…and in so doing illustrates why ID is so intellectually bankrupt. He won’t bother to link to me, and I’ve learned my lesson about trusting Creationists to be honest, so no linkage from me. But what he says is absolutely hilarious:
I mentioned last year in the thread $180 million anti-God movie bombs at box office:
[...]To which a god-hating Darwinist by the name of Evil Bender responded:
A passionate romance takes place while God mercilessly drowns the world.
My favorite part, though, is that Sal thinks it will inspire people to “uncover the mysteries of the great flood.” Sadly for Sal, “Magic Man Done It” is still not a scientific hypothesis. And pop culture nonsense is still not a way to do science, or else we’d be using Dinosaurs as household appliances.
Not so fast EvilBender, you godless Darwinazi. By the grace of God, I had a “chance” encounter with a movie producer who is laying the groundwork for just such a movie. It appears God placed the idea on the hearts of several of his people.
Thanks for proving my point, Sal! Even if this bunch of fundie Creationists does make the movie, that won’t invalidate a single word I wrote.
My point, as you can see in the (surprisingly non-quotemined*) excerpt above, isn’t that no one would make such a movie–movies about the “Great Flood” have been made before, after all–but that it won’t make anyone learn about the science of the flood, because that “science” doesn’t exist, and is just a bunch of Creationist magical thinking.
Naturally, Sal didn’t bother to refute that point. There’s no scientific merit in a movie based on anti-science, any more than there’s scientific merit in The Flintstones. There was no Great Flood circa 4,000 BC that drowned everything but eight people and 2 of each animal. Or was it seven of some? Seven pairs? At any rate, such an historical event never happened. And even if this film gets made, there is no chance it will advance science–only Sal’s Creationist agenda. As I said before.
But Sal apparently doesn’t realize this, since, like all the ID folks, he’s far more interested in PR than in actual science. Thanks for demonstrating that yet again, Sal!
(One more thing, Sal: I don’t believe in God, and so certainly do not hate him. I do think the God you envision–who murders almost all life on Earth because he’s angry–is a hateful, angry, petty deity. But as the Flood never happened, the God of the Flood story is certainly an imaginary deity, and so note worthy of “hate.” But keep using words like “Darwinazi.” They really help your credibility.)
*Though apparently Sal didn’t want to note that I mentioned “hydroplate theory” which he supports, a “theory” which can’t explain the flood, because for it to work everyone would be vaporized.
“Cult” not an acceptable word in the UK? May 20, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in language and lit, News and politics, Religion.
A teenager is facing prosecution for using the word “cult” to describe the Church of Scientology.
The unnamed 15-year-old was served the summons by City of London police when he took part in a peaceful demonstration opposite the London headquarters of the controversial religion.
Officers confiscated a placard with the word “cult” on it from the youth, who is under 18, and a case file has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Clearly, free speech was seen by the officers as a problem. What was so offensive?
Demonstrators from the anti-Scientology group, Anonymous, who were outside the church’s £23m headquarters near St Paul’s cathedral, were banned by police from describing Scientology as a cult by police because it was “abusive and insulting”.
Writing on an anti-Scientology website, the teenager facing court said: “I brought a sign to the May 10th protest that said: ‘Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult.’
“Abusive and insulting” apparently has a very specific meaning in British law.
A policewoman later read him section five of the Public Order Act and “strongly advised” him to remove the sign. The section prohibits signs which have representations or words which are threatening, abusive or insulting.
You can read the relevant sections of the Public Order Act here.
I have no expertise on British Law, but the Public Order Act seems subject to abuse, and certainly was abused here, if this report was accurate. A sign condemning Scientology is certainly no threat to the public order. Let’s hope these charges are quickly dropped.
Pope Ratzi: making pronouncements is what I do May 18, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in bigotry, constiutional issues, News and politics, Religion, wingnuts.
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Everyone’s least favorite pope is back in the news, speaking out after the California court dared to admit that denying marriage to gay couples is discrimination.* It seems Ratzi’s eager to continue his defense of the family, so long as “family” is defined in a narrow enough way to make him comfortable:
One day after California overturned a ban on same-sex marriage, the Holy Father has firmly stated that only marriage between a man and a woman is moral.
Yesterday, California’s Supreme Court came to a 4-3 decision overturning the state’s law preventing homosexuals from being recognized as married. [...]
“The union of love, based on matrimony between a man and a woman, which makes up the family, represents a good for all society that can not be substituted by, confused with, or compared to other types of unions,” he said.
No word on why only heterosexual married couples can have a “union of love,” or indeed why a man who takes a vow of chastity should be taken seriously when he pontificates** on what marriage should be. More importantly, though, I’m not sure why anyone would take what this (exorcism-loving, atheist-blaming, medicine-denying, human-right destroying, imperialism-affirming, communion-denying) pope says about morality seriously. There is absolutely no reason to believe that Ratzi should be taken as an expert on moral matters. Seriously, Catholics, doesn’t it piss you off that this scumbag speaks for your church now?
Like Dubya, Ratzi has the amazing ability not to see the tremendous irony in his words. Ratzi, the same man who told Catholics not to talk to the police about abusive priests, now is talking about how we must save the family by keeping gays from getting married. Un-fucking-believable.
*I’ve been so busy with finals I haven’t had time to comment on that. Score one for civil rights! Let’s hope the tide has turned enough that California voters don’t make discrimination “consitutional” in November.
**Using that word in a post about the Pope is fun! Try it–you’ll like it.
Sexism and Woo in one f’d up package May 18, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in bigotry, Skepticism, Woo.
It seems that CBS is going to air a show that combines two of my least favorite things: sexism and woo. The concept: a woman is told by her psychic that she has one year in which to wed, or she’ll never find her “soul mate.”
Not even a talking dog/Johnny Cash could make me watch such tripe.
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Justice prevails! A court has ruled against a Florida principal who banned pro-gay messages from his school. Well, first he told a student to not tell others she was gay, then he threatened suspension and expulsion for supportive students, including any who dared to bring anything featuring rainbows to school. Here’s my favorite part:
Bizarrely, the original response from the school when the ACLU sent them a letter challenging the policy was to claim that any symbols on clothing showed membership in an “illegal organization” or “secret society.”
While finding that Davis is secretly an odious fictional character is totally awesome, I agree with Chris over at Sex in the Public Square:
This is a good-news/bad-news kind of story: it’s good because it shows idiocy and homophobia given the trouncing that it so richly deserves, but it’s bad the fact that it took place at all shows that this country persists in treating lunatics seriously when in a just world, they should be laughed at.
Indeed. Still, justice prevailed this time, and the students knew what to do when faced with abuse from adults, so high school has prepared them well for the rest of their lives. Now if only we can get them set up with a Room of Requirement.
(More) Good News Everyone! May 9, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in Uncategorized.
There’s a preview for the upcoming Futurama DVD on Youtube:
[tip o' the goteed robot to the Bad Astronomer]
Quote of the Moment May 9, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in Morality, News and politics, wingnuts.
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“It’s all tied to sovereignty, which we respect whether it’s on the ground or in the air.” – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on why the U.S. won’t be airdropping any humanitarian aid to Myanmar anytime soon.
I’m sure the irony here needs no elaboration. Hang on to it as an easy refutation of wingnuts’ foreign policy claims.
And the winner is Phyllis Schlafly. Schlafly, who will soon be receiving an honorary degree from Washington University for her hatred of women hatred of gay people intolerance poor argumentation role in the conservative movement, is, as will likely come as a surprise to none of you, an ardent anti-science loon.
It seems Schlafly is eager to defend Ben “The holocaust is all Darwin’s fault” Stein and his crappy movie Expelled. Let’s see what Schlafly has to say:
Ben Stein is known to many as an actor on Comedy Central. But the funniest part about his recent movie “Expelled” is not any clever lines spoken by Stein but the hysterical way liberals are trying to discourage people from seeing it.
I won’t bother reminding Ms Schlafly that “hysterical” has its roots in misogyny, seeing as that seems to be her intention in using the word. This wouldn’t be the first time that Schlafly has attacked women for being women and liberals for being womanly. And it’s never going to be clear which liberals want people not to see Expelled. Scientists and science supporters are rightly pointing out all the lies and inaccuracies in the film, but if anyone seems hell-bent on keeping people away, it must be those mean “liberal” reviewers who seem to be anything but fond of the film.
Stein’s critics fail to refute effectively anything in “Expelled”; they just use epithets to ridicule it and hope they can make it go away. However, it won’t go away; even Scientific American, which labeled the movie “shameful,” concedes that it cannot be ignored.
As was the case in the essay that caused this award to be named after Schlafly, she’s incapable of providing any evidence to support her claims. She doesn’t demonstrate–or even hint at–which arguments have gone unrefuted, but since the film’s two arguments are “ID is being discriminated against” and “Darwin caused the holocaust,” it’s safe to say that one need look no further than expelledexposed.com to see that Expelled has been thoroughly refuted.
The movie is about how scientists who dare to criticize Darwinism or discuss the contrary theory called intelligent design are expelled, fired, denied tenure, blacklisted and bitterly denounced. Academic freedom doesn’t extend to this issue.
The message of Stein’s critics comes through loud and clear. They don’t want anybody to challenge Darwinian orthodoxy or suggest that intelligent design might be an explanation of the origin of life.
We’re going to some throughly dishonest examples of this so-called mistreatment of ID proponents in this essay. If there is so much oppression of ID, one might wonder why ID proponents can’t find anything damning to put forward, and instead must lie and misrepresent facts to make their case.
And of course, the reason ID isn’t taken seriously is no Vast Darwinist Conspiracy, it’s that it isn’t science. It makes no meaningful predictions, it advances our knowledge not a bit. It is a science stopper, which proclaims loudly and repeatedly wherever there is an unanswered question “God did it!” But Schlafly doesn’t want us to notice that. She’s too busy making unsubstantiated claims about Liberal Oppression.
Stein, who serves as his own narrator in the movie, is very deadpan about it all. He doesn’t try to convince the audience that Darwinism is a fraud, or that God created the world, or even that some unidentified intelligent design might have started life on Earth.
Stein merely shows the intolerance of the universities, the government, the courts, the grant-making foundations and the media, and their determination to suppress any mention of intelligent design.
Apparently Schlafly thinks there is a difference between “the government” and “the courts.” And I can’t help but find hilarious her treating all of these entities as a monolithic block determined to silence ID. As with every good conspiracy, most anyone is a part of it, and all groups are thought to operate in complete unity.
And apparently Schlafly is unaware of the irony in arguing that ID isn’t being treated fairly while admitting that Expelled doesn’t even attempt to demonstrate ID is a credible idea. You see, Ms Schlafly, in science and in the academy in general, ideas aren’t given credence just because they exist–they have to be supported. If ID actually made predictions, and if those predictions turned out to be useful and true (indeed, if ID was anything but a god-of-the-gaps argument), it would be welcomed by scientists in the same way other once-controversial ideas–like evolutionary theory–have been. But instead of actually doing the science, Stein and Schlafly want to run a PR campaign. And this explains exactly why they’re not taken seriously by mean old “liberal” scientists.
The only question posed by the movie is why, oh why, is there such a deliberate, consistent, widespread, vindictive effort to silence all criticism of dogmatic Darwinism or discussion of alternate theories of the origin of life? Stein interviews scientists who were blacklisted, denied grants and ostracized in the academic community because they dared to write or speak the forbidden words.
Notice that she’s still very vague. Now, she’s just recapping Stein, so some of that can be forgiven, but if she really wants us to believe there is a Vast Darwinist Conspiracy out there, she’s going to have to do better than this. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Liberals are particularly upset because the movie identifies Darwinism, rather than evolution, as the sacred word that must be isolated from criticism. But that semantic choice makes good sense because Darwinism is easily defined by Darwin’s own writings, whereas the word evolution is subject to different and even contrary definitions.
Since this is Schlafly, no definition of Darwinism, “easily defined” though it may be, is forthcoming. Neither is an example of the “different and even contrary definitions” or evolution. This defense of Expelled is laughable: Darwinism isn’t what is being taught, largely because Darwin didn’t know about such important things as genes. That’s why we have evolutionary theory, with the neo-Darwinian synthesis. Someone with even cursory knowledge of the topic would know that, so it’s clear that Schlafly is less than credible here.
The truly funny part of the movie is Stein’s interview with Richard Dawkins, whose best-selling book “The God Delusion” (Mariner Books) established this Englishman as the world’s premier atheist. Dawkins is a leading advocate of the theory that all life evolved from a single beginning in an ancient mud puddle, perhaps after being struck by lightning.
Putting aside the issue of evolving, how did life begin in the first place? Under Stein’s questioning, Dawkins finally said it is possible that life might have evolved on Earth after the arrival of a more highly developed being from another planet.
Aren’t aliens from outer space the stuff of science fiction? And how was the other-planet alien created? According to Dawkins, life must have just spontaneously evolved on another planet, of course without God.
So after just saying this movie is about “Darwinism,” Schlafly has moved on to complaining about the origin of life, something that most certainly is not part of evolutionary theory or “Darwinism.” But by conflating the two, Schlafly ably demonstrates her own lack of knowledge on her subject matter.
Stein spent two years traveling the world to gather material for this movie. He interviewed scores of scientists and academics who say they were retaliated against because of questioning Darwin’s theories.
Stein interviewed Dr. Richard Sternberg, a biologist who lost his position at the prestigious Smithsonian Institution after he published a peer-reviewed article that mentioned intelligent design. Other academics who said they were victims of the anti-intelligent design campus police included astrobiologist Guillermo Gonzalez, denied tenure at Iowa State University, and Caroline Crocker, who lost her professorship at George Mason University.
This would be very damning if it were true, but Sternberg never worked for the Smithsonian and didn’t lose his position there; Gonzalez was denied tenure not because he liked ID but because of serious problems with his time at Iowa State, including a lack of publications, grant money, and grad student work; and Crocker was not fired, though her contract was not renewed–something that is common with non-tenure track positions such as the one she held.
Simply put, none of these people were fired or oppressed due to their support of ID. Sternberg faced nothing harsher than criticism for sneaking an insufficiently-vetted paper into a journal, Gonzalez simply didn’t live up to the scholarly demands of his department, and Crocker was not fired. Hardly a Vast Darwinist Conspiracy after all.
But, undaunted by the facts, Schlafly presses on:
Stein dares to include some filming at the death camps in Nazi Germany as a backdrop for interviews that explain Darwin’s considerable influence on Adolf Hitler and his well-known atrocities. The Darwin-Hitler connection was not a Stein discovery; Darwin’s influence on Hitler’s political worldview, and Hitler’s rejection of the sacredness of human life, is acknowledged in standard biographies of Hitler.
Naturally, she provides no examples or support for her claim. But it turns out that Darwin wasn’t a “considerable influence” on Hitler, and that Hitler used a jumble of whatever he could find–often radically misused–to justify his evil. He relied heavily upon Christian doctrine and anti-semitism that traced back to Martin Luther and beyond; blaming Darwin for the holocaust makes no more sense than blaming the Apostle Paul.
Stein also addresses how Darwin’s theories influenced one of the U.S.’s most embarrassing periods, the eugenics fad of the early 20th century. Thousands of Americans were legally sterilized as physically or mentally unfit.
“Embarrassing” is certainly an understated word choice for Schlafly, especially given the criticism above. The tragedy of such policies were well-known, and they relied not on Darwin, but on a radical misuse of his work: social Darwinism, a theory which Darwin’s writings show he would have found represensible.
And, of course, none of these criticisms mean a thing anyway. They’re not true, but even if they were, they would not demonstrate any flaw in evolutionary theory, any more than relativity is to blame for Truman using the Bomb.
Mandatory sterilization based on Darwin’s theories was even approved by the U.S. Supreme Court, with Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes writing his famous line, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Stein also reminds us that Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist who wanted to eliminate the races she believed were inferior.
Oh! A non sequitor and a shot at Planned Parenthood. How deeply relevant. Schlafly is merely demonstrating that she doesn’t really want to get at the facts–she just wants to preach to the choir. Her readers hate Planned Parenthood, and so won’t stop to question what Sanger has to do with “Darwinism.”
Stein’s message is that the attack on freedom of inquiry is anti-science, anti-American and anti-the whole concept of learning. His dramatization should force the public, and maybe even academia, to address this extraordinary intolerance of diversity.
Given that Schlafly’s lies and distortions continue her routine attacks on education, science and rationality, this claim is ironic in the extreme. And for someone who is so routinely intolerant as Schlafly to make such a claim is nothing short of hilarious.
Diversity is not threatened when ID is correctly identified as “not science.” There is no Vast Darwinist Conspiracy to silence ID, and neither Schlafly or Stein have provided a single credible reason to believe otherwise. What they have done is defend ignorance by assaulting knowledge, and defend pseudo-science by calling it fact. Schlafly lacks evidence, lies, and misrepresents with almost every word she writes. And for this meaningless and dishonest string of distortions, she wins the 2nd Phyllis Schlafly Wouldn’t Pass Freshmen Composition Award.
Smith College Protest: my take May 7, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in bigotry, Morality, News and politics, wingnuts.
Most of my readers are probably already aware of recent events at Smith College, where a particularly odious speaker was shouted down by protesters. An email to Pam explains what happened:
The Smith College Republicans sponsored a speaking event featuring Ryan Sorba, author of the upcoming book The Born Gay Hoax. After about twenty minutes he was forced to abandon his speech after protesters forced their way into the room and drowned him out.
For other commentary on the matter, see Positive Liberty, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, and Shakesville. A quick summary: some bloggers have applauded the protesters for their actions, and others have suggested such actions are counterproductive and dangerously anti-free speech.
I’m most inclined to agree with Pam’s own take:
I haven’t been in this thread since I posted it, and it’s interesting to see the steelcage match going on in here. I personally think that shouting down someone like Sorba isn’t particularly useful; I’d rather hear the speech and rip on it after the fact, simply because you’ll get the ex-gay crowd making statements about free speech and suppression of their beliefs. After all, we wouldn’t have that completely unhinged speech of Sorba’s from Cali if he had been shouted down.
I’ll share my own similar reasons for objecting to this protest below the fold (danger: my comments may well anger some readers):