Ben Stein has made a career as the cute conservative: the former Nixon aide who charmed teen audiences as the doleful teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. In his latest movie role, the cute wears off. Stein is the onscreen host of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a documentary that purports to show how Big Science has suppressed debate over evolution and discredited well-meaning proponents of Intelligent Design.

Stein joins an odd political/religious coalition in taking the measure of the 21st century and deciding that our biggest problem is that we have too much science and too little religion. As American children fall further behind in the classroom, and the United States relinquishes its reputation for technological innovation, perhaps only an economist like Stein can explain how it is in our country’s benefit to mock the fundamental biology upon which our understanding of the natural world relies.

Stein might also explain why he agreed to a film that makes bizarre and unseemly comparisons between evolutionary biologists and goose-stepping fascists. Expelled draws a direct line between Darwin and Hitler, between natural selection and the Selektions of the Holocaust. It’s like blaming Shakespeare for the English major who committed the Virginia Tech massacre.

It’s bad enough that Stein insults our intelligence, by design or not. But in trivializing the Holocaust, he insults its victims and its survivors. In this case, one bad idea merely spawned another.