Sunday, April 27, 2008

No Intelligence Allowed

Here's a video (it's about 10 minutes long) that shows just what a smart guy Ben Stein really is. Maybe this isn't the guy you should listen to in matters scientific.

Via Pharyngula.


Claude Scales said...

Ben Stein, whom I can count as a friend-of-a-friend (although I haven't seen the friend in question since she moved to Washington, DC over a decade ago), and whom I used to admire for his acerbic humor and intelligent commentary on financial matters, has either gone gaga or revealed a side of himself I never suspected existed. So sad.

That being said, I'll repeat here the substance of what I've posted on SA-B concerning the YouTube clip. The commentator with the plummy Brit accent is himself guilty of one howler (though, to be fair, Stein sort of unwittingly tricks him into it) and one bit of wishful thinking. The howler is in using a discussion of "social Darwinism" to analogize the covenant between God and the Jews described in Deuteronomy with the Nazi "master race" ideology that Stein incorrectly equates with social Darwinism, which is itself a nasty ideology holding that society should not be structured so as to provide succor to its weakest members because to do so undermines evolutionary progress which requires that only the fittest survive. Of course, this is in no way supported by contemporary evolutionary science, which in fact, as I understand it, recognizes the survival value (both on a species and an individual level) of altruistic behavior. The wishful thinking is the commentator's apparent belief that globalization, with its accompanying increase in trade among nations, is proof against war. Unfortunately, the last great era of globalization was brought to a crashing end by World War I. Nevertheless, it is probaby true that, all other things being equal, nations that have etensive trade relationships (and especially those, like China, that are experiencing export-driven growth) are less likely to be militarily aggressive than those that pursue autarky.

Catnapping said...

I've considered Stein an idiot for years. I've watched him use faux logic to justify supporting neocon and other racist policies. **ck Ben Stein.

By the by...I don't think science has helped mankind to the extent the narrator that he's touting technology that has harmed mankind as much as it as helped mankind.

Living till one is 70...big whoop. It's quality of life that should matter, not quantity of years.

Living till one is he can consume more? So that the pharmaceutical and DME industries can make gazillions off of his age-related technology-induced chronic medical problems? To hell with that, too.

More and more, it seems that we're using technology to try and fix problems that result from technology. (yeah, i get the irony that i'm bitching about this with my keyboard through the magic of internetz.)

I think that most of our planetary problems...the ones screwing with the quality of life...result directly and indirectly from overcrowding. And if not for technology...we wouldn't be overcrowding the planet. Populations would be kept in check by miscarriages, disease, and old age...

Preemies and the aged are commodities in our culture...they are kept alive so that the medical-industrial complex can thrive.

Disease...another commodity. Ya know...the USA may not have deliberately infected Africa with AIDS, but you can bet that US and Europe-owned pharmaceutical companies have been using the African continent for profit. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that something along the lines of the Tuskegee crap is going on with entire countries of humans being used as guinea pigs...

Yeah. I'm rambling. And reading this might give the impression that I'm slamming science. I am not.

But neither do I see science as perfect - or even the best thing we have going. Because science relies on empiricism, and the problem with empiricism is that perceptions are limited by innate bias, terminology, and our own senses.

I know I sound nuts when I talk about it, but I really do see technology as a bad the end. I think if we took all the gross of positive and negative, we'd find a net result of negative.

That is not the fault of science. It is the fault of profiteers and religious nuts who play into their agenda by promoting values that contribute the negative impact humans have on this planet.

Archaeopteryx said...

Hi, Claude. I'm not a proponent of every using science as an excuse for any sort of misguided social engineering, and I think when you mix science and religion, you do a disservice to both. And I think that you're right, commerce doesn't guarantee against war--but it sure doesn't hurt.

Cat, I don't share your dislike of technology. I look forward to living to be 105, and, the way I live, I'm sure I'm going to need lots and lots of technology to keep me alive. I think our quality of life is so much better than anything that came before us, based just on microbrew availability. Of course you're right about overcrowding, but the answer is to cut back on the reproductive rate, not to allow the folks we have now to die.