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Thread: Commencement controversy

  1. #1
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    Commencement controversy

    So, at my college (University of Vermont) we were scheduled to have Ben Stein be the Commencement speaker for the class of 2008. I had gotten wind of it, oddly enough, through a Pharangula blog entry by PZ Myers. Now, being a science major this irritated me on several levels. I probably wasn't the first person to do so, but I mentioned this to several groups (the vast majority of them being science majors) on campus and started an avalanche of written protests to the university's President and to the school papers (The Cynic and The Watertower).

    Lo, and behold, the school President emailed the lot of us and said that after a blizzard of protests, Ben Stein is no longer speaking at Commencement.

    Why was I so annoyed? Granted, I liked his show and his movie roles, but I did not feel that Mr. Stein's stance on science reflected the University's own self-image as a center for learning based around science.

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    Neat story, Vermonter. Nice when they listen.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vermonter View Post
    but I did not feel that Mr. Stein's stance on science reflected the University's own self-image as a center for learning based around science.

    And this is why Stein shouldn't be a commencement speaker at any public university IMO.

    Good show!

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    Or private ones, for that matter, if the university wants to be any good.
    "Words that make questions may not be questions at all."
    - Neil deGrasse Tyson, answering loaded question in ten words or less
    at a 2010 talk MCed by Stephen Colbert.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose View Post
    Or private ones, for that matter, if the university wants to be any good.
    Yeah, I share your opinion. I left them out in deference to their private nature, since at least in theory they're not getting any of my tax dollars. I agree though, a commencement speaker such as Stein would bring serious credibility questions about the commitment to science at any university that chose to have him. I'll not elaborate futher to avoid violating the forum rules.

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    I don't know this controversy.

    Is this the same Ben Stein who portrays dead pan science teachers all the time?
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    It's this Ben Stein. Check out the bottom section on his views on evolution and science.

    Equating scientists with nazi guards sending people to their deaths is ... beyond revolting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    I don't know this controversy.

    Is this the same Ben Stein who portrays dead pan science teachers all the time?
    Yes, but last year a film called "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" It was about evolution/creationsim/ID. It wasn't good at all and IIRC contained a lot of selective editting.

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    Eeh, I'd still go fishing with him.

    I see his point, I see your point.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    Eeh, I'd still go fishing with him.

    I see his point, I see your point.
    Huh. You might want to try reading some of his statements. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, since I liked some of his characters, and I wasn't too familiar with his views before "Expelled," but his Darwin/Nazi stuff is ludicrous and repellent.

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    A lot of people don't seem to understand that "Social Darwinism" is an extremely twisted interpretation of Darwin's original ideas and that Darwin shouldn't be held responsible for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    Huh. You might want to try reading some of his statements. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, since I liked some of his characters, and I wasn't too familiar with his views before "Expelled," but his Darwin/Nazi stuff is ludicrous and repellent.
    You don't have an uncle with strong opininions about anything?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    Huh. You might want to try reading some of his statements. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, since I liked some of his characters, and I wasn't too familiar with his views before "Expelled," but his Darwin/Nazi stuff is ludicrous and repellent.
    It was a disappointment for me as well.
    I agree with a lot of Ben Steins views, but those are pretty farfetched and clearly fallacious.

    Even a logical man will lose his logic once his emotions are affected by belief.
    To quote Sarek: "My logic falters... where my son is concerned."

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    And some people think *I'm* brutish.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    You don't have an uncle with strong opininions about anything?
    Eh, what?

    My suggestion was that you read more about what Stein said to see if you really do "see his point." He's not saying that Nazis corrupted scientific arguments for their propaganda, but that the science of evolution (which he calls "Darwinism") literally led to the Holocaust.

    He said a lot more than that too, but it's hard to discuss it here without getting heavily into the political and religious aspects.

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    All too true Mr. Rijn
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    Over and above his odious arguments, Don, his people also practiced a great deal of deception in order to secure interviews with Dawkins, Scott, Meyers. The whole movie was staggering in how rampant the unethical behavior was, both onscreen and off.

    Until it happened, I couldn't imagine Stein was capable of his part in it. It's still hard to fathom, really.
    "Words that make questions may not be questions at all."
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    at a 2010 talk MCed by Stephen Colbert.

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    Now to be fair, I don't hate the man myself. He's entertaining and informative in the right context and within his field of expertise. However, watching Expelled (and talking with several other folks who have watched it) have lead me to believe that he's stepping out of his bounds and entering the Woo Woo world. And yes, Big Don, I've had uncles who have strong opinions. They're fun to be around. :P

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vermonter View Post
    And yes, Big Don, I've had uncles who have strong opinions. They're fun to be around. :P
    Yeah. I just wanted to add that there's a pretty significant difference between my always fun, but sometimes colorful uncle (oh, do I have drunk uncle stories) and Stein. Stein has airtime and an agenda. That makes him dangerous.
    "Words that make questions may not be questions at all."
    - Neil deGrasse Tyson, answering loaded question in ten words or less
    at a 2010 talk MCed by Stephen Colbert.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vermonter View Post
    Now to be fair, I don't hate the man myself. He's entertaining and informative in the right context and within his field of expertise. However...
    Yes; and in contxt of this thread it's a big "however".
    For the same reason that I will be willing to watch a movie with Tom Cruise in it, but will not be open to watching interviews with him.

    The one that bothers me most is this:
    Stein does not say belief in the theory of evolution alone leads to genocide, but that it is a necessary component
    Maybe there was some relation when it comes to the holocaust, but that does not apply to genocide as a rule. That's been going on long before the concept of evolution and many times based on different views of creation.

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    Genocide is genocide. Only the rationalizations change.
    "Words that make questions may not be questions at all."
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    at a 2010 talk MCed by Stephen Colbert.

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    Speaking of genocide, the Wikipedia article quotes Stein on the consequences of Watergate:

    “ If there is such a thing as karma, if there is such a thing as justice in this life or the next, Mark Felt has bought himself the worst future of any man on this earth. And Bob Woodward is right behind him, with Ben Bradlee bringing up the rear. Out of their smug arrogance and contempt, they hatched the worst nightmare imaginable: genocide.[8]"

    By this he means that the above-named, by revealing facts that got Nixon impeached, were responsible for the rise of the Khmer Rouge and its genocide.

    At least Stein is consistent.

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    Wait, what? That doesn't make any sense.
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    I'm going to guess Stein's thinking is that if Nixon wasn't impeached and had remained in office, he would have stopped the Khmer Rouge. I'm not agreeing with that nonsense, but that's my interpretation.

    And of course, Nixon was only guilty because the the bad Washington Post published all that stuff about him.
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  26. #26
    Just be lucky he does not hand the diplomas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I'm going to guess Stein's thinking is that if Nixon wasn't impeached and had remained in office, he would have stopped the Khmer Rouge. I'm not agreeing with that nonsense, but that's my interpretation.

    And of course, Nixon was only guilty because the the bad Washington Post published all that stuff about him.
    wasn't he a speech writer or something for Nixon? maybe some sort of an economic adviser, perhaps.
    if so, that might explain why he was against him being removed from office- it put him out of a job.

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    It's a pity U. VT scheduled him in the first place. Now he can claim that once again, the scientists stifled free speech.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vermonter View Post
    ...Ben Stein is no longer speaking at Commencement.
    A hearty congratulations, Vermonter.

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  30. #30
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    Okay, thanks for the information everybody. This was something I completey missed.
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    (John, not the other one.)

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