One of my objectives in self-improvement is to stop correcting people who misuse the phrase “begs the question.”
As has been said about teaching a pig to sing, it wastes your time and annoys the pig.
But even if we feel awkward telling people “that’s not what ‘begging the question’ means”, we still need an example of what it does mean.
Luckily, the Discovery Institute has supplied a valuable teaching tool in the form of a list of ten questions, each one more question-begging than the last, for students to ask their biology teachers.
Now, some people would recommend that anyone who starts a sentence with “Why don’t textbooks discuss the ‘Cambrian explosion’,” be smacked with a rolled-up newspaper until he stops peeing on people’s brains.
But not me!
I think what we need is a lot more question-begging, willfully ignorant, smug, supercilious hooey posing as innocent requests for fairness and balance!
I feel so strongly about this that I’ve even generated a starter kit for those who want to bring this noble crusade to the rest of the academic disciplines.
So — kids, the next time your history teacher starts trying to force-feed you Revolutionary “theory” as if it were “fact”, you know what to do!
Ten Questions to Ask Your History Teacher
Q: ORIGIN OF GOVERNMENTS: Why do history textbooks claim that the modern British monarchy originated with the “Norman conquest”, in “1066″, when nobody has ever seen a calendar for that year, and there has never been an English king named “Norman”?
Q: WASHINGTON’S BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT: Why don’t textbooks discuss the “Civil War,” or the fact that all US governmental bodies appear together at that time, instead of branching from a Constitution — thus contradicting revolutionary theory?
Q: THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: Why do history textbooks claim that the “Revolutionary War” started with a “Declaration of Independence” and quote its words, then claim that a suspiciously old-looking document in Washington D.C is the same document because it contains the same words, — a circular argument masquerading as historical evidence?
Q: GEORGE WASHINGTON. It is well known that the infamous “cherry tree” story was faked, and that “George Washington” never said “I cannot tell a lie” — that is, if he ever existed. Why do textbooks use drawings or “artist’s conceptions” of “George Washington” as evidence that he existed? Why does no single history textbook anywhere point out that there are no photographs – zero! – of “George Washington” in existence?
Q: ALEXANDER HAMILTON. Why do some history textbooks give Alexander Hamilton’s year of birth as 1755, and others as 1757? Why do historians refuse to discuss, or even acknowledge, the controversy? Why do many textbooks even claim that this (probably imaginary) figure was killed in a duel with “Aaron Burr”? Take out a $10 bill and see whose picture is on it. Do you think this duel actually occurred, and that the US then decided to put the loser’s picture on its currency?
Q: WASHINGTON CROSSING THE DELAWARE. Why do history textbooks all use the same picture of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” — when historians have been aware for years that the picture was staged? Any idiot knows that you can’t get ten guys in a canoe without capsizing, and “Washington” is standing up? Get real.
Q: SILLY HATS. Why do textbooks claim that Revolutionary Fashion can explain the use of Tricorner Hats by the colonists — even though these hats were not used in the French Revolution, and there are no such silly hats anywhere else in history?
Q: REVOLUTIONARY WAR. Why do textbooks represent the Revolutionary War as having been won through a series of “small victories” when, every time you look at an actual battle the colonists fought against the British, as likely as not they got their asses handed to them? Do you think a nation as magnificently complex as the United States could come about through a random, undirected sequence of military engagements?
Q: GOVERNMENTAL ORIGINS. Why are artists’ drawings of a bunch of middle-aged guys in poofy wigs used to justify Revolutionary claims that we are all descended from a parcel of ninnies who didn’t have the sense to be at the beach in July — when historians cannot even agree on who they were or what their actual hair looked like?
Q: THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION A FACT? Why are we told that the American Revolution is an historical fact — even though many Revolutionary claims are based on misrepresentations of the facts?
And remember — when some liberal revolutionist starts spouting off about imaginary events supposed to have taken place in 1776, all you have to do is look him in the eye and ask “Were you there?”