Quote mining

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Template:To Template:Cp Quote mining is the dubious art of using deliberate selection of quotes, normally out of context, and using them to refute the original author's point.<ref>If you're good, you can also pretend your fellow loonies said nice things rather than nasty things.</ref> This tactic is widely used among Young Earth Creationists to attempt to discredit evolution. It also seems to be a tool used by the main proponent of the aquatic ape theory.<ref>http://www.aquaticape.org/quotes.html</ref>

Contents

Prime Examples

The following quote has been used to attempt to discredit evolution:<ref>[1]Talk:Theory of Evolution/Archive 1</ref>

In any case, no real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favour of the theory of evolution as opposed to special creation."<ref>[New Scientist, vol. 90, 25 June 1981, p. 831] Mark Ridley, Who doubts evolution?</ref>

However, the quote leaves out the very next sentence:

This does not mean that the theory of evolution is unproven.

This article then later goes on to state that:

So what is the evidence that species have evolved? There have traditionally been three kinds of evidence, and it is these, not the "fossil evidence", that the critics should be thinking about. The three arguments are from the observed evolution of species, from biogeography, and from the hierarchical structure of taxonomy.

Another famous example is the following misquotation of Charles Darwin, where the bold section is often presented without including the rest of the quote.

"To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.
Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound." (Darwin 1872, 143-144)

As may be seen, the quote has been taken out of context to give it the opposite meaning, thus appearing to support a different conclusion from that in the original article. Bolder quote miners may actually use ellipsis to omit material that contradicts their point of view even in middle of a sentence or paragraph, safe in the knowledge that their audience will not look up the full quote. <ref>A seemingly quite recent (2008) addition to the quote miner's armoury has been a quote pulled from Darwin's The Descent of Man, alledging to show he was a racist as demonstrated by Ken DeMeyer at Conservapedia. Whenever this half paragraph is quoted by creationists, it always demonstrates the same omission thus revealing (ahem) the common descent of the quote mine. The ellipsis conceals the omission of the text "as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked (18. 'Anthropological Review,' April 1867, p.236.)" revealing Darwin was repeating the opinion of his academic colleagues at the time, and regardless of whether he was or was not a racist his views were held in common with the greater part of the western world. Incidentally, thanks to the Internet one can now read Darwin's quoted source without even a trip to a university library. Also of note is the very next article in the review, entitled "The theory of development and its bearing on science and religion" which reminds us that the battle of getting fundamentalists to understand that while not antagonistic to their beliefs, science does in fact rule out events of creation by fiat has been going on for over a century and half.</ref>

Supporters of this dishonest tactic often defend themselves against accusations of quote mining by stating that only supporters of evolution use the term, therefore it is invalid.<ref>[2] "Panel and Quote Mining"</ref> However, this is largely due to the fact that the primary group using these tactics, strenuously avoided in academic circles, are Young Earth Creationists, therefore their opponents will most often be the ones leveling the charge. This says less about the validity of the term as the desire to cling to a spurious tactic when few, if any, other arguments are available.

As a result of widespread use of quote mining in YEC circles, several sites<ref>Quote Mine Project: Or, Lies, Damned Lies and Quote Mines Talk Origins [3]</ref> have been set up as "quote mines", providing lists of mined quotes without the need to actually go to the source material. Most users of these quotes have never read the original source material, and would likely be hard pressed to actually find copies.<ref>[4] Answers in Genesis quote page</ref>

Quote Mining in Action

For those wishing to see quote mining in action, the Conservapedia article on evolution makes extensive use of quote mining and is an "excellent" illustration of this devious practice.

Quote mines (external links)

These places have done all the hard work for you, so all you need to do is cut and paste to prove evolution is wrong, etc.


Footnotes

<references/> Copied from Rational/wiki

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