I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Quote mining

I never heard the term "quote mining" before I started studying the evolution controversy. The term means pretty much the same as "quoting out of context" or "cherry picking quotes." A Wikipedia article about quote mining says,

The term is particularly used by scientists to denounce proponents of creationism, because creationists present long lists of quotes by scientists allegedly acknowledging their criticisms. To quote Theodosius Dobzhansky's famous 1973 essay Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution:

Their [Creationists'] favorite sport is stringing together quotations, carefully and sometimes expertly taken out of context, to show that nothing is really established or agreed upon among evolutionists. Some of my colleagues and myself have been amused and amazed to read ourselves quoted in a way showing that we are really antievolutionists under the skin.

A website called Anointed-One.net has compiled dozens of quote mines under the heading "Quotes by Famous Evolutionists", and Talkorigins.org has a section titled "The Quote Mine Project" which discusses these quote mines in their original contexts. Also, Apologetics Press describes the following books/booklets of quote mines: (1) a 157-page 1977 book titled Handy Dandy Evolution Refuter, with almost 200 quotations from the writings of prominent evolutionists; (2) a 20-page 1984 booklet titled The Quote Book, with over 100 quotations; and (3) That Their Words May Be Used Against Them, described as "a massive, 487-page, hardback book containing quotations from the evolutionary literature on subjects that range from the Big Bang to the corrupt fruits of a life based on belief in evolution.....each quotation is accompanied by bibliographic documentation regarding author, source, date, etc.." In the evolution controversy, the anti-Darwinists are not the only ones who quote mine -- Pope John Paul II's statement that "evolution is more than just a hypothesis" is a well-known quote mine used by Darwinists.

Darwinism particularly lends itself to quote mining because: (1) many scientists themselves are skeptical of Darwinism but won't openly admit it; (2) many evolutionary concepts are so highly questionable that scientists find themselves playing the devil's advocate when arguing in support of them; and (3) there is great disagreement among scientists in regard to different versions of the theory of evolution, and so scientists are often very critical when discussing the versions that they disagree with -- this is especially true in regard to the conflict between phyletic gradualism and punctuated equilibrium..

Law is another field that lends itself to quote mining, because court documents are always citing precedents and other legal references. However, quote mining is less effective in law because the sources of the quotes are usually easy to find on the Internet or in law libraries. Here is what must be the Lost Dutchman Mine of quote mines in the field of law, from the Supreme Court case of Buckhannon Board & Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources, 532 U.S. 598 (2001):

And petitioners’ fear of mischievous defendants only materializes in claims for equitable relief, for so long as the plaintiff has a cause of action for damages, a defendant’s change in conduct will not moot the case. (emphasis added)

Incredibly, some commenters on this blog have interpreted the above sentence as meaning that the Supreme Court meant -- among other things -- that a claim for nominal damages (typically $1 per plaintiff) is alone sufficient to prevent a case from being declared to be moot! This interpretation means that in any lawsuit where a claim for nominal damages may be made (and maybe some other lawsuits as well), the plaintiff(s) could positively prevent mootness just by claiming nominal damages! LOL Furthermore, the primary subject of the above sentence is equitable relief, not damages, and damages were not even an issue in the case. Talk about dictum!

Mining is an occupation, so I think that the term "quote mining" was coined because it implies making sort of an occupation out of finding quotes. I feel that "quote mining" is not necessarily a negative thing -- after all, we have all heard of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations and people are always quoting famous and not-so-famous people. In the controversy over censorship of Confederate symbols, there are "quote mine" wars where, for example, racist quote mines of Confederates are countered by racist quote mines of Unionists ( Abraham Lincoln is a popular source, but William T. Sherman is a pretty good source, too).

7 Comments:

Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

Not only admitting that you have been quote mining, but describing it in detail as the topic of a new thread! I have to admire you for this confession.

Friday, June 23, 2006 1:25:00 PM  
Blogger dhogaza said...

"Darwinism particularly lends itself to quote mining because: (1) many scientists themselves are skeptical of Darwinism but won't openly admit it"

Wrong.

"(2) many evolutionary concepts are so highly questionable that scientists find themselves playing the devil's advocate when arguing in support of them"

Wrong.

"(3) there is great disagreement among scientists in regard to different versions of the theory of evolution, and so scientists are often very critical when discussing the versions that they disagree with -- this is especially true in regard to the conflict between phyletic gradualism and punctuated equilibrium."

Wrangling over what's really happening is the very heart of science, not just evolutionary biology.

Creationists generally don't bother quote-mining those who work in other areas of science because their work doesn't directly conflict with Genesis.

Saturday, June 24, 2006 5:46:00 PM  
Blogger dhogaza said...

'Pope John Paul II's statement that "evolution is more than just a hypothesis" is a well-known quote mine used by Darwinists.'

That's not quote-mining, because it does not misrepresent the meaning of the Pope's statement.

Quote-mining is when you present a quote that makes it appear an author says "white" when the author really says "black".

Saturday, June 24, 2006 5:49:00 PM  
Blogger dhogaza said...

I feel that "quote mining" is necessarily a negative thing
Well, at least we agree on this, Larry!

God forbid anyone here should quote mine YOU.

Saturday, June 24, 2006 5:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a blog! I can see what they mean by "Larry's Cry Room".

Sunday, June 25, 2006 7:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is the clown prince? He hasn't posted anything since 4:00 AM when he emerged from under his toadstool to blast Rob. He couldn't have gone anywhere because he has no life and he has never had a girlfriend.

I would suspect that the problem might be that he has failed to pay his electric or phone bills but that can't be so since his mother pays those.

Come back, Larry. There is nothing good on Television.

Sunday, June 25, 2006 7:23:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

dhogaza said (three posts) --

>>>>>>"(3) there is great disagreement among scientists in regard to different versions of the theory of evolution, and so scientists are often very critical when discussing the versions that they disagree with -- this is especially true in regard to the conflict between phyletic gradualism and punctuated equilibrium."

Wrangling over what's really happening is the very heart of science, not just evolutionary biology.<<<<<<

Sorry I was slow in answering here -- I was busy answering other comments (unfortunately, I have to do most of the answering here -- on blogs like PT, the bloggers participate little or not at all in the discussions).

OK, so of the three explanations I gave as to why Darwinism lends itself to quote mining, this is the only one that you accept. You simply claimed that the other two are "wrong."

You say that "wrangling over what's really happening is the very heart of science." But is there any "wrangling" over the law of gravity, the gas laws, Newton's laws of motion, or any of the other laws that are commonly taught to K-12 students in science classes? No.

One thing that this wrangling does show is that -- contrary to the denial of Theodosius Dobzhansky -- "nothing is really established or agreed upon among evolutionists."

>>>>>Pope John Paul II's statement that "evolution is more than just a hypothesis" is a well-known quote mine used by Darwinists.

That's not quote-mining, because it does not misrepresent the meaning of the Pope's statement.<<<<<<<

Wrong. the Catholic church's positions on Darwinism are described here, here, and here (this is a two-page article -- do not miss the 2nd page).

>>>>I feel that "quote mining" is ...... necessarily a negative thing

Well, at least we agree on this, Larry!

God forbid anyone here should quote mine YOU.<<<<<<

You just quote mined me yourself by deleting the word "not" from my statement, and you did not even follow the proper practice of using ellipsis points when you delete words from the original (I added them to make sure that people will not misinterpret the statement).

Thursday, June 29, 2006 12:23:00 PM  

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