Saturday, January 31, 2009

The dumbing of America, part MCCVII

The University of Vermont is set to have the well-known self-promoter and charlatan Ben Stein deliver the commencement address this May. Stein, for those not in the know, is the maker of a dishonest little film called "Expelled," in which, inter alia, he blames Darwin for the Holocaust. (A devastating review of this creationist effort may be found here.)

Now, producing and flogging a mendacious documentary is one thing. All of us have watched Saturday morning cartoons at some point without having our brains turn to mush. But for a university to give academic aid and comfort to this sort of nonsense is quite another. Stein has made a lot of noise about creationism being shut out of academe: and that noise has obviously worked for the folks who run UVM. (I wonder what its science faculty is like? Thoughts of incantations, cauldrons and athanors leap to mind. Is that where all the Hogwarts graduates end up?)

Well, why not, a cynic might ask. A majority of adult Americans already reject the theory of evolution. In 2006, fully one-quarter of the American people thought that the Rapture would take place in 2007.

Only about a fifth of Americans, however, think that the sun revolves around our planet, so there may be grounds for cautious optimism. But "cautious" is the operative word--especially now that academia is throwing open its doors and welcoming in the barbarians at the gate.

[H/t PZ Myers]

UPDATE: Reader and blogger Alison notes that he's getting an honorary degree too. Gaudeamus igitur.

UPPERDATE: (February 2) Stein pulls out. [H/t CC]


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