Ben Stein promotes new film at UVM

Ben Stein, popular writer and commentator spoke at Ira Allen Chapel on Friday.

Stein delivered a lecture on a variety of topics ranging from the state of the economy to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign to the legitimacy of intelligent design.

Following a lengthy introduction from UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel, Stein warmed up the crowd with a few jokes and stories from his undergraduate studies at Columbia University in the 60s.

Stein transitioned into more serious matters by saying, “I could go on for days about sex and drugs, but onto the economy.”

Stein scolded what he called “the greedy pigs on Wall Street” for the way that the economy has been performing, attributing the collapse of Bear Sterns to investors spreading lies of the investment bank in order to drive down credit.

Stein also blamed the government for failing to properly manage hedge funds and ethanol prices.

He also predicted that we are in the midst of a “slight recession that most likely started last month” but did not think that the country was heading towards a depression.

As for the ongoing election, Stein, a Republican, remarked on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign as a “breakthrough in human rights” but failed to endorse him.

“It is a great achievement that this country has a black man and a woman running for president,” Stein said, “I just think it should be Colin Powell and Condi Rice.”

Stein has recently drawn fire for “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” his documentary on the failure of the theory of intelligent design to be accepted by the scientific community.

Pamphlets that scolded the filmmakers for blaming Darwin for the Holocaust were given out to the audience.

The topic was largely not addressed in his main lecture, but was contentiously raised several times during the question-and-answer segment of the talk.

When asked how he could say “with a straight face” that intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory, Stein responded that Darwinism could not account for large-scale evolution, only microevolution.

Stein finished his talk touching on the importance of community and education. He said that the only way to turn the economy around is “not about taxing millionaires, but keeping families together.”

Stein criticized educational systems, but put the blame largely on students for not having the kind of “mental discipline” necessary to perform well on testing.

He also joked about the lack of educational standards, “What do you get after driving around the UCLA campus in a red BMW for four years?” Stein said, “a degree.”

Students left the talk with mixed views.

Sophomore Alana Oudekerk said she was impressed by his knowledge but did not agree with his views on intelligent design.

“He was really funny, but I do not like how he is trying to shove intelligent design down our throats,” she said.