I recently came across a book titled The War on Science: Who's Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It:
By one Shawn Otto and was flabbergasted when I read the free sample for it. You see, I wasn't surprised when Otto began his text by misquoting Thomas Jefferson. I've come to accept I am one of the few people I know who actually cares at taking this quote:
I did not at first believe that 11. states of 13. would have consented to a plan consolidating them as much into one. a change in their dispositions, which had taken place since I left them, had rendered this consolidation necessary, that is to say, had called for a federal government which could walk upon it's own legs, without leaning for support on the state legislatures. a sense of this necessity, & a submission to it, is to me a new and consolatory proof that wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.
And changing it to:
Wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights. —Thomas Jefferson, January 8, 1789
That is unquestionably wrong. You don't get to change people's quotes by cutting out the first part of a sentence then changing a word in the middle of it to be capitalized to pretend it is the start of the sentence. Honest and accurate writing requires one mark such changes so the reader is made aware of them. People don't seem to care about that sort of thing though so I wasn't really surprised this is how Otto chose to start his writing.
I only became surprised when I read:
Thomas Jefferson’s trust in the well-informed voter lies at the heart of the modern democracy that has, over the course of two centuries, come to guide the world. Much like the “invisible hand” that guides Adam Smith’s economic marketplace, so too does the invisible hand of the people’s will guide the democratic process. Faith in this idea is so central to democracy that George Washington emphasized it in the nation’s first inaugural address. “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States,” he told a joint session of Congress gathered in Federal Hall, which stood kitty-corner to today’s New York Stock Exchange.
To say I was surprised would be putting it mildly. There is nothing in this quote by George Washington which suggests the "invisible hand" he referred to is a reference to any "trust in the well-informed voter lies at the heart of the modern democracy." The only connection between the two items is Otto's claim this is what Washington was talking about - a claim that is a complete fabrication.
Nothing in George Washington's inaugural speech suggests anything like what Otto claims. While Otto puts significant effort into demonizing religion in his book as being party of the war on science, the reality is Washington's speech was him giving credit to "that Almighty being" for the nation's success thus far. Here is the quotation Otto provided in context:
Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow- citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.
There has been much debate about just what George Washington's religious views were, but this quote's reference to "the invisible hand" clearly references "that Almighty Being," not some "invisible hand of the people’s will." Shawn Otto has simply fabricated this idea to falsely claim George Washington agrees with his views. There isn't the slightest basis for Otto's portrayal, and there is nothing he could have possibly based it upon.
As troubling as this is, what's truly worrying is Otto's anti-religious biases go so far as to cause him to abuse even science in order to demonize religion.