posit that it is that ability which sets people apart; there is a fossil record that suggests the ability to speak gradually took the place of social grooming in early primates, and in doing so facilitated larger and larger group size. But yes, in other words, there is an evolutionary imperative in humans to feel compassion; man evolved to live in groups because the species would not survive as independent people.

    Also, is that the meek will inherit the Earth sermon on the mount you’re talking about? You really think the English speaking world seems seeped in those values? If you like to talk about philosophy, perhaps compare the Christian right in the US to what Freud describes in Civilisation and its Discontents. It is quite interesting. Or discuss ID in relation to Marx’s theory of ideology. ID, cui bono?

  101. Antinous says:

    Wasn’t Darwin describing a phenomenon rather than writing public policy?

  102. Chris Tucker says:

    BACK OFF!

    I’ve got one of these http://www.grabup.com/uploads/d6067bb093905c602f99c83b8de62ac7.jpg
    And I’m not afraid to use it!

  103. DGallardo says:

    A quote from physicist Steven Weinberg comes to mind:

    With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.

  104. OriGuy says:

    Anti-evolutionists like Stein often attack Darwin for inspiring eugenics, despite his writings as quoted by StridentLobster at #112. But eugenics isn’t natural selection; it’s animal husbandry applied to humans. People have been directing the evolution of domestic animals and plants for millenia; the Nazis weren’t the first to have the idea to apply the process to humans. They were simply the first to have the political power to try it on a large scale (i.e. Lebensborn.)

  105. scottfree says:

    not to be pedantic, but it was woody guthrie, not Pete Seeger who wrote this machine kills fascists on his guitar.

    http://usuarios.lycos.es/alavora/_guthrie.gif

  106. mesrop says:

    Yaa… Last time my ancestors were in a genocide I think it was because of there beliefes in JC not that the world was round. You hear it more and more about how people pray for there children to be cured I mean who the hell needs magic like penicillin? I’m sure glad that JC and prayer cured my kidney disease and not a transplant like normal people cause of course he looks out for the little guys all the time, even the ones who who died in the fire pits of Deir Ezzor.

  107. Mindpowered says:

    To say that religion is ok because it hasn’t killed as many people as the bloody autocracies of the 20th century is deeply disturbing.

    When did it become a numbers game with lowest score winning?

    Moreover when we start looking at all religions over the course of world history a very different picture emerges. Since history began to be recorded the bloody struggles of religion have been entered the rolls. Surely the grand total of millennia of human religoius conflict dwarfs the self inflicted suffering from all other sources.

    We’re talking about the Aztecs feeding the sun god with the hearts of their victims. We’re talking the Muslim conquest of India and the millions that died to protect the Hindu temples from destruction. We’re talking the bloody expansion of Christianity from Constantine onwards, and the fratricide from Arius onwards. And this is the merest overview of a fragment of what is out there.

    Have we forgotten the Christian backed genocide of Native North Americans?

    Are we forgetting the bloody Sunni – Shia conflict going on currently?

    How can anyone dare assert that religion is less poisonous to humanity than any other form of fanaticism?

  108. spazzm says:

    I ask because, last I checked, things like the electricity used to make and show the movie, and the photography used in the movie, and the nylon in his clothing he wore in the movie, and the vehicles he drove or rode in to and from the set of the movie, and the computer he’s using to promote the movie … all of those are around because of science.

    Balderdash, I say!
    Automobiles sprang fully formed from the head of Zeus, and you know it.

  109. Chorske says:

    Spoon.

    There are many examples of spontaneous complexity in nature- next time it snows, look at a snowflake up close. Look at any crystal for that matter. Or consider the many complex molecules that spontaneously assemble if the physico-chemical conditions are right.

    You parrot creationist (whoops, I mean ID) arguments that are largely based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (that all systems always tend to move towards greater disorder / entropy). If you’re really curious about how complexity arises naturally without the intercession of a higher power (and I suspect you’re not), there are a number of excellent books out there, starting with Christian De Duve’s “Vital Dust”.

  110. jjasper says:

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

    I thought Intelligent Design WAS science.

    So much for that argument. But it is nice that Stein has managed to create the religion vs. science war, because no we’re able to cast ID out from school science curriculums using his own arguments.

    Thanks Ben!

  111. gtomkins says:

    Wow, a whole bunch of hate here for a man who stated his honest opinion. So you disagree, that doesn’t make him any more a moron than it makes you a genius for agreeing with Darwin.

    Props to Ben for sticking to his beliefs. And I must admit, in the grand scheme of things, peace and love does sound better than death and war, regardless of who or how it comes about.

  112. morehumanthanhuman says:

    DANGER! THE CENTERS MEMETIC CONTROL AND PREVENTION HAS DETECTED A HIGHLY INFECTIOUS MEME IN THIS POST.
    MEME: Scientists as evil
    INFECTIOUS: HIGHLY
    DANGER: POSES THREAT TO FURTHER SOCIETAL DEVELOPMENT

    PLEASE REMEMBER WHAT IS SAID IS FALSE, DO NOT SPREAD THIS MEME!

    THANK YOU,
    THE CENTERS MEMETIC CONTROL AND PREVENTION

  113. Nelson.C says:

    GTomkins @110: All right, consider me admonished for my sarcasm. But Ben Stein aligned all of science with Hitler first, which is a damn sight worse than any name-calling he may have received.

    What I was trying to draw your attention to, is that giving props to Stein for having an opinion is an empty gesture. When everyone is entitled to having an opinion, there’s no merit in merely having one, and plentiful anti-merit in having an opinion that is hateful and factually wrong. Grimly hanging on to an insulting opinion doesn’t deserve any congratulations at all. I’m sorry, but Ben Stein is just not an admirable human being. Insulting at best, cynically hypocritical at worst. Why should anyone respect his opinion?

  114. Spoon says:

    @#36 posted by noen

    It doesn’t appear that new clock pieces ever evolve into different pieces (one of the major issues that they have from my limited reading of ID propaganda), the clocks seem to have been ‘seeded’ with pendulums, gears, springs, and hands :/

    I’m sure if complexity (lots of it) was added to the program so that a gear was an incredibly complicated piece with a one in a billion chance of hundreds of the base pairs making a functional one (and all other chances making it horridly decremental) and with springs being another incredibly complex beast, and the hands also being complex, that the result would be the same but over a much longer period of time (or much faster with new methods of time keeping we haven’t yet thought of!), but I’m looking for that added complexity :)

    A big thanks for the link, theres a one in a million chance I will try to add complexity to the code at some point :D

  115. Antinous says:

    People have been directing the evolution of domestic animals and plants for millennia

    It’s not going that well. We’ve sucked the nutrients out of plants, bred strains of everything that take more resources to grow and bred out resistance to disease and other stressors. All restaurants are now Taco Bell.

  116. scottfree says:

    hippie.

  117. Takuan says:

    he believes in money. He is a liar. He is a fool.

  118. Calvin Lawson says:

    I was raised as a Young Earth Creationists, so this debate strikes home for me. It’s hard not to recognize how pervasive Creationism is in our country, and how many people are utterly convinced that the evidence supports their religiously based Origin views.

    I was taught to trust the Bible over our own experiences and reason (the true root of this debate), but I was never able to swallow that one whole. Not that science has all the answers, it just has all the available SCIENTIFIC answers.

    For those interested I’ve been blogging about Creationism over at wordpress. Here’s a good one, on why overtly ID motivated by religious philosophy and ethics:
    http://calvinlawson.wordpress.com/2008/04/28/answers-in-genesis-part-v-philosophy-and-morality/

  119. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    I’ll see your Zombie Nixon and raise you…
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ianloic/2302758714/

  120. Antinous says:

    How can anyone dare assert that religion is less poisonous to humanity than any other form of fanaticism?

    Like the one that you appear to espouse, wherein people aren’t allowed to believe what they choose?

  121. rocklifter says:

    http://www.expelledexposed.com/

    “When creationism flares up in the United States, the National Center for Science Education is there to put out the fires.”

  122. Mechphisto says:

    @#24: “Warning!!!! Adolescent ad hominum attack!!!
    Ben Stein is a complete fucking idiot.”

    Actually, an ad hominum attack would be if you insulted him for something completely unrelated to the argument, like: “He wears ugly ties!”

    Pointing out the fact that he’s a frakking idiot is actually quite on point. :)

  123. Takuan says:

    “People say we need religion when what they really mean is we need police” HLM

  124. Daddyology says:

    Science doesn’t kill people, nor does religion.

    Zealotry kills people, no matter upon what that zealotry is based.

    What I want Stein to answer is the following: While making this movie, did you not feel like an ironic hypocrite?

    I ask because, last I checked, things like the electricity used to make and show the movie, and the photography used in the movie, and the nylon in his clothing he wore in the movie, and the vehicles he drove or rode in to and from the set of the movie, and the computer he’s using to promote the movie … all of those are around because of science.

    Seem to me he’s quite fine with science, so long as it reinforces his beliefs. When it doesn’t, then it’s a tool to kill Jews. Or something.

  125. Spoon says:

    @#40 posted by Chorske

    I’m definitely interested in incredibly uncomplicated things (Game of Life/FSM/PDA/Turing machines: the first can emulate all of the last three… it can even emulate the last one emulating the second to last one emulating the second one.. and is easier for a 4 year old to understand what is going on in the first one then any of the last three…) displaying infinitely complex behavior, and I would have gone out, gotten, and read that book if the amazons description hadn’t ended with “species may evolve into a “human hive”” which, to me, sounds like the ‘individuality is bad’ crap that I generally protest, even when dressed up in ‘well it’s lots of individuals thinking mostly alike!’.

    That you associate the words I have written to being for Intelligent Design (with more then a grain of bile even) makes me wonder what Stein and other advocates of ID had to put up with, which is exactly why I feel for the poor buggers, not only are they most likely wrong, but no one is allaying their doubts with any amount of respect. It’s like going to a child who cannot yet add and telling them that they’re stupid and undeserving for not knowing how exponents work… you don’t seem like you want further work done on complex systems arising from uncomplicated parts, you seem like you want pie in the sky assumptions on how even more wildly complicated (and most likely terribly flawed and thus unlikely) systems will arise, like a ‘hive mind’…

  126. Chris Tucker says:

    #83 Scottfree

    Thank you for the correction!

    The Scientific Method in action. A statement was made, a correction offered, with a proof, and the error is corrected.

    No Divine Intervention Required!

    To be accurate, I have one of these:

    http://www.sliderulemuseum.com/Pickett/S219_Pickett_Microline_140-ES.jpg

    which I use when it’s too much bother to switch on my HP-45 calculator.

  127. absimiliard says:

    Oh baloney.

    Zealoutry doesn’t kill people any more than Science, Religion, Guns, or Swords kill people.

    All those are merely tools or causes.

    [b]PEOPLE[/b] kill people.

    -abs

  128. Antinous says:

    Oh, please suggest that link to BB. That’s brilliant.

  129. Stefan Jones says:

    #118: “Zealotry kills people, no matter upon what that zealotry is based.”

    I think that’s spot on.

    Marjane Satrapi, author and artist of the Persepolis books, said that we’re not in a war between East and West, we’re in a war between smart people and narrow-minded people.

  130. TedJohnson says:

    @#8

    Mr. Stein, please kindly stop driving, taking medicine…and anything else science has brought you.

    @#68

    I propose taking Mr Stein, stripping him of all products of science

    I’ve felt the same sentiment about creationists for years. I recently put the thoughts down after encountering a commercial pilot reading a creationist book.

    Should Creationists Pilot Planes:
    http://www.halfheartedfanatic.com/2008/03/should-creationists-pilot-planes.html

  131. dvrcthewrld says:

    It’s easy to dismiss an argument or a person entirely by taking an ever so brief quote out of context and without granting the dismissed any rebuttal. Keep up with the excellent work.
    The mere fact that Stein has the experience he does and has given himself over to scientific work as much as he has would lead even-handed persons to understand that his words in isolation are not as they would appear.

  132. Antinous says:

    we’re in a war between smart people and narrow-minded people

    Or, to put it another way, between people who are too lazy or have never been taught how to think and those who have the ability and willingness to do so.

  133. Antinous says:

    The mere fact that Stein has the experience he does and has given himself over to scientific work as much as he has

    Nixon speechwriter, game show host, comic relief to Ferris Bueller, creationist pimp …I’m not seeing your point.

  134. Kibble says:

    @107

    “but I don’t want science to discard morality out of hand”

    Evolution doesn’t “discard” morality. Evolution describes patterns in descent and how species change over generations. Morality is neither defended nor attacked by evolution. Just as morality is neither defended nor attacked by gravity, radiation, and the laws of thermodynamics. Darwin–this may come as a shock to you–never said, “Let’s use my theory of evolution to wreak havoc on people I arbitrarily declare to be inferior.”

    “Soundbites are easy. Real understanding of the problems we are faced with is hard.”

    Careful, that’s a double-edged sword you’re swinging.

  135. the_boy says:

    Umm, Mr. Stein, this here is the internet, and over here we have a few rules:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

    Also, Noen – great video. thanks for sharing that with us

  136. Spoon says:

    @#47 posted by dvrcthewrld

    Stein hasn’t contributed anything new to the ID debate, he’s simply dropped LOX onto the fire… The real ‘debate’ is an extended question and answer session where the evolutionists have decided it’s not worth showing up (because it’s much more enjoyable to stay home and think about how the human race is going to evolve into a hive mind rather then, the much more realistic prospect of, it destroying itself.)

    People tend to just attack with strawmen built to defeat the other sides strawmen… and it’s all based on an unwillingness to debate the finer points because, lets face it, that’s just too difficult to even bother…

  137. Scoutmaster says:

    Wow, they’re so far off it’s astounding.

    To join a group which rallies around an irrational idea is to agree that the idea is authoritative and must therefore be obeyed mindlessly. From this submission the leaders of the group are able to demand and justify any action, because the idea takes precedence over everything, including human rights. This is where persecution and genocide are born.

    Only people who see themselves as individuals are able to stand apart from the “might makes right” philosophy that is inherent in all religious organizations, and instead cooperate with their fellow men, eschewing violence.

  138. bshock says:

    Doctors and hospitals take note: By renouncing science, Mr. Stein has renounced medical science as well. The next time he shows up in a doctor’s office or hospital emergency room, please show him the door. You can’t have it both ways, Ben.

  139. Evidence says:

    Terry

    Everyone should love that the great cud debate is spilling over here.

    gerah is is from garar (1641).

    Garar = to drag off roughly; by imp, to bring up the cud (i.e. ruminate); by anal, to saw;-catch, chew, x continuing, destroy, saw

    I does not matter what modern Hebrew means by the word.

    The common use of the word engine does not have the same meaning it did in the middle ages. So you can’t force a modern meaning on a word used in 1450 b.c.

  140. crayonbeam says:

    Ben Stein is the new Cat Stevens.

  141. Ignatz says:

    “survival of the fittest” = “survival of those luckiest enough to avoid disease, starvation, predators, and accident long enough to breed the next generation”.

    Funny how that gets missed.

  142. Takuan says:

    can I get a badge?: “I clickvoted crock of shit”

  143. joellevand says:

    Why is anyone surprised that Ben Stein has a conservative bias and loses his argument via Godwin’s law (among others)? The man was a speech writer for Nixon.

    Did his monotonous “Bueller? Bueller?” lull us into forgetting the man who was once his employer? Is that how politicians get away with things — appear on SNL or in some pop culture phenomenon of the moment, release something on YouTube, and we’ll think you’re cool and with it and not a right-wing republican at all?

    In that case, Mike Gravel should be our next president. Damn that Helter Skelter vid rocked my socks!

  144. scottfree says:

    Ben Stein:

    Darwinism explains so little. It doesn’t explain how life began. It doesn’t explain how gravity works to keep the planets in their orbits. It doesn’t explain how thermodynamics works. It doesn’t explain how physics or the laws of motion work. – interview on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, March 17, 2008

    Ben Stein is an effin genius, as the above amply demonstrates. Evolution wont solve world peace or tidy up your house either, if you were wondering.

  145. Nelson.C says:

    I can’t recommend too highly anything by Franz de Waal. His Peacemaking Among Primates I found especially enlightening.

  146. Antinous says:

    Ben Stein is the new Cat Stevens.

    Minus the talent and good looks.

    To join a group which rallies around an irrational idea is to agree that the idea is authoritative and must therefore be obeyed mindlessly.

    Maybe this behavior is hard-wired into humans as some aspect of pack mentality.

  147. TedJohnson says:

    @105, Thank you for that video.

    Jacob Bronowski at Auschwitz:

    When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

    If you missed it: Here is the URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mIfatdNqBA

    If seeing that clip wouldn’t make Ben Stein recant his entire stupid film, I don’t know what would.

    @102, ID is nothing more than creationism dressed up in a cheap Halloween costume of a scientist.

    The famously debated book Of Pandas and People was found to have been a creationists manuscript, but with creationism removed using a search-and-replace command: New term for creationists: “cdesign proponentsists”

  148. Nelson.C says:

    This thread came pre-Godwinised, so I feel entirely safe in saying: Props to Hitler for sticking to his beliefs. He just stated his honest opinion.

    GTomkins, that was a pretty silly thing to say. Ben Stein is just getting back what he gives out. He gets hate for trying to propagate hate against science and its practitioners. He gets more ridicule for doing it ineptly. There are some opinions that are just plain factually wrong. This one is one of those. If Ben Stein is entitled to give out factually incorrect information, surely we’re entitled to point out he’s wrong?

  149. Takuan says:

    is there a Zombie Jeff Wall?

  150. Spoon says:

    @#51 posted by Scoutmaster , May 1, 2008 9:31 PM

    You’re right, lets group all the ID believers together as they must all be ‘obeying mindlessly’ and put them on an island for ‘taking precedence over humans rights, where persecution and genocide are born’ and then sink that mother into the ocean!… crap that would be a ‘might makes right’ philosophy and wouldn’t eschew violence in the least… you’re right, and shame on me for making people think I disagree :)

  151. DKH says:

    Of course Ben Stein has his opinions, and he has a right to them just as much as anyone else, but the issue here is that he is broadcasting his opinions through media accessible to thousands of people. I think it’s perfectly legitimate to mock and pester high-visibility people whom I find idiotic, to diffuse the efficacy of their message. I don’t have an ounce of respect for George W. Bush, for example, and there’s no way I would ever decline to express that opinion just out of some notion of respect. Bullshit needs to be called out. “Teaching the controversy” and allowing blatant nonsense to enter unchecked into an argument, especially when in comes to education (helloooo!), is just garbage masquerading as productive dialogue.

  152. noen says:

    Spoon
    “It doesn’t appear that new clock pieces ever evolve into different pieces (one of the major issues that they have from my limited reading of ID propaganda), the clocks seem to have been ‘seeded’ with pendulums, gears, springs, and hands”

    Did you even watch the video spoon? He explains why he makes the choices that he does. The reason that the clock universe was seeded with gears and springs was because that is what clocks are made of. He pointedly does not attempt to demonstrate abiogenesis and says so in the video you.

    “I’m sure if complexity (lots of it) was added to the program so that a gear was an incredibly complicated piece with a one in a billion chance of hundreds of the base pairs making a functional one (and all other chances making it horridly decremental) and with springs being another incredibly complex beast, and the hands also being complex, that the result would be the same but over a much longer period of time (or much faster with new methods of time keeping we haven’t yet thought of!), but I’m looking for that added complexity :)”

    This makes almost no sense at all. I have to wonder if you are putting us all on and really don’t know what you are talking about. Gears aren’t complicated, they are flat discs with teeth. Clock hands are thin rectangles. Same with springs.

    There is no need to “add complexity”. Indeed this shows that you don’t understand what natural selection even is. cdk7000 has several videos, you should check them out. “How Evolution Causes an Increase in Information[complexity]” looks like it might answer that question.

    Come on people. I know we can get this thread up to 300 comments too. If we just try.

  153. Antinous says:

    Yeah, but it’s a great sex toy.

    Why is anyone surprised that Ben Stein has a conservative bias

    We’re not. We’re just kicking him around like a half-deflated football.

  154. Antinous says:

    I know we can get this thread up to 300 comments too.

    The cud chewing thread is over 600.

  155. Mindpowered says:

    @117

    “Like the one that you appear to espouse, wherein people aren’t allowed to believe what they choose?”

    Where in my post did I say that? I condemn the violence of religion but I certainly don’t say you can’t have a religion.

    A see a lot of ignorance, and glib assertations as to what has been done in the past in the name religion. We need to be reminded of both the good and bad.

    In this case we are discussing the darkness religious thought can lead to.

  156. Man On Pink Corner says:

    Um, SPOON, I don’t think it’s a serial process. 99% of our DNA is shared with other creatures, from great apes to viruses.

  157. drblack says:

    More evidence that religion makes people’s brains turn to cheese.
    This is crazy talk.
    Science has made modern life possible.
    The abuses of scientific discoveries have mostly been done by business and the military. Scientists I know (and I know hundreds) are more moral because they tend to think deeply and consider all sides of things.
    When people adopt the scientific method they finally see what is actually real and are more immune to propaganda.

  158. Antinous says:

    To say that religion is ok because it hasn’t killed as many people as the bloody autocracies of the 20th century is deeply disturbing.

    That does rather make it sound like you need to give your permission. I’m of the ‘believe whatever you want just don’t make me listen to it’ school.

  159. AceyS says:

    Or, to put it another way, between people who are too lazy or have never been taught how to think and those who have the ability and willingness to do so.

    Not just lazy or untaught, but scared. I know a surprising (to me) number of well-educated people with advanced degrees who dismiss any and all science that they fear contradicts their faith. It’s amazing what fear of the unknown will do to someone.

  160. Foolster41 says:

    I agree that saying just “science makes people kiill people” is pretty stupid. On the other hand, I wouldn’t say “Religion leades to killing people” either. People don’t need perticularly any reason to go crazy/selfish and kill other people.

  161. Takuan says:

    I must confess I lack patience with people who have every advantage, every resource and every social tool possible – and still elect to work against the greater good. Ben Stein kills people. By feeding superstition and attacking science he directly kills the innocent by denying them stem cell research, birth control, vaccination and any number of things the fanatic get up to. He has no excuse save obstinacy.

  162. Stefan Jones says:

    #53: Minus the talent and good looks.

    I actually think Stein is talented, and his looks are perfectly suited to his persona.

    This doesn’t mean he isn’t wrong, wrong, wrong.

    There’s something that isn’t getting picked up on enough here:

    I don’t think it really matters to Ben Stein, or the creepy moralizing social engineers at The Discovery Institute, whether ID is valid or defensible.

    The whole ID thing is a ruse. It’s a tool. Specifically, it’s the “wedge” of the Wedge Document.

    What this whole thing is about is unimaginative conservatives who are scared shitless of the modern world. They’re trying roll back Modernity and bring us back to a time when moralizing blowhards called the shots.

    Go read the fricking “Wedge Strategy.” That the game plan. Expelled is one of the moves of Phase II.

  163. Mindpowered says:

    @ 126

    From 97

    “But let us be clear: religion falls in WAY last place compared to “scientific socialism” as far as death and killing are concerned. Mao and Stalin and Pol Pot dwarf to a mere speck the Inquisition and Crusades and Witch Hunts.”

    Methinks you missed the context of my post.

  164. bardfinn says:

    Doctors aren’t allowed to fail to treat people because they’re idiots.

    Now, if Ben Stein had the courage of his convictions, he would voluntarily forgo modern medical treatment.

    Instead, he is a hypocrite.

  165. elsmiley says:

    We should treat the IDers as what they are. Mentally slow. We should be nice, like “That’s ok, honey, you can believe in Santa if you like”. After all, they’re just babies who can’t accept reality.

  166. Chorske says:

    Spoon

    I’m a scientist. I’m all about studying how things work. I don’t do pie in the sky, I do the exact opposite.

    The difference between ID proponents and children is that you can reason with children. ID proponents (and let’s be honest and call them biblical creationists, cos I know for sure you don’t think Earth sits on the back of a giant turtle) complain about ‘lack of evidence’ and bleat about the ‘dogmatic atheism of evolutionists’, and it is simply impossible to have a reasoned discussion with them. Facts and evidence mean nothing. Hundreds of years of accumulated evidence and scientific consensus are ignored. Why would I champion these people as sckeptics? Unlike true skeptics, they ignore the facts.

    Reason and rational thought are in serious trouble in this country. America is being dumbed down by ideology and I make no bones about blaming asshats like Ben Stein, ID/creationists and climate change doubters.

  167. vaporlock says:

    Clearly the documentary, as a form of information gathering, is dead. Anything, can now be presented in a clear concise deceitful way.

  168. Terry Karney says:

    Evidence: If you want to take that tack (which isn’t the one the Jews take, and one ought to assume they have a better grasp on Tanakhic Hebrew, since they’ve been arguing about it (and recording those arguments, in Hebrew, Aramaic and Yiddish, for the best part of 2,200 years), then you had better show me some outiside support for “cud = specialised feces; and only applies to rabbits and hyraxes”.

    Because otherwise, you are just making shit up to force the words to fit the definition you need them to make to keep the, localised, inerrency you insist some parts of the book have (I’m still waiting for the rubric you use to decide which parts are literal, and which parts are plain).

  169. V says:

    more criticism and parsing of the Expelled argument here:

    http://www.expelledexposed.com/

Leave a Reply