Ben Stein deliberately removed passages from Darwin’s original text

Filmmaker Ben Stein has painted himself into a corner, with his latest attempt to explain the difference between Intelligent Design and Darwin’s theory of Evolution through natural selection, by insinuating that Darwin’s book, The Decent of Man, gives authority to Eugenics – the non-science of Nazi Germany which attempted to show that “lower orders” of human should be taken out of the gene pool for the betterment of the fittest (the fictitious arian race).

By removing certain passages from Darwin’s book, which explicitly show that Darwin’s theory accounts for why humans do not behave in such a way towards other humans, Ben Stein has done more to undo his own non-argument than any of his more observant and well educated opponents possibly could.


The producers of the film did not mention the very next sentences in the book:

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.

Darwin explicitly rejected the idea of eliminating the “weak” as dehumanizing and evil. Those words falsify Expelled’s argument. The filmmakers had to be aware of the full Darwin passage, but they chose to quote only the sections that suited their purposes.

I wish we could say with certainty that point by point debunking from reliable sources of these kinds of hack job, pro-Creationist people would eventually, given the passage of time, allow the people who give them credence a chance to turn around and realise the error of their ways, but I rather think the opposite is happening.

For as long as the so-called Intelligent Design crowd are given a platform on national television, to insinuate that because they have been proven wrong, time and time again, this is therefore evidence of the fact that they are being discriminated against, there’s just no hope of a win in favour of empirical evidence and clear thinking.

Mr. Stein. It is perfectly simple. Place a tennis ball on a sloping surface. Does it roll away because you believe it will, or because it is being acted upon by the force of gravity? Similarly, we did not evolve from simple bacteria hundreds of millions of years ago, because that is what Darwin believed had happened. We know that we came from the primeval soup because that is what Darwin’s mechanism has proved must happen, for any complex organism to survive. There is no other explanation for the emergence of complex life on Earth, which holds water, any more than there is an alternative explanation for why the tennis ball rolls away.

That is not to say that Newton got everything he set his mind to right, any more than it is to say that Hitler was wrong to green light the development of the VW Beetle, but sometimes, Mister Stein, there is no second side to a story, there is only the truth. If you can not grasp that, it is not the concern of those who do understand it, to prove your supernatural superstitions correct; it is your responsibility to do that – and on the evidence of this film, you still have all your explaining to do, and then some.


11 comments on “Ben Stein deliberately removed passages from Darwin’s original text

  1. My faith in humans is restored – and I don’t mean that in a small way. If this film had done well, I think I might have done something stupid, like run for office!

  2. Ben(jamin) Stein is under heavy artillery for ‘exaggerating’ or ‘going easy’ on the influence of evolutionism behind Nazism and Stalinism (super evolution of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Russia). But the monstrous Haeckelian type of vulgar evolutionism drove not only the ‘Politics-is-applied-biology’ Nazi takeover in the continental Europe, but even the nationalistic collision at the World War I. It was Charles Darwin himself, who praised and raised the monstrous German Ernst Haeckel with his still recycled embryo drawing frauds etc. in the spotlight as the greatest authority in the field of human evolution, even in the preface to his Descent of man in 1871. If Thomas Henry Huxley with his concept of ‘agnostism’ was Darwins bulldog in England, Haeckel was his Rotweiler in Germany.

    ‘Kampf’ was a direct translation of ‘struggle’ from On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859). Seinen Kampf. His application.

    Catch 22: Haeckel’s 140 years old fake embryo drawings have been mindlessly recycled for the ‘public understanding of science’ (PUS) in most biology text books until this millennium. Despite factum est that Haeckel’s crackpot raging Recapitulation/Biogenetic Law and functioning gill slits of human embryos have been at the ethical tangent race hygiene/eugenics/genocide, infanticide, and Freudian psychoanalysis (subconscious atavisms). Dawkins is the Oxford professor for PUS – and should gather the courage of Stephen Jay Gould who could feel ashamed about it.

    Some edited quotes from my conference posters and articles defended and published in the field of bioethics and history of biology (and underline/edit them a ‘bit’):

    The marriage laws were once erected not only in the Nazi Germany but also in the multicultural states of America upon the speculation that the mulatto was a relatively sterile and shortlived hybrid. The absence of blood transfusion between “white” and “colored races” was self evident (Hailer 1963, p. 52).

    The first law on sterilization in US had been established in 1907 in Indiana, and 23 similar laws had been passed in 15 States and sterilization was practiced in 124 institutions in 1921 (Mattila 1996; Hietala 1985 p. 133; these were the times of IQ-tests under Gould’s scrutiny in his Mismeasure of Man 1981). By 1931 thirty states had passed sterization laws in the US (Reilly 1991, p. 87). Typically, the operations hit blacks the most in the US, poor women in the Europe, and often the victims were never even told they had been sterilized.

    Mendelism outweighed recapitulation (embryos climbing up their evolutionary tree through fish-, amphibian- and reptilian stages), but that merely smoothened the way for the brutal 1930’s biolegislation – that quickly penetrated practically all Western countries. The laws were copied from country to country. The A-B-O blood groups, haemophilia, eye colours etc. were found to be inherited in a Mendelian fashion by 1910. So also the complex traits and social (mis)behaviour such as alcoholism, schizophrenia, manic depression, criminality, rebelliousness, artistic sense, pauperism, racial differences, inherited scholarship (and its converse, feeble-mindedness) were all thought to be determined by one or two genes. Mendelism was “experimental” and quantitative, and its exaggeration outweighed the more cautious biometry operating on smaller variations, not discontinuous leaps. Its advocates boldly claimed that these problems could be done away within a few generations through selection, persisted (although most biologists must have known that defective genes could not be eliminated, even with the most intense forced sterilizations and marriage restrictions due to recessive genes and synergism. Nevertheless, these laws were held until 1970’s and were typically changed only when the abortion legislation were released (1973).

    So the American laws were pioneering endeavours. In Europe Denmark passed the first sterilization legislation in Europe (1929). Denmark was followed by Switzerland, Germany that had felt to the hands of Hitler and Gobineu, and other Nordic countries: Norway (1934), Sweden (1935), Finland (1935), and Iceland (1938 ) (Haller 1963, pp 21-57; 135-9; Proctor 1988, p. 97; Reilly 1991, p. 109). Seldom is it mentioned in the popular media, that the first outright race biological institution in the world was not established in Germany but in 1921 in Uppsala, Sweden (Hietala 1985, pp. 109). (I am not aware of the ethymology of the ‘Up’ of the ancient city from Plinius’ Ultima Thule, however.) In 1907 the Society for Racial Hygiene in Germany had changed its name to the Internationale Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene, and in 1910 Swedish Society for Eugenics (Sällskap för Rashygien) had become its first foreign affiliate (Proctor 1988, p. 17). Today, Swedish state church is definitely the most liberal in the face of the world.

    Hitler’s formulation of the differences between the human races was affected by the brilliant sky-blue eyed Ernst Haeckel (Gasman 1971, p. xxii), praised and raised by Darwin. At the top of the unilinear progression were usually the “Nordics”, a tall race of blue-eyed blonds. Haeckel’s position on the ‘Judenfrage’ was assimilation and Expelled-command from their university chairs, not yet an open elimination. But was it different only in degree, rather than kind?

    In 1917 the immigration of “defective” groups was forbidden even in the United States by a law. In 1921 the European immigration was diminished to 3% based on the 1910 census. Eventually, in the strategical year of 1924 the finest hour of eugenics had come and the fatal law was passed by Congress. It diminished immigration to 2% of the foreign-born from each country based on the 1890 census in order to preserve the “nordic” balance in population, and was hold through World War II until 1965 (Hietala 1985, p. 132).

    Richard Lewontin writes:“The leading American idealogue of the innate mental inferiority of the working class was, however, H.H. Goddard, a pioneer of the mental testing movement, the discoverer of the Kallikak family,
    and the administrant of IQ-tests to immigrants that found 83 % of the Jews, 80% of the Hungarians, 79% of the Italians, and 87% of the the Russians to be feebleminded.” (1977, p. 13.) Regarding us Finns, Finnish emmigrants put the cross on the box reserved for the “yellow” group (Kemiläinen 1993, p. 1930), until 1965.

    Germany was the most scientifically and culturally advanced nation of the world upon opening the riddles at the close of the nineteenth century. And she went Full Monty.

    Today, developmental biologists are anticipating legislation of laws that would define the do’s and dont’s. In England, they are fertilizing human embryos for research purposes and pipetting chimera embryos of humans and monkeys, ‘legally’. The legislation should not distract individual researchers from their personal awareness of responsibility. A permissive law merely defines the ethical minimum. The lesson is that a law is no substitute for morals and that dissidents should not be intimidated.

    I am suspicious over the burial of the Kampf (Struggle). The idea of competition is innate in the modern society. It is the the opposite view in a 180 degree angle to the Judaeo-Christian ideal of agapee (contra epithumia, eros, filia & storge) (ahava in Hebrew), that I personally cheriss. The latter sees free giving, altruism, benevolence and self sacrificing love as the beginning, motivation, and sustainer of the reality.
    Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)

  3. This will rage on, both on my blog and on my newsvine column. So please don’t take this short answer to be an acceptance of some of the things you’ve said (above), because I most certainly intend to rebut most of the above in the fullness of time.

    For now, however, I would just like to pull you up on your assertions about Haeckel’s faked drawings. It does seem to be a recurring theme among creationists that this is somehow proof that evolutionists have been caught out; that his drawings were not, previous to the efforts of I.D. advocates, understood to be very badly done indeed.

    The fact is Haeckel’s embryos do not appear in modern biology books in anything greater than a historical sense and most certainly do not appear in any books intended to be used in schools. They do appear in a, sort of, “this is how far we have come” frame of reference. But apart from that it is well established that Haeckel’s embryos are far from ideal as a reliable reference for serious study – as they were after-all faked almost 150 years ago.

    If Haeckel’s fakes are supposed to be the evidence that I.D. wants them to be, I’m rather encouraged to see it, as it would indicate I.D. is even easier to debunk than it would first appear.

    As for Hitler’s interpretation of Origin of Species, I am not a historian or an expert on Nazi Germany in any way shape or form. But it would seem to be simple common sense to be wary of anything that a megalomaniacal dictator, who ordered the murder of millions of people has to say on anything at all, least of all about the scientific beauty of abundant diverse life on Earth.

    People who interpret Darwin as being an advocate of genocide, do not understand the facts about evolution through NATURAL selection.

  4. There ain’t no proof in that pudding you’re serving, Pauli, just a lot of blind rhetoric.

    *sidesteps to let Jim take the stage*

  5. Yet another reason to vomit at Ben Stein:

    “Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.” — Ben Stein

    “I was thinking to myself 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.” — Ben Stein.

    Stein has done Clear Eyes commercials for some time… so, I’m wondering, did the pharmaceutical scientists, who are having BEN STEIN tell people what to do, killing people?

    This is like shooting fish in a barrel….
    Oh no! Science has led me to killing!

  6. Pingback: Is Ben Stein dangerously brainwashed or just drawn that way? « How good is that?

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