Anyone?

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

I’d have to agree with Andrew Sullivan’s readers. I’m sure there were many nominees for his “worst quote of the year” competition but the winner, from Ben Stein, is really, really loathesome.

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33 Responses to “Anyone?”

  1. #1 |  Matt I. | 

    What’s ironic is that Ben Stein himself is something of a modern day mad scientist, who uses his intellect to advance the most regressive neocon viewpoints today.

  2. #2 |  Les | 

    Ever since his game show, I’ve always had the impression that Stein really isn’t very smart at all. He may have a slightly wider knowledge base than the average American, but he’s never said or done anything that implies that he’s very smart. Just the opposite, in fact.

  3. #3 |  Mojotron | 

    anyone have a list of his “must buy” stocks from his appearances on FOX news (where Peter Schiff was predicting a crisis and Stein & co. scoffed)? It was basically a “Who’s Who” of the companies that went under or needed bailouts in the last few months.

    also wasn’t Stein implicated in the Lerach “pay for testifying” scandal?

  4. #4 |  Zeb | 

    Do people like this deliberately misunderstand what science is, or is this level of ignorance really so prevalent that an apparently educated person has no idea what science really is or does?

  5. #5 |  Ginger Dan | 

    To use the Holocaust to make a point about science is so intellectually dishonest and cheap. I’m pretty sure it was SS guards telling people to go to the “showers” at concentration camps, not scientists.

    I bet Ben Stein thinks Watson and Crick are the two most evil men of the 20th Century, followed closely by Jonas Salk and George Washington Carver.

  6. #6 |  Mattocracy | 

    Some “science” is garbage; much like some aspects of various religions is as well. You just have to be able to sift through it to figure out what’s what.

    A lot of scientists have very loathsome views. Richard Dawkins doesn’t believe in a “boogie man in the sky” (no offense intended to religious people, using his words) but instead is afraid of over population. Countless scientists and experts predicted catastrophe from over population 2 billion people ago, but yet their version of revelations has never happened. Yet, for the sake of progressive thought, they’ll advocate taking away people’s reproductive rights much like Stein would do if he had his way. It seems like a case of pots and kettles.

    I used to really liked Ben Stein. I’m not so much angry as I’m just disappointed.

  7. #7 |  nobahdi | 

    That must be where science leads you, because obviously no one has ever killed anybody in the name of religion.

  8. #8 |  Bob | 

    Wow! I think Ben Stein just bitch slapped John Edwards out of the running for “Douchbag of the Universe”

  9. #9 |  Les | 

    Yet, for the sake of progressive thought, they’ll advocate taking away people’s reproductive rights much like Stein would do if he had his way.

    I wasn’t aware that Dawkins or other mainstream scientists advocated taking away people’s reproductive rights. Any references?

  10. #10 |  Johnny Clamboat | 

    This one doesn’t beat Stein but it has to be in the top five, courtesy of Kit Bond on the FISA Immunity debate:

    “I’m not here to say that the government is always right, but when the government tells you to do something, I’m sure you would all agree that I think you all recognize that is something you need to do.”

  11. #11 |  Rick Caldwell | 

    @Clamboat #10:

    I’m more afraid of that quote than the one from Stein. Stein doesn’t vote on federal legislation. Kit Bond is a Senator.

    The original article that quote comes from has been deleted from the Morningstar Press website. I had to read the cached version. I’m screenshoting it for posterity.

  12. #12 |  ClubMedSux | 

    As a Christian, part of me feels like I should apologize for morons like Stein (as the vast majority of us understand the difference between Josef Mengele and Stephen Hawking). But he’s not a Christian, and I’m not a neo-con, so I don’t have to apologize after all, right? Dammit… this whole bizarre alliance between Christian fundamentalists and Jewish neo-cons has got me all confused.

  13. #13 |  Marty | 

    I’m with Rick and Clamboat- people say stupid things in the name of religion all the time that have no effect at all on me, but to have the dickhead senator representing my state spewing this ‘bow down to the govt’ shit, is cause for alarm…

    a great quote from him that deserves consideration:
    When asked if he feels waterboarding constitutes torture, he replied,
    “There are different ways of doing it. It’s like swimming, freestyle, backstroke.”

  14. #14 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Typical creationist pablum about how evolution = nazism, science = no value for human life or life in general. Only via God can one come to value life…never mind that religion has been a source of various forms of genocide, warfare, and so forth for tens of thousands of years.

    Do people like this deliberately misunderstand what science is, or is this level of ignorance really so prevalent that an apparently educated person has no idea what science really is or does?

    Sort of delieberately misunderstand…well actually deliberately mis-stating what science says about something like evolution and evolutionary theory. Look at the standard Creationist response:

    “Well, evolution is just a theory.”

    As soon as someone utters that phrase you know you are dealing with either someone who is completely ignorant of science, observations, theories, and scientific methodology or an outright lying douchebag. Evolution is a fact since it is observed, organisms (species) change over time. It has been seen not only in laboratory experiments, but also in the field as well. Nevermind all the morphological similarities in the fossil record. The theories scientists come up to explain these observed facts…those are just theories.

    Are theories wrong? Yes. All of them are, at least in some ultimate detail. Does this mean the theories aren’t largely true, helpful or allow us to better understand the world around us and how our own actions can impact the world? No, only an ignoramous or outright lying douchbag would think this way. For example, recall that all theories are at some ultimate level false. Our current theory of gravity is thus wrong. Does this mean you can step off a 15 story building and you’ll float gently to the ground? Probably not.

    But this is the kind of thing that Creationists often resort too. Then there are the far more sophisticated arguments by the likes of William Dembski who basically takes his anti-scientific nonsense and dresses it up in mathematical symbols in the hope that it will thus garner some sort of respectability (note, none of Dembski’s ideas have actually gone through a peer review process).

    Stein is just an opportunistic sleazebag who has hitched his wagon to some anti-scientific hucksters who feed on the overall ignorance of the typical American. Quite despicable really.

  15. #15 |  Jason | 

    I wouldn’t call that quote loathsome. Maybe not very well thought out, but not loathsome. He might have said “this is where science CAN lead” or “this is where immoral science leads.” He didn’t choose his words very well but he was thinking along lines with which at least some reasonable people can agree. With a bit more context, his comments don’t look so stupid.
    http://rightklik.net

  16. #16 |  Les | 

    Jason, by your “reasoning,” if he had said “blacks are criminals,” you wouldn’t call that quote loathesome, because “he might have said, ‘some blacks are criminals.’ He didn’t choose his words very well.”

    Are conservatives capable of anything negative in your world?

  17. #17 |  adam s | 

    he provides a nice counter to Richard Dawkins. well, all religious zealots do. they’d be on the same Zealot Channel, different time slots, if such a channel existed.

    the trouble with this kind of reasoning, from either side of the Faith/Reason divide, is that science is not a worldview at all. it’s a system of inquiry, observation, and experimentation. we form our ideas about things and then go test them. I have no idea how science informs itself.

    what a ridiculous thing to be talking about.

    “Call on God, but row away from the rocks.” – Hunter S. Thompson

  18. #18 |  MikeL | 

    #15) If I needed an example of a loathsome statement for a textbook, I would use Stein’s quote, since it’s the best example I can think of right now.

    /rightklik.net is certainly not a libertarian site.

  19. #19 |  Cynical In CA | 

    I’m just impressed that Jason bothered to write more than one sentence, then post the link.

    Bravo, Jason. Maybe someday you’ll grace us with a complete thought!

  20. #20 |  Cynical In CA | 

    Stein is not just loathsome for violating Godwin’s Law, he is willfully ignorant.

    The gas chambers (and the entire death camp blueprint) were devised and implemented by government bureaucrats, not scientists.

    However, it did take scientists to create Zyklon B. And perform the medical experiments. It also took scientists to create the atomic bombs used on Japan.

    Science is neutral — it is the individual human mind that decides to what purpose science is put.

  21. #21 |  Adam W. | 

    Re Cynical Post 20: your last sentence gets you a +1 :)

  22. #22 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Luckily my god R’aaknlim says science is good.

  23. #23 |  Aresen | 

    @Cynical in CA

    While I can agree that ‘science is neutral’ with respect to the moral values held by humans, I submit that science is not neutral with respect to the outcomes of human moral choices. Science often tells us very clearly what those outcomes will be and does not allow us to lie about the consequences. ie: You may say that X tribe are evil and must be destroyed, science will tell you that those you are destroying are, except for superficial traits, the same as you.

    Further, science has given us a vision of a universe in which the most intangible and miniscule particle can be seen to be related to the grandest galaxy cluster in an intimate causal bond. Science has shown that life is not separate, but bound to and springs from the very fundamental forces of the cosmos. Through science we see that we, the whale and the bacterium are part of the grand spectacle of creation.

  24. #24 |  Aresen | 

    After Banned, isn’t a little unrealistic to expect a cogent, reasoned argument from Ben Stein?

  25. #25 |  Cynical In CA | 

    Thanks Adam W., one good turn deserves another — your last sentence got you a +1 too!

    Aresen, I tried to reply to your post, but all that came out was ridiculous prose about the hubris of human exceptionalism, which manifests itself in all sorts of ugly ways against every living creature, man or beast. It is a crime against nature that man’s intellect so far outpaces man’s morality.

    Maybe morality is the mutation. Maybe survival of the least merciful and most cunning is nature’s intent after all. I don’t know.

    I agree with everything you wrote. Cheers.

  26. #26 |  Ben | 

    To use the Holocaust to make a point about science is so intellectually dishonest and cheap. I’m pretty sure it was SS guards telling people to go to the “showers” at concentration camps, not scientists.

    It’s simply Goodwin’s Law.

    http://xkcd.com/261/

  27. #27 |  Aresen | 

    EDIT: After Banned Expelled, isn’t a little unrealistic to expect a cogent, reasoned argument from Ben Stein?

    Memo to self: Get it right before you hit “submit.”

  28. #28 |  Chris | 

    I believe it was St. Augustine that warned not to judge a philosophy by its abuses? Certainly pursuit of science does not lead directly to genocide, and it would seem that most religion-based genocides are rather poorly based in their respective scriptures. That being said, I do believe the Nazi regime generally used scientific arguments, not religious ones in their efforts at eugenic extermination.

    I’d also like to point out that with the singular exception of “Steve Verdon”, the above posts essentially sunk to ad hominem attacks. I’m a libertarian through and through, but I’d much rather evaluate Stein’s arguments on their merits or lack thereof, than resort to not listening to him simply because he is in the minority for his views. After all, we *are* libertarians and naturally in the minority :) — and we’re right!

  29. #29 |  Z | 

    “the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed”— soooo I take it that neither Ben Stein, nor any of his relatives have ever been to a doctor since 1945? That none of them had a science class, or went to a career fair, presentation, etc involving science? And that none have ever obeyed a law, say recycling, which was born of scientific notions?

  30. #30 |  Steve Verdon | 

    I’d also like to point out that with the singular exception of “Steve Verdon”, the above posts essentially sunk to ad hominem attacks. I’m a libertarian through and through, but I’d much rather evaluate Stein’s arguments on their merits or lack thereof, than resort to not listening to him simply because he is in the minority for his views. After all, we *are* libertarians and naturally in the minority — and we’re right!

    No need for the quotes on my name Chris, that is my real name (you can also see this by clicking on the link associated with my name where I do most of my on-line writing).

    As for seeing Stein’s arguments rebutted…well they aren’t really his. The arguments put forward are the result of a think tank, the Discovery Institute, that has found a number of creationists with advanced degrees and who often hold positions at universities, who are willing to try and push their religious views via scientific chicanery. IIRC, the movie Expelled centers on arguments put forward by Guillermo Gonzalez and his views that the anthropic principle means that not only humans the product of design, but the entire universe is as well.

    As for the rest of the Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC), I belive there is a very, very lengthy FAQ type section to TalkOrigins.org that provides a quick reply to most creationism/IDC claims with links to more detailed discussions of each topic. If you were to try and read it all…well you’d have to give up your day job. Creationists of all stripes have been very, very busy boys (most are men come to think of it) for the last couple of decades.

  31. #31 |  Steve Verdon | 

    I take it that neither Ben Stein, nor any of his relatives have ever been to a doctor since 1945?

    As far as I know Ben Stein was born in the U.S. and so was his Father, the late Herbert Stein (actually a well respected economist of the Chicago tradition). Maybe they had relatives living in the old country, but this claim is potentially false.

  32. #32 |  Steve Verdon | 

    By the here is an article describing Gonzalez’ part in the movie.

    Similarly, the film charges that Iowa State University astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez — who, according to Stein, had a “stellar academic record” — was denied tenure thanks to his ID views and his pro-ID book, The Privileged Planet. Yet one-third of Iowa State’s astronomers fail to receive tenure, and Gonzalez’s previously impressive publication record dropped off dramatically when he assumed his position at the university.

    Yeah, last time I looked he had like 1 or 2 peer reviewed publications after Privileged Plant and more importantly the amount of grant money he brought in was miniscule compared to other professors. In short, Gonzalez was fired for failing to live up to he potential as a researcher, academic, etc.

  33. #33 |  buzz | 

    “But he’s not a Christian, and I’m not a neo-con, so I don’t have to apologize after all, right? Dammit… this whole bizarre alliance between Christian fundamentalists and Jewish neo-cons has got me all confused.”

    Apparently you are all confused. He is a CON, always has been. Not a neo-con. Doesnt mean Jewish conservative.

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