Pharyngula

John West caught quote-mining

It’s no surprise that a fellow of the Discovery Institute would distort his critics, but it’s still entertaining to see the quotes lined up with the manglings. If you’re a real masochist, you can catch West droning out the same old lies on Book TV. I’m not; I heard him speak on this subject once before, and it was infuriating in the depths of his bad history and even worse science.

Comments

  1. #1 Tom
    February 25, 2008

    Wow, a figure from the Discovery Institute misrepresenting the views of his opponents. What a shocking, shocking turn of events. Whatever has the world come to?

    **bad case of the vapors**

  2. #2 Stephen Stripe
    February 25, 2008

    I have been noticeing lately booktv has been haveing more books by creationist and people who distort the 1st admendment. Does Rupert Murdock own CSpan and therefore booktv? Rupert Murdock owns FOX and is a know extreme right winger. If that is the case maybe CSPAN will have more “balanced news” just like FOX. That will be too bad, as I got a lot of my books after watching booktv.

  3. #3 negentropyeater
    February 25, 2008

    Something is too nice with this expression “quote-mining”.

    In the creationist’ case I suggest “quote-raping” which is a bit more appropriate, also in view of Ken Ham and Denise O’Leary’s practices.

    So “quote-raping” means using and harming a quote against it’s will, which is what they are doing…

  4. #4 BlueIndependent
    February 25, 2008

    I have this sort of WTF fascination with the dysfunctional psyche of creationists. What is going through their minds when they think they will get away with this garbage? Are they all THIS uneducated, or are they all THIS dishonest? I can’t tell other than that they must not know better on some level (some of them anyways) and simply practice their biblically-taught quote-mining skills on peer-reviewed journal articles, periodicals and seminal works of science.

    Is it just me or wouldn’t more people here like to be the invisible eyes over the shoulder as people like West formulate their tomes of stupidity to see if they just don’t understand how to do real investigative work, or if they’re the proverbial thief in a trenchcoat when they write such tripe.

    The masochist in me needs to know these things. Their quote-mining is so unabashed that sometimes I question if it’s not ignorance talking rather than overt dishonesty. Are they making suppositions as they read people like Ken Miller, and then paraphrase those into their crap?

    Seriously, W.T.F.

  5. #5 Jason J Brunet
    February 25, 2008

    I was at that very Darwin Day event and saw John give that speech. It was boring. I also sat next to the crazy lady. I think John and I could both agree that she was crazy.

  6. #6 Clostridium
    February 25, 2008

    PZ,

    You wrote previously about Ray Comfort a few times, you should check out his latest post. He is coming out with a new book called “Evolution: the fairytale for grown-ups” and I challenged him to debate evolution and he came back and said “I only debate intelligent design”. What a fuckwit! Here’s some of the post, hilarious:

    “Clostridium… I don’t do debates on the subject of evolution. Neither do I do debates on the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, Zeus, the flying spaghetti monster, or Hercules. If you believe evolution is a reality, then the onus is on you to prove it. You have the burden of proof. In my new book, Evolution A Fairy Tale for Grownups (due to be published in about a month), I have quoted Richard Dawkins in the Introduction. He wisely said, “And, next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: ‘What kind of evidence is there for that?’ And if they can’t give you a good answer, I hope you’ll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.”

    That’s all I have asked in this book. I have never claimed to be an authority on the subject of evolution, but I have quoted authorities. Lots of them. The publication is filled with quotes from the mouths of evolution experts who admit that they have nothing. They have no empirical evidence for the theory.

    No doubt you will accuse me of “quote mining” (for those who don’t know what that is, it’s the practice of taking a quote–often out of its context, and using it in a way that was never intended by the author). However, every gold nugget is legitimately mined out of its context. No one seriously values the earth that encases the gold. So, when I uncover an evolutionary expert quietly admitting that he has no evidence to back up his theory, I don’t see any value in the soil of his surrounding words. I merely extract what I believe is of value for those who want to discover the truth about the theory of evolution.

    I have spent months researching for this book, and I have found evolution to be mind-numbingly boring . . . an intellectual embarrassment. It is a scientifically bankrupt theory, and it’s the bed-fellow of atheism.

    Thank you though for your kind offer to debate me.”

  7. #7 Ken
    February 25, 2008

    I saw West on Book TV yesterday. I am not even a scientist and I was flabbergasted by the stupidity. Ended up walking around the living room yelling and waving my arms in the air. All much to the amusement of my family. And I am just an IT guy and project manager. I can’t imagine what it does to experts. I would expect it leaves you snarling and barking at the TV.

    Side note: I am with negentropyeater about the term “quote-mining”. Waaaay to intellectual sounding for this idjit.

  8. #8 True Bob
    February 25, 2008

    Again, I say “Look at the bones!”

  9. #9 Jason J Brunet
    February 25, 2008

    Hey Clostridium:

    This is the same Jason that occasionally comments on Ray’s blog. Nice to see you here too, though I’m not smart enough to comment here very much.

    I think Rational Response Squad kind of killed Ray’s desire to debate anyone, and I can’t really blame the guy. He was gutted.

  10. #10 negentropyeater
    February 25, 2008

    John West, Ken Ham, O’Leary,… : “quote-rapists” !

  11. #11 James F
    February 25, 2008

    Speaking of the DI, has anyone heard anything about the debate between William Dembski and Niall Shanks?

    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=9776501534

  12. #12 Glen Davidson
    February 25, 2008

    If they can’t complain one way, they will the other. This is from the Expelled blog:

    Freedom of inquiry is basic to human advancement. There would be no modern medicine, no antibiotics, no brain surgery, no Internet, no air conditioning, no modern travel, no highways, no knowledge of the human body without freedom of inquiry.

    This includes the ability to inquire whether a higher power, a being greater than man, is involved with how the universe operates. This has always been basic to science. ALWAYS.

    Here Ben’s whining that you can’t inquire whether a higher power is involved with how the universe operates (a complete lie, but that’s what they do), and Luskin’s whining when schools make it clear that you can inquire about whether a higher power is involved.

    In truth, I don’t know if I like schools getting into these questions at all, unless they’re raised by students. But I can’t give anything to quote-mining hypocrites like West, who think it’s just awful for religion even to be mentioned in schools, at the same time that he’s working to inject religion directly into both science and the teaching of science.

    One loses interest in trying to figure out if they’re more stupid or more dishonest, because one realizes that their stupidity depends on a dishonest view of the world, and their dishonesty relies on their inability to think. I don’t think that there’s a worse name to call John West than just “John West.”

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  13. #13 Alex
    February 25, 2008

    I honestly can’t tell if Creationists like West honestly believe what they write. That is, do they write this kind of nonsense because they’re genuinely stupid or do they do it because they’re extremely dishonest?

  14. #14 GodlessHeathen
    February 25, 2008

    Alex: Denial is a powerful thing.

    This denial is born of the wish not to be wrong and the fear of the perceived consequences of being wrong (which vary from subject to subject).

    That’s what’s most confounding about these DIdiots and YECs, they aren’t necessarily stupid, nor are they necessarily ignorant. They are, however, very able to deny that which threatens their world view with such totality that they can operate in a dual state: Believing in an unreality and defending their beliefs against reality.

  15. #15 386sx
    February 25, 2008

    Unfortunately I wasn’t able to watch the video because, since it was Darwin Day, Mr. West decided that he wasn’t going to go into the science or the deep theory of Intelligent Design.

    But rather, he was going to discuss some of the stuff that was wrong with the more Darwinianiology oriented theories instead. Therefore I will wait until it’s not Darwin Day. Sorry!

  16. #16 Blake Stacey
    February 25, 2008

    Vox Day kicked off a whole book with a quote rape.

  17. #17 Ken
    February 25, 2008

    Isn’t quote mining an important branch of ID “research”? Or “reinterpretation research.

    It seems to me that their understanding of “research” is to search the literature to find quotes that they can use to discredit scientific results, or support their own beliefs, and then present them as “research findings.” Easy to do if you take quotes out of context.

  18. #18 Brownian, OM
    February 25, 2008

    Nice to see you here too, though I’m not smart enough to comment here very much.

    Don’t worry about it, Jason. That’s never stopped me.

  19. #19 Caldfyr
    February 25, 2008

    They don’t need to worry about repercussions from quote mining. It’s not as if the huddled masses watching Fox and CNN are going to follow those quotes back to the source material.

  20. #20 Ichthyic
    February 25, 2008

    reinterpretation research.

    amazing.

    that’s the first time I can recall hearing that phrase after all the years of following creationist idiocy, and it’s just so damn perfect as a label for “creation science” (including ID).

    Dembski’s “explanatory filter” fits perfectly as an example of this.

    of course, it’s all just a subset of the rampant use of projection common to folks of this ilk.

  21. #21 Kseniya
    February 25, 2008

    I have this sort of WTF fascination with the dysfunctional psyche of creationists.

    Yeah! It’s sorta like watching a little punk kid trying to beat up bigger kids and take their lunch money then complaining about how he was unfairly picked on him when they push him back on his ass and tell him to get lost.

    Sorta.

  22. #22 Brownian, OM
    February 25, 2008

    I think this bit from the Salon interview with John Marks about his book Reasons to Believe: One Man’s Journey Among the Evangelicals and the Faith He Left Behind might be relevant:

    In a way, I’ve always envied the confidence of the truly faithful. When I look at a Jerry Falwell, a Pat Robertson, I see a kind of imperturbable self-regard. And yet you suggest there’s “a deep strain of self-loathing in many Christians.”

    There are plenty of evangelicals who have this strong, exuberant sense of who they are. But you scratch the surface, you get this immediate defensiveness. evangelicals know that, once they get out of their own personal sphere, they will be seen as ridiculous at best, evil at worst. (Emphasis mine.]

    Of course, why so many of them choose to leave their personal sphere to assault the sensibilities of the rest of us non death cultists remains a mystery.

  23. #23 Kseniya
    February 25, 2008

    Ugh. I made the mistake of reading the comments on Ray’s blog. Downloading so much ignorance and delusion in such a short time nearly melted my network card. My eyes are still burning.

  24. #24 Brian
    February 25, 2008

    “I have this sort of WTF fascination with the dysfunctional psyche of creationists. What is going through their minds when they think they will get away with this garbage? Are they all THIS uneducated, or are they all THIS dishonest?”

    I’ve wondering similar things myself. One of several answers I’ve come up with is the money. What they do is basically a long, very bad, book report, or high school level research paper of just going through others work and assembling a paper out of it with no new data, experiments, new review of documents etc. And they make a fair amount of money off of it, and it is a whole lot easier than doing honest original work.

    That, and their religous indoctrination.

    I watched some of that book day epsiode. I was particularly ammused when a questioner in the Q&A mentioned Ken Miller and that the god he, Miller, believed in, wasn’t the Abrahamic God revealed in scripture but a new age God, and wasn’t Darwinism just a front for a war against said God and trying to replace it with a new age God.

  25. #25 Interrobang
    February 25, 2008

    As demonstrated by Clostridium’s (are you difficile or not? :) ) lengthy quote, the cre(a)ti(o)nists and IDiots don’t seem to get that the standard of evidence requires the person making the extraordinary claim to pony up with the evidence…and that they’re the ones making the extraordinary claim(s).

    To skip a whole bunch of (il)logical steps in the middle, I guess this goes back to the whole God thing again. For many people, including all the cre(a)ti(o)nists and IDiots, God is such a conventionally obvious thing, to the point where it never occurs to people to question whether or not such a thing exists (ever met a religious person who refuses to believe that atheists really don’t believe in God?), that they just assume that involving something supernatural is the “ordinary” claim, and that by implying that everything is natural (not-supernatural, and in their eyes, “atheistic”) we’re the ones making the extraordinary claim, and we should therefore pony up with the evidence.

    If anybody ever told them that the standard of evidence also requires disposing with superfluous assumptions (such as the existence of a deity or designer who can’t be detected by empirical means) that say nothing about the proposition in question, it didn’t stick, and I’m willing to bet the reason it didn’t stick is because it’s good schtick. As Bartcop likes to say, if someone makes a mistake that puts money in their pocket, expect them to make the same mistake over and over again.

  26. #26 Brownian, OM
    February 25, 2008

    I don’t know how you guys can do it. For my part, I cannot stomach the self-assured closed-mindedness of people like Comfort and his cronies.

    Their fear and hatred disgust and enrage me. I used to pride myself on my open-mindedness and tolerance, but I hadn’t encountered fundies yet.

  27. #27 Ichthyic
    February 25, 2008

    Are they all THIS uneducated, or are they all THIS dishonest?”

    while people can be ignorant of a subject, what you perceive as dishonesty in many cases is merely projection and denial.

    seriously, if you want to understand the mind of a cultist, take a basic psych class, or at least learn what the words projection and denial mean.

    it’s not hard.

    google: “psychology projection”

    start from the links that come up, and you’ll quickly get a feel for what is actually happening with these folks.

  28. #28 Clostridium
    February 25, 2008

    “Hey Clostridium:

    This is the same Jason that occasionally comments on Ray’s blog. Nice to see you here too, though I’m not smart enough to comment here very much.

    I think Rational Response Squad kind of killed Ray’s desire to debate anyone, and I can’t really blame the guy. He was gutted.”

    Jason,

    Hey, nice to see you. Ray and his ilk are getting slaughtered as we speak; the problem is they honestly don’t even realize it, I think most of them think they are winning!

  29. #29 Shirakawasuna
    February 25, 2008

    James F: Interesting that it’s never a mathematician who debates Dembski. I would guess that any mathematician opposing him would destroy any and all of his arguments and wonder if anyone would be willing to challenge.

  30. #30 Ichthyic
    February 25, 2008

    I would guess that any mathematician opposing him would destroy any and all of his arguments and wonder if anyone would be willing to challenge.

    his “arguments” were shown to be seriously flawed by mathematicians after the release of his first book.

    past that, they, along with people who actually do study information theory, never considered additional debate to be necessary.

    It’s not that hard to dig up the original objections to Dembski’s arguments relating to NFL.

    use google.

  31. #31 Emmet Caulfield
    February 25, 2008

    I think it’s fear.

    It seems to me that the YECs are absolutely determined to remain as ignorant as possible of evolution because somehow they know that if they genuinely understood it, it would cause such intolerable cognitive dissonance with their belief in God that one of the two would have to go, and they’re very afraid of which one it might be.

  32. #32 MikeM
    February 25, 2008

    This is all perfectly consistent with the behavior displayed by all demented f-wits. Imagine my surprise.

    But he’ll keep repeating this story to people who don’t bother to look up the facts.

  33. #33 Daniel Murphy
    February 25, 2008

    I caught the first ten minutes of West’s CSPAN Book TV presentation, laughed at the idea of the Discovery Institute presenting a Darwin Day conference, laughed more at West’s revelation that “Darwinists” are promoting religion in schools, and changed the channel while I could still see some humor in it.

    I’d not seen West speak before. What I briefly heard of his argument seemed flatulent, generalizing, evasive, wrong. To sit through an entire hour of “John West argue[ing] that the domination of science in American society has led to the corruption of our morals” … well, I’d rather watch the Oscars.

  34. #34 So Laris
    February 25, 2008

    The Discovery Institute is a group of lying shits.
    John West is a member of the DI.
    Therefore, Jogn West is a lying shit.

    There is no room to engage such awful humans. As was done in the linked article, their utter dishonesty can be exposed, and their funding attacked.
    Those fearful believers in the DI’s self-serving lies must, in the free society ordinary Americans champion, de-program themselves, but they should understand that any patience shown their choice of such ignorance is the gift of pity.

  35. #35 Martin
    February 25, 2008

    Clostridium – if Ray Comfort were to invite you to debate on Intelligent Design, you could reply “I don’t do debates on the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, Zeus, pseudoscience etc., because they are as fictional as God!”

  36. #36 Shirakawasuna
    February 25, 2008

    Ichthyic: Oh, don’t worry, I know that his arguments (nonarguments, really) have been refuted countless times by numerous mathematicians and nonmathematicians. The thing about debates is that they’re somewhat good for convincing a crowd of generic viewers and so long as the person was blunt (“Show me your math”) I think one can do fairly well. Most people, the kinds of people who vote for school board members or are elected to school boards, are more likely to watch a debate on youtube or TV than find a scholarly forum where mathematicians and scientists deconstruct each other’s ideas.

  37. #37 Holydust
    February 25, 2008

    I watched Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort’s “Way of the Master” video on Evolution and couldn’t help writhing in my seat in anger. Their way of proving to the innocent-minded kids gobbling up their BS?

    Ask a bunch of college kids to explain evolution. Put them on the spot, and then point out every time they say “I don’t know”, “theory”, or “it’s possible” — then shout AHAH! and use that as your proof that God exists.

    They also waved the transitional forms flag. I’ll admit, I was new to that concept, and they almost had me. But then when they started asking the college kids if the “creature that crawled up out of the ooze” was “bisexual” I lost my shit laughing and turned it off.

    But in all honesty, those two scare me. Their genial nature and easy smiles are very deceptive. And that will suck a confused pre-teen in any day of the week. What’s more comforting? Two kind, happy men who politely and calmly tell you that the scientists are deluded, or the science people telling you there is no God? God of the gaps, indeed.

    Ignorance is not absence of evidence. It’s ignorance.

  38. #38 Clostridium
    February 25, 2008

    “Clostridium – if Ray Comfort were to invite you to debate on Intelligent Design, you could reply “I don’t do debates on the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, Zeus, pseudoscience etc., because they are as fictional as God!”

    Martin,

    That certainly is an option, and would be funny, but the thought of actually showing Ray all the flaws in his “crockaduck” model of evolution, his “paintings must have a painter” and whatever else he provides including other idiocy such as IC is just too tempting to pass up! I had someone over there tell me to debate one of the “pros” at ICR, and stop picking on poor Ray. Fuck that, everyone does not love Raymond!

  39. #39 Clostridium
    February 25, 2008

    “But in all honesty, those two scare me. Their genial nature and easy smiles are very deceptive. And that will suck a confused pre-teen in any day of the week. What’s more comforting? Two kind, happy men who politely and calmly tell you that the scientists are deluded, or the science people telling you there is no God? God of the gaps, indeed.”

    Sadly, you got it.

  40. #40 tincture
    February 25, 2008

    It’s the reality that John West rejects, that makes John West the best(worst?).

  41. #41 Monado, FCD
    February 25, 2008

    SF author John Barnes has a blog on Amazon., in which he comments about quote-mining by interviewers:

    Roger DeForest interviewed me for his dedicated hard SF site, and it’s possible that I said something interesting there (interesting to someone other than me). Naturally he picked the most inflammatory quote he could find to run at the top, and removed a couple of qualifiers, because that’s what any editor with half a brain does.

    (Senator McCain: “I always enjoyed wearing a dress uniform, so it made it hard for me to understand why some soldiers don’t.”

    ….Pull quote: “I always enjoyed wearing a dress … it made it hard for me.” )

  42. #42 Form&Function
    February 25, 2008

    the cre(a)ti(o)nists and IDiots don’t seem to get that the standard of evidence requires the person making the extraordinary claim to pony up with the evidence…and that they’re the ones making the extraordinary claim(s).

    Actually, I think what’s happened is that folks like Comfort are all too aware of the phrase “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. It’s been tossed at them too many times for them not to have noticed. But like a sea slug that uses pigments it has ingested from its prey to camouflage itself, the creationists present mutated versions of our own arguments to make themselves look like the sensible, reasonable parties.

  43. #43 Form&Function
    February 25, 2008

    the cre(a)ti(o)nists and IDiots don’t seem to get that the standard of evidence requires the person making the extraordinary claim to pony up with the evidence…and that they’re the ones making the extraordinary claim(s).

    Actually, I think what’s happened is that folks like Comfort are all too aware of the phrase “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. It’s been tossed at them too many times for them not to have noticed. But like a sea slug that uses pigments it has ingested from its prey to camouflage itself, the creationists present mutated versions of our own arguments to make themselves look like the sensible, reasonable parties.

  44. #44 HP
    February 25, 2008

    Every schoolyard has a bully. And every bully has his little circle of sycophants, always trying to get on his good side and gain his protection. So, what happens when a bully gets in trouble? He goes around to his little circle and says, “If anyone asks you, I was nowhere near the library last night, right? Right?

    You see, bullies need that little circle of sycophants, not just for the ego-strokes, but because they need people willing to lie to cover their asses. And the little sycophants know this, and they get something out of the relationship beside protection — they get to feel needed.

    God is the ur-Bully, the Father of Bullies, the Platonic ideal of bullyness. And God has a plan and a purpose for each of His children. God’s plan for John West and his ilk is to cover God’s ass when He fucks up. And God’s complete failure to create man in His own image — and then to lie about it in His holy book — is surely a colossal fuckup.

    The cdesign proponentsists know they’re lying when they do it. They’re not really that stupid, or misinformed, or delusional. They lie, and they lie gladly, because God needs them.

  45. #45 sinned34
    February 25, 2008

    Clostridium,

    I just wanted to let you know that you’re doing a bang-up job representing science and the rational world over on Ray’s blog. Keep up the good work!

  46. #46 Chris Noble
    February 25, 2008

    Can someone with more musical abilities than myself provide the rest of the lyrics to the Creationist theme song: “I heard it through the quotemine”?

  47. #47 Ray
    February 26, 2008

    It always bothers me when I hear Comfort’s line about (paraphrasing)painting therefore painter – creation therefore creator. I think that’s bogus because 1)the universe is only a creation if you define it that way and 2)painters actually exist. If you accept his premise, his definition of the universe, then before you even start talking to him you lose. When I saw him use that bit on the Rational Response Squad debate video I was hoping they would call him on it, but they didn’t that I could see (though it was funny when he pulled out the painting and held it upside down).
    Just had to vent about that because I’m reminded of it whenever I hear Comfort’s and/or his sidekick’s names.

    I’ll have to remember “quote-raping” that is certainly a sadder but more accurate description of what the cretin/IDiot crowd does.

    Cheers,
    Ray

  48. #48 Mark E. Witt
    February 26, 2008

    Ironically interesting it is how the tables are turned in this lecture! Dr. West clearly did his research – he read Darwin’s expurgiated writings and even Darwin’s unexpurgiated writings.

    What knowledge this man must possess!

    It is good to know of this video. Thank you – the people on the Expelled! blog need to know of this.

    Mark Witt

    Intelligent Design,
    Institute of Theory
    New Haven, CT

  49. #49 Shirakawasuna
    February 26, 2008

    Mark Witt is the best parody troll I’ve ever seen. That counts for something. Can we get some kind of Poe’s Law award together or something?

  50. #50 Thinking Man
    February 26, 2008

    Shirakawasuna, agreement on Mark Witt – he never breaks character, and has the humorless fanatical attitude of the hard-core IDer/creationist down to the last twitch.

    Some people don’t get the joke, though.

  51. #51 Clostridium
    February 26, 2008

    Clostridium,

    I just wanted to let you know that you’re doing a bang-up job representing science and the rational world over on Ray’s blog. Keep up the good work!

    sinned34,

    You’re doing quit alot yourself, man do they hate us….because they don’t have any rational justification for their fantasy world full of angels and demons, holy ghosts and the overarching sky daddy who can’t wait for you to die so he can torture you forever. Buh hahaha!

  52. #52 Clostridium
    February 26, 2008

    Sinned34,

    I couldn’t help myself, some dingbat claimed that bio texts are based NOT on science, but a belief…..

    Dingbat: “If you look into biology books today almost everything is NOT based on science but on a belief system.”

    I said: “They’re on to us!!!! Oxidative phosphorylation is based on the belief that FSM so loved the world that he delivered trillions of electrons to all the good atoms in the universe so that when we eat, they may be stripped from our food and create a proton motive force and drive ATP production.

    Muscle contraction is based on noodleology…just look at myosin II, it is two freaking noodles wrapped up which allow them to pull on the actin filament during the “power stroke”. There is evidence everywhere of The Great Noodler! Through His beneficence, he has implanted millions of tiny noodles in our muscles allowing movement. Our blood is even the color of spaghetti sauce; our lifes blood! Can anyone else find examples of our BELIEFS in the bio textbooks???”

    If anyone hear can bring the belief of FSM into biology, please do so and I will post them on Comforts blog; or come join us in irritating him.

  53. #53 Steve_C
    February 26, 2008

    Mark Witt! You’re hysterical! Very funny. Thanks for the laugh.

  54. #54 Monado, FCD
    February 26, 2008

    So, by Ray Comfort’s logic, the clouds are full of little workers constructing snowflakes because every sculpture has a sculptor?

  55. #55 Monado, FCD
    February 26, 2008

    Ah, but Witt’s deliberate use of the mis-spelling “expurgiated” (twice) tips us off to the joke.

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