Saturday, September 29, 2007

Richard Dawkins Stereotypes Ben Stein as "Creationist Front"

I thought I would juxtapose two passages from the Cornelia Dean editorial in the New York Times, that was the subject of my last post:

If he had known the film’s premise, Dr. [Richard] Dawkins said in an e-mail message, he would never have appeared in it. “At no time was I given the slightest clue that these people were a creationist front,” he said.

And this:
Mr. Stein, a prolific author who has acted in movies like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and appeared on television programs including “Win Ben Stein’s Money” on Comedy Central, said in a telephone interview that he accepted the producers’ invitation to participate in the film not because he disavows the theory of evolution — he said there was a “very high likelihood” that Darwin was on to something — but because he does not accept that evolution alone can explain life on earth.

That does not sound like he is a creationist to me. If I were Ben Stein, I would be pretty annoyed at Richard Dawkins' false characterization of him as a "creationist front." Dawkins is the one with an issue of honesty, or at least accuracy.

So here is the apparent angle of the story: Dawkins and Eugenie Scott are upset because the movie people did not tell them they were "creationists" or a "creationist front," but if they had told them that, they would have been lying. To put it another way: Dawkins and Scott apparently felt misled, not because they were misled, but because their own ignorant stereotypes led them to an incorrect understanding about the makers of the film.

We should all pitch in and support remedial education for Dawkins and Scott, and perhaps some multicultural sensitivity training.

For some other posts on the problem of stereotyping in the scientific community, read here and here or here.


At September 30, 2007 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard Dawkins still making ad hominem attacks, I see. It should not matter to Dawkins who is making what video. If his ideas have logical validity, then the beliefs of others have no bearing on them.

On the other hand, if his ideas are only a mere matter of his own opinion, and not factual, then I can understand completely why he would think they are threatened by his opponents beliefs.

At October 04, 2007 8:31 AM, Blogger Mr. Justice said...

Yeah, if your magic molecules to man theory is so ironclad, it should be able to stand up to ALL criticism. Funny how they'd rather silence critics instead of answering them honestly.

Actually, it's not funny at all. It smacks of fascism.

At December 31, 2007 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"but because he does not accept that evolution alone can explain life on earth."

But this is the number one tactic of the "creationist front". Under a false dichotomy, if evolution is not 100% true, then creationism might be true.

So, the movie is very biased against evolution and towards creationism and that certainly qualifies as being a "creationist front".

"It should not matter to Dawkins who is making what video."

It matters because of the distortions that a movie editor is capable of creating using creative editing.

"they'd rather silence critics"

This is, of course, a lie.

But they do want to keep creationists from teaching religion in a high school classroom. See the Dover trial transcript.

Now let's talk about the forced resignation of the Director of Science of the Texas Education Agency. Hint - she was not a creationist.

At February 29, 2008 2:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay first of all intelligent design is creationism in a cheap tuxedo. That's not just my anonymous internet user opinion, not just the opinion of 99% of credible scientists worldwide, but also of the United States Government (see Dover case).

If you watch the trailer for Ben Stein's new unsubstantiated propaganda attempt, he explains that everything was created "by a loving God". I'm sorry, but I don't see how that can be mistaken for anything but creationist.

Furthermore, the film attempts to blame the disasters of the 20th century, like the holocaust, Stalin, the Berlin Wall, on evolution. I can understand why creationist don't get evolution (because they haven't taken a single college biology course), but history? I find it disturbing that some people think that genocide and oppression were invented in the last 100 years and attributable to a theory about the origin of life.

P.S. If you were wondering what evidence they had for evolution causing the holocaust, you could probably guess already that there is none. Which is analogous to the case for ID. Why is it so hard for people to base their beliefs on empirical evidence?

At March 06, 2008 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the difference between Intelligent Design and Evolution:

Intelligent Design's basis is on a lack of information, holes so-to- speak in the theory of evolution. In fact Intelligent Design can not be warranted as a theory but strictly as a belief being there is no testable data or conclusions.

Evolution THEORY is based on evidence which becomes more conclusive by the day. This evidence is subject to peer review and has withstood nearly 150 years of new findings, species, and fossils (and yes transitional fossils too).

Does evolution have every transitional gap covered? No. But let me you remind this is not a simple matter of finding old bones. Bones afterall do not survive the ravages of time. Fossils however do, and one must realize that fossilization is a pretty rare event in itself. Therefore, regardless of how much we dig there are going to be gaps due to the rarity of preservation.

As to Dawkin's concerns of being positioned in a creationist front, they are well validated. It is after all a movie which as we know can be cut and spliced to serve whatever purpose deemed. My only chastising of Dawkins is to read the fine print and to know thy enemey. Next time get a "right of refusal" clause in whatever contract/permissions you grant.

At March 15, 2008 9:15 AM, Anonymous lawrence said...

Some ridiculous arguments from some anonymous people:

Judge Jones speaks for the entire US government? Where did you learn civics?

"Intelligent design is creationism in a cheap tuxedo." That is not an argument; that is a sound bite. What does it mean? The key question is whether there are important differences. There are. The entire basis of evidence and agrumentation are different.

The rest are very tired arguments that misrepresent ID and do not address the best arguments for ID and/or skepticism of Darwinian theory.

At March 18, 2008 5:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was it Zeus, Allah, Thor or Santa Claus with the tool set? Oh that's right, ID could only come from a Christian God as it is a Christian concept. OPEN YOUR FREAKING EYES. ID has no testable data whatsoever other then a crackpot mathematician saying "Gee, imagine the odds."

At March 25, 2008 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me. "if his ideas have logical validity, then the beliefs of others have no bearing on them" -- well, it is ID that is threatened by evolution, not the other way 'round. And, mr. justice, darwin never sought to explain the origins of the universe, only the origins of the species. descent with modification. it does stand up to all criticism, just ask your bush-appointee in dover,PA.
The founding fathers, by the way, sought to create a SECULAR nation. They were not, as creationists like to claim, religious people by any stretch of the imagination. THEY WERE MEN OF REASON.

At April 10, 2008 10:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only thing I can say is that you either believe or you dont. If there is a God then I would definitely want to be on the right side of the argument. I dont want to wait till death comes to find out. I cant convince you either way what to believe, that is something you really need to weigh out for yourself based on real evidence. Dont trust what everyone else says, only trust what you can prove in your heart. One day there will either be an eternity of inlightenment or nothing. Find out where the road leads before you travel to the end of it.

At April 25, 2008 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In his Los Angeles Times opinion piece, "Gods and earthlings", April 18, 2008, Richard Dawkins flails around in an attempt to extricate himself after Ben Stein handed him his ass in the movie "Expelled -- No Intelligence Allowed".

When talking about intelligent design theorists, he mentions their "notorious dishonesty".

Then in the very next paragraph Richard Dawkins demonstrates his own "notorious dishonesty" when he writes: "The distinguished molecular biologists Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel advanced a version of the notion, probably tongue in cheek, called 'Directed Panspermia'."

I understand why evolutionists would want to distance themselves from Crick and Orgel's asinine theory, but to imply that Crick and Orgel weren't serious about is a barefaced lie.

After all, they published the paper in the scientific journal "Icuras", not "The Onion". And, unmentioned by the notoriously dishonest Richard Dawkins, Crick and Orgel later expanded on this idea when they published their book "Life Itself" in 1981.

So, Richard Dawkins is either a liar or an idiot. I'll let his groupies decide which.

(Or maybe it's a liar and an idiot?)

At June 16, 2008 12:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"ALIENS!!" - Richard Dawkins, making a fool out of himself with a completely sincere expression

At June 24, 2008 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note how not one intelligent design proponent manages to produce one -- even one! -- fact that undermines or refutes evolution. It's not surprising therefore that isn't even one fact -- not one! -- in support of ID.

If you guys are sitting on the answer that rebuts evolution let's hear it. Time for an 'intelligent', fact-based discussion, yes?

At September 24, 2008 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once wrote a paper on the problem of human genetics (we are getting worse, not better in an evolutionary sense). No one, not even Richard dawkins (who refused to respond), has ever offered me one shred of scientific proof that I am wrong.

Athiests are empty headed fools with their own agenda, and Dawkins is the most guilty of all. He has no right to point the finger at American Christians and call them the "American Taliban." He doesn't have a scientific leg to stand on and has made it abundantly clear that his goal is to convert people to his own atheistic world-view. What a hypocrite!

I should add that Evolution is only 50% correct. That is, micro-evolution is observable and testable, while Macro-evolution is still far from proven.

At January 17, 2009 12:56 PM, Blogger Rich Dawkins said...

yes, quite...

At March 07, 2009 1:04 PM, Anonymous Francis said...

Ben Steins movie may be subjective, and not completely balanced. But the main topic of the movie seems to be "free speech" and not wether creationism, intelligent design or the (different) interpretations of (the scientifically much more plausible) evolution theory is right.
So, as it is important to defend freedom of teaching of biology (and not religion) in biology classes, the critics of e.g. Dawkins' form of mixing philosophy, religion and evolution theories should have the right to make their case. If something is "religiously" or "scientifically" correct is not a criterion for or against free speech.

At October 14, 2009 7:30 AM, Blogger thinking above my pay grade said...

The Darwinian type of evolutionists will many times use the term "creationist" instead of "intelligent design proponent".

They refuse to acknowledge that in the large, large field of scientists, others who see an intelligence behind it...that there are a multitude of views, theories on who and what the intelligent designer might be...

This bias can be seen in the lopsided Wikipedia articles. (Just click on the Discussion tab to see the editing wars.)

At May 25, 2010 10:06 AM, Anonymous Bertrand Russell is right. said...

Well the argument from design has been disposed of (I thought) many years ago. Just because there is a clock does not imply a clock maker.
Let me quote Bertrand Russell, " It is not that their environment was made to be suitable to them but that they grew to be suitable to it, and that is the basis of adaptation. There is no evidence of design about it." Now recently there has been the development of synthetic self replicating DNA. If you do not believe me go look it up on NPR's site or google it. The original cell was not completely "synthetic," but its DNA was. So this is not quite the ultimate realization of the project of organic chemistry, i.e. to create living matter from completely lifeless matter, but it is a giant step in that direction. How do you get something alive from nothing? Well we have already done it. I think what Stein is really trying to do is corner Mr. Dawkins into saying that well we can't really explain where it all began or how. This does not mean that suddenly ID is correct. It is just as likely that an intelligent purple chicken in the sky intelligently designed the first replicating cell as it is likely that a judeo christian god did or an alien for that matter. It also begs the question of first cause which is another argument that has been disposed of that I won't get into here. This does not mean that the scientific method should be thrown out and that we should now suddenly teach creationism in schools. It also does not lend support to the notion of ID. I think Mr. Steins movie is a slanted polemic designed to incite people to not believe in evolutionary theory by connecting it to the holocaust and Hitler. Selective breeding however is quite a different thing from random mutation. Whatever mutations lend themselves to survival (reproduction) are what we are talking about. Their is nothing intrinsically good about humans or human life. Mr. Stein and a lot of religious people just do not want to give up the belief that humans are somehow special.


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