I despised Ben Stein on sight, long before I knew he was a Nixon speechwriter, scumwad lawyer, wingnut advocate, and intellectual pretender. Call it instinct. I saw his face, heard his voice, observed his demeanor, and instantly felt revulsion. In my line of work you need to separate the bulls from the bullshit, so maybe he just triggered something professional. So it was very rewarding to see him writhing on a hook of his own manufacture.
Seems Gentle Ben, between pontificating and apologizing for nutty rightwing orthodoxies from the American Spectator, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc., has taken time out to make himself a movie. The theme of the epic is simple: Religion-hating scientists shut out all debate over the merits of Creationism vs the veracity of Evolution. This, says Ben Stein, is dishonest and morally challenged.
He said he also believed the theory of evolution leads to racism and ultimately genocide, an idea common among creationist thinkers. If it were up to him, he said, the film would be called “From Darwin to Hitler.” — NY Times
But according to some of the folks who participated, including evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins (who likens religious belief to a mental defect), Benny Boy intentionally misled them. At first he told them he was making a documentary film called “Crossroads.”
But now, Dr. Dawkins and other scientists who agreed to be interviewed say they are surprised — and in some cases, angered — to find themselves not in “Crossroads” but in a film with a new name and one that makes the case for intelligent design, an ideological cousin of creationism. The film, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” also has a different producer, Premise Media.
The film is described in its online trailer as “a startling revelation that freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry have been expelled from publicly-funded high schools, universities and research institutions.” According to its Web site, the film asserts that people in academia who see evidence of a supernatural intelligence in biological processes have unfairly lost their jobs, been denied tenure or suffered other penalties as part of a scientific conspiracy to keep God out of the nation’s laboratories and classrooms.
Mr. Stein appears in the film’s trailer, backed by the rock anthem “Bad to the Bone,” declaring that he wants to unmask “people out there who want to keep science in a little box where it can’t possibly touch God.” — NY Times
The scientists (as opposed to the religionists) appearing in the film don’t mind having their views examined — hell, unlike religion, that’s how science operates. Their objection is the underhanded way they were manipulated: told one thing by Stein and his producer, then used in another capacity entirely. Even the name of the film was changed.
“It wreaks of intellectual dishonesty and shoddy showbiz,” is how one participant put it. “Very much like [Stein’s] whole career, actually.”
“This is precisely the same kind of context-manipulation and false reality maneuvers that right wingers stamp their feet and cry about when Michael Moore releases films,” another said. “Obviously what bothers them isn’t how the facts are tortured, but the target facts themselves.”
It’s exactly what I anticipate from movies, Ben Stein, and, for that matter, Michael Moore. You want facts, truth, analysis, etc., don’t go to the movies or anybody that makes them. That’s not what films are for.
As for Stein himself, it’s gratifying to discover that the same addled brain which doubts the veracity of Darwinism and evolution produces those bizarre economic pontifications and twisted political perspectives he regularly rehearses. It explains a lot, and while it’s not pretty, neither is natural selection. Neither is Ben Stein.
“I’m living proof that evolution doesn’t explain everything,” he insisted. “Do you suppose in a universe where the smart, the strong, and the good prevailed, a lowlife like me would survive?”
Y’know, he has a point.