ESGS Logical Fallacies
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Quoting out of context

 Definition 

Manipulating a quote either from an authority, or from one's opponent, in such a way that the original meaning of the statement is altered.

 Explanation 

It is possible to change the meaning of every quote by carefully selecting parts of the source. Sometimes, evaluating a quote requires more material so that taking it out is enough to change the meaning. Sometimes some words or parts of the sentence are taken out it order to change the meaning.

 Examples 

The truncated quote is:

"... general semantics is but one more of a long succession of cults, having its divine master, its disciples, a bible, its own mumbo-jumbo and ceremonial rites."
Russell Meyers MD, Science and Sanity, 4th preface.

The correct quote is:

"This circumstance in itself should abrogate once and for all the feckless charges sometimes made by ill-informed critics that general semantics is but one more of a long succession of cults, having its divine master, its disciples, a bible, its own mumbo-jumbo and ceremonial rites."
Russell Meyers MD, Science and Sanity, 4th preface.

The quote is:

" 'What is good in Korzybski's work,' they say, 'is not new, and what is new is not good."
Anatol Rapoport, "What is Semantics?," American Scientist (1952)
Rapoport quotes critics, but the quoter uses his name (appeal to authority, since Rapoport is not an expert in general semantics) to express the negative views of the critics, even if Rapoport himself does not share these views. Moreover the final quote sign is omitted in order to confuse the reader in believing that the quote is from Rapoport himself.

 Counter-examples 

None.

 Advices 

It is considered very dishonest to use such tricks. People using it run the risk of being discarded later by a appeal to spite.


© ESGS, 2002.