Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Michael Moore of the Right?

It appears that Ben Stein of all people is angling for that title. I was vaguely aware that Stein was a right winger (he worked for Nixon, among other things), but I had no idea that he was a fan of intelligent design. Nonetheless Stein stars in a documentary claiming that ID proponents have been shunted out of academia.

Now, I know there has been a great variety of opinion on Michael Moore. I've seen, and laughed at, a bunch of his movies. A great many of his public detractors come off as humourless twits at times. That said, I have grown steadily disillusioned with the man's methods - even if I agree with a number of his fairly sensible premises (e.g.: the US public was mislead about Iraq), I suspect his methods now. If I am honest with myself the man remains at best a guilty pleasure - that someone like Ann Coulter is far more horrible does not excuse Moore's methods.

It would seem though that the producers of Stein's movie, Expelled is not beneath being deceptive in pursuing their aims. Let's let that irony sink in for a second, people pleading for openness in academia are secretive about their ends when they interview potentially hostile subjects like above-linked biologist and atheist, P.Z. Myers. Myers points out:
"I mean, seriously, not telling one of the sides in a debate about what the subject might be and then leading him around randomly to various topics, with the intent of later editing it down to the parts that just make the points you want, is the video version of quote-mining and is fundamentally dishonest."
I don't even know that this Moore level, this is more the Borat-school interviewing. I assume that Stein doesn't want to be compare to a caricature of an ill-educated central-Asian.

As for me, I was raised on both the Good News Bible and a steady subscription to National Geographic. At various times I've tried to do away with one or the other of these influences but - for better or worse - they both remain. That being the case, I've always found the need for religious groups to assault science to preserve their beliefs to be, well, a bit of a waste of time. Spend that film budget preventing malaria. Please.

Labels: , , ,