Monday, 21 April 2008

(Dis)Honesty of Quotation

By Steve Mirsky

In this podcast, Steve exposed one of the trick of propaganda

examine the writings of somebody you want to smear and then selectively quote those portions that appear to make your point

This case in point is Ben Stein's Expelled.

Toward the end, Stein reads the following quote from the book Descent of Man: “With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

Is Darwin giving Nazis' philosophical support? The answer lies in what followed the quote as Steve finds out:
from Descent of Man: “The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.”

Whereis academics value citation, quotation and citation honesty seems to be more important than just quoting.

No comments: