Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sighting Report #12

It’s both entertaining, and alarming, to see what nonsense is believed on the Internet.  Today’s sighting comes from thepeoplesvoice.org and is titled “Promoting Confrontation with Russia.” It concludes that Putin is an innocent victim of Western propaganda.

Typical of the care the writer takes in electing evidence: Not only is our false Goebbels quotation cited to demonstrate the iniquities of Western media, but he also quotes Winston Churchill as saying:
(a) lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
That quotation goes back at least to Charles Spurgeon.  A check of a source like Richard Langworth’s Churchill by Himself: The Definite Collection of Quotations would have easily demonstrated that the quotation does not originate with Churchill.  

The familiar quotation that one can use statistics like a drunkard uses a lamppost (“for support rather than illumination”) seems to go back to A. E. Housman.  After looking at a large number of occurrences of the quotation, I’ve concluded that its appearance is an almost sure sign of shoddy argumentation.  Those who use it select whatever bits and pieces of support they can find to buttress their conclusions, seldom being critical, seldom considering evidence that does not agree with their established opinion.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sighting Report #11

The MWC News is a site claiming all sorts of noble virtues, including:
“Our aim is to offer a clear-cut distinction between fact and opinion...”
This post, dated 9 August 2014, is on the conflict between Israel and Hamas.  It quotes the fabricated Goebbels quotation to support the claim that the media are complicit in supporting guilty Israel against innocent Hamas.

Their ability to separate fact from fabrication does not seem well-developed.  As is so often the case, they use the quotation without bothering to check its accuracy because it says what they want to say. Like most who use the quotation, they also select the evidence they think supports their case, ignoring what doesn’t agree with their positions.