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Shoehorning

Description: The process of force-fitting some current affair into one's personal, political, or religious agenda.  Many people aren't aware of how easy it is to make something look like confirmation of a claim after the fact, especially if the source of the confirmation is something in which they already believe, like Biblical prophecies, psychic predictions, astrological horoscopes, fortune cookies, and more.

Example #1: This example is taken from the Skeptic’s Dictionary (http://www.skepdic.com/shoehorning.html). 

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 "liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, homosexuals and abortion rights supporters bear partial responsibility...because their actions have turned God's anger against America." According to Falwell, 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 God out of the public square." Also, "abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked," said Falwell and Robertson agreed.

Explanation: It should be very clear how these religious leaders attempted to profit from the September 11 attacks by shoehorning.

Example #2: For thousands of years people have been rushing to scripture to try to make sense out of a current situation.  Without a doubt, the same verses have been used over and over again for centuries as a prophecy of a current event.  This is shoehorning.  A great example of this is the BP oil spill in April of 2010.  It has been suggested that the verses from Revelation 8:8–11 predicted this environmental disaster:

“The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed … A third of the waters became wormwood, and many died from the water, because it was made bitter.” 

With over 31,000 verses, the probability of NOT finding a verse in the Bible that can be made to fit virtually any modern-day situation is next to zero, but what if you had 2,000 years of history to play with?  It’s not difficult to see how quickly these “fulfilled prophecies” can add up.

Exception: Explaining events is legitimate when reason is being used -- and sometimes it may actually fit into your political or religious agenda.

References:

shoehorning - The Skeptic’s Dictionary - Skepdic.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.skepdic.com/shoehorning.html

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