Monday, December 10, 2007

Slam-Dunking Justin Martell

Justin posts over at the Looser Forum that somebody should take Mark Roberts down a peg or two for certain comments he made over at JREF:

Here's a claim made by the man that his fellow "debunkers" call the "scourge" of the "Debunking Movement." Roberts posted the statement below on 11/5/07, in response to a fellow JREF poster mentioning the fact that New Yorkers and 9/11 Rescue Workers were told by the EPA that the air in lower Manhattan was safe to breath:

"Well it's also completely false. No one lied about the air quality at Ground Zero" - Mark Roberts, in post 11,088 as Gravy on the JREF Forum, 11/05/07. (I'm having trouble locating the original thread. It may have been deleted. However, I took a screenshot of the post, if you'd like it you can email me)

It took me a bit of poking about on JREF to find the cited post; possibly because Martell has a unique idea of what quotes around words mean. However, I'm pretty sure this is the post to which Justin refers:

Well, it's also completely false. No one said the air at Ground Zero was safe to breathe. Looks like Avery's desire to make this version "100% airtight" went by the wayside.

We criticize Dylan for quote-mining but at least in his case the words quoted do appear in that order. Martell turns "No one said the air at Ground Zero was safe to breathe," into "No one lied about the air quality at Ground Zero." As you can see, the statements are not quite identical. There is no indication that Gravy's post has been edited; JREF forum posts that are edited more than about 15 seconds after submission all show a little notation that the posts have been edited, and after about two hours they cannot be edited at all. So, Mr Martell, feel free to email me the screenshot.

Having established his strawman, Martell proceeds to demonstrate that it is arguable that the EPA downplayed air quality concerns. But of course, he is unable to come up with anything that remotely disproves that "No one said the air at Ground Zero was safe to breathe." Indeed, the EPA releases that he cites are largely not concerning Ground Zero itself, but the surrounding areas, as this indicates:

"The EPA wasted little time in assuring New York residents and rescue workers that the area surrounding ground zero was safe. On September 13, 2001, just two days after the attacks, the agency issued a press release in which it explained "sampling of bulk materials and dust found generally low levels of asbestos. The levels of lead, asbestos and volatile organic compounds in air samples taken Tuesday in Brooklyn, downwind from the World Trade Center site, were not detectable or not of concern."

Brooklyn, of course, is not Ground Zero.

Update: Martell has corrected his post at the Looser Forum; however, not surprisingly he does not make any acknowledgment that there was a mistake in the original. Justin, take a tip from us and when you fix things up, be transparent. When we make mistakes around here, and we do, we don't bury them, we acknowledge them in the post in question.

Update II: Justin has revised his post to note that he originally misquoted Gravy. We appreciate the transparency.

And Dylan, we were not referring to any quote-mining you did in this particular instance, we were talking about the long-ago mining of Wally Miller. As I said, at least you didn't change his words, even if you did pick the sentences you quoted highly selectively.