Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

April 21, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

EXPELLED....I went out today and saw Expelled, Ben Stein's documentary that posits a vast, worldwide conspiracy of Darwinists who are shutting down legitimate scientific inquiry into Intelligent Design. The official debunking is here if you're interested, but I went mostly because I was curious about how good a film it is purely from an agit-prop standpoint.

Answer: not very good. Stein's basic problem is that during the first half hour or so he keeps his film sounding fairly reasonable. Maybe ID proponents really are getting the shaft! But it's also deadly dull. After 30 minutes I was wondering how long he could possibly stretch this stuff out.

Then it picked up. Unfortunately for Stein and the IDers, it did so only by becoming increasingly unhinged. Stein spends the final half hour wandering around Dachau and telling us outright that his real motivation for attacking evolution isn't any real flaw in the theory, but his belief that Darwinism leads directly to Nazi-ism, eugenics, atheism, the breakdown of morals, and mass slaughter. Can't have that, so evolution needs to go too.

Maybe this is an institutional problem with makers of political documentaries. After all, Michael Moore did much the same thing in Sicko when he decided to finish up the movie with a paean to the healthcare system of Cuba. This didn't really do much except forfeit his ability to persuade anyone who was skeptical of his case in the first place, and that's what Stein's finale does too. Even with the very careful editing he applies to his interviews in order to keep out the lunatic screeching (up until the very last couple of minutes, anyway), it's hard to believe that anyone who's not already a true believer will come out of Expelled convinced of Stein's case. Who knows? It might even have the opposite effect.

Kevin Drum 8:27 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (210)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Of course, when America's most prominent man of science, James D. Watson (#2 on the 2006 Atlantic Monthly's historians poll of most living influential Americans) says something about IQ and race, he's immediately kicked to the curb with barely a word of protest.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 21, 2008 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how many of his natural constituents will be offended by that?

Posted by: freelunch on April 21, 2008 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Steve: What on earth does that have to do with Expelled? Or did you just feel like getting that off your chest for about the 10,000th time?

Posted by: Kevin Drum on April 21, 2008 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

The lack of scientific understanding in this country never ceases to astound.

All the MSM went bonkers "fact-checking" all of Moore's movies. Expect that to happen now? Time's review of Expelled went on and on about how Dawkins et al are meanies. Well done, liberal media!

Posted by: John McCain: More of the Same on April 21, 2008 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon, Kevin, think about it for a moment: it's about the dominance of "liberal creationism," the idea that humans must have stopped evolving 50,000 years ago when they spread out from Africa, and scientists who point out the flaws in the dogma will be crushed like a bug.

America's most distinguished man of science, James Watson, attempts to start a conversation about the implications of the rapid improvement in genetic testing and what this may reveal about recent human evolution, and within a week he's out of his job at the scientific laboratory he built up over four decades.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 21, 2008 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Then it picked up. Unfortunately for Stein and the IDers, it did so only by becoming increasingly unhinged. Stein spends the final half hour wandering around Dachau and telling us outright that his real motivation for attacking evolution isn't any real flaw in the theory, but his belief that Darwinism leads directly to Nazi-ism, eugenics, atheism, the breakdown of morals, and mass slaughter. Can't have that, so evolution needs to go too. Maybe this is an institutional problem with makers of political documentaries. After all, Michael Moore did the same thing in Sicko when he decided to finish up the movie with a paean to the healthcare system of Cuba. This didn't really do much except forfeit his ability to persuade anyone who was skeptical of his case in the first place, and that's what Stein's finale does too."

I don't really see how Stein's theory that Darwinism leads to Nazi-style extermination of millions of innocent citizens is "the same thing" as Michael Moore's case that Cuba's health care system works better for Cubans than the US's health care system does for Americans (especially given the vast difference in resources available to the two nations).

Kevin, do you really, truly, genuinely believe that Michael Moore's position that Cuba's health care system seems to work better than the US's is as "unhinged" as Stein's position that Darwinism leads to Nazi holocausts?

Or are you just, yet again, needlessly bashing those to the left of you so as to keep claim to your cred as one of the "responsible" and "serious" liberals?

Patrick Meighan
Culver City, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on April 21, 2008 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

What did Moore do again, exactly, that you're analogizing to Stein and his film?

Posted by: Ty Lookwell on April 21, 2008 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

As Glaivester pointed out, many view the theory of natural selection as merely a good reason for feeling contemptuous toward people who believe in God; they abhor the idea of using Darwinism to understand the human world around them, especially when it undermines their fondly-held political dogmas.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 21, 2008 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

a vast, worldwide conspiracy of Darwinists who are shutting down legitimate scientific inquiry into Intelligent Design

Well, when you put it like that, I can't really disagree.

There IS no "legitimate scientific inquiry into Intelligent Design," at least none at all that is supportive, and barely any of any other kind since it's so scientifically ludicrous.

One might consider it more of a tacit conspiracy than an active one, because so little effort is put into it, but insofar as common action (or inaction) based on a shared mindset can be determined a "conspiracy," I can go along with the description.

Of course, whether this is a bad thing is another question...

Posted by: bleh on April 21, 2008 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Expelled is full of lies far beyond those about evolution.

Like about why P.Z. Myers, Pharyngula, was expelled from a screening and Richard Dawkins wasn’t. Like about the movie being made under false pretenses.

Like about how Dawkins “shrank” before associate producer Mark Mathis.

More links to the lies of Expelled, including video from Dawkins, at the link above; other Expelled posts include that it was a big, fat, flop at the box office.

And, at least Moore was working with tangible evidence, Kevin.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 21, 2008 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Sailer, James Watson did no such thing and you know it. STFU.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 21, 2008 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

Is his problem with Darwinism or evolution? They're not the same thing. Darwin had a theory to EXPLAIN evolution. Astronomer Fred Hoyle accepted evolution, but disagreed with Darwin that it was caused by natural selection/random mutation.

Posted by: Radio Birdman on April 21, 2008 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Steve,

That would make an excellent documentary. May I suggest the name, "A Genius can't be Racist."

Geniuses never make mistakes: Look at Einstein and Quantum Mechanics... um, bad example. Look at Newton and Alchemy... another bad example.

All I know is that I know when I'm right. Trust me.

Posted by: absent observer on April 21, 2008 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Stein is more or less right that Nazis really did tend to think -- in a hazy, confused way -- that Darwinism supported their views. They got a lot of their thinking about evolution from the vulgarized Nietzsche that the Imperial German government promoted during WWI, when it issued a book of carefully selected excerpts from Nietzsche to each soldier on the Western Front.

By the way, Karl Marx thought Darwinism endorsed Marxism. He sent a manuscript of Das Kapital to Charles Darwin and asked if he could dedicate his masterwork to Darwin. The biologist politely replied that his German was too rusty to make it through Marx's book, so he'd have to say no.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 21, 2008 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

This whole "Darwinism leads directly to Nazi-ism, eugenics, atheism, the breakdown of morals, and mass slaughter" frame is just beyond silly. Either evolution is real or it isn't (hint: it's real).

The fact that some scumbags use the language of a branch of science to justify doing hideously evil things doesn't turn fact into fiction. It's like deciding that the Theory of Relativity has to be disproved because it leads to developing nuclear weapons. Ridiculous.

Posted by: ResumeMan on April 21, 2008 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Sailer,

Why don't you post on your own blog about this topic? And give me a link, so I can put my penis in your asshole on every single failure-of-logic you are holding so dear.

Posted by: absent observer on April 21, 2008 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick Meighan, I think Kevin is saying that Moore made a similar "tactical error" relative to audience reaction - not objective level of impropriety - by mentioning Cuba's health care system. Of course it really is appropriate to look at what a given country is doing about X even if we have reasons not to like them, etc. BTW, it is also possible that the idea of natural selection and "the fight for survival" has influenced some people (whether Nazis or not, I wouldn't know) to oppress others they consider inferior. But it wouldn't tell us whether natural selection was true (actually happened) or not anyway.

BTW, about opposition to Darwin: If someone doesn't believe in creation of all the animals basically "at once" some few thousand years ago, then I don't know what the middle ground (ID?) is supposed to consist of. After all, if you accept geologic ages and the reality of the times and characteristic life in the Cambrian, ... Devonian, ... Jurassic,... Miocene, etc., and if you accept that creatures of any complexity are born from other creatures (or seeds, eggs, splittings, etc.), then that means they "evolved." It may not be just in the way or for the reasons synthetic theory imagines, but it is still descendants eventually being very different from their progenitors. Anyone know?

Posted by: Neil B. on April 21, 2008 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

So let me get this straight. Michael Moore took a number of 9/11 rescue workers, who had been denied treatment in the US for serious lung ailments for five years, because they were volunteers, to Cuba. They got treatment, and Moore showed this. Did the Cubans cooperate because they wanted to score propaganda points? Certainly. But did Moore show anything false, or crazy? No, he did not. Cuba really does have an amazing health care system considering how poor they are.

How is this equivalent in any way to claiming that belief in evolution leads to Dachau? Or do you think that saying anything good about Cuba is insane?

I think that you owe Michael Moore an apology, unless you can come up with a justification for sliming him.

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 21, 2008 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

ResumeMan writes:

"This whole "Darwinism leads directly to Nazi-ism, eugenics, atheism, the breakdown of morals, and mass slaughter" frame is just beyond silly. Either evolution is real or it isn't (hint: it's real)."

Similarly, we're about to rapidly find out for sure whether or not genetic differences in IQ among races have evolved over the last 50,000 years. When America's most eminent scientific figure says that may well have happened, he's immediately denounced by right-thinking folks everywhere and forced into retirement. Watson's interest in recent human evolution was excoriated by bien-pensants for exactly the same reasons as Ben Stein excoriates interest in ancient human evolution: the fear that such knowledge can lead to bad political consequences.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 21, 2008 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick/Ty: Settle down. Like I said, I'm solely trying to judge how effective these films are at persuading their audiences. Moore took a perfectly good film and then went one step too far, pretending that Cuba's healthcare system is better than ours. This was done solely to be incendiary, and is so far from the truth that it just works to reduce the credibility of the rest of his film.

Stein did the same thing. He was making a (tedious) film that might have been persuasive to some people, but then goes a step too far and starts blaming Dachau on Darwin. Anyone who might have been nodding along during the first half hour is likely to stop nodding in the last half hour. All he does is lose his audience.

That's the analogy. Two filmmakers who (I'm guessing) might have lost parts of their audience with the final segments of their films. That's all. Just because Moore is a fellow lefty hardly means he's either above criticism or incapable of making a mistake.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on April 21, 2008 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

As for me, I prefer the theory that aliens came to earth in prehistoric times, found some intelligent apes, and sped up their evolution to create homo sapiens. Hence our ancients myths and religions about sky gods and flaming chariots. Can you prove it didn't happen?

Posted by: 2001 on April 21, 2008 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Sailer has a good point - that too much of this debate is wrapped up in political/social/ideological agendas (on both sides), rather than good science and the pursuit of truth.

Posted by: Anon on April 21, 2008 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin writes:

"He was making a (tedious) film that might have been persuasive to some people, but then goes a step too far and starts blaming Dachau on Darwin."

Stein's argument is hardly as uncommon as you imply, although on the left it's usually finessed by blaming Dachau not on Darwin (can't give the Fundy Christian rubes a bone), but on his half-cousin Francis Galton, inventor of correlation analysis and the word "eugenics."

Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 21, 2008 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Steve,

So let me get this straight. You are perfectly fine with the theory of evolution. It is all perfectly correct but because it can lead to bad "political" outcomes, that's the problem?

Too bad you weren't around in the days of Copernicus. There were a lot of concerns about the political ramifications of his theories too.

Posted by: cthulhu on April 21, 2008 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum says: "Moore took a perfectly good film and then went one step too far, pretending that Cuba's healthcare system is better than ours. This was done solely to be incendiary, and is so far from the truth that it just works to reduce the credibility of the rest of his film."

Okay, Kevin, could you please hook me up with the objective evidence that Cuba's health care system is *not* better than ours (particularly when factoring in our nations' respective GNPs), and that to claim otherwise is to claim something "so far from the truth"?

"Just because Moore is a fellow lefty hardly means he's either above criticism or incapable of making a mistake."

Agreed, certainly. I'm just trying to figure out what Moore's mistake was in declaring Cuba's health care system better than ours (particularly when considering the differential in available resources). If you're simply saying that Moore's claim was strategically unwise, that's one thing. But you seem also to be saying that Moore's claim was also patently false, and thus "the same" as (and as "unhinged" as) Stein's claim that Darwinism brings on holocausts. If so, please defend that assertion, Kevin.

Patrick Meighan
Culver City, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on April 21, 2008 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

Ever since I first stumbled into computer-networked discussions (back in the digital stone age, on GEnie, logged on with 1200 baud modem) certain topics have spawned endless threads which, from then to now, are still essentially the same. "Darwinism" is such a topic. The arguments have hardly changed, though some of them were packaged up into something called "intelligent design," a new name for the same old crap. In a hundred years there will still be people shouting the same ideas back and forth.

Assuming I for some reason decided to waste two hours of my life on Ben Stein's drivel, I'd wait until I could take it out of the library so as not to send him any of my money.

Posted by: jimBOB on April 21, 2008 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

Can we all agree that the fact of evolution and Darwin's theory of evolution are not exactly the same thing?

Posted by: Radio Birdman on April 21, 2008 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Sailer,

There is no biological thing such as "Race." It is a social construct. --Meaning, you and I can say that someone is White or Black, by our social standards. Genetically, the difference between two random black people is most likely as great as that between a random black person and a random "insert other race here" person.

Because there is so much variation within a single "race" that the races overlap each other to great extents. (Unless you are talking about mitochondial DNA or Y-linked genes, which you are not.) So, other than mitochondrial or Y-linked genes, it's impossible to use genetics to prove if someone is white, black, japanese, East Timorese, etc. That's why Watson (and you) is wrong.

Source: Long, Jeffrey C. and Kittles, Rick A.
Human Genetic Diversity and the Nonexistence of Biological Races
Human Biology - Volume 75, Number 4, August 2003, pp. 449-471

[Sorry guys, I'm Greasemonkeying him and going to take my pissy attitude to do some laundry.]

Posted by: absent observer on April 21, 2008 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

the documentary FLOCK OF DODO's is great though...

Ben Stein should just give away money like he used to and people may start to care about him again...

Posted by: andyvillager on April 21, 2008 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

wow, I dip back in here and find Drum making comparisons between Cubans and Nazis. Why the hell do people listen to this broken down old fool?

Posted by: soullite on April 21, 2008 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Absent Observer asserts:

"Genetically, the difference between two random black people is most likely as great as that between a random black person and a random "insert other race here" person."

No, it's not true, as a minute's thought would show you.

They now have commercial genetics tests that will tell you your racial admixture. They aren't perfect for any one individual by any means, but they are very accurate for determining the racial ancestry of two groups you are comparing.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 21, 2008 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

I saw Expelled on Friday, the first day of general release, after having seen snippets in various trailers and promotional clips. Only when watching the entire movie do you get the full effect of the movie's organizing theme: bits of recently filmed interview alternating with bits of black-and-white documentary footage. It really is agitprop. And Expelled depends very strongly on the ignorance of its viewers as it presents its supposed victims of the Darwinist conspiracy against academic freedom. It's full of faux victims and faux experts. More here.

Posted by: Zeno on April 21, 2008 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

There seems to be a pattern here. He also says Woodward and Mark Felt were the cause of the Cambodian genocide.

It's nice to feel smarter and less unhinged than Ben Stein. Thanks.

Posted by: B on April 21, 2008 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

They now have commercial genetics tests that will tell you your racial admixture.

I addressed that in my previous comment, so it doesn't take a "minutes thought."

Y-linked tests can tell where your father's father's father's father came from.

But how many genes are there on the Y-chromosome? Two? Three? It essential only functions to say whether or not to turn on "male"?

And mitochondial tests will tell where your mother's mother's mother came from.

And mitochondial DNA isn't even in the nucleus with the human genes, so to say it is peripheral to one's genetic makeup is literally accurate. As to the impact mitochondia have on a human's phenotype: Think zero, except in cases of mitochondial mutation, which is a death sentence.

Got any learning in genetics? Taken any classes in it? Or are you one of those knownothings who's so much more correct than those IvoryTower's who do crazy things like research?

Posted by: absent observer on April 21, 2008 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Unlike the smug, self-righteous Ben Stein, I don't see any fundamental conflict between evolutionary biology and the notion of a creator of the universe. Who created life on earth is a cosmological question. Evolutionary biology merely explains how life progressed after it got here.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on April 21, 2008 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

They now have commercial genetics tests that will tell you your racist admixture?

Posted by: Brojo on April 21, 2008 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

okay Steve, we get it, black people are stupid. Is that what you need to justify your pathetic existence?

Posted by: haha on April 21, 2008 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Got any learning in genetics? Taken any classes in it? Or are you one of those knownothings who's so much more correct than those IvoryTower's who do crazy things like research?

I'm gonna go with the third one. Steve got schooled.

Posted by: haha on April 21, 2008 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

I really feel stupid for feeding the troll, but I'd always heard that Black Africans have a greater genetic diversity than the rest of humanity combined.

Posted by: Goran on April 21, 2008 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

J. Bronowski said this while standing in a swamp near Auschwitz. There is more truth in these few lines than Ben Stein has uttered in his entire life.
"It is said that science will dehumanise people and turn them into numbers. This is 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 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 judgement in science stands on the edge of error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible."

Posted by: dSmith on April 21, 2008 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum writes, "Settle down."

Yeah, settle down, you children. Shut up and you might learn something. So what if, according to the WHO, Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the US (7 per 1000; US is 8 per 1000) an equivalent life expectancy (75/79; US is 75/80), a higher ratio of doctors to the general population, universal coverage, and gets all that for $229 per capita (6.3% of GDP) as opposed to the US getting equivalent or worse results and no universal coverage for $6,096 per capita (15.4% of GDP). So what? IT'S CUBA, DAMMIT!!!! IT MUST BE BAD! DON'T YOU KNOW? So by all means, do NOT look at these awful websites, what with their "facts" and "research" and the like:

http://www.who.int/countries/cub/en/
http://www.who.int/countries/usa/en/

The World Health Organization. Who they? All stats and no heart. It's obvious to anyone who sensible and above the fray like me and my wise sensei, Kevin Drum: suggesting that Cuba might have some lessons for us in health care is as unforgivably wrong an assertion as saying that evolution leads inevitably to Nazism. It may not be true, but it FEELS true. And that's what matters most.

So calm down, you wackos. And get off my lawn!

Posted by: kip on April 21, 2008 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Unlike his erstwhile collaborator, Francis Crick, James Watson spent the majority of his later career more as an administrator than as an active researcher. He also wrote that popular little book we've all read, The Double Helix, about the race to discover the structure of the DNA molecule, his own brilliance, and the general doofishness of everyone else involved in the process. Most of the other people he mentions in the book were pretty ticked with him, BTW. His treatment of the scientist Rosalind Franklin, whose x-ray crystallography photos made the identification possible, is particularly egregious, and reeks of misogyny. She was dead by the time he wrote the book and never received credit for her role in the discovery process until the last few years when historians have re-examined her work, and realized her brilliance.

Watson was a very bright young man who was in the right place at the right time. He was also very skilled at getting attention. He was hardly a brilliant genius nor is there any reason why we should give any particular credence to his ramblings on race and intelligence, anymore than his prejudices on gender. Neither have anything to do with molecular biology, which was his area of expertise.

I cannot figure out what any of this has to do with Ben Stein, who started out as a mediocre acolyte of Milton Friedman, then decided he had a better future in pictures, and now in Bushworld has apparently launched himself into some bizarro combination of the two.

Posted by: Delia on April 21, 2008 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

So, what we see here in the comments, once again, is the same mixture of ideology and ignorance that Ben Stein directs at Charles Darwin directed at James Watson, instead.

Ben Stein is against the idea of human evolution because he thinks the prestige of Darwin's 1859 book "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" led to the Holocaust, an idea that's exaggerated, but is not wholly historically wrong. Certainly, the Nazis felt that they were speeding up evolution by preserving their Favoured Race in the Struggle for Life.

Similarly, the forces of conventional wisdom came down like a ton of bricks on James Watson last October not because they are smarter about science that the Nobel Laureate is, but because they fear the political consequences of letting the cat out of the bag about recent human evolution.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 21, 2008 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

I think it was HD, Humorous Design, myself.

Posted by: Matt on April 21, 2008 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Ben Stein's documentary that posits a vast, worldwide conspiracy of Darwinists who are shutting down legitimate scientific inquiry into Intelligent Design.

Ben Stein almost has it right. The truth is that for close to two millenia where there has been a worldwide conspiracy into shutting down legitimate scientific inquiry. Period.

They now have commercial genetics tests that will tell you your racial admixture.

Steve, can you provide a link to where I can acquire one of these tests. I would like to determine a) what race/s I am, and from that b) if I'm smart or not.

Thanks.

Posted by: trex on April 21, 2008 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

"Moore took a perfectly good film and then went one step too far....Stein did the same thing. He was making a (tedious) film that might have been persuasive to some people, but then goes a step too far and starts blaming Dachau on Darwin."

No. No. No. It is not the same thing. Even if Michael Moore's tactic alienates some viewers, there is evidence, even if debatable, he is right. There is NO evidence for Stein's idiotic ramblings. You yourself call Sicko "a perfectly good film"; but Stein's position is no such thing. It is an appeal for scientific ignorance and promotes an anti-intellectualism that is poisonous .

Posted by: kew on April 21, 2008 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Steve actually has a point. There is obviously an intelligence difference between black people and white people. Black people are clearly smarter. Only 2% of them support George W. Bush.

Posted by: Steve Sailer's Conscience on April 21, 2008 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

The inventors of the Holocaust were the Romanian Legion of the Archangel Michael. Look up the Bucharest Pogroms. They put holy water on themselves before massacring Jews. Good Christians all. Hitler admired them. Nothing to do with Darwin.

Posted by: bob on April 21, 2008 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

I hope I'm not the troll in this instance.

Wikipedia's got a good map of the distribution of Y-linked and Mitochondrial haplotypes, as well as a hypothesized map of human migration of subgroups out of Africa. Interesting stuff!

But there are 25,000 protein-encoding genes on the other 45 chromosomes, and probably twice as many genes that aren't protein-encoding. These genes are ignored when testing "racial admixture." Seem like too much to ignore for my tastes. Y-linked and mitochondrial DNA altogether code for maybe 10 genes, and those few genes are not able to give any prediction of the distribution of those other thousands of genes within populations.

Posted by: absent observer on April 21, 2008 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

Were all human beings and it doesnt really matter how we got to where we are today, I think, and we should be looking at ways to preserve our planet for other humans far into the future. This here, now, greed, war, empire, military as business, stuff aint gonna cut it.


The reasons other planets are devoid of life may be because they had much better nuclear weapons scientists than we do.

Posted by: Jet on April 21, 2008 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, you're not even coherent. If you want to be a racist, go ahead. I know a lot about Watson's biography, more even than you can find on Wikipedia. Why, I know stuff you have to read actual books to find out. So rant away. You won't convince anyone but yourself.

Posted by: Delia on April 21, 2008 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Culture wars.
So Bush. So yesterday. So so-so.
Yawn.

More interesting: this 9 minute Oxford biography podcast on Anne Darwin.
Note: Must have iTunes for link to work!

Anne was the second of ten children. She died at 10. I had no idea that he studied her via the scientific method and preceeded to write one of the founding texts of child psychology.

Fascinating.

Posted by: koreyel on April 21, 2008 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Bad day for Kevin. Wow. Very bad indeed. I am tired of Kevin throwing liberals under the bus to prove he is objective. Moore's movie made a powerful point: An economy ravaged by 50-years of embargo can deliver health care to everyone (albeit that care would be better without an embargo).

Stein's point is that he is Kissinger in a dunce cap. He is a stupid man, making an argument that is fallacious factually, ethically, and logically. A trifecta of dullardism.
Moore's movie left most of us emotionally spent and pissed off because we were embarrassed by the promise of this nation being sold so cheaply by the "go-along, get-along" contingent. There is nothing Michael Moore could do that would make the wealthy do the right thing except through shaming.
Stein just needs medication.

Posted by: Sparko on April 21, 2008 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

TRex writes:

"Steve, can you provide a link to where I can acquire one of these [racial admixture] tests."

AncestryByDNA.com has been longest in the ancestry admixture testing business (as opposed to just looking at where your patrilineal or matrilineal lines originated, which is much easier, but less informative).

I would, however, strongly recommend reading the firm's FAQ

http://ancestrybydna.com/welcome/faq/#q1

and reading up on admixture testing on disinterested sites such as GNXP.com and Dienekes.com. This is an evolving technology and it's not all that accurate yet at the individual level. It's not uncommon for public figures like Brent Staples of the NY Times to take one of these tests, get an unexpected result and then feel they've learned something profound about themselves and humanity when their result may just have been caused by an insufficient sample size of genes checked.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 21, 2008 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin had been doing some kickbutt work for weeks, but starts talking about Michael Moore, the reflexive urge to appear reasonable and evenhanded takes over (credibility!), and suddenly you have Mako the wonder shark! Look at Mako go! Somersaults, backflips, and what's that? Can it be? Yes! A triple axle!

Posted by: MG on April 21, 2008 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Can we all agree that the fact of evolution and Darwin's theory of evolution are not exactly the same thing?

Maybe nit-picking, but because it's always useful to get the details right when talking about science (particularly in the context of arguing against anti-science), let us remember that there is no "fact of evolution"; there is only a "theory of evolution." That is, you cannot observe evolution; you can only observe facts that support the theory. It's like the theory of gravitation; you cannot observe gravity per se, but you can observe what we theorize to be its effects.

A theory, by definition, can always be disproven via contradictory evidence, even if the weight of available evidence is so massive that it's absurd to think of that actually happening. Absent some new category of evidence, evolution cannot be a scientific "fact."

Science, at least, is sufficiently robust to acknowledge its limitations.

Posted by: bleh on April 21, 2008 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Michael Moore backs up what he says about Cuba's health care system with references.

I recently saw Sicko, and the film never claimed that every Cuban would get just as much attention as the Americans Moore brought got; he even suggested that they would not, but the point was still made. Those people suffered for five years without basic treatment. That is absolutely disgusting, and would not happen in Cuba or in any developed country other than the US.

For me, the stunt of trying to get the patients into Guantanamo Bay was over the top, and there were other things that one could quibble with (the UK's NHS has some problems, though nothing compared to the problems of an American without health insurance). But your attack shows the symptoms of excessive exposure to the DC cool kids, some of whom work for the Washington Monthly.

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 21, 2008 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

Wow! Get a clue! If you want to argue that ID has some sort of "scientific" value, then you should be able to point to a peer review of the this 'Theory'.

Otherwise you should STFU!
Just sayin.
This movie is a Bad Joke for anyone that is up with the thinking on this, what next, flat earth?

Posted by: jay boilswater on April 21, 2008 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Evolution denialists like Stein like to proclaim evolution as untestable in the scientific sense, ignoring the fact that the theory has withstood a severe test over the last forty years and emerged stronger than ever. The traditional phylogenetic trees of the species were developed by observing conformational similarities between the species, literally counting the number of scales on the back of their necks and other such comparisons. This was done in complete ignorance of the underlying molecular structure of life-forms. First in the seventies with protein structure, and then in the eighties and nineties with DNA, we were able to compare and contrast the underlying molecular structures of the species. If the results had contradicted the observed macroscopic characteristics, or indeed if they had just been random, it would have been the end of Darwin’s theory. In fact the agreement between the macro and micro was nearly perfect. The few contradictions led to new insights, such as the fact that killer whales are more closely related to carnivores of the bear-dog family, while baleen whales are closer to bovines.

Social and moral conclusions obviously need to be taken with extreme care. Science is about describing the physical world around us, and says nothing about moral values such as right or wrong. Still it is interesting that Victorian concepts of racial purity seem badly flawed, as genetic variation usually seems to trump genetic purity. It also appears that altruism is a characteristic with positive survival value among social species, which is quite different from the assumption Stein draws.

Posted by: fafner1 on April 21, 2008 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

Stein did the same thing. He was making a (tedious) film that might have been persuasive to some people, but then goes a step too far and starts blaming Dachau on Darwin. Anyone who might have been nodding along during the first half hour is likely to stop nodding in the last half hour.

My God, Kevin, you are so fucking naive.

Posted by: fetus on April 21, 2008 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

Sailor – Can’t people like Watson slowly descend into senility without people like you embarrassing them?

Posted by: fafner1 on April 21, 2008 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK


I can accept that some awesome invisible deity could create every living thing that ever existed in a day or two, no problem. But there is no way that the theory of evolution could lead to a genocide. That's CRAZY!!!! Ben Stein totally lost me with that one.

Posted by: Kevin's Fundie Fucktard on April 21, 2008 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, I didn't realize that the racist fuckwit Sailer ever posted here. In an amazing feat he manages to be dumber than he is racist.

Posted by: the on April 21, 2008 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

Steve: They now have commercial genetics tests that will tell you your racial admixture.

From the F.A.Q at AncestryByDNA.com:

"Race is a complex and multivariate construct that we tend to over simplify but in our analysis, we are measuring a person’s genetic ancestry and not their race."

Seems like maybe these guys aren't doing what you think they're doing.

The test slots you into one of four groups, which are by no means clearly distinct "races" in the minds of anybody discussing any side of this issue:

Native American Those peoples that migrated from Asia to inhabit North, South and Central America.

European Europeans, Middle Easterners and South Asians from the Indian subcontinent including India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

East Asian Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders including peoples native to the Philippines.

African Peoples from Sub-Saharan Africa such as Nigeria and Congo region.

I'm part Pacific Islander -- so according to this test and your theories I should have distinct intelligence capabilities similar to the Chinese???

I don't think so. Those guys are way smarter than me. And for people like yourself who argue that sub-Saharan Africans aren't as intelligent as those of European descent due to the vagaries of evolution: how do you explain the differences between nationalities that fall within the same Biogeographical region? Like Albanians and Continental Indians? Iraqis and Germans? The Maya and the Cherokee?

On face value these groups would seem to have very disparate cultural accomplishments, suggesting unequal intelligence potential on your theory. Right? Or on your theory are Sub-Saharan African somehow distinctly disadvantaged over the rest of the groups?

Perhaps "intelligence" (whatever the western europeans who write the tests mean by that) just has much more to do with environmental factors than "race."

Well, of course it does. I was just being uncharacteristically polite.

And I rather think that an "intelligence of the heart" which endows a group with the ability to function harmoniously with themselves and nature might in the long run be superior to an "intelligence of the mind," which has brought us industry and technology run amok to the point where our entire planet is imperiled.

Posted by: trex on April 21, 2008 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it that people can get into a freaking froth over something that matters not one iota and yet roll over like cows while our government sends our tax dollars on pallets to Iraq and bails out their brokers and buddies in the financial sector with more of our tax dollars?

Can you people please find something better to fire up the outrage about?

Posted by: arteclectic on April 22, 2008 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

How can the human body be a product of intelligent design when the playground is so close to the dump?

Posted by: Don Bacon on April 22, 2008 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

If you want to check out something more intelligent than Expelled, check out my new diary here.

I agree with Steve Sailer that the Nazis believed in a lot of quack-science and quack-sociology (Steve Sailer calls this "in a muddled kind of way"- I call it "quack" because what it really was, was a nonscientific sort of way- a laymen's bigoted, parochial approach to science). Also today I think the right is involved in a lot of quack sociology (like believing that it's going to benefit our society if women aren't able to be in the military or work in a lot of other jobs that men can work in), with the quack science located probably a little more on their disgusting, hidden underbelly.

I would like Steve Sailer to explain the story more again if he's going to mention it again- just a single additional sentence that goes more into the detail of what happened and why it was wrong would make the comments a little less obtrusive and a more helpful. I think Kevin should knock off telling Steve not to post this stuff, because he's obviously trying to tell us something helpful and there are plenty of more annoying comments to knit your eyebrows at all over the place.

Kevin may give himself a pass for mentioning the ABC debate a couple of times, and then forgetting it, but we people who are really trying to fight something know that sometimes you've got to repeat something a few times to get people to wake up and recognize it. People sure ignored the plight of the Jews during WWII for quite a while, but that sure didn't make it any less right or desireable to keep talking about it and trying to get someone to do something.

Thanks, Steve Sailer, and please, Kevin-- knock off those annoying comments.

Posted by: Swan on April 22, 2008 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

Can you people please find something better to fire up the outrage about?

Americans lack the economic and political power to fire up an outrage unless it is about evolution, race, Britney Spears or Michael Moore.

Posted by: Brojo on April 22, 2008 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Steve Sailer, and please, Kevin-- knock off those annoying comments.

I meant Kevin's comment at 8:37 PM here, not Steve's, which weren't annoying, merely too short.

Posted by: Swan on April 22, 2008 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

Anyway, the Watson stuff was tangentially related, because it's about evolution science, so people who are interested in Kevin's post because it's about evolution science might be interested in Steve Sailer's story, too. Point being, it's not really that off-topic.

Posted by: Swan on April 22, 2008 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

"Patrick/Ty: Settle down. Like I said, I'm solely trying to judge how effective these films are at persuading their audiences. Moore took a perfectly good film and then went one step too far, pretending that Cuba's health care system is better than ours. This was done solely to be incendiary, and is so far from the truth that it just works to reduce the credibility of the rest of his film."

well...Ironic. You could make the same claim for this post, which had a fine and logical point before you dragged Moore into it and lost a sizable part of an audience otherwise amenable to your argument.

Posted by: Ty Lookwell on April 22, 2008 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

Can you people please find something better to fire up the outrage about?

Well, this kind of does matter in a way that things like these are a continued assault on the way science and the scientific theory work. While it may not make many people into believes of ID like Kevin might suggest, it still muddies the water through half-truths and fallacies that make it much harder to keep scientific fact and theory safe from political tweakery.

It's like the theory of gravitation; you cannot observe gravity per se, but you can observe what we theorize to be its effects.

The problem here, bleh, is the word 'theory'. It's a word with a specific scientific meaning that doesn't quite match the laymen's usage, and that disconnect is exploited to plant seeds of doubt. While it could never be used to really fight against a theory like gravity (because there are thankfully precious few people who want to deny its outright presence), it's convenient enough to use as a bludgeon against Evolution, because using 'theory' to a laymen is the same as saying 'Evolution is really just a guess, it's not really supported'.

Posted by: Kryptik on April 22, 2008 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

What's with the snide remarks about Sicko recently, Kevin? You had a similar sort of aside last week, if I remember correctly.

Moore's use of Cuba was actually quite, umm, conservative -- in that his ultimate point was more or less the jingoist if Cuba can do this, surely we super-duper Americans can. I don't recall any recitations of Marx or fellatio for Fidel.

Posted by: bc on April 22, 2008 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

re: How can the human body be a product of intelligent design when the playground is so close to the dump?

Brings to mind the old joke about the three engineers arguing about God. The ME says God must be a mechanical engineer – just look at the skeletal system and all the muscles. The EE sys God must be an electrical engineer – just look at the brain and the nervous system. The civil engineer replies that it is obvious God is a civil engineer – who else would route a waste disposal channel through a recreational area?

Posted by: fafner1 on April 22, 2008 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

Pet peeve -- we're usually homocentric when considering evolution, forgetting about plants, other animals and the earth itself. It is impossible for any observant person to live in the western US and not see the results of evolution in the land forms, both micro- and macro-, all around. Evolution may not be a fact, as written above, but geology is surely a science.

Posted by: Don Bacon on April 22, 2008 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, bleh, so called "micro-evolution" is observable (bacteria, fruit flies, etc.) and this fact is pretty much conceded by the IDers. They are focused on denying macro-evolution (wombats, zebras, etc.) these days. Though frankly, from all reports, there isn't much exposition on ID theories in Expelled.

Posted by: cthulhu on April 22, 2008 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, there's still plenty of work to do to convince the non-trolls here that Cuba's healthcare is not better than that available in the U.S.

Posted by: billy on April 22, 2008 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

Absent some new category of evidence, evolution cannot be a scientific "fact."

Not quite.

Posted by: me2i81 on April 22, 2008 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

It seems that the film was a bit of a flop. The numbers look good only if you don't take into account that, unlike most documentaries, it went into wide release. The $3M weekend gross was spread over 1000 theaters, so about $3K/theater, $1K/theater/night, less than most successful documentaries.

More here.

Posted by: bad Jim on April 22, 2008 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, there's still plenty of work to do to convince the non-trolls here that Cuba's healthcare is not better than that available in the U.S.

I'm fairly confident that if I walk into the Mayo Clinic with full health insurance, I'll get better medical care than the average Cuban. That's not the issue that Sicko was addressing--it's the fact that the US is unique in the "developed" world in that people have to worry about their health being affected by their financial status, or that health problems can cause financial ruin. The fact that it's also true in the case of Cuba is even more damning. The Guantanamo Bay stunt was a bit silly, however.

Posted by: me2i81 on April 22, 2008 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

In A.D. 50, the Romans most probably inferred, from data on "cultural achievement," that they were vastly superior, genetically, to the Anglo-Saxons.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on April 22, 2008 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK

While he's supposed to be some kind of comic genius, which is stupid in itself, Ben Stein is an idiot.

Posted by: Jimm on April 22, 2008 at 3:22 AM | PERMALINK

While Mr. Sailer is, as apparently ever, talking nonsense, Steven Jay Gould once wrote about how horrified he was to read reports of the Wannsee Conference, where the Holocaust was decided upon, and discover that many of the SS officers involved in it were speaking in unmistakeably evolutionist terms. He suggested, IIRC, that it was something like watching your child being raped.

However, the fact that many Nazis were evolutionists does not prove that evolution created Naziism. Interestingly, the monarchists of the Wilhelmine period were also evolutionists (and legitimated their conduct in World War I on the basis of the struggle for life). So were the liberal eugenicists who promoted the sterilisation of "morons" in the US and elsewhere. The political misuse of evolutionism is a historical fact.

Unfortunately, contra Stein and Sailer, this does not have anything at all to do with the truth of evolutionism, any more than Hiroshima disproves nuclear science.

Posted by: MFB on April 22, 2008 at 5:36 AM | PERMALINK

George W. Bush is perhaps the best argument against intelligent design that one can cite.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on April 22, 2008 at 6:21 AM | PERMALINK


Stein's argument is not unique; it was, in fact, a concern of William Jennings Bryan which convinced him to take on the Scopes Trial. The biology text book that Scopes was teaching from advocated eugenics, based on Darwinism. I don't remember that part in "Inherit the Wind".

We can't base our scientific description of the Creation on our moral revulsion at what we (or others) see as its implications. Otherwise, we'd be back at Ptolemy. Ben Stein seems like a smart guy, so you'd think he'd get that. Alas.

Posted by: Nat Felton on April 22, 2008 at 6:54 AM | PERMALINK

Stein's basic problem is that during the first half hour or so he keeps his film sounding fairly reasonable. Maybe ID proponents really are getting the shaft!

Kevin Drum has written a mountain of dumbness in his career as a professional blogger, and that statement should go on his plaque at the "Very Serious" Commentator Hall of Shame.

How exactly have the IDrs gotten the shaft, Kevin? The reason why scientists laugh them out of the lab is that ID by its very definition posits itself outside of the scientific method, because it does not propose hypotheses that can be tested. In other words-ID is not science. So yes, ID proponents "get the shaft". In the same way that astrologers and alchemists do.

Please, Kevin, leave the science to scientists.

Posted by: Prince Roy on April 22, 2008 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK

There is a difference between biological evolution, which is a fact, and what has come to be called social Darwinism. Social Darwinism, that notion of social survival of the fittest- predates Darwin's biological theory. It can be found in the proto-libertarian writings of Herbert Spencer. It became the dominant view of the great capitalists at home and the imperialists overseas. It is a natural, as opposed to divine, justification of authority, domination and ruthlessness. It is this tradition that was inherited by the Nazi's themselves. It has nothing to do with biological evolution which encompasses more than natural selection.

Posted by: bellumregio on April 22, 2008 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

Jimm wrote:

While he's supposed to be some kind of comic genius, which is stupid in itself, Ben Stein is an idiot.

Stein isn't that funny when he doesn't have a movie-script writer feeding him lines. What is he, a one-trick pony? He just dead-pans the nerd act? That's not really that amusing or original or clever.

Stein isn't that smart when he's not repeating rotely memorized trivia facts. Being a capable intelligent person requires a lot more than that skill. Their are hordes of Madrassa-trained, fanatical idiots who have memorized a lot of information (Koran passages)- basically the same thing as what Ben Stein did. Stein is basically the typical "evil nerd"-- he's not as smart as he thinks he is, because he's basically psychologically hamstringed himself from being able to use a lot of his intelligence- his personality and his pet beliefs have forced him not to fairly explore and test reasoning he wants to reject. I'm sure there are a lot of situations he couldn't help out in, no matter how smart he likes to think he is. Knowing the name of the capitol of Vanu Atu or Mauritius doesn't really make you more useful than a trained show-dog.

Posted by: Swan on April 22, 2008 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter Ben Stein:
"I'm not really a smart guy, but I play one on TV."

Posted by: Steve Paradis on April 22, 2008 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

The Sailers of the world have a point. Unfortunately for them, it's not well supported.

First, timing. 50,000 years doesn't give the whole racial superiority thing a lot of time for much more than a single allele change. That's a lot of work for a single allele. On the average mutations occur every 200,000 years.

Second, there wasn't a single migration out of Africa. There's been a kind of slow leak. And yet Europeans and Chinese have this magic allele, but it's not real clear that Australian or Amerindians do. That's a pretty magic allele to pick its targets.

Third, the migration hasn't been one way. Sometimes, like adult children people who migrated from Africa moved back. And yet, despite many generations of intermarriage, the magic allele stubbornly said, "Not gonna do it" when it came time to infest dark skinned Africans. The allele to produce Big Brains turned out to be not advantageous in Africa (and Spain and Australia and the first inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere.) Magically, the Big Brain allele also proved non-advantageous when Africans left Africa and came to Europe or the Western Hemisphere. Timing is everything magic allele-wise.

Fourth, there are national demarcation lines of IQ. Chinese show an advantage over their SE Asian neighbors. IQs in Israel are markedly different than their neighbors. The Big Brain allele is apparently nationalistic.

Genes swap around. That's all there is to it. We humans are like cuckoos and share the wealth of our genes all over the place. For example, there's a haploid group that shows up in large concentration around the Levant and curiously in some Amerindian populations. (Shades of Joseph Smith!) No haploid group holds sway everywhere and all regions have multiples. In short, the magic allele theory just doesn't match up with the data.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on April 22, 2008 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Liberals and scientists bear a lot of the blame for the uptick in recent years in the number of Americans who do not believe in evolution. We allowed the creationists to control the debate and rarely responded in force except in court cases. It took forever for scientists to even begin pointing out that the word "theory" when used by scientists does not mean just a conjecture, but an idea with strong evidence supporting it.
Too many liberals hate getting into these kinds of arguments preferring to stay above the fray and keep their dainty hands clean. As a result the right frames and dominates the debate. With such weak responses, it is no wonder that people buy into the right's arguments.
The same thing has happened with the claim that tax cuts raise revenues. Republicans say this all the time and so do pundits (as Charlie Gibson did in the last debate.) When was the last time you heard a liberal point out that this is a grossly misleading statement? Tax cuts do raise revenue but never enough to come close to replacing what was lost by the cut.

Posted by: BernieO on April 22, 2008 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Americans lack the economic and political power to fire up an outrage unless it is about evolution, race, Britney Spears or Michael Moore.

Sadly, I know. Karl Rove is right. Americans have a collective IQ of 85 and will ignore actual facts and things that are critical to the operation of this country in favor of gibbering over social culture issues. We are in the period of greatest financial instability since the Great Depression and all people care about is petty crap. The fact that our entire system of government has been bought, sold and is being run by corporations for their own profit is less important than whether or not Britney Spears left the house wearing panties this morning.

We get the government we deserve.

Posted by: on April 22, 2008 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK
Kevin Drum has written a mountain of dumbness in his career as a professional blogger, and that statement should go on his plaque at the "Very Serious" Commentator Hall of Shame.

I think you misunderstood Kevin. He was not saying that he believed that "Maybe ID proponents really are getting the shaft!" but that the average, uneducated moviegoer might be persuaded of this from the first half hour of Expelled. But then the rest of the movie got increasingly unhinged and even that theoretical, average, uneducated moviegoer would have trouble believing Stein, unless they were already predisposed to do so.

Posted by: PaulB on April 22, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Ben Stein suffers from a mild form of the Jonah Lucianne syndrome. Usually it refers to stupid progeny of stupid people who somehow found themselves in corridors of power, the senior Stein was a good economist who happened to have the misfortune of working for tricky dick.

Posted by: gregor on April 22, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Gregor wrote:

Usually it refers to stupid progeny of stupid people who somehow found themselves in corridors of power, the senior Stein was a good economist who happened to have the misfortune of working for tricky dick.

If you've ever seen Ben Stein on "Win Ben Stein's Money," he knows a lot. To be honest, I think he might be really smart, but despite his smartness, he pushes some dumb beliefs (which he believes in himself). There are a lot of very smart people who have some dumb beliefs, and who aren't very useful in some situations. They have smarts, but they don't know how to use it well. The thing is, a lot of smart people let knowing that they are smart get in the way of improving themselves and using their smarts. It's a terrible handicap to being intelligent, to believe that you're so smart that you rely on the facts you've already accepted and neglect critically analyzing your own conclusions often enough. Something doesn't automatically transform into truth just because it's fallen into your set of accepted beliefs, and believing something like the opposite is uselessly egotistical.

All that said- there are legions of dumb or average-intelligence people who could have memorized all the stuff Ben Stein knew on "Win Ben Stein's" money, if they applied themselves to it. Creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving ability are the real tests of applied smarts.

Posted by: Swan on April 22, 2008 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Bzzzzt. "legitimate scientific inquiry" and "intelligent design" cannot be juxtaposed in the same sentence without the presence of a negative.

Posted by: ckelly on April 22, 2008 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Evolution seems to be a very intelligent design. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and they evolved.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on April 22, 2008 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Sailer,

America's most distinguished man of science, James Watson, attempts to start a conversation about the implications of the rapid improvement in genetic testing and what this may reveal about recent human evolution, and within a week he's out of his job at the scientific laboratory he built up over four decades.

I really hope this is sarcasm because otherwise it is complete BS.

Scientific American has a good debunking of this movie.

I am very disappointed in Ben Stein. Until now I admired the guy. He's very smart, he's managed to get acting gigs as a character actor, and he was also beginning to complain about the utter non-conservative cronyism and fraud on Wall Street. He is IMHO a respectable conservative.

Lending his name to this sham of a movie really lowers my opinion of him. Either he's got a huge blind-spot or he has sold out his name for the money.

Say it ain't so, Ben.

Posted by: Tripp on April 22, 2008 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

arteclectic,

Why is it that people can get into a freaking froth over something that matters not one iota and yet roll over like cows while our government sends our tax dollars on pallets to Iraq and bails out their brokers and buddies in the financial sector with more of our tax dollars?

Good question. The answer is that the two items (our invasion of Iraq and "Intelligent Design") are related.

Both of these items came about largely because of the support of a group of people called authoritarian followers. They are not rational - meaning they do not reason. Among other things they blindly follow their trusted leaders.

When they keep to themselves they are no big deal, but now that they are trying to run the country (under social dominator leaders) it IS a big deal because they make some really stupid decisions.

Attacking science and invading Iraq are two of the really stupid decisions. We need to understand them and push back before our country makes more stupid decisions.

Posted by: Tripp on April 22, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

I've now read all on this thread that I can stand. Bottom line, Ben Stein is an idiot and Kevin has made himself LOOK like an idiot. First, Kevin tries to prove how reasonable and balanced his blogging is by trying to equate Expelled and Sicko, when their shortcomings are not comparable. And clearly he doesn't understand just how far out there Intelligent Design is. To say it's out in left field, scientifically, would miss the point. It's not even in the stadium. Please, Kevin, have the humility to at least consider that maybe you were dead wrong and need to re-think your position. If you dig your heels in and waste your time trying to craft clever defenses, I fear you will be on that slippery slope toward right-wing perdition.

Posted by: kew on April 22, 2008 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

The political misuse of evolutionism is a historical fact.

Damn right. People who do horrible things, almost by definition, need to latch onto something in order to justify what they do. Nazi genocide has as much to do with Darwin as the Crusades had to do with Jesus. As in, you know, none.

Honestly, what sort of rock do you have to live under not to understand how rationalization is a part of human nature?

Posted by: DH Walker on April 22, 2008 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

What is the anti-science connection between conservative Jews, including the neocons, and the religious right in America? There are at least two tributaries that feed into a rejection of rationalism, materialism, and science. The first is traditionalism that sees rationalism as a threat to traditional authority and to social order. This was the central concern of Leo Strauss the grandfather of neoconservatism. He regarded liberal democracy as the source of the moral apathy that laid the foundation for totalitarian regimes. Likewise the highly influential Christian theologian Francis Schaeffer, he casts a long shadow over American evangelicalism, found materialism to be the basis for the moral decay that caused of most of society’s ills. The second current is the rather anti-paternal romantic movement that craves spiritual unity and an irreducible self. Both of these currents run together and try to preserve a mystic dimension against the onslaught of the unholy vivisection of human life by commerce and science. Many revolutionaries have started off down the river of romantic anti-authority seeking a new unity and redemption only to find themselves the dictators of a new, more pure, traditionalism.

What is most surprising about these factions is that they are entirely unaware of their similarities to the other right-wing movements they denounce, including fascism. The Nazis were obsessed with the moral decay of society. They were bringing about the reestablishment of good German moral order. They were, after all, backed by the German traditionalists who realized too late that they had given absolute power to a man with his own ideas about what to do with Germany. The Nazis were not overt atheists dedicated to materialism, they had a rather impoverished understanding of Darwin, but they were nationalists who mystified the unity of the German people and sought to purify the German state for the German people. They did not need Darwin or Nietzsche to give them the intellectual framework necessary for domination and extermination. The religion of nationalism is all they needed.

Posted by: bellumregio on April 22, 2008 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

It amazes me how narrow minded the people on both sides are. How about "In the beginning the big bang created the heavens and the earth" or should it be
"In the beginning the big bang evolved the heavens and the earth" ? Now don't be narrow minded. How about a little critical thinking.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on April 22, 2008 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Somewhere there is a website that succinctly summarizes all of the arguments in favor of creationism and ID, and then provides the counter-arguments against each. Does anybody know which website I am talking about it? I found it a couple of years ago but I forgot to bookmark it.

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on April 22, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

you cannot observe evolution

Well, of course you can. Ever hear of antibiotic resistant bacteria?

http://www.fda.gov/Fdac/features/795_antibio.html

Posted by: rea on April 22, 2008 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Tripp: Until now I admired the guy. He's very smart ... He is IMHO a respectable conservative.

Tripp, I have to disagree. The last thing I heard from him prior to all this creationist nonsense was a piece he did for (I think) Marketplace wherein he condescendingly explained to us morons how high gas prices shouldn't be blamed on energy companies, since wholesale oil prices were high. Of course, I'm not an expert economist like Ben Stein, so I wasn't aware that Exxon, Chevron, etc all sell at cost.

So, Stein is either so stupid that he doesn't know what role the concept of "profit" plays in capitalism, or he's so arrogant and dishonest that he thought millions of listeners wouldn't. His "essay" about the energy market was every bit as transparently right-wing propaganda as this stupid movie is.

Posted by: DH Walker on April 22, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

"So, Stein is either so stupid that he doesn't know what role the concept of "profit" plays in capitalism, or he's so arrogant and dishonest that he thought millions of listeners wouldn't."

Don't forget his blaming those who "brought down" Nixon for the fall of Vietnam and the Cambodia genocide:

STEIN: When his [Nixon's] enemies brought him down, and they had been laying for him since he proved that Alger Hiss was a traitor, since Alger Hiss was their fair-haired boy, this is what they bought for themselves in the Kharma Supermarket that is life:

1.) The defeat of the South Vietnamese government with decades of death and hardship for the people of Vietnam.

2.) The assumption of power in Cambodia by the bloodiest government of all time, the Khmer Rouge, who killed a third of their own people, often by making children beat their own parents to death. No one doubts RN [Richard Nixon] would never have let this happen.

Posted by: PaulB on April 22, 2008 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

bellumregio,

Have you read The Authoritarians? One characteristic of authoritarians is their nearly complete blindness to their own characteristics. If you told a lecture hall of people that some people are authoritarians and then described the characteristics of authoritarians the authoritarians in the hall would agree with you but they would think you were talking about someone else! They simply cannot see it in themselves.

DH Walker,

I did not read the Stein article you cite. I think we can agree that high gasoline prices are partly due to the high cost of oil. The price of oil has quadrupled while the price of gasoline has doubled more or less. High oil prices does not account for ALL the increased gas prices, but it does account for some of it.

Posted by: Tripp on April 22, 2008 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't the Nazis saying evolution supports their vile actions on a par with Manson claiming Helter Skelter told him to kill people? Or Hinckley knowing Jodie Foster wanted him to kill Reagan? Why should anyone be held responsible for what a lunatic does with their ideas?

Posted by: demtom on April 22, 2008 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Paulb: Right. People think that Stein is nice and personable because he was funny in Ferris Beuller, and because he didn't talk politics on his game show. But he's taken some pretty reprehensible positions on things over the years, usually with the standard neocon combination of arrogant condescension and shameless stupidity.

No offense, Tripp, but the guy's been a douchebag for a very long time.

Posted by: DH Walker on April 22, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK
I went out today and saw Expelled
In the future, please don't give money to people like this. Posted by: bleh on April 22, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp: High oil prices does not account for ALL the increased gas prices, but it does account for some of it.

Of course high crude costs counts for some of gas prices. But Stein's point was that energy company profits played no part. None. High prices and record profits have nothing to do with each other, at all, so anyone factoring in oil company profits into a discussion of price was a partisan moron who has no idea what they're talking about.

So, when someone takes a blatantly political position, based on how stupid I am for thinking that 1 + 2 = 3, then yeah, sorry, that person is a douchebag.

Posted by: DH Walker on April 22, 2008 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Everywhere I read liberal's opinions about the movie Expelled I only see confirmation about the movie's premise. IMHO, liberals seem so arrogant as to believe although they don't have all the answers, they have the basic framework about how mankind came about figured out.

They therefore believe they must rigorously stand against the intrusion into the scientific community of any idea that might overturn this dogma. They applaud efforts to silence what they posit to be the rantings of the ignorant IDiots..

Unfortunately, this is not the way science should be done. Science needs to allow the ideas to be correctly challenged and vetted that the truth may prevail. It should be perfectly alright to a real scientist to allow someone to print a well researched minority opinion. When we lose this ability to let the minority speak, we have lost academic freedom and imposed dogmatic rigidity. This is what Stein was trying to say.

Two things for liberals ( who tend to be more of the anti-religion types ) to consider.

1. Ask this question. Given only what we currently know, (not what you posit science may discover in the future and not your belief system ) Does the current evidence point to ID or evolution by random mutation and natural selection as the better theory for explaining our existence?

(My opinion is that an honest evaluation favors ID as the best current theory)

2. All materialist atheists sooner or later must face up to the logical conclusion of their philosophy. If we are all just chemicals with no free will, then words like good, evil, purpose, morality - they have no transcendent meaning. Its not that a materialist is by nature a bad person, its just that he has no way of labeling anything as evil. No way of saying, "I have made a choice to fight evil." Because, ultimately he really does not believe in real choice or real evil. Things like Dachau happen, not because people do not have concern. It is because there is not the courage to call it evil and defeat it. If there is no transcendent good, then mere ideas such as eugenics, racism, ethnic cleansing, can not be labelled evil.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

As an agnostic materialist, I know rape is wrong.

Posted by: Brojo on April 22, 2008 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Does the current evidence point to ID or evolution by random mutation and natural selection as the better theory for explaining our existence?

Given that ID doesn't "explain" anything, this is a pointless question.

The kind response to your post is to simply point out that you don't understand what science is (it's not a religion, and you're trying to judge it on those grounds); you don't understand what materialism is (having human experiences and possessing empathy are all that are necessary to form a basis for a responsible morality, without trying to legitimize it by inventing powerful figures who "agree" with you); and you don't understand the mindset of those you criticize (expecting explanations to have meaning and make sense isn't "dogmatic rigidity", we don't interpret history the way you think we have to, etc).

The unkind response to your post is to point out that "your" points are all unoriginal right-wing talking points based on deliberate mischaracterizations, that many of us have had to listen to for decades. The simple answers to what you bring up are so generally available that any honest person would be able to have them answered just by going to talk.origins or the like. As a political tool of the right, this sort "when did you stop beating your wife" straw-man nonsense is just patently offensive.


Posted by: DH Walker on April 22, 2008 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

As an agnostic materialist, I know rape is wrong.

Easy to state, not easy to logically prove. I dare you to try it.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

you don't understand what science is

DH, How many of us which comment on this site have a Ph.D in a science. I do, do you?

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Easy to state, not easy to logically prove. I dare you to try it.

A logical argument is only as valid as its premises, of course.

(a) I would find being raped to be horrible.
(b) Other people are essentially similar to me as concerns their sensibilities.
(c) Therefore, they would find being raped to be horrible.
(d) Therefore, rape is wrong.

So, how about you? Can you prove "logically" that rape is wrong? Bear in mind that argument by authority is a logical fallacy. See Copi (or any text on logic) if you care to.

This ought to be good.


Posted by: DH Walker on April 22, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

DH, How many of us which comment on this site have a Ph.D in a science. I do, do you?

What science do you have a PhD in, and from what university?

Call me skeptical.

Posted by: DH Walker on April 22, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

The simple answers to what you bring up are so generally available that any honest person would be able to have them answered just by going to talk.origins or the like.

Yes and the kind response to you is that I have read things such as answers to such problems by men like Richard Dawkins, and found their answers at best misleading at worst dishonest.

To put it bluntly, an invented purpose is not a transcendent purpose. Something can only be judged by something above it. You can not call something absolutely evil when their is no transcendent morality.

Many may wheedle there way around this with big philosophical arguments that fool the ignorant, but you can't create transcendence from non-transcendence. It is impossible, even for evolution.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

As a liberal, I must confess that I don't care for Michael Moore documentaries at all. It is the same reason I don't like PETA or those lunatics who ride their bikes during rush hour once a month in San Francisco.

There is a falsehood in liberal groups that raising awareness is always a good thing. This leads to behavior like throwing fake blood on people who wear fur or Michael Moore's more extreme flights of fancy. If it gets people's eyes on the problems, who cares if we have just committed assault or have stretched the truth to the point of breaking?

This is just so wrong, because, in Moore's case, when you futz with the facts, and get caught, you aren't just raising awareness of the issue, you are killing your credibility on the issue. So, more people know about your issue, and more people come down on the opposite side, because they don't trust you.

I haven't seen Expelled, but I can't help wondering if Ben Stein will basically raise awareness of his position, and simultaneously convince people that his stand is essentially insane. Not sure it's helping him ...

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on April 22, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

To put it bluntly, an invented purpose is not a transcendent purpose.

What does "transcendent" even mean? And are you trying to tell me that beliefs are only legitimate if they're absolutely provable?

Be careful, this may be a trick question.

Posted by: DH Walker on April 22, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

As to your simple proof.

You are correct only when you state.

A logical argument is only as valid as its premises, of course.

What you have logically proven that most rape is horrible to most people. I buy your assumptions and your conclusion in step 3. The fallacy is between statements 3 and 4. You have not proven that what people perceive to be horrible is wrong, because the very word "wrong" has to be defined. You are positing that "wrong" is "something most perceive to be horrible". With that definition of wrong, you have proven "Rape is wrong". Unfortunately, I don't buy your definition. It lacks authority from a source above you. With out a transcendent definition of wrong, you fail. Nice try though.

Now for my proof. And for me I will not have an authoritarian fallacy because I believe in the authority.

So.

1. The Christian God is a transcendent being.
2 The Christian God has stated that rape is wrong in the Bible.
3. Rape is wrong.

It is an appeal to authority. I admit I have not proven rape is wrong, I have only proven that given belief in the Christian God, rape is wrong. Of course, you can debate the veracity of statements 1 and 2, but there is no logical problem with the statements.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Easy to state, not easy to logically prove. I dare you to try it.

Go back to the Evangelical Outpost, you ridiculous twat.

Posted by: Larry Lord on April 22, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Bleh, if you're going to use "theory" in the scientific sense, you could add comments about the robustness of the theory of evolution.

After all, we have a "theory of gravitation," too. I'm sure you wouldn't, but I invite IDers and creationists to test the crackpot idea that a "theory" isn't fact by walking off the top of the nearest skyscraper.

Michael B, ID is the "middle way" to nothing.

me2i81, excellent link.

Jeffrey Davis, no, Sailer doesn't even have a partial idea. IQ tests have been shown over and over to have cultural biases. In World War I, for example, it was Eastern Europeans (including the ancestors of many who are probably closet racists today), who were being screened out of the Army for being "dumb."

John Hansen, you may have a PhD in hydrology, like Duaine Gish. That doesn't mean you know a flying fuck about evolutionary biology, because you obviously don't.

As you well know, but lie about, ID has repeatedly had the few ideas it has put forth that are indeed testable convincingly proven wrong. Every new version of the "irreducible complexity" argument Behe has produced has been scientifically refuted.

And you obviously don't know a thing about logic, metaphysics, ethics or other branches of philosophy.

First, words in general don't have "transcendent meaning." Per Wittgenstein, that phrase is itself meaningless.

Second, your claim that materialists don't have any way of labeling anything as evil is refuted not just on the human level, but by reference to ethology and evolutionary psychology. "Ethical" ideas such as altruism were along millions of years before the evolution of homo sapiens.

The rest of what you say is too ignorant to even bother with.

DonBacon, Sparko, others, great comments.

And Kevin, there is no analogy between Moore's style in Sicko and the production of Expelled. Sorry, but you just blew that one. And, the kind of wimpy comments on Expelled itself mean you probably already have a strong entry for weakest post of the week.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

DH - What does "transcendent" even mean? And are you trying to tell me that beliefs are only legitimate if they're absolutely provable?

transcendent: adjective - above or beyond the range of normal or merely physical appearance.

No. Of course I don't mean beliefs are only legitimate if they are believed. Do you think, that just because I disagree with you I am an ignoramus?

What I mean is that beliefs can't be self contradictory. You can't make statements with absolute authority, if you deny any absolute truth. You can't call something absolutely evil, if you deny any absolute scale of good and evil.

Even your proof you used to prove rape is wrong, appeals to the opinions of people.

Other people are essentially similar to me as concerns their sensibilities

So I have another syllogism for you.

1. I believe the universe was designed and enjoyed Expelled.
2. The movie made $3 M in one weekend so many others enjoyed the movie and do believe the world was designed.
3. Thus the theory of ID should have proportional representation in the field of science.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

It is an appeal to authority.

Your "proof" is bogus for many more reasons than just that. As with most religious "arguments", you raise about ten times as many questions as your "answer", which doesn't answer anything. You (still) haven't defined what "transcendent" means, or what God's reasons are, or what God even is in the first place. Sure, your argument is "logical", but it's logical in exactly the same way this syllogism is:

(a) everything I say is true
(b) I say rape is wrong
(c) therefore, rape is wrong.

Ironclad logic. Absolutely bogus argument. My argument is based on induction and my own experiences, which are likely to be reflective of the state of reality (ie, not "invented" as you claim). On the other hand, you bring in extra, undefined entities into an argument in order to "prove" your point, which somehow isn't "inventing" things. I could do the same thing - I could define, for the sake of argument, something that would always make me right. Then, just reference it in any argument. Again, flawless logic - but completely meaningless. And this is essentially your "argument".

Man, for a PhD in "a science", you sure don't know much about basic reasoning. Where was that PhD from again? And what science was it again?

Posted by: DH Walker on April 22, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Socratic Gadfly,

I will readily admit my general lack of knowledge in many fields especially philosophy.

However, why do so many people here consider themselves experts in science, who have never practiced the discipline.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

...I have only proven that given belief in the Christian God...

Thus you have "proven" nothing.

Posted by: AJ on April 22, 2008 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Ohh, and a quick Googling shows you're trolled on this issue before here, including refuting yourself on the Second Law of Thermodynamics by noting it doesn't apply to open systems, and then categorically saying "My experience is that inorganic things generally do not evolve to more complex states ( think 2nd law here )."

For a good laugh about John Hansen as author, go here and ready Christian fundy having linguistic sex with moonbat NewAgeism, and producing something allegedly called a “book.”

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

transcendent: adjective - above or beyond the range of normal or merely physical appearance.

Ok, then. How does "beyond the range of physical appearance" mean "always right" or "morally legitimate"?

And no, you're not an ignoramus because you disagree with me. You're an ignoramus because you are arrogantly convinced that your completely arbitrary, self-serving and ridiculous "arguments" are inherently superior to those you completely fail to understand even the basics about.

It's not an appeal to authority if you believe in the authority? Are you f'ing kidding? And you expect anyone to take you seriously?

Posted by: DH Walker on April 22, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a two-step syllogism for you, John Hansen.

"Expelled" made about 1/10,000th as much money its first weekend as "Apollo 13."

Therefore, it should be accorded about 1/10,000th as much claim to scientific legitmacy.

That wasn't so hard, was it?

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter John Hansen: I know right from wrong because somebody told me so.

And you take this appeal to authority as a good thing, that your views can only be validated if agreed upon by some authority figure? And what "absolute truth" are you referring to?

DH Walker is absolutely correct that EMPATHY is the fundamental basis for MORALITY. Love Thy Neighbor as Thy Self. Kharma. The Golden Rule.

Other than being contrarian, I'm not sure what point you are trying to make, nor what this elusive point may have to do with Expelled.

I will tell you, though, that belief in G-d has no relation to morality. If everyone in the world lived by the Golden Rule (and not "he who has the gold, rules"), there would be no need for the authoritarian contrivances of morality that you seek to impose.

Refusing to mix fibers or eat pork does not make one moral. Empathizing and understanding the plight of other humans does, and one hardly needs the Bible or some other ancient document to understand this.

Posted by: Piper on April 22, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Ohh, John Hansen, on your Treefall.com website, why don't you identify WHAT major land-grant university you teach at?

Do you not have tenure yet and are afraid you'll never get it?

And, just because you teach biochemistry doesn't mean you understand evolutionary biology. Heck, there was someone a year or two ago who even got a PhD from Brown, I think, and claimed to be an IDer...

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen, I also see you're a global warming denialist.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Things like Fallujah happen, not because people lack the courage to call it evil, but because they lack the economic and political power to defeat the state police authority that has transcended our representative democracy.

Posted by: Brojo on April 22, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen, this degree certainly gives you an understanding of evolutionary biology:

"Now Dave, why would I want to go back to school and study some physics when I already have a Ph.D in Physics from UCLA 1990 for my thesis which concerned computer modelling of the ionosphere."

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2007_12/012713.php

And, as for your global warming denialism, isn't it more than a bit hypocritical to have a PhD that is based on computer modeling and then deride computer-modeling based predictions about global warming?

Shorter answer? Yes.

Why don't you and Steve Sailer go teach each other proctology?

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

For a good laugh about John Hansen as author, go here and ready Christian fundy having linguistic sex with moonbat NewAgeism, and producing something allegedly called a “book.”

Good to see you know how to use google. Not my book. The name "John Hansen" is very popular and has many entries.

I have written several published articles including one in Physical Review, but that was back when I was doing Ionospheric Physics. The only thing close to a "book" I have published is my thesis. Sorry, no moonbat books published by me.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, John Hansen, unfortunately, there's more than one John Hansen who managed to con UCLA out of a PhD in the natural sciences.

Doesn't negate any of the other comments I posted, including your hypocrisy about global warming and computer modeling.

Oh, and please don't cite "complexity theory" as you did in past posts on the subject here at WM. You know perfectly well that climate change science continues to incorporate more and more complexity and chaos ideas as possible. You also know that there's complexity in the ionosphere, too.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Piper-

The point of my posting is not to be contrarian. I rather enjoy the feedback I get. The point is only to sow the seeds of doubt in those who posit "No God". I would like to think that someday you might come to believe in the God I believe in.

It is also entertaining to read the responses. Most of you seem like nice people. A little arrogant and at times dismissive, but on the whole nice.

Brojo,

It is not hypocritical to get a Ph.D in computer modeling of the ionosphere and then be a global warming denialist. Rather, since I understand some of the simplifications and assumptions which must go into computer models, it makes my position more credible. But I don't agree with you, so I must be wrong.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Hansen, you'll sow no seeds of doubt in me. I have a graduate divinity degree, have read much of the Christian New Testament in its original Greek, segments of the Tanakh/Old Testament in its original Hebrew and have also read extensively in the philosophy that you apparently haven't.

And, no, you're not contrarian, you're a pisser in the wind on global warming. I've read your comments on old WM posts, which pretty well insinuate there's liberal "science" vs. "real science" practiced by conservatives.

That comment itself proves your relative lack of scientific mindset, PhD aside.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen,

I have no idea how someone could have a "PhD in Science" (as if "Science" is all one single subject) and say something so horribly wrong as this:

Science needs to allow the ideas to be correctly challenged and vetted that the truth may prevail.

Science does have a method for the ideas to be correctly challenged. It is called the scientific method.

For experimental science it is this:

Observe a phenomena.
Propose a hypothesis for the cause.
Make a prediction based on your hypothesis.
Perform and experiment to test your prediction.
Tell others so they can also try your experiment.

Sometimes for the big subjects like cosmology the predictions are not testable with current technology and thus debates happen. Sometimes the experiments become possible at a later time and the matter is resolved.

Now, for ID, please tell me one prediction that it makes that can be tested. I beg you. So far no one has been able to do it, or when they have (such as the end of the world) they have been wrong.

Instead you want to evaluate ID on the basis of deferring to authority or popularity and you want Evolution to be evaluated the same way.

What "science," pray tell, is your PhD in?

Posted by: Tripp on April 22, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

So SG - are you still involved in your religion, or are you an agnostic or what?

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK


3. Thus the theory of ID should have proportional representation in the field of science.

All ID has to do to get any representation into the field of science is to produce a testable hypothesis. There have been testable hypotheses made, and they've been disproven. The effort taken to disprove them was part of ID's pied a terre in Science. To get back in the door, make another. Mostly, ID argues from ignorance: we don't understand this phenomenon, therefore God. That's just dumbo stuff.

As for proportional representation, you're joking. Science doesn't work like that.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on April 22, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp, as I noted before, with Michael Behe, every claim for ID he has made that can be tested has been clearly refuted. C'mon, Hansen, step up and take your whipping like a man.

ID is scientifically dead in the water and you know it. But, your claims of a difference between liberal "science" and conservative science show you wouldn't know good scientific method if it hit you upside the head.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp - Ph.D physics. UCLA 1990.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Oh. My. God.

John Hansen, you are that global warming denier whom I asked what you thought of Evolution. Well here is my answers.

I knew it.

My prediction was that you are an authoritarian follower who forms his conclusions first and then picks any rationale to support them. It looks like my little scientific experiment was correct.

But you'll probably point out that it is not fair to use ad hominem arguments. All righty then, let's give your ID a fair scientific shake, shall we?

Make one testable prediction based on ID. Please. I promise I will give it a fair viewing and I will work with you to make a determination of whether the prediction comes true.

I am asking politely. I'll say please again. Please. Think about it, if you can do this you will be famous. Famous I tell you.

Posted by: Tripp on April 22, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffrey Davis - As for proportional representation, you're joking. Science doesn't work like that.

Yes, my comment that ID deserves proportional representation was clearly a joke in a parody syllogism. I was merely commenting that DH Walker- used the majority opinion of people to prove "rape is wrong". Well by his logic, not mine, the opinion of people dictates truth. If science seeks truth, and opinion dictates truth than proportional representation should be honored.

Science should be much different. It should welcome reasonable challenges. The biological sciences have so much invested in materialist philosophy, they do not welcome reasonable challenges to their positions and shut them down by political processes that go beyond the practice of science. Can't you see this?

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Again, physics has what to do with evolutionary biology?

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

John,

PhD in physics? Good on ya. I've always had a love for physics. Have you kept up with cosmology? How about the really tiny stuff, the sub atomic stuff that might be tested with that new huge particle accelerator starting in Europe?

There is plenty of mystery left in the field of Physics. How come you've retreated to ID and authoritarianism where all the questions have already been answered?

Posted by: Tripp on April 22, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp- My Prediction

If ID is true, then credible scientists, ( not religious people who happened to study science but real practicing scientists who present peer-reviewed papers at conference) should be so impressed about how the universe seems to be fine-tuned for life's existence that they present papers on such ideas as their being not just one universe, but many universes.... a multi-verse if you please... to explain how something so dramatically fine-tuned could appear naturally.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Hansen, your comment about the "biological sciences" shows even more of your scientific cluelessness. Didn't UCLA require you to take a philosophy of science class as part of your PhD? If not, it's no wonder you and the "other" John Hansen could both con it out of PhDs.

First, you apparently not only don't know scientific method, you don't know what science itself is.

Second, it sounds like your PhD belongs in an engineering department, not physics.

Third, science doesn't have "investments" in anything beyond the scientific method.

Fourth, science certainly welcomes reasonable challenges. You have yet to propose one.

Fifth, science has no "political power" to shut anything down. Rather, if you had read James Hansen's (thank doorknob, no relation to you) "Censoring Science," you would know (and admit, if you were reasonable) that just the opposite is true. In the current political situation, the Bush Administration uses politics to silence science every chance it gets.

Stop lying.

Let's restate: Physics has so much invested in materialist philosophy.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp -

I left physics because I wanted to stay in the LA area and could not find a teaching/research position of the caliber I wanted. I now do computer programming to pay the bills. ( For the really interested, you could find my name in the about box of a very popular software if you looked. )

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Third, science doesn't have "investments" in anything beyond the scientific method.

If you believe this then you need to talk to some real scientists. In theory getting grant money just depends on how good your science is.

In practice it depends on a whole lot of things including the viewpoints of important political figures on certain committees in Washington D.C. None of this stuff gets done for free.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

It should welcome reasonable challenges. The biological sciences have so much invested in materialist philosophy, they do not welcome reasonable challenges to their positions and shut them down by political processes that go beyond the practice of science.

Science is built on testable ideas. Science is built on making testable predictions and then testing them.

Your word - "reasonable" - is being misused, especially coming from one who gets his conclusions first and then seeks the rationales.

You have decided ID is correct and you see only the rationales for your conclusion, but that is not enough for you. Because your authoritarian nature is built on such shaky ground you cannot tolerate any dissent. Everyone must believe in what you believe in. And you have the nerve to claim that scientists are dogmatic?!

Philosopher, heal thyself. Think about this. Is there any experiment, any at all, that could convince you that ID is wrong? If there is then please propose it. Scientific hypothesis are proven wrong all the time. What about your hypothesis? Could anything prove ID wrong?

Posted by: Tripp on April 22, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

My point is that I don't need your G-d to be a moral person, and therefore believing in your G-d (read- your specific, individual belief system) will not make me a better person per se, but rather someone more like you. This is in essence an attempt to exert power on your part by dictating the terms of what makes someone a good and just person.

There is nothing inherently moral about religion (and one could make the argument that its execution has been largely anti-moral). Believing in G-d does not make one more moral despite your protestations.

Believing and living by the Golden Rule makes one moral, and as long as one follows that ethos, their belief or non-belief in G-d is irrelevant (you simply assume I don't believe in any higher being despite the fact that I never stated nor implied this) and does not in and of itself prove anything about the subject in question and their moral compass.

You suggest that if only I believed the way you believe, I will be a better person (or, perhaps, that will make you a better person for showing me the way). Frankly, that's a whole bunch of, to borrow Tripp's obsession, authoritarian hogwash.

Posted by: Piper on April 22, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Now for my proof. And for me I will not have an authoritarian fallacy because I believe in the authority. So.1. The Christian God is a transcendent being. 2 The Christian God has stated that rape is wrong in the Bible. 3. Rape is wrong.

I know it's pointless to argue with the feeble-minded, but....I'm afraid your "proof" (do you even understand what that word means?) fails at the first and second steps. As to (1), you failed to establish that such a thing as "the Christian God" even exists (or that if he did exist, why we should care) and as to (2), you fail to provide any evidence that this alleged imaginary concept "stated" that something is wrong, since the Bible was not written by "the Christian God" but by a series of multiple fallible human authors. (And please point me to the exact cite in the Bible that states that rape is wrong.)

I mean, I might as well prove the opposite in the following manner:

1. The Christian God is a transcendent being.

2 The Christian God has appeared to me in a vision in the shape of a piece of flammable shrubbery and stated that rape is OK.

3. Rape is OK.

Posted by: Stefan on April 22, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

A so-called physicist wants to make a prediction about human behavior?! Now you are wondering into the 'social sciences' which are not very far from religions.

I want a testable experiment about a physical phenomena - something apart from human behavior. Something in the physical world.

And if you think the hypothesis of multiple universes hasn't been written about you are truly blinded. One theory even suggests that every single quantum event causes a new universe to be created. That's like a zillion bajillion universes. Of course if that is the case then what testable prediction can be made from that and how can we prove it?

And in case you are completely uninformed even the cosmologists working to discover what happened just moments after the big bang admit that they cannot provide an answer for what happened before the big bang. There is still plenty of room for God in the world of physics. Why you have chosen to isolate God to ID is beyond me. God could have caused evolution you know. Why do you think otherwise?

Posted by: Tripp on April 22, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp -

Don't pester me with useless and fallacious statements. Evolution can not be proven wrong. We do know that random mutation happens. We can also prove that natural selection occurs. The problem is that evolution is not a theory about what can happen, it is a theory about "what happened". It purports that RM + NS accounts for the common descent of all living things. Evolutions basic building blocks have been shown to happen in the natural world. However, evolution is a theory that these natural building blocks created all the things around us. A theory which can not be proven to be wrong. It can only be shown to be unlikely.

I can't prove ID is wrong. What others can and are doing, is trying to formalize the concept of design so that a good decision can be made whether it is more likely that evolution happened or ID happened. This is in my opinion, a useful scientific enterprise.

For example its easy to make stupid linear thinking based predictions like - we will run out of said resource by the year... You can even become quite popular to people on the left by spouting such poppycock.

Its much better to actually study economic trends of the past and through the science of economics, make predictions about what happens when scarcity occurs, what happens when economic motivation encourages innovation, and formalize this to create good predictions.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Don't you think I know that the multiverse theory has been proposed. I just gave you a "prediction" that would make ID more likely.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

God could have caused evolution you know. Why do you think otherwise?

Let's see, if God caused evolution to happen, what could be a good name for that. He would have to think up an incredible world where DNA or RNA would eventually occur so it could start a chain reaction. He would have to carefully plan out the right amount of radiation to shine on this planet, to cause mutation to randomly occur at just the right rate to evolve higher species from lower ones. He would have to figure this all out in advance and use incredible foresight and intelligence to get everything just right. After all he would not want to go to all the effort to design this only to have nothing useful evolve. What could we call that process.

Oh, I know, we could call it intelligent design. How about that?

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

So John Hansen dedicates his dissertation:

This thesis is humbly dedicated to God, the Heavenly Father, the creator and author of our world and therefore all science, and to Jesus Christ His Son, who died on a cross that he might redeem both God's suffering sin-cursed creation and the souls of us who inhabit it...if we only will choose to believe.

While I am sure it is fairly common for people to acknowledge the "help" of a higher power and/or other immaterial inspiration, I find it kinda of sad that you didn't have anyone more corporeally in your life also worthy of acknowledgement.

And really, aren't only the human inhabitants "sin-cursed?" I would think, technically, the rest of creation (animals, plants, rocks, etc.) are without sin. But, then again, I'm just an atheist.

Posted by: cthulhu on April 22, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Cool, somebody actually looked at my dissertation!!!!

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

I was merely commenting that DH Walker- used the majority opinion of people to prove "rape is wrong".

This is a deliberate enough misrepresentation of my argument to qualify as outright lying. Not that I'm all that surprised.

Posted by: DH Walker on April 22, 2008 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Second, it sounds like your PhD belongs in an engineering department, not physics.

Exactly. I can't remember who first said it, but if a creationist claims to be a scientist, then bet the farm on the fact that he's actually an engineer.

PhD or no PhD, if you don't even understand something as primer-basic as falsifiability, you have about as much business making scientific judgments as my cat. And if you're as shameless a liar as Hansen is, then what is even the point of a discussion?

Posted by: DH Walker on April 22, 2008 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

(b) Other people are essentially similar to me as concerns their sensibilities. (c) Therefore, they would find being raped to be horrible.

Your right, you did not use "majority opinion" you used your assumption about what "majority opinion" would be. Sorry, your argument is weaker than I originally thought.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

I understand falsifiability enough to know that evolution is a theory which could not be falsified.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

John, stop lying. My argument wasn't based on "majority", it was based on the consistency of human perception and experience.

But lying to make a point is a-ok as long as you're doing it for the Lord, right?

Posted by: DH Walker on April 22, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

DH, of course lying is OK if you do if for the Lord. Lying was done through the whole process of making Expelled.

But, it's OK.... it's faith-based lying.

Right, John Hansen?

(Another faith-based lie coming up.)

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

SG: Exactly. Hansen's here advocating belief in a God whose concept of morality includes lying your ass off when it suits you. But it's us "materialists" who are on questionable moral ground.

That "it's not an appeal to authority if you believe in the authority" dodge is comedy gold, though. I didn't hit you with my car, because I was the one driving my car. Right-o, skipper.

Posted by: DH Walker on April 22, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

1. *eek*, john hansen is a 'scientist'...
double *eek*...

2. mucho macho thanks to the many kampers who rightly smacked down drumstick for his inartful (at least), inaccurate (for starters), and inappropriate (for shame) michael moore comparison...
i see (so far) he hasn't owned up to it... tsk tsk

3. as far as ben stein's chain of 'logic': evolutionary theory and darwin were appropriated by nazis AND A HUGE PORTION of the power elites EVERYWHERE (including amerika, see henry ford, limburgh (sp?), etc) in their twisted 'eugenics' and 'social darwinism' bullshit which justified their oppressing and ripping off all the li'l peeps...

those power elites who gratefully grabbed onto 'social darwinism' to justify their wealth and rapacious behavior are ben stein's true constituency... they are the very people who either condoned or were complicit in the ethnic cleansing of hitler et al, as well as the forced sterilization movements here in amerika... i would be willing to bet that nearly every single neo (nazi) con (artiste) asshole today who ben stein venerates, traces their lineage back to the power elite scum who propagated 'eugenics', etc...

fucking moron: his puppetmasters were the very people who WANTED (if not aided and abettetd) hitler to kill all the jews, and take 'ours' too ! ! !

4. further, ben stein *IS* a fucking phony 'intellectual', power elite lackey, and narrow-minded fuck... semi-forced to occasionally watch his previous 'game show' (win ben stein's money), it was VERY QUICKLY obvious that nearly ALL THE categories that were asked about were TOTALLY within his wheelhouse; they crafted the questions down to the reagen administration he worked under; his particular career, and other bullshit that played TOTALLY into what he knew relative to the wider range of information/trivia your average smart person would know... it was a fucking joke...

kampers, you may now resume beating the drum...
hee hee hee
ho ho ho
ha ha ha
ak ak ak

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

eof

Posted by: art guerrilla on April 22, 2008 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

DH Walker, you must have an extremely intelligent cat. Maybe the next step of the evolution? :)

Joke aside, my sister has a PhD in AI. She has worked with some of the top scientists in her area of research. Is that good enough for you? :)

---

Do you know the difference between misunderstanding and lying? You sound kind of arrogant ridiculing people like this.

Your comment made me wonder what makes you more qualified to make a statements then other posters here ... care to tell us about your PhD?

Posted by: Leslie on April 22, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

John Hanson – Of course evolution can be falsified. When asked how evolution could be disproven, the noted British biologist J. B. S. Haldane snapped “fossil rabbits in the Precambrian”. Finding a sophisticated mammalian life form in an era where evolution predicts only simple life forms would disprove it. Similarly evolution says that birds evolved from reptiles, as did mammals. It thus predicts there will be early birds with reptilian characteristics, and early mammals with reptilian characteristics. Finding a bird with mammalian characteristics or a mammal with avian characteristics would constitute disproof. As would finding the sequence of chimpanzee cytochrome C (or anyone of a thousand other proteins) was not closely related to that of human cytochrome C, and quite different from dung beetle cytochrome C. There are any number of ways evolution could be falsified, its opponents just haven’t been able to come up with the scientific evidence to make any of them stick.

By the way, I have Ph.D., in science.

Posted by: fafner1 on April 22, 2008 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Stein's and Hansen's deity commanded the Israelites, as they would explain it, to commit genocide against the Canaanites. Their moraltiy is based on the same obedience to some authority as every other mass murderer's.

These two could explain the morality of Israel's destruction of Lebanon in the summer of 2006 without any hint of shame.

Posted by: Brojo on April 22, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Would any of these prove it wrong? No. I am sure you know what would actually happen: the supposed evolutional history would be transformed to somehow include the new facts.

Posted by: Leslie on April 22, 2008 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

John, stop lying. My argument wasn't based on "majority", it was based on the consistency of human perception and experience.

OK DH. What does the "consistency of human perception" mean? I guess what you mean is that maybe in a theoretical sample, 95% would think rape is horrible, and the 5% of nutcases or insane people would actually not think it horrible. In other words the "majority opinion".

Dressing up concepts in scientific sounding language does not change what they are. You argue your ethics and morality based upon the "consistency of human perception". But when pressed what the "consistency of human perception" means you would have to honestly state that it is what a majority feel. You have no basis for absolutes because you lack something outside of the system ( the transcendent ) to state an absolute. All you can rely upon is the feelings of others or your perception of the feelings of others. ( Majority opinion ).

I probably am not stating it elegantly having never studied philosophy, but please enlighten me on why I am wrong. Or you could always claim that I am an ignorant fool and not worth answering.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Sailer - just wondering, how you knew so soon that this thread topic came up? Maybe you look at top blogs frequently, but is there some system to make it easy and quick to know of posting topics I am interested in?

BTW: You should try to learn from those who say race is largely illusory. In any case, what any given individual is, is what matters, right?

Posted by: Neil B. on April 22, 2008 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

That "it's not an appeal to authority if you believe in the authority" dodge is comedy gold, though. I didn't hit you with my car, because I was the one driving my car. Right-o, skipper.

DH,

Maybe I stated it rather clumsily and you weren't able to get it.

The reason I did not commit the authoritarian fallacy is because I did not claim to prove rape is wrong. I claimed it subject to belief in the authority.

I know the limitation of a faith based argument.

You seem to be a materialist. Do you understand the limits that puts on your arguments?

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo, I have a question for you: should a creator punish those who break eternal laws? Should he be the head of the “eternal supreme court”?

Posted by: on April 22, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo, I have a question for you: should a creator punish those who break eternal laws? Should he be the head of the “eternal supreme court”?

Posted by: Leslie on April 22, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

fafner1

You miss the point. Scientific theories about what positively will happen no matter what can be falsified.

Example, I state that gravitation works as a force proportional to the distance between two masses cubed. This is easily shown to be false because it makes a simple prediction about what must occur.

Evolution is not a simple theory about what must occur. It is a theory about what happened and will not be ever repeated. It can not be falsified, it can just be shown to be unlikely.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Leslie, if you really believe what you said in your last comment, you don't even have a clue about how science operates.

First, I can think of some serious scientific things that have changed since 1950. The idea of continental drift was laughed at when first proposed. Before the discovery of DNA, then the beginnings of modern neuroscience study, behaviorism rode high in the saddle in psychology. Black holes, while accepted as a theoretical idea by some, were roundly doubted as actually existing.

More specific to this subject, Lynn Margulis was almost bounced out of court when she first proposed the idea of symbiosis. Now, it's mainstream biology.

So, until you, like "Dr. Hansen," learn more about how science is actually practiced, STFU and read something on the subject in the meantime.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo, damn you! (jest).... I forgot all about bringing out the Old Testament genocides. Nope, Drrrrrrr. (Rush Limbaugh-style) Hansen, Charles Darwin wasn't around back then. (Of course, actually, none of the events in 1 Samuel probably happened, but that's another story, and yes, where I have studied.)

Art Guerrila. Kev ain't apologizing for that. Somebody over on Roger Ailes called him the next Mickey Kaus the other day; sounds kind of right to me.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

John,

It is really not clear how being a "materialist" yields any weaker arguments than being a "spiritualist" though you seem to think it does. You alluded to the need for "free will" for morality but all that's really required is the perception of free will and/or majority presumption of same.

Even without free will, however, one could still label outcomes as either negative or positive (not necessarily evil or good).

Posted by: cthulhu on April 22, 2008 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

SocraticGadfly, it is not simply science you have to know here, it is the attitude of many scientists: “Evolution is true, we may be wrong about some details, but we will fix it.” (You probably will not agree with this.) I have not seen the movie, it can be crap, but the basic point of it is sadly true: when it comes to evolution, many scientists behave unexpectedly unscientifically.

You can try to answer to my question to Brojo too, if you want to. :)

Posted by: on April 22, 2008 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

My understanding is YWH, or any other 'creator', is a creation of human beings, not the other way around. Similar types of people created laws extraneous to natural law, which, I am guessing, Leslie identifies as 'eternal,' ascribing these laws' initiation to their deity. Then these god and 'eternal' law creators set themselves up to be the arbiter of their god's law, through a supreme court or a star chamber, so that they could enforce them. History is filled with the punishments they have adjudicated in the name of their gods.

I have no way of knowing if a creator exists, if such a creator makes eternal laws or if such a creator could punish those who break such laws. I do think no one can know these things. However, laws like obeying the Sabbath or mandating circumcision have been enforced by human beings on other human beings, and it is my opinion they have no authority to do so accept from the power they wield.

If a creator exists, why would it create beings to break his eternal laws unless it was a Sadist bent on punishing them for its eternal pleasure?

Posted by: Brojo on April 22, 2008 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

cthulhu:

I certainly agree, the arguments of a "materialist" are no better on their face than the arguments of a "spiritualist". Both are faith claims and each must deal with the ramifications of his claim.

However, sooner of later a materialist has to battle with the idea that his vision of the world precludes free will or absolute morality.
The best he can do is a "shared perception" of this. He has to confront the fact that his "faith statement' materialism, means that nothing has any real purpose.

( Likewise the one who claims an all knowing God, must wrestle with the apparent contradiction between free will and a supposedly omniscient God, but that's for another discussion).


And now here is the separation between us.

Both the "materialist" and I have decided to base our lives on a faith claim of a higher knowledge which is unprovable.

My faith claim says that I will be judged according to the criteria of a transcendent God.

So every Sunday, I meet with others to discuss how we might better follow the dictates of our God and try to live up to that during the week.

The materialist faith claim says he knows that in the end nothing has any purpose and no one can tell what is really right or wrong.

But many of the materialists who comment at this site are very active saying we should fight against evil, for the purpose of saving the planet, for the fairness of the distribution of health care etc....

We both make a faith claim. I strive to live my life 24-7 as if my faith claim is true.

As far as I can tell, the materialists here live their lives as if their faith claim is false.

That is a difference.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 22, 2008 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

John,

I disagree. The universe may very well be relativistic and probabilistic. Absolutism then might be very wrong.

Furthermore, absolutism is not required for morality. Even if one argues that all interactions are limited by our perceptual apparatus, that does not automatically limit our ability to create morality (or to create gods for that matter). Within the construct of social reality we are clearly free to make up whatever rules we wish. And unlike mathematics, these rules are rarely, if ever, internally consistent (and hence ultimately fail a requirement of absolutism). Each rule, though, can be subjected to further, typically relativistic, analysis and debate. The possibility that no one analysis can ever be "proven" to be absolutely correct doesn't bother me at all; I am fully satisfied to live with the "best current evidence" especially to the extent that prediction of future events is improved (e.g., I will survive that car crash, this medication will help my daughter, I shouldn't invest in soybeans next year, etc). I say that as someone with a Ph.D. in science. From UCLA no less.

In fact, for all the claims I have heard over the years for absolutism, I have never met a single human that was capable of living that way.

Posted by: cthulhu on April 22, 2008 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

I certainly agree, the arguments of a "materialist" are no better on their face than the arguments of a "spiritualist". Both are faith claims and each must deal with the ramifications of his claim.

No, acknowledging a material world is not a "faith claim" - because we can prove it exists with our senses and measure and mold and test it.

Even if you restrict this to the discussion of evolution, the materialist still wins.

However, sooner of later a materialist has to battle with the idea that his vision of the world precludes free will or absolute morality.

Not at all. This is perhaps where your complete and utter ignorance of philosophy and ethics in particular is most appalling. You act like some smug 14 year old with no life experience who's just given his life to Christ and because he has no actual ammuniation for arguments can only claim to have all the answers because he "feels" superior.

In truth, there are many beautiful and important ethical systems that do not rely on a transcendent being, many of which are probably superior to Christianity if the behavior of its followers are any measure. Strains of Buddhism, Confucianism, Animism and any of the nature-based religions, to name just a few.

One can approach ethics by looking at the world of nature and ask "what actions will support the flourishing of nature and the flourishing of mankind?" One can approach ethics by seeking to improve one's character (Socratic, Aristotelian) and asking "what sorts of behaviors will improve my character, make me more altruistic, and benefit society?

The list goes on and on. Your appeal to transcendentalism falls flat on its face when someone decides to worship Kali or Cthulu. At that point you're just stuck saying "well, my god is bigger than your god."

The best he can do is a "shared perception" of this. He has to confront the fact that his "faith statement' materialism, means that nothing has any real purpose.

Complete and utter bullshit. No fully integrated human being would fall for such a pansy argument. We don't need to look outside of life to find meaning; we can easily find meaning within the system, in family, work, community, art, scientific pursuit, and in every other thing under the sun. If I make the world just a little bit better for anyone else, then my life has had meaning.

The materialist faith claim says he knows that in the end nothing has any purpose and no one can tell what is really right or wrong.

Not in the least. Have you never read any literature? Completely unfamiliar with existentialism? Life doesn't need a heaven or a hell at the end to have had meaning. This is about the dimmest claim that you make.

We both make a faith claim. I strive to live my life 24-7 as if my faith claim is true. So every Sunday, I meet with others to discuss how we might better follow the dictates of our God and try to live up to that during the week.

You have switched from an analytical debate to a normative discussion in which you judge yourself superior to the people here. Consider it open season on your character. I will be bringing up your misogyny, bigotry, and racism at every possible moment, thank you very much.

I have to say, it is rare to see such a stunning example of wilful public humiliation as this.

You can't construct a basic syllogism that is both valid and sound, you are totally bereft of any knowledge about legitimate and widely followed ethical theories that don't appeal to a Supreme Lawgiver, you've been outclassed in both scientific AND theological knowledge by commenters on this thread, and you've resorted to to immature emotional appeals and simplistic saws that were old in the '80's to try and sway people to theism - extraordinarily all the while believing to have the upper hand.

Is there a term that captures "delusional" "uninformed" and "haughty" all at the same time?

As I've said in the past, you could not be a worse spokesperson for your cause. You exemplify all the worst aspects of the anti-intellectual authoritarian religious approach you hope to spread, which has throughout history been responsible for the lion's share of misery in the world. And I say this as someone whose main course of studies has been ethics, divinity, and comparative religion.

I have one final word for you: Pharisee.

If the pointy hat fits....

Posted by: trex on April 22, 2008 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

What trex said.

Posted by: Piper on April 22, 2008 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Darwinism leads DIRECTLY to Nazi-ism? Come on now. I think that is being a little bit presumptuous. Stein never says directly in there that Darwinism will lead to people being Nazis. He sets forth his case and the evidence for his conclusion is there. It seems to me that there has been a lot of Darwinists seeking to discredit this part of the movie and I believe that comes as a direct result of the validity they seen in the argument. Anyways, the whole point of the movie was not to prove that intelligent design completely trumped the theory of evolution. The point of the movie was that there is a divide in the scientific community and any scientist who goes against the THEORY of evolution is scrutinized and ostracized. I believe the movie fulfilled that purpose in an outstanding way. There is a need in the scientific world for men to follow the evidence where it takes them without fear that they will cross boundaries that are forbidden.

Posted by: tfat08 on April 22, 2008 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Leslie, that's not an "attitude," that's a working presupposition based on massive evidence and testing. That's not at all "unexpectedly unscientifically," but....

expectedly scientific.

Drrrrrr. Hansen, if you really think a purely materialist view of life rules out the possibility, of free will, I suggest BOTH Logic 101 (because there's no logical contradiction between the two), AND Biology 101, where you can learn about how psychological traits, tendencies and capabilities evolve.

You know, Drrrrrr. Hansen, I have the feeling I'm talking to a Dollar General knockoff of Philip Johnson. Oh, and David Hume refuted your moralistic arguments for the existence of a divinity, along with the arguments from design, nearly 250 years ago.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on April 22, 2008 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

Did I miss something here? So evolution started with the Big Bang.?
Then it continued until (it?) decided (it?) didn't need to evolve anything anymore??

Posted by: deaddoctor on April 22, 2008 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Leslie said:” Would any of these prove it wrong? No. I am sure you know what would actually happen: the supposed evolutional history would be transformed to somehow include the new facts.”

Well yes, that is how science works. Theories are altered to accommodate new facts. This is one of the fundamental differences between religion and science.


John Hanson said: “Evolution is not a simple theory about what must occur. It is a theory about what happened and will not be ever repeated. It can not be falsified, it can just be shown to be unlikely.”

Spoken like a laboratory scientist. Of course we cannot rerun the Big Bang or the evolution of life forms over geologic time scales. This does not alter the fact that the theory of evolution can be used to make predictions, which can then be tested against data and either confirmed or rejected. In this case the data may come either from the fossil record or the physical and molecular make up of modern species. It is an all too common but never the less total false claim that the scientific method only applies to experiments the can be repeated in the laboratory.

Contrast this with ID, which makes no predictions at all other than that we will run into uncorrelated examples of things that are difficult to explain without invoking the suspension of natural laws to allow for supernatural intervention. Even if ID is true, it is not science.

Posted by: fafner1 on April 22, 2008 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, trex wins the thread. :)

Posted by: arteclectic on April 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

The point of the movie was that there is a divide in the scientific community

No, there really isn't.

and any scientist who goes against the THEORY of evolution is scrutinized and ostracized.

I suppose any scientist who goes against the THEORY of gravity would be similarly scrutinized and ostracized.....

Posted by: Stefan on April 23, 2008 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

ID'ers will always have the Flat Earth Society and Holocaust denial to cling to.

Posted by: Brojo on April 23, 2008 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

Now I'm not going to state directly that tfat08 in an ignorant boob but let me set forth my case:

1) tfat08 has little knowledge in the field of biological evolution other than what he learned in Expelled.

2) tfat08 has little knowledge of Nazi Germany and the philosophical underpinnings of Hitler and the Nazi movement other than what he learned in Expelled.

3) tfat08 has little knowledge of the theories of Intelligent Design especially as they are not really covered in Expelled.

On the other hand, tfat08 does make a pretty good case (using the Stein standard) that ID scientists are akin to Nazis. He suggests [t]here is a need in the scientific world for men [of course men] to follow the evidence where it takes them without fear that they will cross boundaries that are forbidden. ID scientists are performing that service to society just as Nazis did with their well-known "scientific" experiments.

Now the question becomes, did ID beget Nazism or did Nazism beget ID?

Posted by: cthulhu on April 23, 2008 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe Moore would have appealed more effectively to insane conservatives if he'd left the Cuban health care system out of "Sicko". But that is because conservatives are insane, not because the Cuban health care system isn't good. "Sicko" exaggerated its merits and made the clearly inaccurate and naive claim that the people in the picture were receiving the same care any Cuban would get, but Cuban doctors are, in fact, out there saving the world for $10 a month. They're perfectly good docs, by third-world standards, and if you've got some other plan for bringing tens of thousands of well-trained doctors to the miserable villages of the Sahel then be my guest, because the US system (and, for that matter, the French system) sure ain't doing it.

Then again, Cuban doctors saved my daughter's life in Mali, so I guess I'm what FOXNews calls "biased" and not a regular American.

Posted by: brooksfoe on April 23, 2008 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

John Hansen,

Oh, I know, we could call it intelligent design. How about that?

I have no problem at all with the idea that a creator set everything in motion with the 'big bang.' The more I learn about the physical world from the quantum level on up and from the big bang onward for billions of years the more in awe I am. The physical constants, the fundamental forces, it is absolutely remarkable.

Feel free to call this "Intelligent Design."

If that is what the current proponents for "Intelligent Design" mean then why do they want disclaimer stickers on biology text books? Why do they dispute evolution?

There is plenty of room for a designer in our understanding of the physical world. The problem is that the ID proponents are putting the designer in a place that doesn't make sense and requiring everyone to agree with them.

There idea is a dead-end where every question has a simple short answer - God did it. This answer stops all further inquiry into the physical world, inquiry which has given us great benefit.

Posted by: Tripp on April 23, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

cthulhu,

Now the question becomes, did ID beget Nazism or did Nazism beget ID?

Neither. There was a single cause common to both ID and nazism.

A social dominator-authoritarian leading a group of authoritarian followers. It is a very dangerous combination.

You get unquestioning compliance, a double dose of fear, aggression, and a triple dose of self-righteousness. Generally prejudice is in the mix too. All this in a group of people who are afraid and convinced that their cause is so noble and good that they simply cannot do any wrong.

Bad things happen with this combination. Bad bad juju.

Posted by: Tripp on April 23, 2008 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Well so far I haven't seen much intelligence in this thread. Neither by design or evolution.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on April 23, 2008 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

There is plenty of room for a designer in our understanding of the physical world. The problem is that the ID proponents are putting the designer in a place that doesn't make sense and requiring everyone to agree with them.

Tripp-

Now you are demonstrating your ignorance of ID. How many times does it have to be shouted from the rooftops, ID does not propose a specific designer. As a matter of fact an interesting part of ID is the understanding of what properties the designer would have to possess. ID = Creationism is a standard way the evolutionists dismiss ID. Perhaps I can help you realize the problem by analogy.

ID = Creationism is the same as Evolutionary Theory = Nazism.

Let's analyze the accuracy of this analogy.

Certianly scientists who believe in creationism are a subset of ID scientists. And creationism will sometimes use material stated by ID researchers and extend it to mean something the ID researcher did not say.

Similarly Nazi scientists were a subset of evolutionists. And they took theories expounded by evolutionists and extended them to mean something the evolutionists did not want to say.

Next, I don't even understand the reasoning behind the second part of your statement.

putting the designer in a place that doesn't make sense

Since part of ID is to get enough of a formal definition of what design is, and thus set some boundaries on what the designer must be capable of, how can you insist that the "designer... doesn't make sense". This appears to be a statement not established by thinking, but an emotional response to a fear of there actually being some transcendent intelligence in the universe.

Posted by: Tripp on April 23, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Note: Please note that the post at 1:11 was by me John Hansen and not by Tripp. I meant it as a response to Tripp and accidentally put his name in the Name: slot instead of the message body. Sorry

There idea is a dead-end where every question has a simple short answer - God did it. This answer stops all further inquiry into the physical world, inquiry which has given us great benefit.

Tripp -

This absurd statement may even make sense to you and be a comfort to you in your search for justification to battle against ID. After all if this is true, teaching of ID will kill scientific inquiry. I think you have to face up to the fact that you make statements like this because you are afraid of the possibility of God. You need to justify your amount of energy you spend battling those who speak in the name of ID. You need to feel that the irrational steps taken to silence ID scientists have a noble reason behind them.

But your statement does not play out well against the facts. The scientific method exists independent of what is believed. Many of the great minds of the past Newton, Pascal, Pasteur were spurred on by trying to investigate how God did it. They thought that the world must have logical answers because they believed it was created by a logical intelligence.

"God did it" does not kill scientific inquiry, it invites it. What kills scientific inquiry is dogma which disallows any other competing theories. Many smart people feel that the Darwinist community is currently practicing this kind of intellectual tyranny against ID. This is the point of the Expelled movie.

Posted by: John Hansen on April 23, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen,

enjoyed reading you post. Clear and true. :)

Posted by: Leslie on April 25, 2008 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

You did not answer my question Leslie:

If a creator exists, why would it create beings to break its eternal laws unless it was a Sadist bent on punishing them for its eternal pleasure?

Posted by: Brojo on April 25, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo,

sorry, I honestly did not mean to ignore you, the thread seemed to be abandoned and I am really busy these days. :) Plus we are expecting a baby any day now, so I may not be able to come back for a while, once the baby has decided which is the proper date for the birthday parties. :)

Sometimes the way the questions are phrased the answer is already locked out. Having the chance to choose between right and wrong is not equal to be predestined to choose what is wrong. I have guesses what you have probably meant, but it would save me some precious time if you rephrased your question as precisely as you can. :)

Posted by: Leslie on April 26, 2008 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

If there is still someone else around expecting a reaction from me please leave a note. Having the chance to comment on blog posts is great, but the conversation usually stops within a few days and nobody reads your answer if you are late. It is more like chat. For me the solution would be if the blog posts were automatically registered to a forum. It would be much easier to keep up a longer conversation.

Posted by: Leslie on April 26, 2008 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

The Marquis de Sade answered the question; God is Satan.

Posted by: Brojo on April 26, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

1. The Christian God is a transcendent being.
2 The Christian God has stated that rape is wrong in the Bible.
3. Rape is wrong.

It is an appeal to authority. I admit I have not proven rape is wrong, I have only proven that given belief in the Christian God, rape is wrong.

So, John, what you've just proven is that rape is wrong if you believe in the Christian God. Somehow, the value of this argument escapes me. Are you saying that non-Christians can't believe rape is wrong, because they don't have your God telling them so?

All materialist atheists sooner or later must face up to the logical conclusion of their philosophy. If we are all just chemicals with no free will, then words like good, evil, purpose, morality - they have no transcendent meaning.

Idiocy like this is why so many people have so little patience with religious mutterings. It's stupid and insulting to suggest that people cannot be moral, be ethical, have free will, or recognize good and evil unless they also recognize the Christian God (hmm, which Christian God, I wonder?). How is it that you can't understand the idea there are people quite able to make decisions about right and wrong, without the "benefit" of some sort of over-watching entity waiting to judge their actions?

Perhaps atheists are evidencing the ultimate in free will - they live their lives making decisions about ethics, morality, right and wrong without ever stopping to worry about what will happen to them after they day. Instead, they make their decisions based on the consequences that their actions have on both themselves and others.


Posted by: on May 3, 2008 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly