Ed Brayton published his comments on Bravo's list of the "100 Funniest Movies," and Wes Ellsberry has added some to the discussion. It's very clear that the makers of this list were targetting a young and generally clueless audience — there doesn't seem to be a movie over 30 years old on it and the emphasis is on lowbrow.
As Ed, Wes and their commentors point out, there are many, many great movies left off the list. My comments below the fold.
Chris Mooney has a post up, where he talks briefly about the movie Flock of Dodos, which is Randy Olson's documentary about the anti-evolution movement. Mooney sums up the movie this way:
How could the smartest people on earth actually be so bad at political
communication and strategy? And when are scientists going to wake up
and realize that part of the blame for the spread of anti-evolutionism
in the US falls on their doorstep?
There was a flurry of posting about this some months ago, and I had meant to post on it myself, but got distracted. Here are some thoughts.
Ed Brayton has a post up, talking about a post by Jon Rowe about the Founders and the use of reason. I love this quote from Thomas Jefferson:
Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact,
every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God;
because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason,
than that of blindfolded fear.
My SO and I saw The Black Rider (Wikipedia) at the Ahmanson Theater a week or so ago. It's part of the Center Theater Group subscription series. I went to it with some trepidation and, I have to say, I wasn't disappointed.
Created and directed by Robert Wilson, with music by Tom Waits and text by Wiliam S. Burroughs, The Black Rider is a retelling of an old germanic folk tale. It's the story of a young man who is love with the daughter of a great hunter. The young man, a clerk, won't be able to marry the girl unless he proves himself to be a hunter as well. He makes a deal with the devil for some magic bullets that will always hit their target. Unfortunately, the devil being who he is, the target isn't always what the shooter wants. The end is tragic, with the young man killing his sweetheart when a bullet goes astray.
This is some good, dramatic stuff. It's very similar to the Faust legends and this version was done by Carl Mari von Weber as Der Freischutz. Hard to go wrong with this kind of material. Well, maybe not...
The question is often asked, "what's wrong with believing in ...?" (Insert your favorite non-science, like astrology or psychic surgery.) The Bad Astronomer (Phil Plait) expresses it very well. He's talking about someone who claims that a chunk of a comet is going to hit the earth later this month.
Some people ask me, "What’s the harm in believing in astrology or the
Face on Mars?", and I point them to crap like this alleged comet
impact. When you don’t understand science, when you have no clue how
the Universe really works, you are vulnerable, a wide-open target for
hoaxsters, conmen, and others of their ilk. When Nancy Lieder was
peddling her Planet X nonsense, people actually sold their homes
and moved, scared that an impending earthquake or tsunami would kill
them. When her deadline of May 15, 2003 came and went, I wonder what
happened to those people? It’s amazing no one lynched Nancy; but then,
cult leaders who fall out of favor rarely get punished. They lose a
majority of their flock, and the deluded ones become even more fervent.
Some of the comments on that post are very good. This one was especially funny.
Another good place to answer that question is the "What's the Harm" section of the Skeptic's Dictionary. There, Robert Todd Carroll documents exactly what the harm can be. Sadly, it's sometimes fatal.
One of the motivations behind the anti-science movement, called "Intelligent Design" is biblical literalism — the belief that what is written in the Bible is verbatim truth. In particular, the literalists cleave to the Genesis creation story of 6 days. That's 6 24-hour periods.
They object to science, in particular evolution, but geology, astronomy and paleontology come in for attack, too. The reason is that science finds things that don't agree with the creation story. Since they have pinned their faith (their entire existence?) on biblical inerrancy, anything that challenges the Bible is frightening and must be denied, or explained away.
The lengths that creationists will go to twist the world to fit their view are amazing. Many times they're so bad they become funny, or sad, but frequently infuriating. I could give dozens of examples, but will just refer you to The Panda's Thumb, Pharyngula and Good Math, Bad Math for anyone interested in this.
Along with science, there are other things that eat away at literalism. One of these comes from theology itself. It's called "textual criticism." This is the analysis of biblical texts to try to determine the original or canonical form. An excellent explanation of this is Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus. Besides giving a good layperson's explanation of textual criticism, Ehrman talks about his own move to a more liberal interpretation because of his studies.