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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

The Quotations

This is intended to eventually hold a complete list of quotations used in Explore Evolution. As time goes by, people can contribute full quotations in context to be shown side-by-side with what appears in the book.

Quotations are a staple of antievolutionary argumentation. The fondness that antievolution advocates have for quoting sources apparently stems from the idea of proof-texts in religious apologetics. Within that endeavor, a brief quotation from an authoritative source is taken to be dispositive concerning a point of argument. Science, though, operates differently from apologetics, a fact that seems to continually elude and perplex antievolution advocates. In science, evidence trumps authority. In fact, authority in science is correlated strongly with ability to reliably deploy evidence in argument. Since authority is secondary to scientific argument, how sources are handled varies from what is seen in religious apologetics. While concepts and evidence are usefully cited from prior work, one will find that quotation of prior work is rare in the primary scientific literature and in scientific textbooks, and relatively uncommon even within popular treatments of science written by scientists.

Quotation in antievolutionary argument, though, is relatively abundant. Further, there is abundant misquotation within antievolutionary argument. Misquotation is misrepresentation that involves quoted material, and comes in a number of different forms:

* Misrepresentation by fabrication : A "quotation" which has no original, or which adds text to part of an original quotation.

* Misrepresentation by omission : Leaving out text from a {quotation}, thereby altering its meaning.

* Misrepresentation by omission of context : Omitting the {context} of a {quotation}, thereby altering its meaning.

* Misrepresentation by patchwork : A particularly outrageous form of {misquotation by omission}, in which widely separated phrases or sentences are patched together.

* Misrepresentation by selection of strawmen : Quoting a hypothetical or rhetorical position presented by an author during exposition as if it was the actual position of the author; a form of {misquotation by omission of context}.

Because of the long antievolutionary history of misquoting sources, paying special attention to how quoted sources are treated in Explore Evolution is a worthwhile endeavor. Another point concerning the quotation of sources is that when misquotation occurs, it is often both exceedingly obvious when the misquote is compared with the original, and difficult to argue away the fault. The phrase, "He said, she said," has entered our cultural currency as the canonical argumentative morass, a place where everything is simply opinion and there is no firm place to ground a decision on who is wrong and who is right. But a misquotation actually has a firm resolution: if "He said she said *this*", but the original shows that, "She *actually* said *that*", then one can clearly see that the "He" in this case has mistreated his source. What remains after that determination is figuring out why he might have mistreated the source. Was it because he did not understand the material? One can look at the original to see whether it was more than usually confusing. Also, in a book like Explore Evolution that is the work of a group of people, the odds that all of them will be confused in just the same fashion by a source drop rapidly. Another consideration would be whether misquotations establish a pattern of bias: when sources are misquoted, are they only sometimes misquoted in favor of the authors' position, or are they consistently misquoted in such a way that the authors' position is given a false appearance of support?

Pay attention to the source, for as in the case of the second quotation, you can identify the use of misquotation by patchwork or portmanteaus composed of text taken from separated pages of a source.