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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Stein’

Congressman Mark Souder says his highlight of the year was being on Ben Stein’s “Expelled.”

Posted by Andy D. on December 27, 2008

Sylvia Smith interviewed Congressman Mark Souder for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in which Souder states his “personal highlight of the year.”  The highlight is none other than being in Ben Stein’s anti-evolution propaganda movie, “Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed.”

You appeared on the big screen this year. What was that experience like?
The biggest single moment was (that) the movie “Expelled” came out on intelligent design. (The documentary about intelligent design – also called creationism – hosted by Ben Stein describes how some educational professionals have been blacklisted from universities and journals because they disagree with the theory of evolution.)

Rep. Souder just admitted that intelligent design is creationism.  The Supreme Court decision in Edwards v. Aguillard concluded creation science is religion and not science! Intelligent design is the latest failed evolution of trying to get religion into the science classroom starting with outright religion, creation science, intelligent design; and now it is academic freedom.  Intelligent Design was shown to be religion in Kitzmiller v. Dover in 2004.  The Discovery Institute which is the Seattle based ID think-tank tries not to mention who this mysterious intelligent “agent” designer is to avoid entanglement with the First Amendment.  Ben Stein walks all over that premise that ID isn’t really religion in “Expelled.”

Rep. Souder doesn’t say anything about the movie’s deceitful logical fallacy in which the movie attempted to blame evolutionary science for the Holocaust. I watched the movie “Valkyrie” starring Tom Cruise last night in which the opening contained the written oath swearing under God one’s support of Hitler. The people committing those horrible killings were mostly religious.  There is a big difference between artificial selection which was around long before the theory of natural selection.  Note, I am not saying religion caused the Holocaust.  Religion was the original source of the division and the extension of Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic zeitgeist; moreover, there was extreme hyperinflation, unemployment, WWI repercussions, shame due to false propaganda, extreme nationalism, rapid industrialization, anti-communism, secret police, and many more variables to make the times uncertain.  Religious and scientific institutions are used in these types of totalitarian movements and are manipulated.  In fact, the Anti-defamation League released a statement against Expelled’s premise.  Moreover, it is a non sequitur to say: if evolutionary theory caused the Holocaust (which it didn’t),  it disproves the authenticity of natural selection and common ancestry of all life.  Ben Stein and/or his producers blatantly quote-mined Darwin, not unlike the negative politics Joseph Goebbels used.

How did your role come about?
Ben Stein’s producer contacted our office about being in a movie off of the subcommittee report we had done on a researcher we believed had been persecuted and pushed around at the Smithsonian Institution because of his views on intelligent design.
He lost his office. He lost his keys. He lost his sponsorship. We were able, over a period of years, to get the e-mails behind this. This was a three-year fight.

First of all, Richard Sternberg was not a paid employee of the Smithsonian and he purposefully abused the scientific peer review process .  He waited until he was leaving the position of editor to release a pro-ID paper by the Discovery Institute’s own Stephen C. Meyer.  The paper was later unpublished and one may see why it wasn’t actual science here.
The lost keys and office are much to do about nothing, as it was part of a pre-planned event at the Smithsonian for bureaucratic reasons in which many people switched keys and offices including Sternberg.  For more on Souder, Sternberg, and the others involved go here and here.  Worst of all, most of this information is in the appendix of Souder’s own report!!!  Souder should know better and is most likely playing politics, as you will soon see.  See NCSE’s Expelled Exposed to see the complete story on all the manufactured “expelled-IDers.”

Was it the highlight of your year?
I personally believe that there is no issue more important to our society than intelligent design. I believe that if there wasn’t a purpose in designing you – regardless of who you view the designer as being – then, from my perspective, you can’t be fallen from that design. If you can’t be fallen from that design, there’s no point to evangelism.

Do you see Rep. Souder squirm on “who” the designer is?  Here Souder admits his religious biases.  His personal beliefs should be private and not be involved in science or politics.  It is a simple as that.  Souder needs to represent people of all faiths and those of no faith in his district.  This is extremely disturbing.  If he had his way, he would help turn America into a theocracy.

As an evangelical Christian, I believe the premise of a fall being at the core of reforming lives. I believe the concept of grace and forgiveness comes from having fallen from something.

Again, Mark Souder’s religious beliefs are off limits due to the “no religious test” in Article 6 of the constitution.  However, I am waiting to see if a non-religious person can take his place some day.  It seems there is a religious test for office.  Grace and forgiveness are not only evangelical ideals. They are ideals for everyone including secularists.  We should all appreciate honesty and full scientific inquiry free from meddling of religiously motivated politicians.  The scientific marketplace of ideas has spoken on intelligent design.  Scientific knowledge has to go through testing, hypothesis, must be falsifiable, peer reviewed, and repeatable with more testing before it gets anywhere near science school text books.  Telling students there is scientific alternative to the evolutionary theory is an outright lie.

Now, how that occurred – whether you believe in the young earth theory, gradual evolution, or whatever – is disputed. Those become religious. But whether there was a fundamental designer who developed a complex DNA molecular structure is critical. Since I view that as the most important thing in the world, yes, being in a movie that advanced that cause was the personal highlight of the year.

Rep. Souder thinks that young earth creation or old earth creationism is up to religious belief.  I somewhat agree.  One is entitled to his or her beliefs; however, one is not entitled to their own scientific facts.  The facts are the earth is close to 4.6 billions years old with roughly 4 billion years of evolution and common descent.  There are many religions that have accepted evolution and made their peace with it and one does not have to be an atheist to appreciate it.  Scientists state openly they don’t know how life was originally started and we may never know.  However,  science is much stronger here then Souder or Stein could even try to understand.  See the evolution of RNA into DNA.  Abiogenesis , the study of how the first life began, is technically not part of The Theory of Evolution by natural selection.  Mountains of evidence have been pouring in for a 150 years from many scientific disciplines.  The theory has never been stronger and a scientific theory is not a hunch, but it is the highest form of scientific knowledge.

Why didn’t you call more attention to being in a movie?
I thought this might be the hottest issue in my (re-election) race and that I would be so attacked, and it would bring out the social conservative base in ways we’d never seen.
From the time 2008 started, we could tell this was going to be a difficult political year. We went through a huge immigration debate. Then you moved to the $4 gas debate. Then the economy’s collapsing.

Mark Souder was counting on a culture war backlash to muster up support. The Republican ticket had the political winds against them;  Souder, therefore, was manufacturing a controversy to be reelected.  This is Machiavellian ugliness that Karl Rove played, and I think Americans are sick of it.   It turns out there was a very effective response to Stein’s propaganda film by NCSE and it was so effective there was no social conservative base backlash.  Souder won without it.  Most likely, the reason was he ran a better campaign against someone with little experience; and more likely this is just a Republican stronghold.  FreeThought Fort Wayne is the only group in Fort Wayne that has said anything about Souder’s involvement in Expelled and we are nobody compared to Souder’s influence.  The movie wasn’t very big either and it received horrible reviews by everyone who is not Rush Limbaugh or has a religious political agenda.  Of course, Souder was at the Sarah Palin rally in Fort Wayne that was all about anti-intellectualism and Souder sure knows his base.  “Expelled” is circulating in church basements as I write.  I am getting very sick of religion in politics.  I am pretty sure that this Jesus fellow who everyone keeps talking about would feel the same.

It is disappointing that Souder didn’t stick with helping the Veteran’s Hospital as the interview started with as his highlight of the year.  I congratulate him and want the best for our veterans, too.  Souder’s priorities are out of whack for bringing up his contribution to the tired culture war as his highlight of 2008,  the year that Republican became a dirty word.

Posted in FreeThought | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Ten Most Wanted Promoters of Pseudoscience

Posted by dystressed on November 16, 2008

I am a skeptoid fanboy. I will admit it. The podcast is a great resource for the beginner skeptics out there.

The recent October 28th podcast covered his list of the 10 most wanted celebrities who endorse harmful pseudoscience. Now I must specify that he does not want these people to be hurt or harmed, he simply wants people to be aware of how dangerous following these people can be.

There are figures on both the right and the left politically, but all are taken to task for the harmful ideas they promote. Guess who is number 1: Oprah Winfrey. A magazine I read about a year ago called Oprah the closest thing America has to a living Deity. All the more reason to take whatever she says with a truckload of salt.

The rest of the list:

  1. Oprah Winfrey – Jumping on every Alternative Bandwagon that comes along
  2. Jenny McCarthy – Anti-Vaccination
  3. Prince Charles – Alternative Medicine
  4. Bill Maher – Alternative Medicine
  5. Larry King – Bad Journalism
  6. Pamela Anderson – PETA
  7. Ben Stein – Comparing Science to Nazism, Creationism
  8. Joe Rogan – 9/11 Truther, et al.
  9. Chuck Norris – Christianity
  10. Montel Williams – psychics

I urge you to check this podcast out. It’s only about 10 minutes long to listen to and even faster to read.

Posted in Politics, Science, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Enlightenment Show releases 3 new episodes

Posted by Skeptigator on May 19, 2008

As many of you know some of our members, headed up by andyscathouse, produce a show for the local public access channels. To further promote their efforts we have been uploading these videos to our site and embedding them, along with show notes, on The Enlightenment Show’s page.

I have just finished uploading and embedding the next 3 videos.

I have also configured our “channel” on blip.tv’s website and their video player is much better than what WordPress allows us to do, http://freethoughtfortwayne.blip.tv/

The next 3 episodes feature special guest Reba Boyd Wooden and are as follows,

  • Episode 5, Ben Stein fails science class, part 1.
  • Episode 6, Ben Stein fails science class, part 2.
  • Episode 7, All about the Center for Inquiry – Indiana.

Posted in Events, FreeThought, Local, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science, Skepticism, Video | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Enlightenment Show Update

Posted by Skeptigator on April 21, 2008

A handful of our members are involved in producing a public access show, called The Enlightenment Show. It is played locally on Comcast and Verizon FiOS, check your local listings for channel and times.

If however you can’t seem to catch the show locally (or you are not local) we now offer it online on our Enlightenment Show page. Each show is about 1/2 hour long and covers brief news items as well as a general topic for discussion.

So far 4 episodes have been produced and episodes 3 & 4 are currently in rotation on public access. Past topics have been “The separation of church and state”, “The scientific method” and “cold reading”. Future episodes planned include a critique of Ben Stein’s sad movie propaganda piece “Expelled” and “The placebo effect” .

If you like what you see or would like to offer some constructive criticism drop a comment on The Enlightenment Show’s page and we’ll make sure the producers of the show get the information.

Posted in FreeThought, Local, Religion, Science, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Expelled is a non-starter

Posted by neuralgourmet on April 14, 2008

It seems the producers of the fraudulent documentary about a manufactured controversy starring wannabe smart guy Ben Stein are going out of their way to insure that the film will be a flop. They are actually withholding screenings of Expelled from critics. This seems like a reasonable thing to do if your film is full of spurious facts and misrepresentations. After all, critics have this nasty habit of, you know, criticizing and who wants that? Especially when you’re banking on people not knowing what your flick is about lest they decide to hang onto their hard won money.

And it’s a tactic that works when your audience doesn’t read movie reviews anyway instead relying on commercials and trailers. As Sean Means, film critic for the Salt Lake Tribune puts it:

This makes sense, from the studio’s perspective, since the people who go to see horror flicks and dumb comedies – teenagers and morons, respectively – don’t read reviews, and will be lured by those shiny objects called TV commercials. The same logic applied to the “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus” concert movie, which was pre-sold to its pre-teen audience, who would have attended no matter what wooly-headed critics likeme had to say about it.”

However, documentaries are different. Documentaries aren’t usually marketable via trailers or commercials and people are reluctant to spend their money to be “educated”, especially by an unknown film. So documentaries are almost always dependent on critics for initial praise and to help build a word-of-mouth following.

Not the producers of Expelled though. But why? Probably because they know the film is terrible. Not just bad, but mind-blowing, gut-wrenching, claw-your-eyes-out-with-your-fingers awful. They don’t want critics to see it because they don’t want people to know, before they plunk their silver down, how abysmal the flick really is.

So I think we have to ask, why all the fuss? The film is getting next to no publicity outside of creationist circles, the widely reported disingenuous tactics and the general ineptitude of the producers of Expelled have already garnered the film so much negative publicity that perhaps the only reason anybody would pay to see the movie is to laugh at it, much in the way that people laugh at Ed Wood films. I think, inside of a month, Expelled will have come and gone and no one but creationists will care.

Well, to be fair, there are some reasons for rationalists to care. After all, viewing flicks like Expelled gives good exercise in deconstructing propaganda and studying denialist tactics (and believe me, denialists all use the same tactics). It’s also useful for pointing out to others the deceitful hypocrisy of creationist and ID proponents. Beyond that though, I truly think Expelled is a complete non-starter.

Posted in Religion | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Expelled Exposed by Eugenie Scott

Posted by Skeptigator on March 27, 2008

Eugenie Scott of NCSE fame has setup a website, www.expelledexposed.com. It is dedicated to exposing all of the lies, half-truths and deceptions in and surrounding the Ben Stein movie, Expelled.

For those who don’t know but would like to get a taste of some of the tactics of the creationists, oops, I mean Intelligent Design proponentists, check out PZ Myers blog and Richard Dawkins entry appropriately title, Lying for Jesus.

Found via Skepchick

Posted in Religion, Skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »