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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ben Stein is an Ass

Ben Stein last year publicly outed himself as a credulous and conceited jerk with his movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. He was recently invited to be the commencement speaker at the University of Vermont, but following an angry outpouring of emails expressing contempt at the invitation, he ended up withdrawing. Now he has decided to speak out. The thing is, he's blatantly lying or has a startlingly selective memory and shamefully distorted logic (although, one could have known that already from his movie). Where he gets it completely and terribly wrong is with the following two excerpts from the article:
“I am far more pro-science than the Darwinists,” Stein said later in an e-mail.
Stein said the Holocaust references probably resulted from “Expelled,” a film he worked on that came out about 10 months ago. “In the movie, we visited a Nazi killing center called Hadamar,” Stein said. The center’s victims had included people with developmental disabilities. “I asked the curator, ‘Why did they do this?’ and was told ‘Darwinism.’ That was in the film, and that’s what was said.” To portray Stein as “anti-scientific” on that basis is “a joke,” he said, “nonsense,” “just someone’s delusion.”
That is just a load of crap, particularly the second one. While it is true that Expelled should have been enough to label him as anti-science, he did that much more blatantly when he said in an interview:
"When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [i.e. biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you."
Then, as if that weren't blatant enough, a few short seconds later in that same interview he rephrased it to really hammer the point home:
"…Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people."
I therefore think it was that interview which fully convinced people that Ben Stein was an anti-scientific lunatic with a very poor grasp of what it means to do science. I don't think it is delusional at all to draw such a conclusion from "science leads you to killing people". It might be a bit more of a stretch to reach my titular conclusion that Ben Stein is an ass, but combining his views on science with his most recent distortion of the truth and I think that conclusion is well within the range of justifiable.

Now, you shouldn't have to take my word for it, but unfortunately the only known instance I know of for the interview in which he says "science leads you to killing people" seems to have been removed from youtube. My source on the wording of the quotations comes from here. I know the video existed at one point, however, because I watched it myself. If anyone knows of a still functioning link, please leave it in the comments and I will update this post accordingly.

Edit: Thanks to Wheatdogg, I have been pointed in the direction of the necessary video clip. It's actually quite hard to sit through, and the part I was referring to is in part 5. I had actually forgotten how much the ellipses skips over, but the relevant portion starts at approximately 1:20 and finishes at 2:20.


cornucrapia said...

"Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings"

Also, he got his start as a Nixon speech writer if I'm not mistaken so I don't believe his credibility should have ever really been in doubt, you're right that expelled was a particularly ludicrous example of what a moron he is though.

Regan said...

Hey man, don't you be harpin' on poor old Ben Stein!

He won't let you on his shitty show where you could win FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS of HIS MONEY by answering questions with awkward sexual innuendos as titles!

wheatdogg said...

I'm not sure if this is what you want, but I capped the Stein interview with Paul Crouch and put it up on YouTube. Link to part 1 of 5:


Mozglubov said...

Thanks! That's the interview I was thinking of.