I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

Name:
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Ben Stein backs out as Univ. of Vermont commencement speaker

A news article says,

The choice of media personality Ben Stein as commencement speaker at the University of Vermont generated such a furor that Stein backed out, UVM President Dan Fogel confirmed Monday.

Fogel picked Stein largely because Stein had received an enthusiastic response from students at a lecture at UVM last spring. That talk, part of the Kalkin Lecture Series, focused on economic issues. . . .

After UVM announced Stein's selection Thursday, Fogel said in a written statement, "profound concerns have been expressed to me by persons both internal and external to the university about his selection." Fogel said he received hundreds of e-mails beginning Saturday -- including only about a half-dozen from people at UVM -- contending, generally, that Stein's views of science were "affronts to the basic tenets of the academy."

Once I apprised Mr. Stein of these communications, he immediately and most graciously declined his commencement invitation," Fogel's statement said.
"I did not ask him not to come," Fogel said in an interview Monday, adding, "I was not going to let him be blindsided by controversy. . . . ."

Another news article, titled "Ben Stein responds to UVM flap," says,
.
Ben Stein described the brouhaha over his selection as commencement speaker at the University of Vermont as "laughable" on Tuesday called the whole episode “pathetic.”

In a phone call to the Free Press on Tuesday, Stein said that describing his views as “antithetical to scientific inquiry” was “a wildly unfair characterization.” He said he was by no means “anti-science,” as some of his critics have described him.

“I am far more pro-science than the Darwinists,” Stein said later in an e-mail. “I want all scientific inquiry to happen — not just what the ruling clique calls science” . . . . .

Fogel said he had invited Stein — a comedian, lawyer, commentator and financial columnist — to speak about the economy . . .

Stein called the university’s response to the furor “chicken sh**, and you can quote me on that.”

“I like Dr. Fogel,” Stein wrote, “and feel sorry he is caught in the meat grinder of political correctness. My heart goes out to him. He’s a great guy trying to do his best in difficult circumstances.”

As for the commencement speech, he said, “I didn’t really want to do it in the first place.”

“Mr. Fogel endlessly, endlessly asked me to do it” for a discount — roughly 80 percent cut in his usual fee. No sum was ever agreed on, Stein said. The only reason Stein finally agreed, he said, was that Fogel is the brother-in-law of “my best friend" . . . . .

Stein said he has spoken at many universities, including Columbia, Yale, Stanford, and American University, “and no one has said boo. Somehow at UVM, it has become a big issue.”

It appears that Ben Stein's withdrawal was voluntary. He said that he was reluctant to come in the first place and maybe he saw an opportunity to make a martyr out of himself by withdrawing. However, an article on Evolution News & Views contains statements by Pres. Fogel that suggest that he pressured Stein to back out. Fogel should have accepted Stein's withdrawal graciously and not gone into a big song and dance over how Stein does not deserve an honorary degree. What a stupid idiot.

If it was OK for Judge John E. Jones III, the biased activist judge who decided the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, to be a commencement speaker at Dickinson College, then why shouldn't Stein be a commencement speaker? And whereas Stein was to speak about economics, not the evolution controversy, Jones spoke directly about his controversial decision. And Jones showed extreme prejudice against Intelligent Design and the Dover defendants -- regardless of whether or not ID is a religious concept -- by saying that his Dover decision was based on his cockamamie notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not "true" religions. Jones said,

“. . . . this much is very clear. The Founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry. At bottom then, this core set of beliefs led the Founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things, to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state.”

William Dembski wrote on Uncommon Descent,

Judge Jones, whose distinction prior to the Dover case was running the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, now has multiple honorary doctorates for rendering his decision, which he cribbed from the ACLU’s Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. Ben Stein, who is an acclaimed actor, author, and economist, on the other hand, has just been denied an honorary doctorate at the University of Vermont . . .

Some people in the audience stood and turned their backs when Phyllis Schlafly received an honorary degree at Washington University in St. Louis.

This UVM incident shows the tremendous power of the Internet to mobilize hundreds or even thousands of protest emails in a few hours. Another big email protest -- orchestrated mainly by demagogic Darwinist blogger Sleazy PZ Myers -- caused the Cincinnati Zoo to cancel a combo ticket deal with the Creation Museum[1] [2] [3]. Sleazy PZ also had a hand in the protest against UVM.

Pres. Fogel's email address is Daniel.Fogel@uvm.edu

The email address of the UVM board of trustees is trustees@uvm.edu
.

Labels:

22 Comments:

Blogger Adam Solomon said...

Should Ben Stein not be invited because he believes in intelligent design and made a movie about it? Maybe. Maybe not.

Should Ben Stein not be invited to give a commencement speech to graduating students at a major research university because he believes that science is evil and kills people? Probably.

Direct quote: "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."

http://tbn.org/video_portal/ Search videos for "Ben Stein", Apri 21st, 2008, about 28 minutes in. I'm not making this stuff up.

How can any serious university justify letting someone who believes that sort of thing be the cap of an entire class's college careers?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 9:36:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Adam,

It often happens that controversial people are invited to give commencement speeches and receive honorary degrees. As I noted, some people in the audience stood and turned their backs when Phyllis Schlafly received an honorary degree at Washington University. Judge "Jackass" Jones was already controversial when he gave a commencement speech and received an honorary degree at Dickinson College, and he made himself even more controversial when he said in the commencement speech that his Kitzmiller v. Dover decision was based on his cockamamie notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not "true" religions. Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, is controversial and she has received honorary degrees.

Direct quote: "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

Well, I think that Stein was just referring to the fact that many scientists are very arrogant people who expect others to defer to their opinions. So if scientists say that society can be greatly improved by eliminating certain people, who has the right to question that?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Adam Solomon said...

But it's more subtle than simply saying "he's controversial, therefore don't invite him", isn't it? And so "look at other controversial people who have given commencement speeches" is less than satisfying as a response. What I find troublesome in particular about Mr. Stein's comments (besides my personal offense - full disclosure, I'm both a Jew and an astrophysics undergrad) is that he seems to be attacking science itself, which no university can condone. He's acting antithetically to a key part of the very telos of the university.

On Judge Jones and Dr. Scott, as far as I know they are controversial for things that are far less offensive to the fabric of a university itself. Maybe they've done similarly silly things, you can tell me. But I find it interesting that your counter-examples are people ideologically opposed to Stein on the issue of evolution; to clarify, my issue here with Stein isn't on his belief in intelligent design.

As for your interpretation of Stein's quote, it's possible, but I don't see something that innocuous (the arrogance of scientists is interesting and related, and I'd be happy to talk about that with you elsewhere!). The attack isn't on scientists with particular characteristics. It's on science in general. He makes no effort to specify anything narrower than just "science." The language seems quite clear. And let's face it, it's very hard to get around something like "science leads you to killing people." There is very little ambiguity in that.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Adam Solomon said,
>>>>>> On Judge Jones and Dr. Scott, as far as I know they are controversial for things that are far less offensive to the fabric of a university itself. <<<<<<

That is just your opinion -- Jones and Scott have done and said things that are offensive to the law and the Constitution.

>>>>>> Maybe they've done similarly silly things, you can tell me. <<<<<

OK, I will tell you (actually, I have already told you about Jones, but you just ignored it). In his Dickinson College commencement speech, Jones showed extreme prejudice against Intelligent Design and the Dover defendants -- regardless of whether or not ID is a religious concept -- by saying that his Dover decision was based on his cockamamie notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not "true" religions. Scott misused a government-funded website to promote one-sided views about religion's compatibility with evolution theory. Jones and Scott are as controversial as Stein. And a news article about the protest against the conferral of an honorary degree on Phyllis Schlafly by Washington University said that the protesters made the same arguments against Schlafly that you are making against Stein: "Prior to the graduation, students handed out fliers and white armbands in a silent protest. They said her philosophies don't follow that of the university's."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 1:54:00 PM  
Blogger Adam Solomon said...

Okay, fine - I'm honestly not interested in defending Jones or Scott right now. That's a different discussion. If you think it was wrong to invite them to give commencement speeches, surely you agree that it was wrong for Stein? And surely you agree that "two wrongs don't make a right", especially when the University of Vermont weren't the universities which invited Jones and Scott? Saying "look, these guys are also bad and gave college commencement speeches elsewhere" is an argument that only gets so far, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 2:00:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> Okay, fine - I'm honestly not interested in defending Jones or Scott right now. That's a different discussion. <<<<<<<

It is not a different discussion. If you think that Stein should not give commencement speeches or receive honorary degrees, then you need to defend Jones and Scott.

>>>>>> If you think it was wrong to invite them to give commencement speeches, surely you agree that it was wrong for Stein? <<<<<<

OK, I protested the conferrals of an honorary degree and an academic medal upon Eugenie Scott [1] [2], but now that the shoe is on the other foot, I see those protests as wrong. Are you willing to change your mind about Stein?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 2:44:00 PM  
Blogger Adam Solomon said...

It is not a different discussion. If you think that Stein should not give commencement speeches or receive honorary degrees, then you need to defend Jones and Scott.

Wait, what? I'm not talking about Stein's belief in intelligent design. I think that Ben Stein shouldn't be giving commencement speeches at a university because he's expressed a severe bias against science in general, like saying "science leads you to killing people" and taking advantage of the Holocaust as a rhetorical tool. What on earth does that have to do with defending Jones and Scott?

OK, I protested the conferrals of an honorary degree and an academic medal upon Eugenie Scott [1] [2], but now that the shoe is on the other foot, I see those protests as wrong. Are you willing to change your mind about Stein?

No - like I said, I have no idea what those two people have to do with Stein's claiming that science leads to mass murder. You can't assume at me that two things are connected, change your mind on one and then expect me to change mine on the other. That makes absolutely no sense.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 4:30:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> I think that Ben Stein shouldn't be giving commencement speeches at a university because he's expressed a severe bias against science in general, like saying "science leads you to killing people" and taking advantage of the Holocaust as a rhetorical tool. What on earth does that have to do with defending Jones and Scott? <<<<<<

Jones and Scott have expressed severe biases against the Constitution.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 5:31:00 PM  
Blogger Adam Solomon said...

No, they've expressed views on the Constitution you don't agree with. They may in fact be stupid. I honestly don't know. I haven't actually bothered to look up their grievous offenses. Let's say you've convinced me on them. It actually doesn't matter. Meanwhile you refuse to actually acknowledge that Ben Stein should clearly not be giving a commencement address. A university like UVM prides itself on research science (even more than it does on having Constitutional views that Larry agrees with) and Mr. Stein has gone on TV saying that that is essentially evil. After once waving it off despite some very clear language on his part, you've basically ignored that this whole time.

Do me a favor, please: don't make your response about anybody besides Ben Stein. Humor me. Assume that I agree with you about everyone else in the world. For God's sake, stop begging the question.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 8:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

I think that Ben Stein shouldn't be giving commencement speeches at a university because he's expressed a severe bias against science in general

This is America, Adam. This is not China, this is not the former Soviet Union, this is not North Korea, nor is it Iran, but America. If the students want hear Ben Stein speak on Economics, or intelligent design or even some crackpot who believes that the United States bombed Pearl Harbor than so be it!

This is typical of the crying and whining of the intolerant liberal left who likes to bully people and like you Adam decide what students should hear. A bias in science, you say Stein has? Many scientists have their own bias in their research, does that mean they can't speak? Ben Stein no matter if you agreed with him or not had every right to speak at the University...

Thursday, February 05, 2009 12:59:00 AM  
Blogger Adam Solomon said...

Ohmygod assumptions! Since when am I a member of the political left? For Christ's sake, I'm a conservative.

Ben Stein is perfectly welcome to speak at a university. Especially if students want him to (sorry, was there an enormous student clamor at UVM to have Ben Stein come?). But this isn't any old college speech. There is only one class commencement speaker so the whole "hearing all sides" thing is less important. This is the capping speech of a student's career; you'd really be fine if the one commencement speaker at your college graduation was saying that the U.S. bombed Pearl Harbor (to use your example) or, I don't know, that what a large fraction of the students spent their four years doing leads to killing people?

That has nothing to do with us not being a dictatorship. The point with, say, the Soviet Union is that the government is banning viewpoints. In America, we have the blessed freedom to decide who we want to speak at our college commencements. Ben Stein does not have a RIGHT to give that commencement speech, just as I don't have the right to give it. The university has the right to choose who gives it. If someone has the right to give it, they walk up to the university and say "make me your commencement speaker!", and the university has to do it. Clearly untrue.

Here it is: you are graduating a university. You want someone really strong, someone who has a deep respect for academia (since it is a college graduation) to give that one speech. That person should not be Ben Stein.

Thursday, February 05, 2009 8:33:00 AM  
Blogger Adam Solomon said...

Incidentally, Larry's silence after I asked him to make a response actually dealing with Ben Stein is, well, amusing to say the least.

Thursday, February 05, 2009 8:33:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Ben Stein showed considerable honor and grace in this situation, while the materialists and the Darwin-dogmatists demonstrated once again that they are, as far as anyone can discern, fanatics who wage a nasty war against academic freedom, free speech, free thought, freedom of religion, and democracy and its values in general. Their values seem to me to be authoritarian or totalitarian.

These True-Believing Darwin-zealot extremists may perhaps be a worse threat to civilized democracies than were the Communists of the 20th century: because there are far more of them, at least in America, and they are far more influential here, than were the Communists.

Thursday, February 05, 2009 4:28:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

The materialists and the Darwin-believers in general are in fact waging war against freedom of thought, in my view. And their desperate war is bound to fail in the long run, since all humans have the power to use their own heads and to arrive at their own views: so that they will reject all attempts to control their thinking. Thus while these guys hope to control human thought by seizing hold of the public schools and indoctrinating children in their zealous convictions and dogmas, they will fail.

They might take a lesson from what happened in the old Soviet Empire. Generations of students there were indoctrinated in Darwinism, philosophical materialism, and Marxism, by a self-appointed ideological "elite." Yet the attempt ultimately failed, faith in Darwinist doctrine plummeted severely in post-Soviet Russia, and Eugenie Scott has even sent her "missionaries" to Russia to try to revive belief in the old Darwinist dogmas!

Thursday, February 05, 2009 4:58:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Adam said,
>>>>>> Incidentally, Larry's silence after I asked him to make a response actually dealing with Ben Stein is, well, amusing to say the least. <<<<<<<

I have already made responses actually dealing with Ben Stein, doofus. However, I could not comply with your following stupid request:

Do me a favor, please: don't make your response about anybody besides Ben Stein.

Thursday, February 05, 2009 5:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Jones and Scott have expressed severe biases against the Constitution."

If you can show an actual example of this, please do. All I have seen is your weird interpretations. You have claimed that demanding standing in court is against the constitution.

"This is America, Adam. This is not China, this is not the former Soviet Union, this is not North Korea, nor is it Iran, but America.<

Nobody is stopping anyone from hearing anybody. They are just not inviting him to speak at their function. You seem to believe that a library not buying a certain book, although the book is available at the book store, amounts to "censorship".

Friday, February 06, 2009 4:57:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>>"Jones and Scott have expressed severe biases against the Constitution."

If you can show an actual example of this, please do. <<<<<<

I have already shown examples. I said in my comment of February 04, 2009 1:54:00 PM,

In his Dickinson College commencement speech, Jones showed extreme prejudice against Intelligent Design and the Dover defendants -- regardless of whether or not ID is a religious concept -- by saying that his Dover decision was based on his cockamamie notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not "true" religions. Scott misused a government-funded website to promote one-sided views about religion's compatibility with evolution theory.

The other quoted comment is Michael's.

Friday, February 06, 2009 5:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> In his Dickinson College commencement speech,...

Saying that someone has a different impression of the constitution, a position which you support by a misinterpretation of what he said, does not constitute "severe biases against the constitution".

Saturday, February 07, 2009 2:14:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Ben made an ill-phrased off-the- cuff statement, which he would doubtless wish to clarify. Science, in the proper sense of the word, doesn't lead to killing people. But distorted ideologies such as philosophical materialism, scientism, and Darwinism lead to killing people, as the history of the 20th century more than abundantly demonstrated. These ideologies sprang largely from misinterpretations of science. Those who are ignorant of history should start to better educate themselves. Of course, many clueless Darwinism-proponents have seized on Ben Stein's words as part of their propaganda campaign.

Saturday, February 07, 2009 4:11:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous barfed,
>>>>>>> Saying that someone has a different impression of the constitution, a position which you support by a misinterpretation of what he said, does not constitute "severe biases against the constitution". <<<<<<<

Show me how I misinterpreted what Judge Jones said, doofus. And his interpretation is not just "different" -- it is absurd.

Saturday, February 07, 2009 4:44:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Of course, the regurgitators of Darwin's extreme and rather absurd 19th century dogmas, don't want to find out what Ben Stein really meant by one ill-phrased, off-the-cuff remark. They want to misrepresent Ben Stein as an enemy of science, since that distortion of his views fits their own agenda. These guys seem to lack the independence of mind to do their own research, which might rather quickly lead them to a decent understanding of what this intensifying controversy is really all about.

Saturday, February 07, 2009 5:40:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Of course, Ben Stein is a true defender of science, in the proper sense of the word: for he believes that science is a process that relies on experimental evidence, that knows no dogmas, and lets the chips fall where they may. That's exactly what science should be and must be.

Darwinists in general, on the other hand, are fixed on the dogma that species must have somehow arisen entirely by blind, mechanistic processes, in which no sort of intelligence played any role. Because of their rigid dogmatism, Darwinists are in reality enemies of science, whether they think so or not. They propose to replace true science with a doctrinaire cult which coincides with their bias toward materialistic or mechanistic philosophy.

Monday, February 09, 2009 4:23:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home