• Truth Matters.

    Our former Vice-President from the term of George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle, is not remembered as an intelligent or well-spoken man. One of his more infamous verbal gaffes is this one:

    I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn’t study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people.

    Of course, the main thing to know about this line is that Quayle never said it. The idea that he ever said anything like this has been thoroughly debunked.

    There’s no shortage of dumb things he really did say or do. He really did misspell “potato” in front of a roomful of school kids. He did lose an argument with a fictional character. Many of his bigger howlers can be found at the Snopes link above.

    Why am I bringing up Dan Quayle, and specifically the “Latin” misquote? Because it was debunked contemporaneously, within months after it began appearing, but I know people who repeated it anyway, knowing it wasn’t true, because (I paraphrase), “Quayle is so dumb, it’s something he could have said.”

    Zoom ahead to a few days ago. A Facebook friend of mine posted, for purposes of ridicule, the following image of a tweet:

    Pretty outrageous, isn’t it? A little too outrageous, I thought, so I suspected it might be an example of Poe’s Law. I set to investigating.

    That Twitter account, @GodsWordIsLaw, was suspended or banned a couple of years ago. Its apparent successor, @GodsWordIsLaws, hasn’t been used since late 2012, and based on some of the tweets there, was either always a parody site or was hacked early on and never brought home.

    But regardless, when I brought up the idea that the tweet might be satire or parody, my friend said that doesn’t  matter, because “there really are Christians who think that way.”

    Maybe so, but it’s being a bad skeptic to say as much  (and to act accordingly). Mocking politicians for things they didn’t actually say is easy, and lazy. I could string together random words, claim that Dan Quayle (or George W. Bush, or Joe Biden, or anyone else) said them, and then ridicule him for being stupid.

    Similarly, I could project the reductio ad absurdum of something a fundamentalist Christian (or Muslim, or Orthodox Jew) might say, and then bash him or her for probably having such a ridiculous belief.

    How much would either of those be worth?

    Truth matters. I hope that’s an obvious point, but it seems to bear repeating. There is a plethora of satire and parody out there; I’d be outraged all the time if I took it all seriously, and I don’t ever want to be so cynical that I will assume the worst of humanity without verifying it first.

    Truth matters. We should never forget that.

    Category: media

    Article by: Vandy Beth Glenn

    I'm a writer, editor, runner, and bon vivant in the Atlanta, Georgia, area.
    • I could not possibly agree more. It is endlessly frustrating when people on our side (skeptics, atheists, humanists) play fast and loose with quotations, and that shit happens every day.

    • We all need to work on developing that little spidey sense that makes us question stuff like this. At least, I certainly do!

    • Joe G

      Geez just recently I had Smilodon’s Retreat lying about something I did. I took a definition of an aardvark and measured its specified information. Smilodon is going around telling people that I measured the SI of an actual aardvark by using the definition.

      And not only that smilodon denies that evolution is posited to proceed via blind and undirected chemical processes.

      Truth matters and it is seldom seen over on smilodon’s retreat

      • Evolution is not posited to proceed via “blind and undirected chemical processes”. Mostly because that phrasing is confused and vague. Selection, for example, is not generally a chemical process at all. As for “directed”, well this has all sorts of potential meanings. Selection can “direct” evolution in a metaphorical but not literal sense of intentionality or sentience.

        • Joe G

          Edward I can provide references for my claims. Natural selection is eliminative. It is blind and mindless. The mutations are said to be undirected, ie happensatnce events, genetic accidents, errors and mistakes.

          The only “direction” is that of the surviving reproducers.

          BTW natural selection is differential reproduction due to heritable random (as in happenstance) variation/ mutations. So yes NS contains chemical processes.

          The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity- Nobel Laureates Iinitiative September 9, 2005

          Logically derived from confirmable evidence, evolution is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection.

          So what do you have besides you?

          • I did not ask for citations. I called your statement vague. I agree, NS is “blind” and “mindless”, in the sense of intentionality or sentience.
            “NS contains chemical processes” is a vacuous remark; anything we can say about biology contains “chemical processes”. Selection itself is not a chemical process, though.

            • Joe G

              Edward, There isn’t any selection, just elimination. And natural selection is differential reproduction due to heritable random mutations. It’s all chemical processes. Fecundity- chemical. Heritable- chemical. Mutaions- chemical. Do you understand what natural selection is?

              As for my statement being vague, well that goes for all of evolutionism, ie blind watchmaker evolution- it is all vague, ie devoid of specifics.