Monday, December 02, 2019

"The problem with internet quotes is that you can't always depend on their accuracy" ~Abraham Lincoln, 1864.

Basically if there's an appeal to authority with a quote that sounds too good to be true about a current day event, chances are, it is in fact fake.

A lefty I know published with approval this image on the Book of Face this morning:

Looks like the wise Jefferson is wisely foretelling the rise of the uncouth and media criticism of that Orange Man Bad Trump, and Orange Man is bad for acting contrary to the wise statement of Jefferson, now doesn't it?

The problem, of course, is that Jefferson never said nor wrote it, and the quote first seems to have popped up in February 2017, 191 years after Jefferson died. Would be a neat trick if he could have pulled that off.

In fact, Jefferson was rather Trumpian in his criticism of the press of his day:

"I deplore... the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them... These ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste and lessening its relish for sound food. As vehicles of information and a curb on our funtionaries, they have rendered themselves useless by forfeiting all title to belief... This has, in a great degree, been produced by the violence and malignity of party spirit." --Thomas Jefferson to Walter Jones, 1814. ME 14:46

"Our printers raven on the agonies of their victims, as wolves do on the blood of the lamb." --Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1811. ME 13:59

"From forty years' experience of the wretched guess-work of the newspapers of what is not done in open daylight, and of their falsehood even as to that, I rarely think them worth reading, and almost never worth notice." --Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1816. ME 14:430

"Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day." --Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, 1807. ME 11:224

"As for what is not true, you will always find abundance in the newspapers." --Thomas Jefferson to Barnabas Bidwell, 1806. ME 11:118

"Advertisements... contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper." --Thomas Jefferson to Nathaniel Macon, 1819. ME 15:179

"The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807.

In other words, one might just say Jefferson called the mainstream media of his day fake news.

There's many valid reasons to criticize Trump without resorting to fake quotes, but it does make it sound better to use a fake quote by a founder of our country rather than going "Reee, Orange Man Bad".

Now, its not just the left that make up historic quotes to bolster their arguments. We have plenty of fake quotes used by those on the right side of the spectrum by Adolf Hitler, George Washington and one particular quote claimed to be from Voltaire but isn't, constantly bandied about by the right side to bolster their arguments as well.

In short, if you come upon a quote by someone considered to be a historical authority or known to be a wise person and it looks like it suits the current drama of the day to a T, it's most likely fake and worth doing a quick check to see if the person quoted actually ever said it before you repost the fakery.

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