“All we can do is be as objective as we can about the evidence and help the politicians evaluate proposed solutions,” she says. If that means doing nothing, “I can’t say myself that that isn’t the best solution.”
This is an unremarkable statement. Curry said if the evidence says we should do nothing, she can’t argue against that “solution.” John Cook misrepresented at his site by providing only this quotation:
“I can’t say myself that [doing nothing] isn’t the best solution.”
Obviously, this misrepresents what Curry said. It leaves off a major caveat of her statement. Her statement was predicated upon the idea evidence shows doing nothing is the best opotion. Cook pretends that caveat wasn’t stated. That’s grossly misleading
Simple, right? Wrong. I came upon this issue when I saw this tweet:
Notice this tweet says nothing about the caveat John Cook ignored. It says nothing about the context John removed. All it says is the quote was “manufactured.” It frames the entire issue as John Cook changing the word “that” to “doing nothing.”
John Cook replaced a pronoun with the word (well, phrase) it referred to. There is nothing wrong with that. The problem has nothing to do with him replacing “that” with “doing nothing.” That’s the sort of thing anyone would do. Because of that, anyone seeing this claim will think it’s idiotic. They’ll know John Cook could have just written:
In reference to the idea of doing nothing, Curry said, “I can’t say myself that that isn’t the best solution.”
Which would have had the exact same meaning. That shows “fixing” what John Cook changed has no effect on how the quote is interpreted. That’s all that would matter to anyone who just heard the “quote was manufactured.” They’d make that “fix,” see it didn’t change anything, and they’d think what John Cook wrote was fine.
In effect, claiming this quote was “manufactured” is creating a straw man for John Cook and his supporters to attack. That’s what happens when you exaggerate an argument. It lets the other person attack your exaggeration and ignore the actual issue.
You might wonder why I posted this. The answer is simple. In the last hour, I posted over 30 messages to Twitter. That’s over 30 posts trying to get people to stop saying the quote was “manufactured.” The thought was we could all agree the quote was accurate but deceptive due to the removal of its context.
That didn’t work. Nobody seemed to agree replacing a pronoun with its antecedent, while disclosing the change, was fine. I don’t get that. I’m hoping maybe this post will help clarify things. I’m hoping people will either see why calling this a “manufactured” quote is wrong. Failing that, I’m hoping they’ll explain to me why replacing a pronoun with its antecedent deserves criticism.
And maybe, when free of the 140 character restriction, we’ll be able to reach an agreement.