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I see this far too often for my own peace of mind: People quoting a novel or story or play, or another work of fiction, as if the thoughts expressed are the author's own beliefs.

For example: A couple years ago Reader's Digest quoted from Isaac Asimov's novel Foundation, "It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly." What they completely fail to note is that this was the motto of one of novel's villains! Granted, it's possible that Asimov agreed with this idea, but there's no way to know based on this quote.

For that matter, just because the quote is from a protagonist doesn't mean anything either. One of the heroes in the same novel had his own motto, "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." This doesn't necessarily mean Asimov believed in unqualified nonviolence. Ursula K. Le Guin is not an anarchist because the protagonist in her novel The Dispossessed is; nor did Carl Sagan necessarily agree with all of Dr. Arroway's beliefs in Contact. And despite the fact that people keep ascribing it to him, Voltaire did *not* believe that "Everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds"; Candide was a *satire* of that idea, which was the prevalent philosophy of his time.

So just to summarize: stop quoting an author's works of fiction as an expression of their beliefs unless you have good corroborating evidence that they really think that way. It's ignorant at best, intellectually dishonest at worst.

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