Welcome to a new feature, Creationists Are Liars. This will be a non-regular section where I expose the blatant lies of creationists whenever they are brazen enough to draw my ire.
To be fair, most creationists really aren't lying. There are some, however, who warp the truth so badly that what they say is indistinguishable from telling a lie. A text book example is the dark art of quote mining.
Take, for example, this video posted over at the Force blog. It lists a plethora of quotes from seemingly reputable sources that, when carefully prefaced by the author of the video, make it sound like evolution isn't very well supported (by either the scientists or evidence). As far as the quotes go, they are accurate- but taken out of their original context and strung together with the opinions of the author of the video until the meaning is completely distorted. Now I ask you, dear reader, by warping the truth to impose a new meaning, how is this different than lying?
After watching the video, I realized that the easy thing to do was to assume that the video was just quote mining. I decided that it would be far more responsible to seek the truth myself. You will find, as I did, that 95% of the quotes could be found in their full context by simply googling the author and the quote. Many explanations can be found over at Talk Origins' Quote Mine Project. You'll also note that 100% of them can be found echoed at other creationist webpages, still completely out of context.
There was one, however, that threw me for a loop-
"[There is not] enough evidence from fossil material to take theorising out of the realms of fantasy" - New Scientist, August 1972, p.259.
On the web, I could not find this quote in its original context anywhere. I was also bothered to see such a phrase (with its implied meaning imposed by the video) pulled directly out of New Scientist.
It was at this point that I did the unthinkable- I went to the library. It was trivial to find the original line; it was the fifth line of a four paragraph book review:
"It is proving particularly difficult to understand the evolution of man: through what forms has he progressed--vegetarian or carnivore, quadruped or brachiator? When did he become a biped, when a toolmaker? How close is his relationship to the great apes? When did they diverge? We know too little of the timing or mechanisms of evolution, nor tis there enough evidence from fossil material to take our theorising out of the realms of fantasy."
That's right- this article (not even a true peer reviewed scientific article, but a mere book review!) does not doubt evolution, nor that we are close cousins to the great apes; it only declares that as of August, 1972, there was not enough evidence to fill in the minute details. The article continues that the title of the book being reviewed is misleading- it does not argue that we are not apes ourselves, but focuses on when we split off from the line that has become modern great apes.
There are two points to be made with this little exercise:
1) If you are actually interested in the truth, it often does not take much work to find it. A handful of Google searches was all it took to get me most of the way; a quick trip to the local library (not even an hour of work!) completed the journey. Given that it takes so little effort to sort fact from fiction, why do not more people do this?
2) At some point, a person found this quote in the context of the original article and isolated it in order to twist the original meaning, therefore lying to his or her audience. I am certainly not blaming Zach over at the Force blog. I'm not evening blaming the creator of the video, who likely found this isolated quote as it is presented in his propaganda piece. I put the blame on the original quote miner, who is undeniably a liar.