Evolution, Ben Stein, and Global Warming

IF YOU KNOW nothing about a complicated topic, which side of a debate do you believe, and why? You may trust your Curmudgeon when we say that today’s political writers will not follow the example of Thomas Jefferson.

In Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 6, Productions mineral, vegetable and animal, after discussing the mystery of petrified seashells found on mountaintops, and the available evidence to explain their presence, Jefferson rejects the three leading theories: universal deluge, inorganic origin of fossils (artifacts of mineral percolation), and catastrophic mountain uplifting. He wrote:

“. . . the three hypotheses are equally unsatisfactory; and we must be contented to acknowledge, that this great phaenomenon is as yet unsolved. Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, then he who believes what is wrong.

But Jefferson is ancient history. And besides, there was that untidy business of Sally Hemmings. Nobody in the media thinks well of Jefferson any more.

For an example of contemporary thinking when it comes to questions of science, consider what we found in the Tennessean, a daily newspaper in Nashville. There we read: A real debate on global warming hasn’t happened. This column intrigues us because its reasoning is so unrelentingly terrible. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold added by us:

The writer begins by lauding Ben Stein’s creationist documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed:

Stein’s highly cerebral review exposing the shallowness and bigotry that dominate what little scientific dialogue is now tolerated in today’s institutions of higher learning should have prompted vigorous discourse.

But instead of “vigorous discourse,” Stein’s “cerebral” film prompted the same snorts, guffaws, and eye-rolling that would have been appropriate if Stein had done a film about how he was kidnapped and probed by little green aliens. For more on Stein’s shoddy film, see: Our Articles on “Expelled”.

Okay, moving along with the Tennessean‘s column:

In Expelled, Stein bemoaned the treachery of university department bosses who land with both feet on anyone, demonstrating the temerity of merely proposing a discussion of sacredly held scientific dogma — in this case, the infallibility of Charles Darwin origin of the species theories.

Enough! We concede the columnist’s creationist credentials. Now then, all that remains is to find out how far his muddle-headedness extends. Is he also a flat-earther? A faith-healer? A geo-centrist? We read on:

Another area of science in which dissent is absolutely squashed is in the realm of our global climate.

Here, although we may lose half our readership, we suspect that the columnist, however irrational his methods, at least leans in an acceptable direction. We’ve previously described our skepticism about man-caused global warming and the political solutions offered to solve this “crisis,” so we won’t bore you by repeating ourselves. It’s here, if anyone’s interested.

But what does the Tennessean‘s columnist say about it? Let’s continue:

[Tennessee’s own Al] Gore, whose film is mandatory viewing for our now paranoid children, repeats the shopworn mantra that when it comes to any discussion of climate change, “the debate is over, the evidence is clear.” Fortunately, neither assertion is true. Actually, the debate has never been held.

Actually, that’s wrong. The debate is ongoing, but it’s not in the press. Here’s more:

Have you ever seen Gore on a stage with any of a multitude of actual climate scientists who think his global warming evidence is comical?

Why would a scientist debate with a bloated fool like Al Gore? Is that what the columnist thinks a scientific debate should be? Let’s read a bit more:

The Business & Media Institute completed a study of ABC, NBC and CBS television coverage of climate issues and discovered that a stunning 80 percent of network stories made no reference to any dissent from the global warming storyline. CBS ignored opposing views in 97 percent of its reports.

We don’t doubt it. Gore’s message that “government must act now or we’re all doomed” suits their political purposes. But a lack of journalistic controversy doesn’t mean an absence of scientific debate. That’s one of the problems this columnist is having here. He thinks it’s all about journalism. We read on:

When the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee recently released a list of more than 650 distinguished scientists who challenged the U.N. global warming orthodoxy, all three networks passionately ignored it.

Yes, but as we said, the science debate is alive, even if the journalism debate doesn’t exist.

Conversely — and this is our Curmudgeonly point in writing this article — there is no science debate over evolution, even though journalism and politics are awash in worthless wordage about that “controversy.”

How do we explain this apparent paradox? It’s simple. Politicians, and their bathroom attendants who pose as journalists, know nothing about science. Regardless of merit, they embrace whatever notion seems to be scientific if — and only if — it furthers their political purposes, as is the case with global warming. They brush aside the claims of creationism and intelligent design promoters because they’re mostly (but not entirely) in the opposition party.

If creationists were still in the democrat party, as they were in the days of William Jennings Bryan, we have no doubt that the left-leaning politicians and their servants in the press would not only be devotees of global warming, but of intelligent design as well.

To paraphrase Michael Corleone: “It’s not about science, it’s strictly politics.”

Copyright © 2008. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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5 responses to “Evolution, Ben Stein, and Global Warming

  1. mightyfrijoles

    “Politicians, and their bathroom attendants who pose as journalists, know nothing about science. Regardless of merit, they embrace whatever notion seems to be scientific if — and only if — it furthers their political purposes, as is the case with global warming.”

    By gad, I think you’ve got it. And about time, too.

  2. MF says: “By gad, I think you’ve got it. And about time, too.”

    Yes, MF. I’ve been a bit slow lately. My phlogiston count was low and it unbalanced my bodily humours.

  3. The importance of Ben Stein’s movie should not be underestimated. The TX SBOE uses that to pretend that they are defending science — and the untold numbers of scientists intimidated by the stranglehold of the ruling orthodoxy — against political contamination by the kind of researchers and professors who have testified at their hearings. See
    http://curricublog.wordpress.com/2008/12/01/mcleroy-dunbar-protecting-science-against-political-interference/

    For revealing passages from an interview of Ben Stein, see ‘more on Ben Stein: “Darwinism cannot explain gravity”‘ at
    http://curricublog.wordpress.com/2008/11/23/stein-darwinism-gravity-2/

  4. Tony, I’ve argued that if all those “expelled” creation-scientists had anything of value to offer, they’d be snapped up by industry. Surely the bio-technology companies would hire them if their “science” offered a better route to useful products than the “fraud” of evolution. If the “Darwinist conspiracy” blackballed them in this country, then they’d be hired abroad. It’s a competitive world out there. But somehow, these stifled geniuses all seem to end up at the Discovery Institute or at bible colleges.

  5. Could someone please hurry up with the global warming already, I’m freezing my butt off up here. And no, right now I don’t care if NY gets flooded.