On lying, cherry-picking & atheism … and a new word of the day
In two recent posts, I accused Creation Ministries International of lying by not informing the historians that they were interviewing of the nature of their enterprise. In one of the threads, a commenter, Lars, attempted to defend CMI thusly:
CMI created a front company to conceal the fact that the makers of the film were creationists (for reasons stated in the BBC article). The straightforward understanding of “to lie” is “to make false statements with the intent to deceive”, not merely “to conceal information.” A lie pure and simple would have been e.g. to create a front company that claims to advocate evolution and combat creationism. Did CMI do that?
We know that CMI did not do that. However lies take many forms and one of them is lying by omission – i.e. omitting an important fact (e.g. that one is representing a young earth creationist organization that is openly hostile to evolutionary theory and Charles Darwin) leaving another individual with a misconception (e.g. that ones statements will be used fairly and not cherry-picked). The subterfuge was a form of lie and CMI’s use of scripture (and their claim that “[u]nder atheism there is no compunction to be truthful at all”) to defend themselves does not alter that fact. I thus was not exaggerating when I termed their actions to be a lie, “pure and simple.” (I also won’t be addressing this issue any further.)
Now it may very well be that The Voyage is “fair and balanced” (if that phrase means anything any more). I have made my doubts known and will, no doubt, write more once I have seen the documentary (CMI is sending me a copy). One has to however bear in mind that without access to the original raw interviews (or further statements from the historians interviewed), it will be difficult to determine to what degree the editors cherry-picked statements to remove any nuance or context.
CMI have inserted (as of today, to the best of my knowledge) the following text on the page of their defense: “CMI’s documentary, has atheists ranting and raging. Rather than critique the film, they falsely accuse CMI of deception.” The “atheists” linked to are PZ Myers, Jim Lippard, someone at RichardDawkin.net and myself. As I have repeatedly pointed out on this blog (see for example, various posts and comments from November 2006), I am not an atheist. Just like John Wilkins, I am an agnostic.
Word for the Day
Update (6/30): The CMI page now reads “The Voyage that Shook the World, CMI’s documentary, has anti-Christians ranting and raging. Many preemptively accuse CMI of deception, without having even seen the film.” Apparently I’m “anti-Christian,” something that would be news to my many Christian friends.