Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ben Stein's Comments on Expelled: He Drank the Kool-Aid

Well, for those of us who enjoyed "Win Ben Stein's Money", and hoped against hope that Ben was duped by the IDers into participating in Expelled without full knowledge of what it was about, Ben just laid all that to rest with a comment on the Expelled Blog. It's all standard IDer/creationist boilerplate conspiracy BS:

"EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed is a controversial, soon-to-be-released documentary that chronicles my confrontation with the widespread suppression and entrenched discrimination that is spreading in our institutions, laboratories and most importantly, in our classrooms, and that is doing irreparable harm to some of the world’s top scientists, educators, and thinkers."

Right out of the chutes the dishonesty reigns. Many of the people interviewed for this mockumentary weren't aware they were being interviewed for such a confrontation. Stein and the rest of the IDers (god that hurts to say) need a refresher in the English language. Confronting someone on something is going to them, and straight-up raising the issue of disagreement. Deceiving them into making statements about a topic without even knowing the differences the interviewer has with their positions qualifies as confronting about as much as sending an anonymous letter does.

Also, watch in vain for anyone associated with this film to actually specify which of the world’s top scientists, educators, and thinkers are being irreparably harmed, and exactly in what way. What research is being suppressed? What scientific conundrums in fields where a design inference would be useful, say, in SETI, archaeology, or forensics, are these ideas going to solve? ID proponents are notoriously mute when answering these questions. Will Stein do better?

"Freedom of inquiry is basic to human advancement. There would be no modern medicine, no antibiotics, no brain surgery, no Internet, no air conditioning, no modern travel, no highways, no knowledge of the human body without freedom of inquiry."

True. However, there would also not be any of those things were there no tradition of scientific testing, and rejection, of ideas freely formed, but evidenciarily lacking. They are two sides of the scientific coin - hypothesize, and test. With only inquiry, we'd still be sitting around in our caves wondering if rocks were edible.

"This includes the ability to inquire whether a higher power, a being greater than man, is involved with how the universe operates. This has always been basic to science. ALWAYS."

Bullshit. What is basic to science is the assumption that the universe is consistent and knowable, whatever the cause for that may be. It is also about formulating one's hypotheses so they can be tested by the evidence. Formulate one's hypothesis of a higher power being involved with how the universe operates in a way that can be tested by the evidence, and you've got yourself a scientific idea. Leave it as vague as that, as the IDers always do in the end (whatever fancy symbols with which they may decorate it), and you've got dick. It is the untestable, not the superior-to-man, that is rejected by science.

"Some of the greatest scientists of all time, including Galileo, Newton, Einstein, operated under the hypothesis that their work was to understand the principles and phenomena as designed by a creator."

For Newton this is true, but doubtful for Galileo, and certainly false for Einstein. The latter explicitly rejected gods akin to the Judeo-Christian god to which Stein implicitly refers. And again repeating the point above, it makes no difference what one believes the origin of the universe is when doing science. Ken Miller would say it was the Catholic god. Richard Dawkins would say it was some other cause. Both do good science.

"Under a new anti-religious dogmatism, scientists and educators are not allowed to even think thoughts that involve an intelligent creator. Do you realize that some of the leading lights of “anti-intelligent design” would not allow a scientist who merely believed in the possibility of an intelligent designer/creator to work for him… EVEN IF HE NEVER MENTIONED the possibility of intelligent design in the universe?EVEN FOR HIS VERY THOUGHTS… HE WOULD BE BANNED."

Wow, according to Ben Stein, the anti-IDers are mind readers, able to sniff out a design inference from 50 paces. And again, who are these leading lights who are more concerned with their colleague's religious views than their science? This sounds suspiciously like "some people say..."

It is also apparent that Stein didn't get the memo from the Disco boys that ID is all about the science, not the religion. They can't have it both ways. Scientists don't claim to be the victims of anti-religious dogmatism when their ideas don't survive scientific scrutiny.

"In today’s world, at least in America, an Einstein or a Newton or a Galileo would probably not be allowed to receive grants to study or to publish his research."

Wonderful assertions. This is based on what exactly, besides Stein's paranoia that is? Again, who specifically has not been allowed to receive a grant or to study a subject, or to publish his research? Have grants been intercepted en route by The Atheist Conspiracy (tm)? Have manuscripts of ID science been confiscated prior to publication? Just how might someone go about halting study? This sounds like Stein has been reading 1984 again.

"They cannot even mention the possibility that–as Newton or Galileo believed–these laws were created by God or a higher being. They could get fired, lose tenure, have their grants cut off. This can happen. It has happened."

Really? Someone forgot to tell Ken Miller, author of "Finding Darwin's God", and who proudly expresses his belief in a universe created by the Christian god at the end of this video.

Expelled is not about scientific persecution. It's about sour grapes. The ID folks refuse to do science, and refuse to publish their hypotheses in the scientific literature. The censorship is theirs, not that of science. Like true dogmatists, despite refutations from all branches of science, including those like mathematics and physics which have no pro-evolution bias, they cling to their views and invent conspiracy theories to explain their failure to garner support outside their sycophantic cabal. Seeing Ben Stein fall into this black hole of pseudoscience is quite sad.


Brain said...

I enjoyed watching "Win Ben Stein's Money," but really he just demonstrated an excellent recall of data. It looks like critical thought isn't his strong suit.

PalMD said...

So sad...some day they will go the way of the flat earthers.

Anonymous said...

"Some of the greatest scientists of all time, including Galileo, Newton, Einstein, operated under the hypothesis that their work was to understand the principles and phenomena as designed by a creator."

So then the IDers can operate under that "hypothesis" too. Okay, I guess they can get to work with understanduing the principles and phenomena now! (ZZZzzzzZZzzz...)