By William M. Esposo (The Philippine Star)
The Catholic Church in our country is so messed up that it cannot...
Senator Tito Sotto: Dishonest, Deceptive, and Intellectually Lazy (Part 2)
In Part 1, we have learned how the theme of The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women, Exploding the Estrogen Myth1, as well as Barbara Seaman’s political position, cannot be deemed as supportive of Sotto’s claim. Here, we will examine how exactly Sotto used the book to support his claims, and see whether he is right in doing so.
Sotto said that “The Greatest Experiment… stated that those who take pills but still got pregnant have more abnormal children and lower I.Q.” In order for us to believe him, we should verify whether or not this was really stated in Seaman’s book; and if yes, determine whether Sotto used it in the right context.
It wasn’t easy to find this supposed statement because Sotto, or whoever wrote his speech, didn’t offer the exact quotation. It was a summary of some sorts. (Perhaps next time, speech writers should learn how to footnote references: it’s good practice, it’s part of their job, and it wouldn’t take so much of their time.)
In order for us to verify the truthfulness behind Sotto’s words, we have to dissect his statement into three parts, and see whether we can find textual support from The Greatest Experiment.
A. There are women who got pregnant even though they take contraceptive pills;
B. These women have more abnormal children; and
C. These women have children of lower IQ.
There are women who got pregnant even though they take contraceptive pills…
I cannot find anything in Seaman’s book that supports this assertion. As I’m using the ePub version of the book, it is easy to find references to “pregnant women”.
According to one of the greatest senators of our republic, the “Filipino people are worth dying for”, aren’t they worth properly citing, reliably researching, and thoroughly analysing for?
Senator Tito Sotto, his staff, and his fans club should not confuse his other profession as an actor with his being a senator. Sotto, as an actor, is not responsible for what he is saying or even doing when he plays a character in a film, sitcom, or teleserye. If Sotto plays the character of a dishonest, deceptive, and intellectually lazy senator in a film, only those who cannot tell the difference between fact and fiction will seek to either correct or condemn him. But when Sotto delivered his turno en contra speech, he is not playing the character role of a senator: He is Senator Tito Sotto, a public servant of the Republic of the Philippines, and his speech writer/researchers are not scriptwriters. All of them are paid by the Filipino people not to entertain but to provide the highest standard of public service. If Sotto’s listeners find out that he is dishonest, deceptive, and intellectually lazy, they have all the right to point it out; they are, after all, not paying him to be that kind of senator. Even if he is presenting an argument that we don’t agree with, he still has to deliver those arguments with the highest standard of research and reading comprehension.
After his first speech, it was found out that he plagiarized – not just once but several times in the same speech. To be fair, Sotto is not the only one in world history that has committed this lapse in judgment. In 1991, the New York Times reported that after a thorough investigation of the committee formed by Boston University, it was verified that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “plagiarized passages in his dissertation for a doctoral degree.” Although they didn’t ask for the revocation of Rev. King’s doctoral degree, the committee recommended “that a letter stating its finding be placed with the official copy of Dr. King’s dissertation in the university’s library.” This demonstrates that plagiarism, even if committed by a Nobel Laureate or a world hero, is still plagiarism.
Plagiarism does not automatically diminish the value of your arguments. What it does is tarnish your character and betrays your thinking style: Are plagiarists thoughtful thinkers or are they ungrateful parrots who only repeat what they have heard and read?
Let’s say you’re having a conversation with someone. Perhaps with a friend who has a different perspective from yours. As a thoughtful and considerate person, you want to understand your friend’s perspective. You dissect it, analyze each part, and in the process you ask questions whose answers can potentially dissolve the ground on which the perspective stands. But just like any one of us who has been so attached to our initial perspectives, your friend will attempt to escape this belief-threatening situation by uttering this effective conversation stopper: “I’m entitled to an opinion.” Along with “This is what God said…” and “Science proved it…”, this is one of those rhetorical abracadabras that when uttered will effectively close the cave of further investigation.
John Jackson aptly illustrates this so elegantly in this fictional dialogue between Tom and Jerry:
Tom: I believe X works.
Jerry: There’s no evidence to support the fact that X works.
Tom: Well, I believe that X works.
Jerry: X has been tested in scientific trials and was not found to work.
Tom: I’m entitled to my opinion.
In the non-fiction realm, this rhetorical abracadabra is currently being used by Manny Pacquiao.
The Christian Post Reporter recently featured Mr Pacquiao’s interview with the National Conservative Examiner. Reacting to US President Barack Obama’s support of extending State-sanctioned marriage to same-sex couples, Mr Pacquiao allegedly used Leviticus 20:13 as the basis of his objection. He allegedly reiterated the two elements in that verse. The rule: prohibition against men having sex with other men; and the punishment: they should be put to death. I say allegedly because according to this ABS-CBN news report, Mr Pacquiao denied saying what the Christian Post Reporter attributed to him. He even claimed that he has never read Leviticus. He defended himself, saying that he is not condemning gay people, but he is just voicing out his opinion: “Sinabi ko lang ang opinion ko na against the law of God ang same-sex marriage (I just said my opinion that same-sex marriage is against the law of God).”
In that statement, Mr Pacquiao used the two powerful rhetorical abracadabras at the same time: “God” and “I’m entitled to my opinion.” These two are actually the same thing: God is simply the non-secular version of the other. Using both devices in a sentence has the effect of attracting support from both the religious and the secular camp. Who would be against what the creator, owner, and master of the universe says? And who would be against someone exercising their right to speak? The secular version is of course subject to more argumentation than God. Hence, if you really want to stop someone from further questioning you, use “God” immediately. Miriam Quiambao did this after she was told that her truth was just one of the many truth-claims out there. She salvaged her perspective from being weighed by other perspectives by using the God argument. By elevating her opinion to the Heavens, her opinion transformed into an absolute, irrevocable, eternal, and infallible Truth to which everyone should bow. In the secular world, God is oftentimes replaced by science, so that whenever someone says that this is the truth because “Science says so…” one is often bullied into a corner and forced to give up further inquiry.
One of the consequences of further dissecting the claims of those who already uttered these rhetorical abracadabras is being accused of being disrespectful. “Why aren’t you respecting my/God’s/science’s opinion?” “Why are you not respecting my culture?” When the “respect me card” is thrown onto the table, any further challenges would be considered rude, cruel, and as we call it in our language, bastos…
Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.
The following piece was inspired by this letter.
Dear Miriam Quiambao,
Congratulations on standing up for the truth given by God in the Bible! Literally interpreting the Bible is what we should really do. The word of God is the word of God. Those who believe in God shouldn’t doubt the Bible: each word in the Bible, each punctuation mark, each syllable was written by the owner and creator of the universe, period. I love your zealous and unwavering faith that everything that the Bible says is true and that we should follow it.
I know that we should take the Bible as it is. There’s no doubt that God forbids cross-dressing; Deuteronomy 22:5 says that. Leviticus 18:22 implies that homosexuality is an abomination to God’s eyes as well. But I’m having some problems with other verses in the Bible. Please help me with what to do about them because, just like you, I want to live my life in accordance with the word of God.
1. According to Genesis, God only created men and women. Nothing else, no one in between. Just either men or women. Now, Genesis 1:5 says that God created only evening and morning. There was no mention about afternoon, dusk, dawn, midnight, the blue hour, etc. As a literal follower of the Bible, how should I regard these “other” parts of the day? To borrow your own words, are they the “lies of the devil?” Why do we have these abominations? Is God testing my faith?
2. I’m so confused about what to wear now, Miriam. I feel that I’m such an abomination in the eyes of God. You know why? Detueronomy 22:11…
Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.