Thursday, January 24, 2008

Who died and made Ben Stein an authority?

Crosswalk has an article about Ben Stein's latest "opinion". The title of the article reads: "'Big Science' in America is Killing 1st Amendment, Says Ben Stein". Already, my eyes are rolling.

CNS NEWS: Intelligent design theory, or ID, is opening new doors of scientific
research, particularly in cancer and other disease research, according to its
adherents, but a new movie, "Expelled" starring Ben Stein explores how an
"elitist scientific establishment" is apparently muzzling and smearing
scientists who publicly discuss ID.

Wha...?? Call me biased, but... cancer is pretty much the greatest evidence, whatsoever, that there is no intelligent designer. Cancer is, basically, the result of unnatural cells growing faster than they should in places that they shouldn't. If there's an "intelligent designer", then you'd think we wouldn't have cancer to begin with. What designer walks into your house, looks around, and says, "You know. That wall would look GREAT covered in crap. Oh! And, let's put the carpet on the ceiling, grout the floor with horse shit and attach the couch to that wall. It'll look perfect!"?? If your interior decorator pulled anything like that; a) you'd question his or her intelligence; b) you'd fire him. NOT WORSHIP HIM. If the decorator then said, "Well... I know it's tough to sit on that couch, now. But, it will teach you to appreciate normal couches and you'll learn tolerance from smelling the ca ca'.", then you'd tell that decorator to get the hell out and you certainly wouldn't recommend him to a friend (unless you really don't like the friend).

The First Amendment is under brutal attack in the scientific community, Ben
Stein, a former presidential speechwriter-turned-actor and commentator, says in
the film, which opens in theaters on Feb. 12.

Mmmmmkay. Where to start? Why is Ben Stein in ANY WAY an authority on scientists? Stein's resume is long; trial law, professor, actor, game show host, lay economist, and ex-White House speech writer. He's not a scientist!! At most, he's a social and political commentator. So, why would anyone consider him an authority on the sciences or what motivates ALL scientists? I'm sure Ben Stein is a very smart man. But, I fail to see how he could reasonably come to the alarmist conclusion that the First Amendment is under attack.

"I always assumed scientists were free to ask any question, pursue any line of
inquiry without fear or reprisal," he says. "But recently, I've been alarmed to
discover that this is not the case."

I'd be alarmed to discover that, too...if it were true!

Stein contends that rigid Darwinists are silencing their critics in
academia, which the film explores, and discusses how ID ideas are helping in
cancer research and similar work.

I'm still waiting to learn how intelligent design is going to hold the cure for cancer. Quite obviously, prayer isn't an effective treatment for the disease. And, even if - by some billion to one, last minute Hail Mary (pun intended) pass- you could prove there was an intelligent designer, you still haven't cured cancer!! And, I'm guessing that this will remain a nebulous, hypothetical statement. Who wants to bet that no where, in the rest of this article, will Stein actually demonstrate scientifically how putting our money into intelligent design will cure cancer? Furthermore, the 1% of scientists who believe in ID aren't silenced by critics because the critic is secular or believes in Darwinism. Hell, the IDers aren't even "silenced". How many websites are there, now, that promote ID? What happens to most IDers is that they present a hypothesis that is frequently purely hypothetical. Then, they decide what they want their conclusion to show and work backwards. If their data starts to suggest that their premise (that there's an intelligent designer and the Bible is evidence) is wrong, they then attempt to manipulate the data, or drop the experiment entirely, rather than accept the REAL outcome. THAT is not science. THAT is why REAL scientists, and people who actually care about finding the truth, ignore or criticize the IDers. They don't play by the rules of science, so why should we respect their scientific conclusions?

Yet the ID research that could potentially produce medical breakthroughs, says
Stein, is also being undermined by Darwinian scientists who don't want ID
research viewed as legitimate.

Note, once again, that these "breakthroughs" are nothing more than pure conjecture. And, let's get real - if there were ANY scientists, in any religion or culture or country, who had truly found a breakthrough for treating or curing cancer, then you wouldn't be able to keep it a secret. And, if the theory held up under scientific scrutiny and showed promise, I can't think of one person in this world who would dismiss the findings. The problem, as I see it, is that IDers are constantly asserting things for which they have no evidence (or... things for which they've manipulated the evidence). And, when you dare ask them to bring more than a Bible to the table, they order invitations for their pity party. The key is deciding what our standards should be for "legitimacy". Science has pretty rigorous standards. The Bible....?? Eh'. Not so much.

"It's not just scientists versus scientists. It is a particular subset of
science which does not admit any kind of questions - it is a kind of perversion
of science, which doesn't allow for any kind of questioning of itself. Science
should always be in the business of attempting to disprove itself."

Evolutionary science doesn't allow questions? Bullshite! Utter and complete bullshit. There are tons of questions yet unanswered in evolutionary science. I've never, ever met a scientist (evolutionary or otherwise) who can't think of another question. Because, that's how science works -even when you complete a study and have a data set with a conclusion, you're always thinking "what's next?" Or, "How can I understand what I'm observing, better?" Or, "If my conclusion is factual, then I invite other scientists to critique my work and verify the results for themselves by following the careful criteria I have made public knowledge." Stein's last line (above) is brimming with irony. He's right, of course: Science should always be in the business of trying to disprove itself. But, that doesn't mean you toss out a largely proven theory. It means you continue gathering information. If, over time, the theory is re-validated time, after time, after time, then we keep looking at the world objectively. Each new discovery is considered as it's own experiment or sample. The problem with ID, and why Stein's statement is so ironic, is that they will never, ever, ever, ever, infinity ever(!) attempt to disprove themselves. For, if they did, there theory isn't the only thing they lose. They lose their life's philosophy and religion.

"Neo-Darwinian science is exactly in the opposite business of endlessly
trying to rationalize itself - and reprove itself, you might say - reprove that
it's right without any kind of test. So it's not scientists - it's really, I
would say, scientists are the ones willing to look into intelligent design. The
people who are anti-science are the ones unwilling to look at anything new or
different. So I'd say it's a perverted kind of science versus what I would call
a more classical science. But it is also science versus at least the possibility
of belief."

Pot. Kettle. Black. Yeah...we all know how objective and flexible IDers are. Cripes! They still insist that, despite all evidence to the contrary, evolution is false because the great big book of multiple choice says so. I'm willing to look at my atheism and belief in evolution with the possibility of being wrong. Are IDers willing to look at their theories and abandon their god if their theory doesn't hold water?

The people who are anti-science are the ones unwilling to look at anything
new or different. So I'd say it's a perverted kind of science versus what I
would call a more classical science. But it is also science versus at least the
possibility of belief.

How many times am I allowed to say "Bullshit" in one post? What's the netiquette on that one? Creationists and IDers seem to be the ones hanging onto ONE acceptable answer. Evolutionary biologists have already been through the necessary rigors of allowing the studies to be peer reviewed and tested over-and-over again. They are still learning more and more about how evolution works. And, when they see something that doesn't fit an expected pattern, they open the floor to others for an exchange of ideas or other explanations. Let's say that one of the possums got out the glue, some leftover chicken bones, some leftover fish bones, and a furry rug from the Goodwill store. Now, imagine the possums creating a really bizarre looking creature and burying it in the Mojave. Fast forward a thousand years. Now, there are two teams of scientists in the area: the evolutionists and the IDers. The evolutionist will probably look at the evidence, compare it to what is known in the world, examine each piece of discovery for evidence suggesting where it may have come from or how it came to be configured as it is. They'll take it back to the lab and ask other scientists to come take a look at give observations. These observations will be the basis for a hypothesis. Then, they'll test those hypothesis. Rinse. Lather. Repeat. If it doesn't match what they know of evolution, then they continue to study it until they find an ALTERNATE EXPLANATION. Now, let's compare that to the IDer who stumbles across the remains of this rainy day project. The IDer looks at this and thinks, "THIS is like nothing I've seen before. It's amazing. Only a complex creator could have created something this complex!! Let's take this back to the lab and see how we can make this fit within the confines of God's design. After all, it MUST have been created by God." See the problem?

Stein goes on to equate Darwinism to the Holocaust and a variety of other irrelevant and if you want. Personally, I got tired of the hypothetical cures for cancer and fallacies.


Carla said...

amen, sister, amen! :)

oh, crap, I just went to check the Expelled movie blog site and their blog has over 2200 comments on their most recent post. dang!

I didn't take the time to read through any of them...I hope they are mostly telling them how much their movie is going to be bullshit. There should be possum momma comment on there for what it is worth.... :)

Spurge said...

There is no upper limit on the number of times you can use the word "Bullshit" when discussing ID.

If Ben Stein is involved then you must use it at least 3 times.

Or so I hear.

Joe said...

For as smart as Ben Stien is, he sure has taken an odd position on this issue. ID is a way to shoehorn the Chrisian relgion where it doesn't belong.

1steelcobra said...

Gah. Just recently had a member at Gamepolitics forums (well, ECA now, but same place/people) flounce because we brought up evolution in the biannual religion argument. And prior to that he had been pushing the apologetics even harder than our previous fundie, who has actually mellowed a bit on the discussions.

It's nearly impossible to argue with such people, as every time you bring up something that goes against their arguments, even using presentations by people with PH.Ds (seriously, go check out ProfMTH's videos on youtube) they claim "out of context", "cross-book references", or "translation differences" rather than actually trying to understand the opposition's reasoning.

SWE said...

Captain Crazypants (aka Ben Stein) is "hosting" a little shindig with Christopher Hitchens and some DI guy over at Stanford this weekend. It's being sponsored by a club that calls themselves IDEA. (Be afraid, be very afraid.)

I'm counting on my cousin (a Stanford student in no way associated with IDEA) to score a couple of tickets so that we can go and laugh and laugh and laugh...

...and then cry a little.

Milo Johnson said...




Atheist in a mini van. said...

"Um...he's sick. My sister's, boyfriend's uncle's cousin saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night...I guess it's pretty serious."

jen r said...

*sigh* Whenever you can't actually produce anything, just pull out the old "Well, my opponent is covering up a cure for cancer!" Open up those water works, tug at those heartstrings, please oh please oh PULEEZE somebody think of the children! With cancer!

I really am in amazement that anyone with two brain cells to rub together would think that ID could actually provide a cure...they do no research, find no evidence, produce no results. Their primary explanation for everything pretty much amounts to "Goddiddit." Is that how they're going to "cure" cancer? Just tell everyone to accept God's gifts...and, oh yeah, pray a lot?

scripto said...

Apparently a Yale law degree confers expert status in all matters scientific. I found his interview somewhat incoherent but that's probably due to my limited intellectual ability. It only took Ben a couple months of "directed" research to dismiss the last 150 years of biological research. It took poor Phil Johnson at least a year.

I'm confused as to how you can conduct research using ID principles. I'm not aware of any explicit ID Theory, let alone any ID research going on. The Discovery Institute gang is as unprincipled as you can get. All I see are movies, books and an effective PR campaign, kinda like the UFO crowd.

I second that amen. Great post.

eyeslikesugar said...

Thanks for pointing us to this! I never knew Ben Stein is such an ID advocate! Then again, I don't know much about him.

As usual, your witty and well-thought out comments made me laugh.

Take care! =)

victor laszlo said...

The highest form of irony is when you do not reveal that you are being ironic, and Ben Stein is an artist in this regard. Aside from his conservative nature, have you given any thought that he might possibly be secretly giving the IDers some noose with which to hang themselves?

Chris said...

So, is this movie getting a limited release or a wide enough release it'll be here in my small town? Just wondering if I should be keeping an eye out for it.

Not that it matters, though. Even the guys making it don't have, er, faith in it's market appeal. I didn't catch if anybody here said it already, but they're going to be paying schools to take their kids to this movie. If a school sends in a certain amount of ticket stubs, they'll have a certain amount donated to the school, including an extra donation for the school with the most ticket stubs. Looking at the money involved, such as how much they'll give to the schools vs how much they'll get back in ticket revenue, pretty much every cent they make from bribing kids to go will be sent right back to the schools. Meaning? They aren't doing it for the money, they're doing it for indoctrination.

A little off topic, but I just found this cool video that's somewhat related. I personally know a few creationists that don't seem to comprehend the idea that the time scales involved in evolution are huge, and the changes between generations are small, which is why you don't see "obvious" macroevolution happening in our own lifetime (yes, yes...I know you do see it and speciation, but while the microevolution is "obvious" enough even a lot of creationists are acceptiong it, macro isn't). This video is a bunch of clips from Discovery's "Before the Dinosaurs" series, cut down into under 6 minutes. I liked it, thought it was pretty effective.

American Goy said...

pretty nifty argument there with cancer.

but of course, its punishment for our sins (or our family being eeeeeeeevil).

*everybody* knows that!

chris6709 said...

Stein's statement about ID finding a cure to cancer comes from one source. A ID doctor (I cannot remember his name at the time) thought that centromires looked like little turbines, therefore they were designed. He went further to say that cancer is related to a dysfunction in the centromires (kind of off on this concept).

So 'obviously' the ID view that centromires look like turbines and cause cancer means that ID research can cure cancer (yes, you can be confused, scared and lost at this point).

That is the sole basis for Stein's cancer claims. Oh, and the centrisome turbine concept has been shown to be utterly wrong already, they don't act like turbines at all.

scripto said...

"The highest form of irony is when you do not reveal that you are being ironic, and Ben Stein is an artist in this regard."

That's kind of a "tree falls in the woods" kind of thing. If Stein's the only one who gets it, is it still irony? Now if he donated his compensation for this film to tne Museum of Natural History, that would be most ironic.