Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Ideologues Get It Wrong Again


I found the following on the tubes. It’s about Ben Stein’s piece that mocks science:

Ben Stein Assails the Intelligentsia

Ben Stein’s new documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” is a riveting expos of the intolerant academic community that systematically declares war on anyone or any institution that dares to question liberal Darwinian orthodoxy. “Correct speak” and “correct think” are de rigueur among scholars, who are expected to tow the line that “evolution” and “natural selection” are the be all and end all when it comes to deciphering the origins of mankind.

Obviously, the writer supported the movie. Take a close look at the kind of language used to drum up support for Stein’s “documentary”.

“Assails the Intelligentsia”. My goodness. I wasn’t aware there was a group of intelligent people that needed assailing. This single headline is a good example of a giant problem I have with people like the author: they have effectively convinced a significant portion of the American public that being intelligent is somehow bad. What possible purpose could be expressed for a requirement that smart people need to feel bad about themselves and their work? Is it jealousy from folks who were lazy when they were supposed to be learning? I’m not sure. By the way, I recognize and agree that our current education system doesn’t propel every student to their maximum capabilities. But in the age of conservatives screaming for more personal responsibility, I find it discouraging that too many tend to practice just the opposite. How many externalities can they point their fingers at while professing their perceived victim-hood?

“Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”. This works on so many levels, levels I’m not sure Mr. Stein wanted to take us to. The film is obviously about evolution and the fringe right-wing’s irrational desire to include the Christian church’s teachings in public schools as though the two are the same. It’s creationism and it has no place in public school. One big reason is I haven’t heard of anybody behind the creationism/design efforts to also include the teachings of other world religions. If they were the slightest bit serious about their desires to include alternative teachings, they would push for beliefs not their own. Since they haven’t and won’t, they shouldn’t be taken seriously. They’re dangerous ideologues.

“intolerant academic community”. Projection is a common affliction with those who self-victimize. I just discussed creationists intolerance for alternative beliefs. But by pointing to it in others, it distracts from an honest evaluation of their intentions. Should the academic community not teach subject matter that has been determined to undermine well-vetted scientific topics? Absolutely. Case in point: gravity has been shown to not work/exist in certain physical frameworks. Are creationists calling for an alternative to gravity? Of course not. Evolution is as tight a concept as exists in science. Magic does not belong in biology courses.

“that systematically declares war on anyone or any institution that dares to question liberal Darwinian orthodoxy”. Here is the really damaging language: “declares war on anyone or any…”. Indiscriminate declarations of war? Are they serious? This obviously does two things. First, it evokes an emotional response from most readers that generates a repulsion of the academic community. Second, it dampens future emotional responses to war declarations. Coupled with situations like Bush unilaterally declaring war on a sovereign nation, the public is desensitized to the entire concept of war. This of course slowly removes responsibility for future claims of declaring war, which should always be the last option after everything else has been exhausted.

Liberal Darwinian orthodoxy. What a bunch of crap. Here’s an interesting counterpoint: which field has systematically utilized the methods described by Darwin? Economics, the bastion of the right. Only the toughest survive, right? Only the brightest survive… actually, scratch that one since intelligent people have declared war on the rest of the population. By logical extension, there can’t be any smart people in economics, since they’re all manning liberal Darwinian orthodox walls. See how silly this screed really is? The orthodoxy label has been carefully placed here. Once again, which field is more rigid in its thinking: biology or economics? Which field uses models developed 150 years ago to this day, despite shifts in the population? Or perhaps more accurately, which field has been co-opted to drive a wedge between classes in our society?

Some nonsense about “correct think and correct speak” follows. This comes from an ideology that delivers talking points to overpaid blowhards day after day. Those chatterers can’t and don’t come up with their own topics. If you read columns on corporate newspapers or watch shows on corporate television, the same points come up at the same time. The exact same points. No matter the actual topic, you can’t tell the difference between each show or each columnist. Again, the projection is all too obvious. Critical thought is encouraged and takes place daily in the realm of science; it is the exact opposite situation as the author who wrote this fluff.

Evolution is the best descriptor of the origins of not only mankind but all life. The process is verifiable under all conditions testable.

I, therefore, question two things.

Why the continual railing against science, the scientific method, and solid concepts? To get at this, I question why science seems so scary to people like the author or to Ben Klein? Or why do they feel that science threatens their belief system?

Then, why do folks work so hard to drive a wedge between science and religion? What is gained by demonizing passionate people who work so hard at their jobs? Why do they want so much controversy? And why aren’t critics of intelligent people willing to act like they had the courage of their convictions?

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2 thoughts on “Ideologues Get It Wrong Again

  1. Does the “intelligentsia” include the “intelligent designer” too?

  2. That’s an interesting question, Zach. It’s an ironic use of the word I hadn’t considered.

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