Mendacity Monday: Ben Stein (I’m sorry)

Yes, apologies are in order: you will be exposed to Ben Stein this week. I don’t know what to say; just square your shoulders and prepare for the onslaught of stupidity.

I had thought of going after Answers in Genesis again this week, in retaliation for that organization’s assault on our highways, but I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t stultifyingly boring. Case in point was this paper from Answers Research Journal, which takes some legitimate observations of chromosome variation in cattle and says, “See? God did it!”

No, it’s Ben Stein’s turn this week, and to exemplify his wackiness I’ve got this video of an interview by Pat Robertson (another pillar of integrity.)

Ye who watches the above: prepare for a headache.

Until about the 4:00 mark, Stein and Robertson discuss economics. This post will address what comes afterward, when the two begin to discuss Expelled and evolution. In other words, when they begin to lie, obfuscate, and betray their ignorance of science.

In case this is your first Mendacity Monday, the purpose is to calculate the Hovind Factor of a given creationist statement. This week’s statement is Stein’s comments during the interview above. Let’s get to it! In case you’re unfamiliar, here’s how you calculate a Hovind Factor, and here’s example statements for each Hovind Scale variable.

The Hovind Factor, of course, is calculated using the following formula:

(X + S + i + p) * (m + 1)

where X = reliance on scriptural inerrancy, S = scientific illiteracy, i = idiocy, p = internal inconsistency, and m = mendacity.

Now then, on to the calculation!

X = 1 – Metaphorical use of Biblical/Qu’ranic/other holy scripture quotation.

Unsurprisingly, Stein invokes God throughout. He even throws out the hateful “Atheists use evolution to justify their immoral lifestyles” canard. There’s no reference to the Bible as literal truth (not a surprise, as Stein is Jewish), but our Ben is not reticent about the religious root of his rejection of evolution.

5 – Ray Comfort (Extreme, moronic and puerile level of 4 above)

The scientific claims have to be heard to be believed. Here’s a highlight:

Darwinism explains so little. It doesn’t explain how life began. It doesn’t explain how gravity works to keep the planets in their orbits. It doesn’t explain how thermodynamics work. It doesn’t explain how physics and the laws of motion work.

That’s true, Ben! Evolution also doesn’t explain how your socks turn up missing, or why a cake burns if you leave it in the oven too long.

Honestly, why do people listen to this guy?

i = 10 – i = 10 – Kirk Cameron or VenomFangX

Yes, I would rank the above as being just as stupid as the crocoduck, or as the notion that the Grand Canyon could have formed in five minutes.

If Stein believes that any scientific theory that can’t explain absolutely everything is useless, then he must reject all scientific theories in existence.

p = 3 – Self contradiction invalidates statement completely, and is left unaddressed.

Stein dismisses evolution because it can’t explain everything in the universe, ignoring the fact that no scientific theory can do that. This is a glaring contradiction that is not even addressed. Again, why does anyone pay him the slightest attention?

m = 3 – Whopper! Including Plagiarism, or fabrication of their own “facts” to cover woeful lack of knowledge.

Stein earns a rather high dishonesty rating for this one. He throws out this claim later on:

There could have been no Holocaust without Darwinism.

This despite the fact that he has been repeatedly told (at one point during his interview with Michael Shermer, which Shermer mentions in this review of Expelled) that Hitler’s reasons for spearheading the Holocaust stemmed from the writings of Martin Luther and from the longstanding history of anti-Semitism in Europe. This is not to mention the fact that whether or not Darwin’s theory inspired the Holocaust has no bearing on its truth.

Later is this dandy:

No one has ever observed the evolution of a single mammalian species.

Despite the woeful lack of understanding exhibited by this quote, it is also untrue. The evolution of the domestic dog is well-documented, as is the evolution of the whale, the horse, and countless other mammals. This means that Stein is making stuff up; a hallmark of dishonesty.

Again, and not for the last time, why does anybody believe that Stein is intelligent? Is it the glasses?

When we tally it all up, we get a Hovind Factor of 76. This is just 9 shy of the HF of 85 I calculated for Expelled. You’re losing your touch, Ben!

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