Ben Stein and the ABA’s Facepalm

The American Bar Association is kicking off its 2012 tech show with an address by… Ben Stein. Yes, who better to celebrate the march of technological progress and innovation than a leading defender of intelligent design? Who better to celebrate rigorous intellectual discourse than a man who misquotes Darwin and fakes speeches to college audiences?

This is a pretty embarrassing misstep. The ABA is irrelevant in the IP / tech world, and this facepalm is a nice microcosm of why. (Wait, what is the ABA relevant to? Now that’s a hard question.) We geeks don’t like it when you dis science. Thanks anyway, ABA – maybe you should stick to having your judicial recommendations ignored.

Hat tip: health law expert Margo Kaplan.

Update: I found the perfect keynote speaker for ABA’s 2013 TechShow: Marshall Hall!

Cross-posted at Info/Law.

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8 Responses

  1. Bill Reynolds says:

    I’ll be first. “Anyone,…anyone?”

  2. Orin Kerr says:

    Maybe I’m just out of the loop, but is Ben Stein known primarily (or largely) for his views on intelligent design? I would think he’s most famous for being the teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day and for his game show, “Win Ben Stein’s Money.” And more recently, he’s been a WSJ columnist, mostly writing on business and economics (as far as I can recall).

  3. Orin Kerr says:

    Oops, I left off “Off” in the movie title.

  4. Bruce Boyden says:

    I confess I’m also not seeing the connection between his religious views concerning the origins of life on Earth and keynoting a conference that seems to be devoted to iPad apps, cloud computing, using Microsoft Word 2010 more efficiently, and that sort of thing.

  5. Derek Bambauer says:

    I don’t think many people saw “Expelled,” which is good for Stein. But I think it’s weird to have someone speak at a tech / innovation event whose analytical model is unfriendly to the underlying scientific principles that make iPads, cloud computing, and Microsoft Word possible. And Bruce, you should read the Scientific American article: Stein’s objections are not religiously founded. Rather, they claim that there is a problem with the science of evolutionary theory. That claim is, er, hard to defend rigorously.

  6. Shag from Brookline says:

    Gee, I thought Ben Stein was a comedian. Recall the episode on Seinfeld with Ben giving legal advice to Kramer on a living will/health care proxy. And he’s also an economist and perhaps even a lawyer. A virtual jack of all trades. His views as an economist following the 2008 Bush/Cheney Great Recession were really comic.

  7. Ken Rhodes says:

    My son says “Ben Stein is a high-IQ idiot.”

    I asked him “isn’t that internally inconsistent?”

    “Not at all,” he explained. “An idiot is a person who says dumb things and does dumb things. There’s no law of nature to prevent a smart person from being an idiot.”

  8. Notwithstanding this odd choice — I would encourage folks to still attend the ABA Tech Show – starting with Ignite Law 3 on the eve of the show.