The Useless Web

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We all know Wikipedia is not always accurate, and sometimes biased. We all know that most internet quotations are wrong attributed or misquoted. We all know that the Web is full of useless, trivial pap like “psychic” hot lines, astrology, creationism and Ann Coulter. Plus it’s replete with the shallow: salacious gossip, celebrity skin, innuendo, pornography, political extremism, angels, UFOs, crop circles, anti-vaccine advocates, religious fundamentalists – the intellectual-nourishment equivalent of a  box of greasy fries and a sugar-laden soft drink. But they are content-rich, compared … click below for more ↓

Taking words out of context

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Council, along with the media, the auditor general, the CBC, our MP and MPP,and a few others, were recently sent a letter complaining about council’s decision to build new, year-round recreational facilities without raising taxes. Fair enough. Everyone has the right to write letters. We’re open to public criticism, even after the issue has been decided, contracts signed, and council (and most of the town) has moved on. You can read the letter on the EEU. The letter contains two quotes – both by dead Americans – to open and … click below for more ↓

Yet More Quotes with False Attributions

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It seems a good week for mis-attributed Francis of Assisi quotes. Someone on Facebook posted an image with the following quote: “He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist. St. Francis of Assisi” That’s simply “Francis of “Assisi” for the non-Catholics among us, of course. But even without the questionable transformation of mortal flesh into an immortal, … click below for more ↓

And again, more mis-attributed quotes online

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“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.” Allegedly by Mark Twain, but unlikely, and not found in any published source I have of Twain’s quotations. Online sources, of course, don’t count as authorities because they lack all credibility. As one person commented on Yahoo, The fact that “Quora attributes it to him” is worthless. Quora is yet another one of those idiotic “quote websites” that misquote and misattribute things all the time. Note that Quora doesn’t bother to give … click below for more ↓

The Decline of Information Quality

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I’ve been troubled the last year or so by the increasing amount of trivial crap that is being presented on media sites as news, rather than what it really is: shallow gossip, pseudoscience, trivia, anecdote, voyeurism and personal experience. As titillating as some glitterati’s wardrobe malfunction might be, it is not front page news. In fact, it isn’t worthy of the description news even when relegated to a more appropriate location, buried deep inside the site. Gossip belongs with the horoscope, cartoons and word-search puzzles. … click below for more ↓

Verify Source Before You Post

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I recently joined a small but dedicated group on Facebook. It’s called “Verify Source Before You Post.” Every reader of this blog and my older Mumpsimus Blog will recognize this as a favorite topic of mine. I’ve written perhaps a dozen posts over the last five years trying to correct numerous bad quotes or mis-attributions. It’s a losing battle, it seems. When I say small, it is, by FB standards, tiny: 17 members right now. But that will, I hope, grow as time progresses. Surely … click below for more ↓

More Facebook Mis-quotes

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Saw three images (“posters”) on Facebook today with “quotes” I’m pretty sure are mis-attributions. As usual, I feel compelled to check out their validity. First is one allegedly by “St. Francis of Assisi.” This would be simply “Francis of Assisi” if you’re not Catholic or don’t believe in saints or canonization. One day I’ll post a blog piece about canonization and its politics, but not now. The quote is: “What we are looking for… is what is looking.” That seems one of those gooey, touchy-feely … click below for more ↓

Diablo III: Hype or Gaming Excellence?

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The hype was huge and long. Diablo III was rumored, hinted at, promised, delayed, and even denied for years. Then it was embraced when it finally arrived after more than a decade’s hibernation since the success of Diablo II, released in 2000 (and 16 years since the original, released in 1996). Good technique for raking in the money: the anticipation meant huge sales initially. The spammers love it, of course, because it provides a wonderful, accessible platform for scams through its live in-game chat system … click below for more ↓

The Tin-Foil Hat Brigade in the Lab

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You have to admire science. Nothing is beneath its inquiring eye. When I read that students at Berkley U had seriously investigated the nature of the ubiquitous-in-the-wingnut-community tin foil hats, I had to smile. Once again, science saves the day. Bad news for the wingnuts. While research didn’t prove tin foil hats will stop the aliens from eating your brain, it did suggest that the hats may amplify certain frequencies that may be in the control of either governments or corporate interests. According to the … click below for more ↓

A Pyramid Hoax Reappears on Facebook

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This Facebook headline caught my skeptic’s eye right away: “Energy beam coming from the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun.” After I finished guffawing at the gullibility of some folks, I decided to spend a little time researching how widespread this silliness had become. As expected, and sad to relate, it was all over the Net. Seems every psychic-New-Age-crystal-therapy-astrology-aura-UFO-conspiracy-theory-Atlantis-Elvis-is-alive obsessed wingnut site has repeated the claims, usually copying and pasting them directly from the original source without even bothering to investigate the claims: A team of … click below for more ↓

A Delightful Farce Called Anonymous

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Watched a delightful, satirical farce last night, called Anonymous. It’s a spoof about the conspiracy theory that the Earl of Oxford (Edward de Vere) wrote the works of William Shakespeare. This conspiracy notion has a pop following, but lacks significant scholarly and any historical support. Like other conspiracy theories, it has gained ground on the Internet from the simple fact that most people are naturally superstitious and suspicious, and would rather not apply critical thinking or do any serious research to prove or disprove outlandish … click below for more ↓

This time it’s a Machiavellian mis-quote.

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Whilst perusing the Net for some material for my book on Machiavelli, I came across this maxim: “Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.” It’s attributed on many, many sites to Machiavelli in his most famous work, The Prince. Sounds pretty Machiavellian, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t. Machiavelli never wrote those words. Sun Tzu wrote that, “All warfare is based on deception.” (Book 1, 18), which is close. Sun Tzu went on to add in the next two lines (19 … click below for more ↓

It’s not an Apache blessing, it’s just a Hollywood script

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“May the sun bring you new energy by day,” begins this saccharine saying that has enjoyed a continued life outside Facebook through the fridge magnet and huggable-puppies-and-kittens-on-posters and wedding planner industries. It gets passed off as an “Apache blessing” or “Apache wedding blessing” on Facebook, usually with some hunk-ish Indian brave pictures beside the words or some faux-Indian animal fetish images. The rest of the alleged “blessing” reads: …May the moon softy restore you by night; May the rain wash away your worries; May the … click below for more ↓

So many bad quotes, so little time

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I was browsing through my blog posts today and found I have actually written about improperly attributed quotations on the Net nine times since I first started blogging back in March, 2005. On my old Mumpsimus blog, I posted two pieces about these bad memes: A quote misattributed to Henry David Thoreau, November, 2010. A quote misattributed to William Shakespeare, January, 2009. On this new blog, which I launched in mid_December, 2011, I have written seven pieces about bad Internet quotes, starting with the Slowly … click below for more ↓

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