When Heroes Fall From Grace

Some time back I went to a book signing that Kevin Smith was doing to promote his book “My Boring-Ass Life” . The plan was that I’d tell Kevin that one of his previous books was my first inspiration to lose 70 pounds (it’s true!), he’d ask me for details, and after chatting for a bit he’d invite me to hit the road with him. We’d chat and be best friends forever in between takes for the movies he’d be working on (it’d be like a Clerks movie that would last the rest of my life).

Sadly he was interested that I’d lost weight, but his reaction was simply “70 pounds? That’s great dude!”. Kevin himself (I can use his first name since we’ve met and are now such good friends) has written about how he tries to avoid meeting his heroes, as they often let him down.

More recently I saw a trailer for “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed“. I was excited that it was a project Ben Stein was associated with, as I find him wicked smart and funny. Once I realized the topic was the “unfair” treatment of people who try to bring religion into scientific curricula I had an unpleasant experience as Mr. Stein (alas, I have yet to meet him) was championing a cause that I find quite kooky.

As Superintendent Chalmers said “Prayer has no place in schools, just like facts have no place in organized religion”.

I have no problem reading articles or watching movies that present an alternative viewpoint from my own (I quite enjoy it). Mrs. Pillars (Mike’s wife) wisely pointed out at one of our get togethers that the best blogs to read are those that present views different from your own: they’re the ones that challenge you and help you grow. I love Michael Moore movies, even though I don’t buy a lot of his views on society. I’m looking forward to watching Expelled (but I’m not going to pay $10 to see it in the theater: it’s a renter).

It wasn’t that the movie was presenting a kooky idea that shook me, it was that Ben Stein was. I know what to expect from Michael Moore, but this took me by surprise. I’ve had similar experiences with bloggers who otherwise seem to be intelligent rationale people, but then they post one thing that seems to be way out in left field (or very poorly thought out). It makes me question their other ideas (past and present). Probably people have come across ideas I espouse and disagreed with them enough to become skeptical of other things I write. Every time we get together Mike says at least once that he’s “shocked at the depths of my ignorance”.

I wasn’t sure if the proper response was to re-think my position on the subject (intelligent design) or re-think my opinion on Ben Stein and the ideas he presents in various mediums.

In the end I came to the decision that Ben Stein is a human being. He has very clear, well founded ideas on many topics. He has goofy ideas on other topics. Different people will put his different ideas into different categories. Its probably good to never accept a source as an absolute authority. How much trust you put into someone’s ideas should be a continual evolution, and some skepticism should always remain.

Have you ever lost faith in a hero when you found out information about them or disagreed with a cause they supported?

14 replies on “When Heroes Fall From Grace”

Love the Simpson’s quote – maybe we should make a new blog rule that every post has to have one? 🙂

Mike says at least once that he?s ?shocked at the depths of my ignorance?.

I swear that’s the beer talking!! 🙂

That’s the trouble with smart people. You never know whether they are being intentionally stupid or not.


It sort of depends. Occasionally people are stupid on purpose, but additionally people tend to be blinded by their own views of the world.

Everyone’s reality is really unique and is formed out of their personal viewpoint. As such what comes across as an obviously stupid thing to you might sound logical to someone else and vice versa. The only way to really understand someone is to keep talking until you find common ground and show them what you are getting at. In some cases you won’t be able to do it.

It’s sort of reminds me of the argument that mind reading is impossible. We are each too unique to really understand each other. Hell some times I’m working something out I’m not even thinking in terms of language at all.

@ Mr Cheap

I don’t really have any hero’s. I admire people for various things, but I certain don’t put them up on alter to worship. I know we are all greedy, cruel, stupid or lazy at times. A hero is basically setting yourself up for disappointment. No one is good all the time.


Funny, I was thinking kooky wasn’t harsh enough. Can’t please ’em all …

Well I know I’m not the only one looking for more information regarding the blog posts from those who “otherwise seemed intelligent”. Dish, please!

PT: Just to clarify, in the post I was calling Intelligent Design kooky, not religion. That being said, I do also find religion kooky. 2.1 billion people can easily be wrong. The entire human population has been wrong about ideas in the past (and undoubtedly are wrong about some of our current ideas). Truth is not democratically determined.

Guiness416: I just wanted to be a gossip tease ;-). I’m sure every blog you read you occasionally come across a post that makes you think “What were they smoking when they wrote THIS?!?!”

Tim: In this post when I use the term hero, I’m using this definition (2 or 3). I agree that no one is good all the time (except perhaps me, and we won’t know until I die whether I can keep it up or not – I guess I would qualify for the first definition).

I’ve never heard of Ben Stein but I’m pretty sure that I’m going to have to watch this movie just so I can raise my blood pressure by shouting at the screen.
I don’t really have any heroes either, but that’s probably because I think that everyone is going to disappoint me eventually, in some way or another.

@Mr Cheap – intellegent design is a Christian belief here in the States (where the movie is based). It’s in the Bible. 2.1 billion Christians believe it (so do Jews like Ben Stein). You just called us all believers in a “kooky” idea.

I wasn’t implying you were offending religious people. I was implying you were offending Christians and Jews with your flippant, shocked additude that someone smart and funny could believe such a thing.

And you’re right, it’s not democracy that decides truth…I didn’t mean to imply that with my first comment.

Funny that your post title is Fall from “Grace”. You’re pretty clever if you intended that one. 🙂

Isn’t this site supposed to be about finance. Man, you got me all fired up here. 🙂

PT: You’re amazingly articulate and civilized while fired up! Most people just start calling me names or attacking me personally when I say something to offend them (check out our post about energy reseller scams if you want to read some incoherent, but clearly very angry, comments).

What I object to about intelligent design is that its religion masquerading as scientific belief (and is the banner in the battle to have it taught as such in the classroom). If people want religion taught in their schools, they should be honest about it and fight for that, instead of insulting peoples’ intelligence by pretending this is something that’s scientifically grounded.

Until they start trying to influence public policy (at which point, in my opinion, debate and discussion are REQUIRED) I think people should be free to believe whatever they want. Even that other people’s beliefs are kooky :-).

I also wrote “Have you ever lost FAITH in a hero” at the bottom. Yup, yup, yup… it witty wordplay like that that our readers DEMAND every day!

We occasionally range beyond strictly finance (I’d love to write more about the coming robot invasion but there didn’t seem to be any interest the last time I broached the topic). One post I keep begging Mike to let me do is: “Socialists: Evil, or Just Ignorant?” 😉

I’d just like to point out to PT that there is no way that all Xtians or Jews believe in Intelligent Design. Some believe in Creation, some in evolution, some in Intelligent Design, and others in other variations on those positions. Others have never really formulated what they believe in.

Associating an entire religious group with a particular belief would be akin to saying that all Mormons are polygamists.

Mr Cheap:

You gotta see the movie, you’ll be surprised what a ‘hero’ like Richard Dawkins has to say…your challenge I believe is that you’re allowing your ‘religion’ i.e. your worldview, to pre-determine your judgment on the movie. You say “intelligent design is religion masquerading as scientific belief”. Lots of scientists who believe in ID are atheists, agnostics, etc.

” Lots of scientists who believe in ID are atheists, agnostics, etc.”

Not true. A tiny percentage on the fringe who don’t bother to do the work necessary to advance their “hypothesis”. That is why they find it necessary to make movies and strongarm state legislatures. Hardly a “lot”. Mainly because there is no “ID” theory to speak of. No proposed process, no defined ID structures, not even a coherent timeline. Without any of those you can’t even begin to compare it with evolutionary theory.

As far as ID being a secular enterprise? Please. Check out to whom Dembski’s marketing his latest opus: <a href=’’Understanding Intelligent Design. He’s not even pretending anymore.

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