December 17, 2016

Facts are stubborn things – but not half so stubborn as fallacies...

John Adams, Facts are stubborn things quote TDIQ


“Facts are stubborn things.”
       John Adams (1735-1826)
       American lawyer and Founding Father who became the second President of the United States
       Adams famously used this saying on December 4, 1770, during his defense of the British soldiers on trial for the March 5, 1770 incident popularly called the “Boston Massacre.”
       That incident started when a Boston man got into an argument with a British soldier. Eight other soldiers who came to protect their comrade were soon surrounded by a large crowd of hostile Americans, who pelted them with snowballs and ice chunks. The soldiers panicked and shot into the crowd, killing five men. When the soldiers were arrested and put on trial for murder a Tory merchant asked John Adams to defend them. He accepted the case. 
       Many irate Bostonians wanted the soldiers executed for murder. Adams argued they’d been provoked and were not cold-blooded killers. During his summation he said: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence...This was a provocation, for which the law reduces the offence of killing down to manslaughter.” The jury agreed. Six of the soldiers were acquitted. Two were found guilty of manslaughter and punished by having their thumbs branded. 
       “Facts are stubborn things” became one of Adams’ best-known quotations. Some people think he coined it. In fact, it was already a proverbial saying. (For more background see the post on my site at this link.)

John McCain, Face the Nation, Dec 11, 2016


“I don’t know what to make of it because it’s clear the Russians interfered. Whether they intended to interfere to the degree that they were trying to elect a certain candidate, I think that’s a subject of investigation, but the facts are stubborn things.”
       John McCain
       American Republican politician who has long served as US Senator for Arizona 
       Comment in an interview on the CBS news show “Face the Nation,” December 11, 2016
       This was McCain’s response when asked about Donald Trump’s recent dismissal of reports by US intelligence agencies that Russia was behind the hacking of emails on servers of the Democratic National Committee, with the apparent intent of hurting Hillary Clinton’s campaign and helping Trump win the November 2016 presidential election. Earlier that day, Trump told Fox News he didn’t believe it.

internet obsessed with pizzagate


“Zombie claims are stubborn things. No matter how many times you debunk them, they keep rising from the dead.”
       Michelle Ye Hee Lee
       Washington D.C.- based reporter for the Washington Post
       In her May 8, 2016 column in the Post
       Lee was commenting on the type of claims that seem increasingly common in the realm of politics nowadays; claims that continue to be spread and believed by many people even after they have been proven false.

Lucy Maud Montgomery - Facts are stubborn WM2


“Facts are stubborn things, but as someone has wisely said, not half so stubborn as fallacies.”
       Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942)
       Canadian author best known for a series of novels beginning in 1908 with Anne of Green Gables, written under her pen name L.M. Montgomery 
       This line, from Montgomery’s book Anne of the Island (1915), is in a letter written by the character Stella Maynard.

quote-Mark-Twain-facts-are-stubborn-but-statistics FALSE


“Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.”
       Attributed (wrongly) to Mark Twain (1835-1910)
       This quip is credited to Twain by thousands of internet posts and many books
       One problem: the facts don't support that claim. As noted by language maven Barry Popik in his post about the quote on his Big Apple site, there’s no evidence Twain ever said it. It appears to be one of the many fake Mark Twain quotes that float around. 

Reagan August 15, 1988 Republican National Convention


“Facts are stupid things.”
       Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)
       American actor-turned-politician; 40th President of the United States
       In his speech at the August 15, 1988 Republican National Convention
       Reagan made this unfairly-mocked slip in the part of his speech that focused on the economic problems he blamed on his Democratic predecessor, President Jimmy Carter. “Before we came to Washington,” Reagan said, “Americans had just suffered the two worst back-to-back years of inflation in 60 years...Fuel costs jumped through the atmosphere, more than doubling. Then people waited in gas lines as well as unemployment lines. Facts are stupid things.”
       Reagan immediately corrected himself, adding: “Stubborn things, I should say.” But once the word stupid came out of his mouth, that’s the version that was picked up and satirized by his critics.



“January is the month of broken resolutions. The gyms are packed for a week, Jenny Craig is full of new recruits and houses are cleaned for the first time in ages. We pledge to finally become the person we want to be: svelte, neat and punctual. Alas, it doesn’t take long before the stairmasters are once again sitting empty and those same dirty T-shirts are piling up at the back of the closet… Human habits, in other words, are stubborn things, which helps explain why 88 percent of all resolutions end in failure, according to a 2007 survey of over 3,000 people conducted by the British psychologist Richard Wiseman.”
       Jonah Lehrer
       American writer and speaker 
       In an article he wrote for in January 2012 

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