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Shoehorning is the process of force-fitting some current affair into one's personal, political, or religious agenda. So-called psychics frequently shoehorn events to fit vague statements they made in the past. This is an extremely safe procedure, since they can't be proven wrong and many people aren't aware of how easy it is to make something look like confirmation of a claim after the fact, especially if you give them wide latitude in making the shoe fit. It is common, for example, for the defenders of such things as the Bible Code or the "prophecies" of Nostradamus to shoehorn events to the texts rather than truly predict anything.

After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, fundamentalist Christian evangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson shoehorned the events to their agenda. They claimed that "liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, homosexuals and abortion rights supporters bear partial responsibility...because their actions have turned [my] god's anger against America."* According to Falwell, his god allowed "the enemies of America...to give us probably what we deserve." Robertson agreed. The American Civil Liberties Union has "got to take a lot of blame for this," said Falwell and Robertson agreed. Federal courts bear part of the blame, too, said Falwell, because they've been "throwing [my] god out of the public square." Also "abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because [my] god will not be mocked," said Falwell and Robertson agreed. [Hear these men talk it out in mp3.]

Neither Falwell nor Robertson has any way of proving any of their claims, as they are by their nature unprovable. But such claims can't be disproved, either. Their purpose is simply to call attention to their agenda and to get free publicity in the news media. It is a way to take advantage of the fear and anger of people, without fear of being proved to be a liar. It is a hit and hide tactic, as no rebuttal is possible, except to say that if there is an omniscient, all-powerful Being who governs the universe, the likelihood that such a being would be allied with people like Falwell, Robertson or suicide killers seems absurd on its face and unworthy of serious discussion by people who call themselves human beings. Unless, of course, the Almighty is all-Evil, which is possible according to Falwell's logic; for, otherwise, he and his kind should have been struck dead long ago. At least, in some quarters demonstrating and inciting hatred is not considered good.

After one has been roundly criticized by nearly everyone on the planet for egregious shoehorning of the Falwell/Robertson type, it is typical of the hypocrites to issue denials and claim their statements were taken out of context. Falwell issued the following statement: "I sincerely regret that comments I made during a long theological discussion on a Christian television program yesterday were taken out of their context and reported, and that my thoughts--reduced to sound bites--have detracted from the spirit of this day of mourning." Robertson, however, is unrepentant, and has added Internet pornography to his list of things that have so angered his god that He had to murder thousands of innocent people to express His almighty displeasure. If we don't change our ways, he says, his god is going to kill a lot more of us. Thus, when the carnage mounts in the years ahead as the U.S. and its allies try to eliminate terrorism and the terrorists continue murdering the innocent, we can look back at the dead and say that Pat Robertson predicted it.

See also confirmation bias, psychic, and  retroactive clairvoyance.

news Many good examples of shoehorning can be found by looking for responses to tragedies, disasters, mass murders, and the like from Bible thumping evangelists. The Friendly Atheist has one such story.These parrots are almost enough to make you believe in reincarnation.

Last updated 05-Jan-2015

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