Sunday, August 26, 2012
Google’s Ngram Viewer allows one to search for words and phrases in the millions of books digitized by Google. It covers the years until 2000. It finds not a single citation of the dubious Goebbels quotation. Proving a negative is impossible, but this is still further evidence of the unlikelihood of the quotation.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Our article titled “Plausible Quotations and Reverse Credibility in Online Vernacular Communities” was recently published issue of ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, 69 (April 2012), 216-234. Here is the abstract:
“Cyberspace includes information that lacks vetting by traditional gatekeepers such as editors and librarians. One growing type of online information is unsourced quotations attributed to well-known individuals. After summarizing the history of textual fabrication as semantic misinformation, this article traces the origin and rapid spread of a quotation misattributed to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. The quotation spread from online sources to print and even at least one peer-reviewed academic journal — all without ever being sourced. The same quotation was widely used by both the political Right and Left to support opposing ideologies. Cyberspace provides an arena for creating seemingly credible but unverified persuasive messages that confirm the existing assumptions of online communities of discourse. The essay concludes with suggestions for verifying unsourced online quotations attributed to otherwise ‘credible’ people.”You can find the journal at larger libraries, but if you have want to read it and cannot find a copy, e-mail either of us.