Also known as contextomy, the fallacy of quoting out of context occurs when an original phrase is distorted or a claim is misconstrued from its original meaning, by quoting it out of context.
"One of the finest things ever done by a mob was the crucifixion of Christ. You see what I would have done is shipped him to Rome and fed him to the lions. They could never have made a savior out of mince meat."- Ben Hecht.
This is an example of contextomy because the excerpt is from a novel and spoken by a fictional character. Thus quoting this section as if it was an opinion held by the author Ben Hecht, is not an accurate reflection of the author's personal beliefs, but rather of the character who spoke it in his novel.
A few books to help you get a real handle on logical fallacies.
The Fallacy of Quoting Out of Context is a logical fallacy that occurs when a statement or passage is taken out of its original context in order to twist its meaning. This type of fallacy is commonly used in an attempt to manipulate the opinion or beliefs of an audience by taking a statement out of context in order to distort the original intent of the speaker or author.
This fallacy is especially dangerous because it is relatively easy to do and can mislead people into believing something that is untrue or at least misrepresentative of the truth. The Fallacy of Quoting Out of Context often takes the form of a quote that is presented without any context or explanation as to what it is referring to. This can lead to confusion and misunderstanding among the audience since the quote may not accurately reflect the original speaker or author’s intent.
For example, imagine a politician is giving a speech about tax reform and says “Taxes should be lowered for everyone”. If someone were to take this out of context, they might quote the statement without any explanation as to the context it was said in and use it to support their own agenda. The statement, however, was specifically referring to tax reform and not as a general statement about taxes in general.
The Fallacy of Quoting Out of Context can also be used to distort the meaning of an argument or passage by taking it out of its original context. For example, imagine an article that discusses the benefits of government spending on infrastructure. If someone were to take a statement from this article out of context, they could use it to support a completely different argument, such as that government spending is always bad. This would be a fallacy because the original statement was discussing the benefits of infrastructure spending, not a broader statement about government spending in general.
The Fallacy of Quoting Out of Context is a logical fallacy that can be used to manipulate and misinform an audience. It is important to be aware of this fallacy and to carefully consider the context of any statement or passage before using it to support an argument. Doing so will help ensure that the original intent of the speaker or author is not distorted.