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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

As if we needed any more awesome this week.

In response to yesterday's post alert reader JLT happened to notice something pretty amusing: Andrew Schlafly evidently doesn't think very highly of Christianity. This may seem at odds with his previous statements, but nevertheless the textual evidence appears to be there. To recount the circumstances fully, when one individual argued that the letter to Professor Moo* should not be sent, Schlafly replied in his usual curt fashion:



Or, in plain text:

Christianity wouldn't exist if fear of ridicule were a concern.--Andy Schlafly 21:31, 6 June 2010 (EDT)


And that's pretty harsh, since he seems to be implying that Christianity is so absurd that if fear of being made fun of entered into things, nobody would be Christian. I'm not fan of Christianity, but even I don't believe something that harsh. And isn't Schlafly the guy who used to claim that the bible is the most logical book ever written? Ah, well. Times change, I guess. Now, normally I wouldn't feel like making much of a deal of this. I mean, it's funny, but it's also clearly contrary to what Schlafly actually believes and so, in my view, falls under the heading of quote mining, a practice I view as unethical and dishonest. Given that I like to be thorough, however, I went ahead and looked up Conservapedia's article on quote mining and found a rather different perspective:



Or, in text:

Quote mining is the practice of using the words of partisans against them to undermine support for the viewpoint held by the partisans. Quote mining does not refer simply to taking a quote out of context, as there is already a well-understood phrase for that. Rather, the charge of "quote mining" reflects an objection to quoting someone for criticizing his own belief system, on the theory that if he still believes in the system then it is somehow unfair to quote his criticism of it.

Another objection sometimes made is that it is wrong to ignore evidence which supports a partisan viewpoint when evidence which disproves it is found. This is clearly an anti-scientific notion, as it violates the modern principle of falsifiability: no amount of evidence in favor of a scientific theory has merit if even a single counterexample can be found (see Thomas Kuhn).

Evolutionists are notorious for expressing objection when their quotes are used against them. This reveals the dogmatic nature of their faith, because real scientists always welcome evidence which contradicts mainstream theories (see scientific method). While the entire fields of law and politics encourage quoting an adversary to discredit him, evolutionists do not feel their quotes should be used to criticize evolution, and have invented the term "quote mining" to criticize that practice. They have tried to make quote mining a pejorative term, but the neologism has yet to be recognized by major dictionaries


And, perhaps equally telling, comes this point somewhat later on:



Or, in print:

A common reason why TalkOrigins.org makes claims of quote mining appears to be that they choose make a false claim of quote mining when noted evolutionists have moments of candor and point out the various significant deficiencies of the evolutionary position rather than admit the weakness and/or falsity of the evolutionary position.


So, in other words, quote mining is fair because if someone objects to having their quotes used against them, it's because they're dogmatic and, likewise, people who make statements that appear contrary to their own stated opinion are simply having "moments of candor". Or, put differently, quote mining is a-ok!** And so, dear readers, I put it to you:

Quote mining or candor: you MAKE THE CALL!


* If you don't know what the hell I'm talking about, see yesterday's post.

** I should note that the Conservapedia article does have a section titled "Is Quote Mining Wrong?", but it never actually provides an answer to this important question. Instead, it just meanders through a consideration of whether quote mining is inappropriate in a legal context. I would argue that quote mining IS wrong but, if we use Conservapedia as our guide, it's fine so long as we're not addressing a judge.

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3 Comments:

Blogger scripto said...

"... they choose make a false claim of quote mining when noted evolutionists have moments of candor and point out the various significant deficiencies of evolution..."

After a couple of mai tais, a full body massage complete with happy ending, and a roofie you can get an evolutionist to say (or do) just about anything.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger JLT said...

"I mean, it's funny, but it's also clearly contrary to what Schlafly actually believes and so, in my view, falls under the heading of quote mining, a practice I view as unethical and dishonest."
That's a bit harsh. If you (or I) were claiming "Christianity is silly, even Schlafly agrees" and quote his comment as proof, that would be quote mining.

But IMO the comment is funny because (and only because) its apparent meaning is obviously* unintentional. If you present it as such then it isn't quote mining.
At least, that's how I see it.


* If you've heard of Schlafly and/or conservapedia before.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Drek said...

Hey JLT: Yeah, sorry, you're actually right about that. I made too much of an implied leap from "Pointing out what a doofus Schlafly is" to "taunting him publicly with this remark". Please be assured, I did not mean to accuse you of quote mining so much as to raise the delicious spectre of quote mining turnabout.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010 12:51:00 PM  

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