Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another guy's letter to Ben Stein

After my brother sent an email to Ben Stein and got a short reply, I decided to see if I could illicit a more thorough response, by being a little nicer. Here's my email to Mr. Stein (I added the link to the interview I am talking about, so you can see it for yourself and know that I am not taking anything out of context):

Mr Stein,

I am perplexed about the statements you recently made on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. You stated: "we don't want people to be fired if they say the planets stay in their orbits maybe because of something other than Darwinism. And we don't think Darwinism explains how the planets stay in their orbits.." and "[Darwin's] followers claim it explains everything including astronomy…". This is absolutely astonishing. I am a physicist working in the field of compound semiconductors, and in my college days I have taken more than one astronomy/astrophysics course, and I assure you that Darwin's theory of evolution is not taught to have anything to do with the orbital motion of planets. I am wondering from where you are receiving this information from, as I have never before heard anyone say any such thing, either in the field of astronomy or as a criticism of it. I believe that you may be speaking outside your field of expertise and have been severely misinformed.

Now, the real problem that I have with your comments are not that they are blatantly false, it's that you seem to be attempting to paint the entire field of science as a closed, dogmatic discipline that stifles any new ideas. It's become obvious that your fight is not just with "Darwinists" in the field of evolutionary Biology (a field that I have little experience in and therefor will not critique) but with science as a whole. This is very irresponsible, in my opinion. I am in a field where the United States is falling behind countries that have surpassed us in science and mathematical education. By demonizing science you are helping to ensure that we fall further behind the rest of the world in developing a scientifically skilled work force. If we are to maintain or expand on our country's current level of prosperity, we must encourage our youth to become more involved in science and mathematics, and we must have stringent standards in our education to ensure that they are truly getting the most current scientific understandings. You must be careful about who you are getting your information from because not only do you look very silly when you make ridiculous false statements on national television, but you are doing harm to those who don't yet have a formal science education, and may believe you. I apologize for the length of this email, but hope you have taken the time to read it, and feel free to reply. Thank you,

Here is Ben's first reply:

and I assure you that Darwin's theory of evolution is not taught to have anything to do with the orbital motion of planets. I am wondering from where you are receiving this information from, as I have never before heard anyone say any such thing, either in the field of astronomy or as a criticism of it. I believe that you may be speaking outside your field of expertise and have been severely misinformed.
Thank you for your letter. I agree it sounds amazing. But if you are kind enough to see our movie, "EXPELLED", you will see evidence of ASTRONOMERS who say they have been fired for saying darwinism had nothing to do with astronomy. i agree it sounds unbelievable.

And his second a couple minutes later:

Now, the real problem that I have with your comments are not that they are blatantly false,
In that case, after my polite beginning, i will just say good-bye.

Ben seems to be a little touchy, eh? And it's pretty obvious he didn't read the rest of my email. I did send him a reply to the first message:

When something sounds unbelievable, you must stringently research it. I'm afraid that you are being lied to. I've been in the field of physics for over 10 years, either taking classes, teaching or working, and have never heard anyone ever talk about "Darwinism" explaining the orbit of planets. This is basic physics. A planets orbit is determined by the gravity field in which it moves. There isn't a physicist in the world who would disagree with that. Physics is based upon mathematics, and the orbit of planets have been properly explained hundreds of years before Darwin was even born. You must have evidence for this claim, beyond the word of these astronomers?

I'll let you know if he replies, which I'm sure he won't. I have deeply offended him, after all. Again, if anyone else wants to send email to Ben Stein, send it here: benstein99@aol.com
Let us know if he answers back!

3 comments:

kevthegreat said...

By the way, the "astronomers" he seems to be refering to in his reply is actually one astronomer: Guillermo Gonzalez, who was not fired, but denied tenure, and the reasons behind it are much more complicated than him simply being a proponent of Intellegent Design. And I'm sure it has nothing to do with him "saying darwinism had nothing to do with astronomy". What the fuck is "Darwinism" anyways? It seems to be a catch all meaning "anybody who disagrees with me".

DrX said...

The term "Darwinism" is semantics used by the creation/ID folks to equate scientific theory with a dogmatic belief system, as if scientists worship at the altar of Darwin. It also diminishes the entire field of evolutionary biology to the outdated work done by Darwin over 100 years ago.

Of course, modern evolutionary biology is far more rich and complicated than what can be found in "The Origin of Species." But they'd probably rather you didn't bother to find that out.

Also, while it's not a term used by scientists in the US, though it is commonly used in the UK.

phishbone23 said...

Why don't they call Scientologists "Hubbardists" or "Dianeticists"? They took a cool name. It would be like me becoming a janitor and calling myself a "Butterfly Physicist".

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