Post No.: 0030
“Some people like to quote quotes because they think it makes them sound big and clever.”
“If in 50 years time people will only remember me through a quote then my life hasn’t been worth it.”
“Please don’t quote me on this.”
“It’s a dog eat dog food world.”
Catchy or ‘profound’ quotes, clichés, fables, ‘old wives’ tales’ or urban myths, no matter how plausible and erudite they may sound and no matter who said them, famous or not, are just quotes, clichés, fables, ‘old wives’ tales’ or urban myths – not empirical evidence. Who said what, no matter how high or low their title, rank, position, reverence, background or even really their expertise, experience or whatever, doesn’t matter – this alone doesn’t count as providing any hard evidence and/or logical support for a claim. (And quotes are often misattributed to the wrong people anyway.)
It’s not to say that the contents of a quote cannot be correct or insightful, but providing a quote alone to ‘prove a point’ is not usually sufficiently persuasive. And it matters not if e.g. Albert Einstein or the person next door said something – this ‘ad hominem fallacy’ favours or attacks the person rather than favours or attacks the argument. We’re interested in the argument, not who said it, whether they supposedly have expertise or experience on the issue or not. So people should really have the confidence to quote their friends or non-famous people if they’ve said insightful things too because it should be about the content, not the status of the speaker or writer. A fact or piece of insight remains a fact or piece of insight whoever says it, a falsehood or piece of gibberish remains a falsehood or piece of gibberish whoever says it (and everybody is entitled to their own opinions on matters of subjectivity).
Crediting sources is indeed an important and necessary reason for naming the person who first said something but a quote is neither automatically sound or unsound, factual or false, simply because of whom it is credited to or what this person got right or wrong in other contexts or in the past.
Experts (in the subjects they are experts in) do typically have better answers than laypeople but that’s only because they know more facts and so can present the better evidence and/or logic relative to laypeople, in general. And it’s this evidence and/or logic we should focus on again whenever different experts disagree on an issue. So once more it’s about ‘what is said’ not ‘who said it’.
Yes, a person being right or wrong in the past about something doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be right or wrong about some separate thing in the future (but the less we know about a person, the more we’ll crudely generalise their competence and (in)accuracies) – we must judge their new arguments for the new case, not judge the person according to their historically unrelated arguments and cases.
We’ve all made mistakes so imagine if the only thing other people knew about you was one of these mistakes – would it be fair on you for them to think ‘what do you know about y or z? You got x wrong’? And even the smartest people in the world occasionally say incorrect things or things they’d rather subsequently modify or take back after learning more so one shouldn’t automatically think ‘they were right about x so they must be right about y and z too’.
Some quotes are even complete gobbledegook if you tried to parse and analyse them. Those who think they’re ‘profound’ may pretentiously think that ‘it takes someone really clever to understand them’ but these people cannot satisfactorily explain their meanings themselves. Rhyme is not necessarily reason either. Some parts may be actual true wisdom, but one needs to be more critical rather than blindly accepting of what ‘sounds’ plausible or profound. It also doesn’t matter how many people believe in and use a cliché – question the evidence for the cliché.
With absolutely anything and everything written in this blog – we want you readers (whom we might collectively call our furlosofurs (philosophers); this is only provisional so any other ideas for what to call our group of loyal readers are welcome!) to also think for yourselves, to seek evidence for any claims made, and to parse through any logic presented. No blog could ever have the scope to provide all the knowledge and information in the world, or even get close, so this blog only provides a few stepping stones towards forming your own furry conclusions.
“I stink therefore I am.”
“Farting is such sweet sorrow.”
Fluffystealthkitten and Furrywisepuppy: