Well, actually, he's a total fuckwit, but the novel's not called Fuckwits, alas. Perhaps it should be.
Many of you will have had the great good fortune of not knowing just who the fuck Mathis is. I'm sorry to be the one to draw your attention to this raving lunatic. Just take comfort in the fact that, despite all of his efforts to draw attention to himself, you had no clue who he was before I foisted him on your attention. Those of you who needed no introduction, my sympathies.
Perhaps the only thing you need to know about Mathis is that he's one of those lying sacks of shit making sensible Christians feel ashamed of their brethren. That, anyway, is all the introduction I'm willing to give him: He's one of the bastards responsible for the atrocity that is Expelled, and he's a lying sack of shit. Everybody say hi to Mr. Mathis.
Now that introductions are taken care of, let us proceed.
I wanted to thoroughly spank Mathis for a few particular inanities he spouted in that "conference" call so spectacularly interrupted by PZ Myers. I know I don't have to wear my own arm out - just search ScienceBlogs for "Mark Mathis" and you'll see what I mean - but I just get this twitch when I'm confronted with this level of inanity. Paddling his tender bottom will help that twitch subside.
Brother Richard from Life Without Faith was part of that conference call, and he was so kind as to post his raw notes. One of the questions and answers in particular caught my eye, but before we get to that, let me share the Mathis quote that had me nearly pounding the floor with laughter. Appetizer, then main course, as it were:
[Mathis] also points out that he had a personal grudge against Myers and he wanted him to have to pay for the movie. He points out that he let Michael Shermer attend another viewing and that Shermer enjoyed the film. [emphasis added]
Let's put aside the fact that Mathis only settled on the "personal grudge" excuse after trying the "PZ was causing a disturbance" excuse (he wasn't) and the "Myers and Dawkins were gate-crashers" excuse (they weren't). That isn't what made me nearly fall to the ground in hysterical laughter. Look again at the line in bold.
Michael Shermer? Michael Shermer? Seriously Michael Shermer, you mean, the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine? The one who had this to say about Mathis:
My take on Mathis is that he's an opportunist. He says and does whatever he thinks necessary to get his film made and now promoted. My guess on the latest flap about tossing PZ out of the screening but not Dawkins was PZ's original assumption that they just didn't notice Dawkins there, and only after the fact rationalizing the whole affair with plausible (and ever changing) reasons.
And this about Ben Stein:
I also pointed out to him that Darwin has been used and abused by ideologues of all stripes, and that in any case that is all separate from
whether the science is good or not. That seemed to tax his thinking too much, because shortly after he announced that he had to take a rest break and he just got up and went out to his car for about 20 minutes!
Then Stein came back in and that's when we walked around the office with the handheld camera to get some B-Roll footage, and they showed him asking me about my books, and that's where I told him I thought ID was much closer to pseudoscience than science.
That Michael Shermer? Oh, yeah. I'll bet he enjoyed the film. It must have been the same sort of life-changing experience as being interviewed for it by those two assclowns.
And yet, that wasn't the most inane thing Mathis said. That wasn't what had my spanking arm twitching. Brother Richard notes:
The question is asked, if the issues are just about science, then why are so many Darwinists upset? Why do they have such passionate anger? Mathis says that Darwinism is a worldview. Scientists like Myers and Dawkins are scared because their atheistic worldview might come crashing down on their heads.
This is wrong in so many ways that it's going to take me the rest of the night to deconstruct it. Grab yourselves some snackage and drinkage and make yourselves comfortable. We're in for the long haul.
Firstly, "Darwinism" is only a worldview in the miniscule mind of Mathis and those of his ilk (and how I wish I didn't have to add that last bit). Rational people who enjoy objective evidence for claims of how life came by its incredible diversity have accepted the scientific theory of evolution because it provides abundant evidence of said diversity, no myth required. If someone proved by means of objective scientific evidence that evolutionary theory was incorrect, and came up with a better explanation, our world would not end. Thinkers such as ourselves are quite used to adjusting to new evidence. I refer you to the excitement rather than panic when Einstein's theory of relativity nudged Newton aside for a good example of this.
As for people like PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins being scared that their "atheistic worldview might come crashing down on their heads"... puh-leeze. I'm no scientist, merely an avid consumer of same, but I am an atheist, and I can tell you that the last thing I'm scared of is having that worldview come crashing down. We're not angry because we're scared. We're passionately angry because we can't stand lying sacks of shit trying to force their useless dogma on us.
"Why do we have such passionate anger?" I have a few ideas. And I can tell you why I'm spending so much time and energy fighting these assclowns and the poison they're pushing with this propaganda flick.
1. The (scientific) theory of evolution has led to medical breakthroughs that save lives. Intelligent Design has not. Au contraire, "Goddidit" and pseudoscientific explanations do nothing to further the science that gives us new treatments for disease, and sometimes they kill.
2. Intelligent Design is not science. It has no claim to be treated as such, and therefore deserves expulsion. Academic freedom isn't even in it. So it really pisses me off when some total bastards try to get their religion into the classroom by playing us for fair-play suckers. They want Intelligent Design in the classroom, fine - it can go in Comparative Religion where it belongs.
3. Three words: Creationism's Trojan Horse. Two more words for you: Wedge Document. Real science doesn't have to come up with systematic schemes to lie and cheat and game the system to get recognized as science. Even if it weren't for the above two items, the IDiot's whining claims for equal time and the right to academic freedom would be annihilated by the stunning intellectual dishonesty their strategy displays. Credibility destroyed(.pdf).
4. Science class is for science, not pseudoscience, not the frontiers. And for those who claim Intelligent Design can be introduced and then debunked, face facts: you'd cry bloody murder, infringement on religious rights, persecution, the whole works. You don't want it debunked, you want it enforced. So even that little strategem fails. ID doesn't belong in the classroom under any pretense, period.
5. But I know they don't give a shit about science or integrity, so I'll just mention this: it's bad religion. It's harming the Christian mainstream message. Go on. Everyone, now, even the IDiots in the audience. Go read the whole comment I linked to. It's on a Christian message board, so you don't have to associate with those icky atheist scientists.
You know you've fucked up when your religious compatriots are saying that "the 'Intelligent Design' movement is a plan by Satan to discredit the Gospel in the minds of many...," eh?
So let's review: the fuckwits pushing Intelligent Design are floating a pseudoscientific raft of bullshit under the misnomer "Theory of Intelligent Design." Their "science" has made not one useful contribution to medicine, while evolutionary theory has. They lie six ways of Thursday and have nefarious little plans on sneaking their fanaticism into the classroom. They're making things miserable for their fellow religious travellers. And they think scientists and atheists are just scared our worldview might be challenged? They think we're fighting them because of that?
Worldview isn't even in it.
And sadly, my five points above have just barely scratched the surface. I encourage you, even if you think Intelligent Design can't harm you, to click on a few of the above links. It's not just about Intelligent Design trying to edge out evolution in classrooms, my darlings, although that should be quite enough - this country is failing miserably at science education, and it's not like adding religious pablum will make it any better.
It's not just that.
It's about keeping the fanatics from getting a toehold. They catch enough young ears and bend them, we're all going to end up in a theocracy run by the most outrageous elements of the Religious Right, and I damned sure don't want to wake up to that world in a few years. Neither do you.
I'm not asking you to do anything more than be vigilant. Watch out for the lies. Keep the theocrats out of our government, our school boards, and our personal lives. Don't be swayed by the silver tongues of the terminally stupid. You'll feel badly if you end up featured in Cornflakes right there beside Mathis.
Tip o' the shot glass to Brother Richard.