Talk:Out of context

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Quote mining

I don't believe that quote mining and taking quotes out of context are the same thing. I think that quote mining is a pejorative term for looking for lots of quotes from your opponents to support your point of view rather than building an argument yourself. Philip J. Rayment 11:41, 21 April 2007 (EDT)

Agreed. My first draft was hasty, sloppy, and inaccurate. :-( --Ed Poor 11:47, 21 April 2007 (EDT)
Aren't first drafts supposed to be hasty, sloppy, and inaccurate. :-) Philip J. Rayment 11:54, 21 April 2007 (EDT)

'attempts to "use a person's words" against them'

Taking a quote out of context is not synonymous with attempting to use a person's words against them. You can do the latter without taking a quote out of context, and taking a quote out of context is usually (in my opinion) inadvertent (although possibly due to carelessness, ideologically blinkers, etc.), not something that you attempt to do. Philip J. Rayment 11:41, 21 April 2007 (EDT)

Agreed. My first draft was hasty, sloppy, and inaccurate. :-( --Ed Poor 11:47, 21 April 2007 (EDT)
Aren't first drafts supposed to be hasty, sloppy, and inaccurate. :-) Philip J. Rayment 11:54, 21 April 2007 (EDT)
I think quote mining is an example of taking quotations out of context, but I don't think we should use the phrase in this article, at least not in the lead, because it is not in general use outside of a narrow arena... and because that narrow arena is the locale for some fighting in this neighborhood. The phrase seems to have originated in the USENET group talk.origins, and is used almost exclusively by evolutionists as a name for what they say is a dishonest tactic widely used by creationists. Dpbsmith 11:56, 21 April 2007 (EDT)

I'm juggling several half-formed ideas in my mind here. The term discrediting attack comes to mind. "Reagan was a buffoon, Coulter is biased and ignorant, Republicans and conservatives are heartless racist pigs, etc."

Coulter wrote:

  • Cultlike in their behavior, vicious in their attacks on Republicans, and in almost complete control of mainstream national media, the left has been merciless in portraying US conservatives as dumb, racist, power hungry, homophobic and downright scary.

I gotta go take a walk, but I trust you'll have this whole thing sewn up by the time I get back. :-) --Ed Poor 12:03, 21 April 2007 (EDT)

Ah, well, it sounds like you meant to write a different article then one on quotation out of context... which is the concept I've been working on.

A request to editors

(This is also in the form of an HTML comment within the page itself)

Editors: please resist the temptation to transform this into a long list of examples, and, in particular, avoid examples that relate to live political or Conservapedian disputes. Only a relatively small number of examples are needed. They should be chosen as most clearly illustrating the points being made. This is best done with non-controversial examples. Controversial examples are less clear, because different readers will perceive what they are reading in different ways; in a controversial topic, what one person sees as a "quotation out of context" may be seen by another as perfectly fair.

In general, real examples are better than invented ones. Thanks. Dpbsmith 13:17, 21 April 2007 (EDT)

A good example (in my opinion) is the quote about Darwin and the evolution of the eye that creationists have used (quoted in the quote box below). They have acknowledged that it is out of context (so should not be used)[1] (thus it should be a non-controversial example), and it is a good example of how a quote can be taken out of context inadvertently, because the immediate context does not indicate a problem; the problem arises later in the chapter as explained here:
Charles Darwin himself realized that it seemed incredible that evolutionary processes had to explain human vision. He said:
'To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.'
Yet, later on in the same chapter of his book, he explained how he believed it evolved anyway and that the ‘absurdity’ was illusory.[2]
Philip J. Rayment 18:58, 21 April 2007 (EDT)
Well, my whole point was I don't want this article to have a hidden agenda. Even if the idea for it was suggested to Ed by his seeing an example of an out-of-context quotation in an article here, this article should be about out of context quotation. It shouldn't be about making points or perpetuating some argument going on elsewhere.
Even if it's a good example, and even if creationists have actually used it and even if they have said "touché" when it was pointed out, it is still tendentious. By including it in the article we'd be implicitly suggesting that there's some truth to the charge that "Creationists use quote mining."
It's a veiled attack on creationists even if the average reader is unaware of it, and even if only the Conservapedia in-group sees it that way, and even if the creationists in the Conservapedia in-group agree that in this particular case the attack is justified, and even if the general charge that Creationists are prone to quote mining is richly deserved.
Not everything in Conservapedia should being carrying an ideological message, or be related to internal point-scoring in arguments.
Frankly, I wondered whether I should include the Charles E. Wilson example, but I figured it was old enough and familiar enough and unrelated to any ongoing argument here. This article should not include any examples relating to (say) Joseph McCarthy or John Kerry or, for that matter, Charles Darwin. Dpbsmith 07:31, 22 April 2007 (EDT)
"Quote mining", regardless of whether you or I are correct on its meaning, is a pejorative term, indicating unscrupulousness on the part of the perpetrator. Using a quote out of context is a fact of life, and, in my opinion, unintentional in the vast majority of cases. If the article is not written as though taking a quote out of context is something done deliberately, then I don't see that there should be a problem. And the example I provided is one that shows that even careful quoters can get it wrong occasionally. Philip J. Rayment 08:01, 22 April 2007 (EDT)


I just went and read the article Philip cited, but I don't see how the Darwin quote is "out of context":

Charles Darwin himself realized that it seemed incredible that evolutionary processes had to explain human vision. He said:
'To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.'1
Yet, later on in the same chapter of his book, he explained how he believed it evolved anyway and that the ‘absurdity’ was illusory. Had Darwin had the knowledge about the eye and its associated systems that man has today (which is a great deal more than what it was in his time), he may have given up his naturalistic theory on the origin of living things. [ibid]

According to the cited article, Darwin (1) said "natural selection ... seems ... absurd" but (2) said that the absurdity was illusory.

This seems parallel to:

  1. Critics say that Conserapedia's articles are all trash and no fact, yet
  2. A survey conducted by CP supporter Ed Poor and two CP critics confirmed that 11 out of 30 article (37%) are "good" --Ed Poor 08:09, 22 April 2007 (EDT)
I guess it could be used out of context if someone used it to argue that even Darwin thought that the eye couldn't evolve. In a sense, no quote is ever out of context if it is not being used to make a point. Philip J. Rayment 08:34, 22 April 2007 (EDT)
  • This illustrates my point. You can't give a clear illustration of an out of context quotation in an area that actively being argued, because people won't agree on whether the short quotation is a fair represention of the large whole.

Here's one I don't get

Looking for something completely different, I ran across this example in which the White House complains that the Washington Post quoted the President out of context. Here's what they said. For the life of me, I don't see the problem... do you? (This is for discussion only, it's not good grist for the article). The White House seems to be saying that the full quotation shows Bush was not "drawing an operational link" between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. I read the full quotation, and I don't see it... Dpbsmith 06:45, 23 April 2007 (EDT)

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/09/20060915-4.html


The Washington Post Quotes The President Without Including The Full Context Of His Remarks Distinguishing Al Qaeda From Saddam. The Washington Post: "On Sept. 25, 2002, just days after the CIA received the source's information, President Bush told reporters: 'Al-Qaeda hides. Saddam doesn't, but the danger is, is that they work in concert. The danger is, is that al-Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam's madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world. ... [Y]ou can't distinguish between al-Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.'" (Walter Pincus, "CIA Learned in '02 That Bin Laden Had No Iraq Ties, Report Says," The Washington Post, 9/15/06)

  • The Full Context Of The President's Quote Shows That He Was NOT Drawing An Operational Link Between Al Qaeda And Saddam But Was Making The Point That Both Posed Threats To The World. QUESTION: "Mr. President, do you believe that Saddam Hussein is a bigger threat to the United States than al Qaeda?" THE PRESIDENT: "That's a - that is an interesting question. I'm trying to think of something humorous to say. But I can't when I think about al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. They're both risks, they're both dangerous. The difference, of course, is that al Qaeda likes to hijack governments. Saddam Hussein is a dictator of a government. Al Qaeda hides, Saddam doesn't, but the danger is, is that they work in concert. The danger is, is that al Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam's madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world. Both of them need to be dealt with. The war on terror, you can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror. And so it's a comparison that is - I can't make because I can't distinguish between the two, because they're both equally as bad, and equally as evil, and equally as destructive." (President George W. Bush, Remarks In A Photo Opportunity With Colombian President Uribe, Washington, DC, 9/25/02)

I'm not sure what they mean by an "operational link", but the full quote has Bush noting similarities and differences between Saddam and Al-Qaeda, whereas the shortened version, with one exception, only notes similarities, possibly giving the impression that Al-Qaeda and Saddam are almost indistinguishable. Philip J. Rayment 07:08, 23 April 2007 (EDT)

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