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RE: Taking control of the documentary situation, an immodest proposal
Mike Taylor wrote:
<Jaime, it seems like you're saying that Dangerous Ltd. did not quote-mine Matt
Wedel. I assume I must be misunderstanding you here, unless you didn't
actually READ Matt's account at
indeed Dangerous Ltd.'s own account as reproduced at
Really? Beacuse unless I'm mistaken -- and including Matt's offered
illustration, which argues the purpose of the swollen cavity is unknown (his
word) -- It actually differs from a quote-mine because they cut OFF a whole
segment past the first statement. Nothing was moved about, nor was it "chopped
up" in the sense that what is stated is misconstrued. What it was is that the
caveats that normally go along with popularistic discussions or press releases
are simply omitted, as is the actual data regarding the swollen cavity.
The statement "One of the curious things about Sauropods is that they did
have a swelling in the spinal cord, in the neighborhood of their pelvis[.]"
This is 100% congruent with the first sentence you quoted. They further write:
"This was sort of like a second brain to help control the back half of the
body." and while this is a part of the original body of the statement, it
excludes Matt's immediate caveat: "[And for a while it was thought that may be]
this was sort of like a second brain to help control the back half of the body."
The actual full apparent quote, which Dangerous Ltd states "In the transcript
of the final edit, you appeared to be saying[,]" there is more than certainly
enough room that, despite the immediate reaction of:
"There it is in black and white. I was very clearly explaining why a
misconception is no longer held, and they edited the tape to make me
regurgitate the misconception as if it was not just a commonly accepted
fact, but a fact that I accepted."
[Note, it is NOT in Black and white, it is hardly clear when the cautionary
language of the statement of Dangerous' intentions as they allege are printed
with the phrase "you appeared to be saying." This, however seemingly wrongly
you or anyone may think, gives them a leeway that the accusation of intentional
misconstruement is false.
Now, I do not think Dangerous Ltd appears to have deliberately quote mined.
Wedel actually said everything in the very context it was derived at; the
caveat was removed, but the cautionary language "this was sort of like"
remains, especially given that Matt continued to describe how the spinsal cord
actually plays a fundamental role in controlling the body. The issue here is a
conflation of the idea that ONLY the brain controls ANY part of the body, and
that transmission of signal cannot be produced initially anywhere else. We
simply do not KNOW this to be a fact, and the cautionary language is also
included in Matt's included figure, as seen at Darren's blog. So where again
was Matt meant to say something he never did?
To be precise, the process of quote mining is derived from the fallacy of
quoting out of context, as seen here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_quoting_out_of_context. In this
fallacy, a logical or debating style in order to appeal to a nonlogical
argument which one's opponent may not be prepared to refute and thus not able
to argue against, portions of quoted material are "moved about" in order to
create a string which is different from the original structure. This, once
again, did not occur with Wedel's statement, and is thus not a quote mine. The
very phrase "quote mine" is becoming a buzzword whose context is itself missed
by many who use it in order to (you guessed it!) propagandize the statement on
which it is used. Is this logical? I would not think so.
This argument I make does NOT stem from any disagreement on the part of
either Matt or Mike in this regard, just their statements (which I understand
is difficult to separate for some). I do not feel that the phrase, which is
being tossed around now by others on their own blogs and thus propagandizing
the debate, is being used correctly, but is going to receive more attention
because of this form of argument. Even if it is being inaccurately applied, the
intention of the argument for quote mining, as is used in another forum which
we can't discuss here, is to shame or compel the "offending" party into some
sort of response, especially to perpetuate the argument. So the real issue
being this is what is the purpose for arguing that
Jaime A. Headden
"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)
"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the
experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to
do so." --- Douglas Adams (Last Chance to See)
"Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different
language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to
kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at
things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
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