Friday, February 11, 2011

Trim to fit

The power of truncated quotes

I was browsing through Orac's Respectful Insolence when I stumbled across his post on the latest inanity by Mike Adams. The purchase by AOL of the Huffington Post had inspired Adams to celebrate a wonderful new opportunity for “alternative health authors.” (Why do they use so many syllables when “cranks” is so much more economical an expression?) Since HuffPo is “headed in the direction of conventional media,” its wackier writers might be pleased to hear that Mike Adams is ready to welcome them at his NaturalNews site:
Many of the site's best writers are wondering where they can go to get their alternative medicine stories published. It certainly isn't WebMD, which even the New York Times just called out as being a mouthpiece for the pharmaceutical industry, saying “WebMD is synonymous with Big Pharma Shilling”. (
Are you as impressed as I am? Imagine! Even the stodgy old New York Times recognizes that WebMD is merely a front for rapacious drug companies. Naturally I was inspired to click on the link to learn more. Just how thoroughly did the Times trash WebMD? Inquiring minds want to know!

It was really a bit of a let-down. Writer Virginia Heffernan did not exactly make the statement quoted by Adams. What she really wrote is this:
In more whistle-blowing quarters, WebMD is synonymous with Big Pharma Shilling.
Oh. That's just a little bit different.

True to tell, Heffernan does not actually like WebMD. Equipped with her pertinent experience as a television critic and degrees in English literature, Heffernan goes on to complain about WebMD's product placement, advertisements, and connection to various pharmaceutical companies. She even cites an investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley, as if he's a reliable source (she calls him “Chuck,” for some reason). She adds that “WebMD has become permeated with pseudomedicine.”

Sounds like Mike Adams would feel right at home.


Gene O'Pedia said...

Good catch, Zeno. I've always appreciated one of the more blatant uses of quotes-out-of-context, that of movie advertisements. The ad in the paper or the poster outside the theater contains snippets of quotes from respected critics or media, such as "Surely one of... the best... movies in... town"

Our imaginations can fill in between the ellipses, for a Mad Libs kind of fun.

Zeno said...

Too often they deny us our opportunity for the fun you mention by "forgetting" to include the ellipses. Just an inadvertent oversight, I'm sure.

Kathie said...

Totally off-topic, but I hope Zeno, being of 100% Azorean ancestry, will humor me and let the following be posted here (my response to Ridger's celebration of the 202nd anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth):
* * * * *

Being half-Azorean in ancestry, I was astonished to discover two years ago during his bicentennial that Charles Darwin had actually spent a few days in Portugal's Azores islands on the Beagle's final resupply stop before returning to England after 5+ years. No doubt due in equal measure to his desire to get home at long last and the fact that he'd already seen such amazing sights elsewhere, Darwin wasn't overly impressed by the Azores -- his loss, I say! -- but nonetheless his account of his visit to the island of Terceira is well worth reading (often omitted from abridged published versions of the Beagle's voyage, alas). However, you can read it online, inter alia, at this website:
(I think there are some non-Darwinian typos in it, due to the blogger, but nothing for which one can't mentally compensate).

Kathie said...

Obrigada, Zee!