Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Quote Mine Project: Talk Origins Archive

As you may have gathered from my modest "Perspectives" list, the Talk.Origins Archive is one of my favorite sites. Its praises have been sung by the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association of the Advancement of Science, the Smithsonian and many others.

In short, it's a gloriously robust resource for information about evolutionary biology, suitable for the student and the layman alike. Having said that, don't let me fool you -- the articles there are full of complicated, technical information, and if you're coming at the topic as an "average Joe", be prepared to take your time reading. It's not the kind of thing you skim, but it IS the kind of thing from which you can learn an incredible array of things.

My favorite part of it is this: it's also a fabulous repository of Creationist/ID nonsense that you'll find on the 'net -- everything from the innocuously stupid to the criminally fradulent.

When discussing the ID movement with the not-so-informed, I often hear "Well, what's wrong with the whole "God of the gaps" thing, I mean.. it's not like anyone can say for sure." To which, I reply "It's not that ID advocates begin and end their assertion with 'God Started It', rather their objections are couched in supposed critiques of evolutionary theory. These criticisms manifest in a number of appaling ways, up to and including groteque misrepresentations of biology, cosmology, geology, and the like. One of the common tactics is to present quoted material from scientists, take them grossly out of context, and present them as support for ID."

Without numerous examples off the top of my head, this point is sometimes difficult to drive home. However, the brilliant folks running the Archive have assembled the Quote Mine Project to illustrate this quoting strategy in stark detail.

If you do nothing else, visit the QMP home page, bookmark it, and remember it the next time you hear about some "really good point" Michael Behe has made lately on the radio, or the next time you hear someone urgently telling you about the "totally legitimate offer Ken Hovind" has made.

Another tool for your box, brought to you by the persnickety folks at Hydrogen & Stupidity.

Happy reading!

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