Home » Expelled » How does one make a “pseudo-documentary”?

How does one make a “pseudo-documentary”?

Mark Perakh now resorts to calling Ben Stein’s EXPELLED a “pseudo-documentary” (go here)? I know what a pseudo-science is (e.g., Darwinism, in its claim to account for biological complexity). And I know what a “mockumentary” is (e.g., This is Spinal Tap). But how does one interview real people about what they really believe and come out with a “pseudo-documentary”?

Well, perhaps we should not be surprised. Mark Perakh offered this insight at the Panda’s Thumb pseudo-blog.

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78 Responses to How does one make a “pseudo-documentary”?

  1. Wow. “Google hits –> scientific legitimacy.”

    If I were to select a single deduction to illustrate the fundamental flaw of the contemporary darwinian mind, I think that would be it.

    Legitimacy by popularity. Truly, the spirit of science lives on here.

  2. Hi Uthan Rose,

    “Until something better appears to replace the pseudo science of Darwinism I guess we’re stuck with it.”

    Not me, I am not stuck with it at all.
    Please show me how Darwinism accounts for the complexity found in biology?

    Thanks.

  3. 3

    Wow. “Google hits –> scientific legitimacy.”

    If I were to select a single deduction to illustrate the fundamental flaw of the contemporary darwinian mind, I think that would be it.

    Legitimacy by popularity. Truly, the spirit of science lives on here.

    Exactly right. Google hits has nothing to do with the legitimacy of a science. Consider that Time Cube has approximately 75,000 google results.

  4. I’m afraid Uthan won’t be here to comment again.

  5. P.S. You might want to compare google hits on “design” vs. “evolution” and “intelligent design” vs. “darwinian evolution.”

  6. As Dr. Perakh felt on his own skin, through hard labor in a Soviet Gulag, what being persecuted for one’s opinions means, perhaps he was referring to his perception of the plight of the pro-ID academics in Expelled. Or perhaps he was referring to the movie comparison of evolution scientists to Stalinists and Nazis, both of whom he was unfortunate enough to personally meet (the latter, as a WWII soldier).

    You can read about Perakh’s life here:
    http://www.talkreason.org/articles/eandp.cfm#per

  7. As Dr. Perakh felt on his own skin, through hard labor in a Soviet Gulag, what being persecuted for one’s opinions means, perhaps he was referring to his perception of the plight of the pro-ID academics in Expelled. Or perhaps he was referring to the movie comparison of evolution scientists to Stalinists and Nazis, both of whom he was unfortunate enough to personally meet (the latter, as a WWII soldier).

    Ah, more fantastic reasoning. From Andrea, we don’t really have an argument. Just a sarcastic statement regarding the suppression of someone else’s ideas in comparison to the significantly less severe oppression occurring in contemporary academia. Apparently the reasoning goes something like “That was worse, so quit whining.” As though the existence of severe oppression makes less severe oppression acceptable.

    But Dr. Perakh’s argument is even more of a gem.

    He argues that ID advocates are more analogous to the Communists and Nazis because:
    1) They both praised their respective intellectual allies;
    2) They both think poorly of their intellectual opposition;
    3) They both held meetings in which only intellectual allies were permitted to attend;
    4) They both believed their side would ultimately prevail;

    There are two flaws in his reasoning.

    First, his argument proves to much — that means, Darwinists like Myers + Dawkins are guilty of all the same “sins,” yet somehow ID folks are “more guilty” than the evolutionists.

    But more importantly, he skips over the key and defining similarities between oppressive ideological movements at all times and places — the deliberate, aggressive suppression of dissent. That’s the comparison being made here. And THAT behavior is common to the evos in power today, and the communists, nazis, and all other oppressive ideological movements of the past.

    He claims that ID is similar to communism in its tactics because they share superficial similarities shared by evolutionists as well; and then fails to address the comparison at issue: suppression of dissent.

    Genius.

  8. I haven’t had a chance to see expelled yet (stupid not showing in Australia currently), but based on the different things i’ve read it might not be entirely appropriate to call it a documentary. Well if “An inconveneint truth” or anything by michael moore is a documentary then so is expelled, but expelled is a film with an agenda that it is not shy to push AFAICS.

    I don’t actually think this is a weakness of the film and from what has been said the film makes no bones about its agenda, but it isn’t really a documentary in the classic dispassionate sense of a documentary.

    Then again, most documentaries probably aren’t like that either, so perhaps I am being to critical.

  9. I see that Uthan’s comment was deleted from the thread, making all subsequent comments incomprehensible. I hope we’re not unwittingly proving Dr. Perakh right.

  10. ungtss: You’re new to this blog. We’ve seen past incarnations of Uthan here. There are plenty of places on the internet for them, but not here. I’m sorry if you think this unfair, but this blog is my playground.

  11. Jason Rennie: Richard Dawkins has done “The Root of All Evil?” with the BBC. The BBC did “A War Against Science” on ID. PBS recently did “Judgment Day” on the Dover trial. Several years back PBS did an evolution series. All of these were highly biased and agenda-driven. If they deserve to be called documentaries (I was in “A War Against Science” — it was billed to me as a “documentary”; moreover, I was not told the title), then so does EXPELLED.

  12. To coin “pseudo-documentary”, presumably Mark Perakh claims the authority of being a pseudo analyst – or should that be a pseudo-linguist? or a pseudo scientist?

  13. Mr. Dembski:

    I understand — it’s certainly your right, because it’s your blog.

    Personally, I’m a big believer in leading by example: let them have their say, and defeat their nonsense with reason.

    But as you say, it’s your playground, and we play here at your pleasure.

  14. ungtss you wrote

    Personally, I’m a big believer in leading by example: let them have their say, and defeat their nonsense with reason.

    That happens here on pretty much every blog. The problem with some critics i.e. the militant ID haters, is that there is no intent on a rational exchange of ideas, they simply are intent on pushing their hate agenda. They are like zombies. You can’t reason with a zombie because zombies are only interested in eating your brain.

  15. Michael Moore referred to “Bowling for Columbine” as a documentary when talking to his fans, and mere “entertainment” when talking to critics.

    So, when his facts were unchallenged, it was a serious documentary. When his facts were challenged, it didn’t matter, because it was entertainment, not a documentary.

  16. Andrea: Granted, the level of persecution ID people face here in the U.S. is nowhere near that of the former Soviet Union (by the way, do you think ID proponents would have fared any better under Stalin than Perakh — at least one thing didn’t land him in the gulag, namely his atheism). Yet I haven’t seen one person at talkreason admit that what was done to, say, Bob Marks in the removal of his lab from Baylor was wrong. Suppression of freedom is suppression of freedom, and it’s wrong wherever it takes root. Perakh understands this intimately in his own case, but seems blind to it in other cases.

  17. 17

    this blog is my playground.

    I suppose that explains the absence of monkey bars. ;)

  18. “If they deserve to be called documentaries (I was in “A War Against Science” — it was billed to me as a “documentary”; moreover, I was not told the title), then so does EXPELLED.”

    I agree with you Dr Dembski, I don’t think they deserve the title of documentary either. These are all ultimately on some level propaganda pieces. I don’t think that is a bad thing though, most film making that is not just story telling is propaganda of one sort or another.

  19. Anything that goes against darwinism is “pseudo”.

    Didn’t you get the memo, Bill?! Goodness, you creationists are all the same!

    /Sarc

  20. That happens here on pretty much every blog. The problem with some critics i.e. the militant ID haters, is that there is no intent on a rational exchange of ideas, they simply are intent on pushing their hate agenda. They are like zombies. You can’t reason with a zombie because zombies are only interested in eating your brain.

    You might not be able to reason with them, but at least you let them have their say before you shot them down. That is the basic value underlying the concept of freedom of speech — that it’s better to have the zombies have their say than to risk shutting down discourse. While that value is certainly not mandated for application to blogs, I still think it’s a worthwhile value.

    After all, we learn a lot from discussing things with our opponents, don’t we? And how can we complain about them shutting us down based on their perception of us as “zombies” if we do the same?

    But again — not my call. Just my opinion, FWIW.

  21. ungtss: Again, you seem new at this. Freedom of speech includes freedom to associate, and that means freedom to exclude disruptive individuals from associations. Simply put, freedom of speech means that there have to be means to stop the din when others try to stifle speech by their sheer volume and obstreperousness.

    Nothing I’m saying here contradicts the message of EXPELLED. I pay for this blog and I’ve made it clear from the start that Darwinists must be on extra good behavior to have a place here. The message of EXPELLED is that freedom is being denied to individuals who are properly part of the associations in which their freedom is being denied.

    If Richard Dawkins founded a university whose avowed aim was to promote Darwinism and which explicitly excluded anyone who held to ID, he would have my blessing — provided he did not try to do it with my tax dollars. But as soon as my tax dollars are in play, I’m at least tacitly part of the association and have a say.

  22. Mr. Dembski: I’m sorry I haven’t been clear. I’m not saying you have any legal or moral obligation to let evotrolls play on your playground. I’m just stating my personal opinion that it’s better to let them play a little because

    1) their failure to reason is clear only when made so by superior reasoning

    2) we learn a lot through dialectic — both fact and argument

    3) we take the high road by permitting the dialogue they fear.

    But again, it’s your playground and I’m honored at the opportunity to communicate with someone I so admire

  23. William,

    I think Mark was suggesting that the implications of the movie were disingenuous, and not that the interviews were fake.

  24. Dr. Dembski:
    I do not think that Baylor’s demand that Marks remove his web site from university servers can be equated to “suppression of freedom”, if the phrase has to have any serious meaning. Marks was able to continue expressing his opinions on ID just as freely before, except for having to stop using a private institutions’ resources to do so.

    If you however ask whether Baylor’s decision was “wrong” in the sense of unfair (singling out Marks vs other faculty), or inappropriate (putting unwarranted restrictions on what a faculty can or cannot do on university servers), I think that argument can be honestly made, taking into consideration Baylor’s official rules and customs, faculty rights, and Baylor’s own right to prevent its name from being associated with ideas it disapproves of, for whatever reason. It is too bad that, publicly at least, that argument was not made, and the conflict quickly devolved into reciprocal name-calling and overblown rhetoric.

    ungtss:
    I think you hit the nail on the head, but just the wrong nail. The question with respect to Dr. Perakh’s opinion of Expelled is whether any oppression, not just a “less severe” form of it, occurred.

    I am quite sure that Dr. Perakh would argue (whether correctly or not is another matter) that in the case of the Expelled pro-ID academics no oppression occurred. He would also likely argue, based on his personal experience, that evolution scientists are not even remotely similar to Stalinists and nazis, as the movie suggests. Thus, the central claims of the documentary would be – again in his opinion – fictitious, and the documentary itself a pseudo-documentary (documenting pseudo-facts).

  25. Speaking as a pseudojournalist (we are all pseuds now – but surely you knew?):

    Documentary does not = unbiased. It is roughly the equivalent of “non-fiction” in print publication.

    It means that the filmmaker is restricted to the use of actual persons, events, locations, et cetera, in developing her theme.

    Making things up (= fiction) is considered cheating.

    A documentary can be very biased indeed, without actually making anything up. So can print non-fiction, of course. There is no substitue for well-informed judgment in such matters.

    By the way, while we are on this theme, one reason that the Fair Use group is going to bat for Expelled over Yoko Ono’s “Imagine” flapette is precisely the documentarist’s need to use real world materials.

    One thing the Expelled team couldn’t do is commission their own song, because it wouldn’t be authentic to the culture they are trying to portray.

    It will be interesting to see how the case turns out.

  26. andrea: you did not address the arguments made. His oppression is irrelevant to the existence or nonexistence of academic suppression of id. His cited similarities between id and totalitarianism were superficial, and shared by evolutionists as well.

  27. Andrea: I find your posts tiresome. Take them elsewhere.

  28. Thanks for the clarification Denyse. I withdraw my contention that Expelled is not a documentary then.

    “A documentary can be very biased indeed, without actually making anything up.”

    Apparently you can make stuff up whole sale and still win awards for your documentary though ;)

  29. 29

    Off Topic:

    Spring’s Divine Nature (Inspirational Poem -Music Video)

    A little springtime treat:

    http://www.godtube.com/view_vi.....39fc7194c6

  30. I saw “Expelled” again tonight. I was more aware of the emotion-affecting use of sound to make points and manipulate emotions. I was looking at this cinematographically and comparing it with “Inherit the Wind” and “Birth of a Nation.” In some ways the propaganda was smoother than in ITW, though ITW did a better job of using entertainment to hide the propaganda. Expelled did a better job than BOAN of letting its opponents hang themselves, though it took a bit of thought to see some of the ways that happened.

    I also was struck with how rich “Expelled” was in its idea content. There was a basic theme that it stuck to, yet there were other themes woven into it. For example, the scientism in Myers and Dawkins was very much on display and showed their intellectual shallowness, though they are certainly clever. The utter sadness of the case of Will Provine also struck me as well as the thesis that Darwinism has been responsible for a loss of faith in the case of virtually every opponent who was interviewed.

    I am more aware of how scientism has thoroughly infected people who ostensibly are aware of it and on guard against it, as in the case of Myers and Dawkins. I wonder how subtly we might be infected with it as well since we try to ride the coattails of science like the Darwinists do. Both ID and scientific creationism do this. Have we bowed the knee to science?

    I await the release of the CD with anticipation.

  31. Perakh, the Uncle Fester of Science, I think is best described as addled.

    By the way, it appears Perakh removed most of his article at Panda’s Thumb. I’m seeing comments about things he said and no source for those things. Of course I also found the Uncle Fester comment while trying to find what Perakh first wrote. Uncle Fester disappeared down the memory hole too.

  32. 32

    off-topic:

    Interesting outlook on the parallels between the design in biology with fruits and vegetables:

    Click here (video)

  33. Thogan: What do you mean by “scientism”?

    Ungtss: The problem with “open discussion” is that more often than not the darwinists are not interested in considering what the ID side says, its more of a “your wrong, we’re right, and you’re stupid” kind of thing. The bitterness and malevolence can be stunning.

    I sometimes wonder whether each side really understands what the other is saying. You get the feeling that the darwin-types think ID wants ignore all science and to teach Genesis literally in every school. Are they listening at all?!

  34. Scientism in the strong sense is the belief that science can solve all problems. In the weak sense, it means attempting to make your argument appear scientific when it actually isn’t. In both cases there is an undue respect for science, perhaps to the point of idolatry.

    My epistemology and philosophy of science vary considerably from the standard fare, so much of it will appear ridiculous to someone who doesn’t look at it very carefully. I have worked on it and tested it quite a bit with evolutionist skeptics and it has done well by me. Now I hope that the ID folks may help test it.

  35. thogan

    In both cases there is an undue respect for science, perhaps to the point of idolatry.

    Yet you’d have me respect a bearded thunderer who can only speak through the written word of mortal men instead? Non sequitur.

  36. 36

    Dembski at 11,

    I don’t know which psudo-documentry it was that featured you walking down the train tracks like a stereotypical southern ignoramus, but I will say that they had another scene with you in a coffee shop with large glass windows. I thought the second shot made you look cool. I have know idea why this is significant to me but it was forever reason memorable. It made the ID theorist look like the free thinker who beholds deeper truths, and is at the cutting edge as opposed to the real dimwits teaching high school biology.

    When they say that Expelled was a psudo-documentry what they really mean is that is was a documentary about a psudo-topic- that is in this case a psudo-science, ID. Of course this is merely an ad hominem attack that is waged being waged by the agents of disinformation. Expelled after all wasn’t nearly as much about ID as it was about the treatment of people to subscribe to it’s reality.

    But then again how could any one take Expelled seriously when it is just a movie about creationism. Well, that’s at least what I heard.

    If anyhting here is “psudo” its the truth value of what they are saying about the film.

  37. All of these were highly biased and agenda-driven.

    As for the propaganda piece “Judgment Day“, I concur.

  38. #24 Andrea

    “I am quite sure that Dr. Perakh would argue (whether correctly or not is another matter) that in the case of the Expelled pro-ID academics no oppression occurred”

    Wow! This is likely to be what any zealous communist scientist would have argued about rumors of oppresion against dissident scientists in Soviet Union. After all Sacharov was mentally ill because … he had to be hospitalized …

    But, let us speak about you. Perhaps are you that Andrea Bottaro who did write some ironic and critical remarks about Sermonti?

  39. Sounds like a Chewbacca defence to me. “Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury…”

  40. 40

    Dembski at 5,

    I took your advice. Wow. I never…

  41. Mention was made above of “Imagine”. I’d like to mention another great track that carries the same sentiment and theological depth as “Imagine”. The chorus, I think, also carries some essence of new atheism.

    It’s call “A Mighty Wind” from the excellent mockumentary of the same name.

    Here’s a brief blast – but rumour has it the full version is on youtube.

    A Mighty Wind.

    Oh a mighty winds a blowin’, it’s kickin’ up the sand,
    It’s blowin’ out a message to every woman, child and man
    Yes a mighty winds a blowin’, cross the land and cross the sea,
    It’s blowin’ peace and freedom, it’s blowin’ equality.
    Yes it’s blowin’ peace and freedom, it’s blowin’ you and me…

  42. DaveScot @ 35

    I take it you are a practicer of scientism. I recommend reading Michael Polanyi.

  43. re: google counts

    You can also view search volume over time with google trends.

    e.g.
    search string: “expelled”

    http://www.google.com/trends?q.....&sa=N

  44. thogan

    I’m a practicer of designism. I recommend reading all sorts of things. If Polanyi was still alive I’d recommend he read me.

  45. DaveScot

    Do you have a location where you have posted your work? I’d like to read it if you have.

  46. thogan:

    The utter sadness of the case of Will Provine also struck me as well as the thesis that Darwinism has been responsible for a loss of faith in the case of virtually every opponent who was interviewed.

    It’s not only sad, but ironic, because modern science is pointing ever more forcefully toward design and away from chance and necessity.

  47. Love the “scientism” thing; but we call it “Big Science” now.

    To recap (bestir yourselves, precocious ones), science began to obtain godlike proportions, oh, say, about 400 years ago with Galileo and the Astonishing Discovery. Science was further apotheocized by Descartes and especially Newton.

    But it wasn’t until the late, great century of unspeakable barbarism that science actually replaced God in the imagination of our self-anointed saviors of the world. Science became the hope, the faith, the solution to all of man’s problems, if not exactly the love.

    Hence Einstein was the “Man of the Century.” Hence Hawking declared that scientists would soon know all there was to know about nature—and the Wise Ones nodded their hoary locks and the popular press did not forget to genuflect.

    Hence also the manifest fear and loathing in the Big Science establishment occasioned by Ben Stein’s lighthearted whimsy. For if you can laugh at Science, then it doesn’t seem quite so Big, does it?

    Face it, iconoclasts have more fun. But of course any cult has its defenders.

  48. thogan

    My professional work is in the commercialization of personal computers from 1980 – 2000 working mostly with Intel, Microsoft, and Dell. Little of it is accessable to the public (patents a notable exception) and since the good stuff is all schematics and machine languages few would understand it in any case.

  49. Jason, you are right. Documentaries can make some stuff up wholesale and still win awards.

    An industry group sponsoring awards faces its biggest problem not in getting entrants but in getting judges.

    One thing that usually will not happen is a big enough investigation to reveal questionable practices.

    That happens later, when angry, highly motivated critics take the film apart.

    Then there is the much more difficult problem of genuine matters of judgment.

    The way I see it is this: “Documentary” should = non-fiction. It does not need to = truth. The viewer must decide about that.

  50. O’Leary says, “The way I see it is this: “Documentary” should = non-fiction. It does not need to = truth. The viewer must decide about that.”

    Exactly. The relevance and value of a fact depends entirely on the viewer’s mental framework. A believer in common descent will see a fossil that is midway between a cow and a whale as a great discovery and in irrefutable proof of his theory; the disbeliever will see it as a fluke, pointing out the conspicuous absence of the 49,999 other necessary links. But both positions will seem perfectly reasonable, perfectly true, to the individuals working within those frameworks.

    Thogan was right to recommend Polanyi to DaveScot (and all) above. There can be little reasoned discourse between people of diametrically opposed worldviews since each side is really asking the other to invert essential but essentially unprovable aspects of the other’s framework.

  51. DaveScot said:

    “Yet you’d have me respect a bearded thunderer who can only speak through the written word of mortal men instead?”

    Are you referring to PZ?

  52. LOL @ 51!!!!

    With regard to the question asked by Dave Scot:

    “Yet you’d have me respect a bearded thunderer who can only speak through the written word of mortal men instead?”

    The famous 12th century poet Rumi wrote

    “God, like the kings of the world, does not grant to just anyone the privilege of directly speaking with him. Rather, he sends honoured ambassadors to convey his messages.”

    Where did you get the idea that we are dealing with a bearded thunderer? In classical theism, God is outside space and time and bears no resemblance to created entities.

  53. Leo Hales quotes Rumi: “God, like the kings of the world, does not grant to just anyone the privilege of directly speaking with him. Rather, he sends honoured ambassadors to convey his messages.”

    Well said.

    Leo Hales says to DaveScot, “Where did you get the idea that we are dealing with a bearded thunderer? In classical theism, God is outside space and time and bears no resemblance to created entities.”

    Yes, God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. But “no resemblance to created entities” might be going a bit too far. We have been created in His image, after all.

    And I think it’s important not to underestimate the practical effect of anthropomorphic images of God. I have no idea how to relate to a being who is “outside space and time”. But I can take some obvious steps toward reconciling with, and dutifully pleasing, a “thundering” Father in Heaven (bearded or not).

    It seems that DaveScot, like many empirically-minded individuals, has difficulty with analogies and metaphors.

  54. I have a problem with mythology in general, Gerry, when people start presenting it as truth instead of fiction. Bearded thunderers, fat buddhas, sacred cows, earth goddesses, dragons, unicorns, whatever, they’re all the same to me – mythical creations. Do you have any idea how it looks to an outsider when two bible believers can’t even agree on what it means to be created in God’s image? Maybe we should just let lawyers and judges decide these matters. That tack seems to be working for the Darwinian mystics.

  55. I don’t know, Dave. Stories like this:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/t.....648975.ece

    strike me as a bit mystical. At least I’m pretty sure they won’t fit in a test tube.

  56. It is also within the realm of possibility, that one of those characters who seem to be perpetuating a myth may actually be telling the truth. Perhaps, among all the claimants, one of them stands out among the rest and deserves to be heard more than the rest.

    What kind of a test would one use to ascertain such a figure?

    [A] He would have to be foretold. The least that the Creator would do is tip us off that someone is coming to teach and sanctify in his name. Most just appear on the scene and say, “trust me.” This one would be different.

    [B] He would prove his identity by performing miracles and raise himself from the dead. Following that, he would reappear just to seal the deal. He would do many of these things in the presence of those who would deny the whole thing if they could get away with it.

    [C] He would never say or do anything that violates the principles of right reason, and all of his activities would take place in time, space, history, so no one could shrug it off as a myth.

    Does that sound like anyone that we know? Hint: Buddha, Socrates, Confucius, and Mohammed do not make the cut.

  57. That should read, what kind of a test should we use to “ascertain the unique status of such a figure.

  58. Also, Messiah makes serious claims which warrant serious examination:

    “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

    “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)

    “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9b)

    One of the most interesting to me is this one:

    “No one can come to me [Jesus] unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44)

    God must draw you to Him, and this requires a sincere willingness to accept this truth, regardless of how ridiculous it might appear.

    For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

    Those who honestly ask God to show them the truth of Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice will be shown it — I sincerely believe this. Otherwise they are limited to seeing only a caricature of Him, who is the maker of all things.

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)

    You’re in my prayers, Dave. This is worth consideration, as the promise is one of limitless life in the presence of the Maker. If one can accept that it might be true, and express a willingness to believe if the truth can be made clear, then this person is poised to be drawn to Him.

  59. Gerry

    Well, you’re wrong about it not fitting into a test tube. They make test tubes as big you need these days. Putting people into test tubes is frowned upon so I suggest you do your experiment with a rat or something. Your mileage may vary. What do you think is mystical about self-sacrifice? The guy described what I thought was a rational thought process. It’s either 4 of us get dead or badly injured or 1 of us gets dead or badly injured. The mathematical solution to that question isn’t exactly rocket science.

  60. Apollos

    Homer Simpson said “What if you pick the wrong religion and every time you go to the wrong church God just gets madder and madder at you?”

    That said, I took up Pascal’s Wager decades ago. The wager at least makes sense.

  61. DaveScot asks, “What do you think is mystical about self-sacrifice?”

    Everything. And when the guy comes out of it with barely a scratch — did you read that far? — it’s even more glorious. Reminds me of those boys in the book of Daniel who willingly went into the furnace and came out smelling fresh as a spring day.

  62. DaveScot says, “The guy described what I thought was a rational thought process. It’s either 4 of us get dead or badly injured or 1 of us gets dead or badly injured. The mathematical solution to that question isn’t exactly rocket science.”

    Yes, the math is easy. But that’s not the interesting part. It rarely is. The mystical part is where he jumps on the grenade. Not everyone who can do the math comes to that conclusion, y’know.

  63. Gerry

    The mystical part is where he jumps on the grenade.

    Mystical to you, perhaps. As a former sergeant in the United States Marine Corps I don’t find it mystical at all. I’m sure there’s a good scientific explanation for why he happened to survive.

  64. DaveScot says, “As a former sergeant in the United States Marine Corps I don’t find it mystical at all [that a man would jump on a grenade to save his fellows].”

    Perhaps you could tell me, then, why one man is a hero while another is a coward. And how we might modify the latter to behave like the former.

  65. Gerry

    Perhaps you could tell me, then, why one man is a hero while another is a coward.

    Improper training.

    And how we might modify the latter to behave like the former.

    Proper training.

  66. I’m beginning to suspect that you don’t have kids.

  67. Gerry

    I’m beginning to suspect that you don’t have kids.

    Three children and three grandchildren.

    Any more demonstrations of stupidity you’d like to make or will that be enough for you for one day?

  68. And you claim that those three children and three grandchildren, given the same “proper training”, will be equally heroic when the time comes?

  69. Gerry

    I’ve had all I can stand from you. You’re out of here.

  70. 70

    I have to admit Dave, with all due respect, I think Gerry has a point. You can’t chalk up stories like that just to training. That sounds more like a Darwinian reductionist attitude to me.

  71. Frost

    When YOU have gone through the training, get back to me. Otherwise yours, like Gerry’s, is a voice of ignorance. But that’s not why I banned him. I banned him for trying to drag my children and grandchildren through the polluted waters of his so-called mind.

  72. 72

    Lol, ok. Well obviously it is not an argument to say “one must have been in the military to have an understanding of what goes on there.” My father was, so I have plenty of stories. And I might say in defense to what you say, his training does seem to have had a noticeable “formal” effect on his personality and the character of his personal conduct.

    I understand where you are coming from. I though, as Gerry pointed out, am amazed by the altruistic characteristics of man kind (when he is choose to be so). I find them quite a reasonable refutation of a Darwinian world view. It is in large part this human characteristic that separates us from the animal, and now-a-days, the machine kingdom.

    Your point about training is cogent, but I think it still takes a little something “miraculous” for these kinds of events to take place. I’m guessing in principle you would agree with me on this, even if your post above understated it’s objectively real significance.

    I mean all of this with due respect to your back and forth with Gerry. I just thought that this aspect of your conversation needed a little more elucidation. After all, the manifestation of the human spirit through human action is one of the prime things that we are concerned with as living beings struggling in this existence.

  73. 73

    and to be off topic for a second and a little schizophrenic Dave, with respect to our back ground with computers; posting on this site all of time, especially at night, I often have the lap top on my chest while I’m in bed. Is this bad for your body? Do lap tops emit radiation in any significant quantities? could it give you cancer?

    I have always wondered this.

  74. 74

    “our” is meant to be “Your”

  75. Speaking strictly as a pseudohuman, it strikes me that there is potential for a big tent if the goal is the overthrow of materialism; if ID is a manifestation of love of God and weariness with the egotism of Big Science and its supermen. That’s a groundswell, rising with pent-up frustration, a natural cause looking for a voice.

    But if the goal is nothing more than a new type of materialism, based on the amazing notion that matter can design itself, and larded with the same old worn-out caricatures and contempt for religion, then ID is no longer a resistance movement, no longer fresh and new. It’s nothing more than Darwinism with an improbable new face.

  76. 76
    PannenbergOmega

    I can’t believe Gerry has been banned. Jeesh.

  77. PO

    Gerry’s been on borrowed time here for quite a while. I’ve been very lax in trying to keep this blog focused on science. People like Gerry who bring nothing but the bible to the conversation are the reason why the rest of us get shut out. Worse, Gerry doesn’t care about being shut out. His only goal is biblical evangelism. He knows that won’t fly in science education and would rather just shun the scientific establishment instead of modifying his own obsessive/compulsive religious fervor. “Sheesh” indeed.

  78. I just found this thread. DaveScot, can you reconsider #69 and #77?

    I understand your frustration. This past Sunday my preacher gave a sermon supporting ideas similar to ideas Gerry promotes, viz., that Christians should not waste time with politics and government. I, on the other hand, believe that deciding not to participate in government is looking a gift horse in the mouth; specifically, if God put us in a country that allows us to participate, and allows us to have our voices heard, we should participate and make our voices heard.

    I disagree with my preacher. It is as though he is on the side of the liberals who also want Christians not to participate.

    But I still attend his church. I chalk up his sermon to the fact that we have to choose between McCain and Obmma/Clinton, which is a frustrating choice.

    Well, hopfully things will cool down, and both DaveScot and Gerry will allow much longer time frames for ideas to sprout.

    My Father was in the Marines. Based on my conversations and studies, “training” was important, but only in a way that is important in war.

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