Monday, March 31, 2008

Ben Stein's latest entry in the culture wars: creationism

Maybe I'm out of touch, but it was news to me that Ben Stein (former Nixon speechwriter, monotone teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, etc. etc.--if you watch the video below, you'll get to hear him list his many accomplishments) is a strong proponent of intelligent design.

His new film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, due out next month, is positioned as an expose of the controlling, elitist, (etc.) academic establishment, its enslavement to Darwinism, and the terrible punishment that scientists who promote ID have received at its hands. I just watched the trailer, which -- no kidding -- implies that the Holocaust was the result of the theory of evolution. I find it offensive, and also slightly ominous, that Stein is comfortable using imagery of the ovens for his political purposes here. It also appears that he had no compunctions about getting scientists to talk to him under false pretenses, as PZ Myers of Pharyngula reports here--with a funny followup here.


Kelly Hills said...

It's entirely plausible that, if you were to go to Richard Dawkins' website, and read the comments in Josh Timonen's review of Expelled, around comment 120 you might find a name that strongly resembles my own going off on a little pedantic rant about who Margaret Sanger is and the history of eugenics in the United States.

Utter coincidence, I'm sure.

Sue Trinidad said...

Are you saying you agree with Ben Stein on this one, Kelly? Seems unlikely to me!

I'm familiar with the history of eugenics in the US and know that many do-gooders of the time saw what they were up to as a positive social movement. (The obvious parallel today, imo, would be prenatal testing for treatable or non-terminal disease.) So I don't deny that the theory of evolution, together with notions of fitness, plays a part in those things; but I would note that lots and lots of other factors are in there as well, not least a social atmosphere of competition that has nothing at all to do with Darwin and a lot to do with economics, etc.

In the hands of someone like Stein, seems to me that an awful lot gets elided: for instance, "Scientists who believe in evolution are just like Hitler," and "The theory of evolution is dangerous." He actually says the latter and implies the former.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem if people want to talk about intelligent design -- it's a free country, everyone is entitled to their beliefs -- but don't pretend to pass it off as "science"!

Kelly Hills said...

How odd - I could have sworn I replied to this? Anyhow, no Sue, I don't... I commented on the review of the movie on Dawkin's site because the person posting the review made the claim that saying the founder of Planned Parenthood had any connection to eugenics was asinine, and that sort of inaccurate understanding of history leaves the rest of the very valid critique of the movie open for attack as "well how can you believe what he says about science when he doesn't even know this simple fact about Sanger?"

Except the original was a lot more eloquent... wonder where that reply went?