The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Ben Stein – Not Expelled, Just Flunked

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 4, 2009

Note: Read up on my recent post, Creationism is Evolving Again, for the full context of this entry.

Well, today I have good news. It seems that would-be “defender of truth & freedom” Ben Stein has received a rather public smackdown. For those of you who may not recall, Ben Stein – in addition to making Clear Eyes eye-drops and the phrase “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?” famous – was the poster child for the disastrously-received creationist propaganda film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

expelled ben stein

When promoting the film last year, in addition to spewing the usual creationist nonsense such as insisting that “Darwinism” was responsible for Nazism & the Holocaust and alluding to an “Darwinist” conspiracy to rid academia of “people who just want to ask questions”, Stein reached new lows during an interview on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). In this interview, Stein stated, unequivocally…

When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.

…Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

You can see the entire exchange in the TBN interview in the first part of this online video, Why do people laugh at creationists? (part 24)

Well, it seems that Stein was asked to give the 2009 commencement address at the University of Vermont (UVM). Apparently, when word got out that Stein was to deliver this speech at UVM, where he tried to promote Expelled last spring, there were plenty of people who got upset about it. Think about it: here was a man who had promoted a film which blatantly misrepresented both the scientific & academic communities in the promotion of a pseudoscientific & pseudohistorical agenda giving the commencement address at a major university? Yeah, it didn’t make sense to me, either.

Long story short, there was an organized campaign, by people inside and outside of the university, to express displeasure with the choice of an anti-science nut like Stein to deliver such a high-profile speech. Much of the negative feedback the university received is outlined at this transcript of an interview with UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel. Eventually, after such a public outcry, Stein voluntarily withdrew from giving the commencement speech, and he stated so publicly.

From the press-release outlining Stein’s withdrawal from the speech…

I am writing to inform you that Ben Stein, a renowned economist and public personality, has informed me of his decision to withdraw from our Commencement ceremonies in May.

… Mr. Stein has also expressed opinions on subjects unrelated to economics, most notably with respect to evolutionary theory, intelligent design, and the role of science in the Holocaust. Those views are highly controversial, to say the least. Following the announcement of Mr. Stein as Commencement speaker, profound concerns have been expressed to me by persons both internal and external to the University about his selection. Once I apprised Mr. Stein of these communications, he immediately and most graciously declined our Commencement invitation.

Now, what’s really interesting about this whole affair is the creationist reaction to Stein’s voluntarily withdrawing from speaking at UVM. True to form, those consummate whiners at the mega-creationist “think” tank called the Discovery Institute have decided to spin this whole situation as another example of the supposed dogma promoted by Darwinists. They further maintain that because Stein voluntarily withdrew that it is evidence for a vast conspiracy to prevent open & honest criticism of evolutionary science. If these IDiots keep spinning in their tin-foil hats any faster, they’re going to achieve liftoff.

Of course, the irony behind the creationists claiming that they aren’t being allowed to freely criticize science & evolution specifically is that these same people shut down open debate and criticism of Expelled when they were trying to promote it! From attempting to blatantly manipulate the media at press events to employing dishonest interviewing tactics, the creationists behind this waste of a movie displayed an astonishing level of hypocrisy. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black – sheesh!

Well, all I can say to Ben Stein is this: you weren’t expelled Ben, you just plain flunked. And to the all the creationist whiners out there, it’s time you grew up and joined us in the 21st century.

One Response to “Ben Stein – Not Expelled, Just Flunked”

  1. gfish said

    Ben Stein proves that by being charming and having a funny little gimmick, you can hide your ignorance and ridiculous views for years on end. I guess that either the monotone just doesn’t have its hypnotic charm or he’s so far off his kilter, it can’t hide his insanity any longer.

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