Thursday, April 15, 2004

Second-Hand Misquotation I suspect that the author of the op-ed I discussed in my last post has not actually read any of George Gaylord Simpson's books. More likely is that he borrowed the quotation from some other creationist source, and did not bother to look into the proper context of the statement.

My favorite example of this sort of thing can be found in the book Why Religion Matters by Huston Smith. On page 177 he wrote:

[Physicists] do not laugh when a fellow scientist, Dale Kohler, writes `We have been scraping away at physical reality all these centuries, and now the layer of the remaining little that we don’t understand is so thin that God’s face is staring right out at us.'

Do not feel bad if you have never heard of the great scientist Dale Kohler. He's a fictional character. Go read John Updike's novel Roger's Version if you don't believe me.

Smith's book was truly awful (my review it, published in Free Inquiry is available here), but I doubt that Smith would deliberately present the words of a fictional character as if they had been said by a real person. More likely is that Smith saw Dale Kohler quoted in some other source, and simply assumed that Kohler was a real person.


At 11:09 PM, Blogger Jason File said...

If you think that by debunking the source of Smith's citation you have thereby debunked its *content*, then you haven't really thought things through.


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