Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dubious Internet Quotation Sites

Books and magazines used to have editors — and good ones still do.  The Internet allows anyone to be his own publisher.  On the one hand that can be good.  The financial barriers to reaching an audience have been eliminated.  However it also means that a great deal of nonsense gets distributed.

This site attempts to combat a small corner of nonsense.  However, other sites promote it.  For example, the popular quotation site has the fake Goebbels quotation, and is probably the source for many who cite it.  It apparently gets over a million visitors a year.

What is interesting to us is that the site provides no information at all as to who is behind it.  Nor does it give any sources for the quotations it provides.  It allows visitors to provide feedback — but although we have twice reported that the quotation is a fake it remains on the site.

Compare that with a real print dictionary of quotations.  An excellent example is the Yale Book of Quotations.  The editor assiduously sources quotations, and finds lots of them that are falsely attributed. If you want to be sure the quotation you are using is real, do not depend on anonymous Internet sites

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sighting Report #6

There are 31 new hits for the past 24 hours.  The top one is for Regainyourbrain,  subtitled “the war on independent thought.”  It has the dubious Goebbels quotation at the top of each post — and attributes it to “Joseph M. Goebbels.”  “M” was not his middle initial, but 35,000 Internet pages think it was — and indeed, the first two quotations we can find (dating back to 2002) use that wrong middle initial.  This post is concerned about the effects of cell phone radiation on the brain.  The site as a whole is filled with claims of sinister conspiracies to use technology to turn humans into helpless puppets of the Pentagon, the New World Order, etc.  Digital television, cell phones, and other technologies are all part of the plot.

The second site, The Logical Sceptic, also has the quotation at the head of each post, although at least is does not provide “M” as a middle initial.  It is a Ron Paul fan site.

Tracking Report #3

Google is at times mysterious.  Last week a Google search for “truth is the greatest enemy of the State" got over a million hits.  Today it gets 242,000.  However, a search for the phrase with “Goebbels” as an additional term results in 999,000 hits.  We’ll have to try both searches in the future.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

German Tracking Report #1

The quotation has spread dramatically in English-language web pages and has even infected Germany, where various web sites have translated it into the language it supposedly originated in.  When we first started tracking it in 2009, there were about 400 pages in German that included the phrase "da die Wahrheit der tödliche Feind der Lüge ist, und somit wird die Wahrheit durch die Ausbreitung der größte Feind des Staates," the phrase we are tracking in English.  As of May 5 the number of page has dropped to 265 in a Google search.  However, more than one site may have translated it, which might produce different phrasing.  We’ll look into that as time permits.

Tracking Report #2: Citations double ?!

The first tracking report was on April 12.  It found 521,000 hits for the phrase "truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” A search on May 5 gets 1,050,000 hits.  It’s unlikely that the total doubled in three weeks — perhaps Google’s search engine is finding more pages?

In any event, the trend is clearly going the wrong way from our point of view.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sighting Report #5

A letter to the editor published online in the Jacksonville Daily News (North Carolina) uses the fabricated Goebbels quote to make a point about local politics, particularly a proposal for the Sturgeon City Civic and Environmental Education Center and refinancing existing loans.

In addition to using the quote, the letter says, "Those well versed in history will readily agree that Goebbels was both a master of propaganda as well as an infamous historical figure. He was very adept at not only convincing people that outright lies were the truth, but he was capable of bending the truth with far more curves than a pretzel! The taxpaying public has been sold a sow’s ear and some are trying to make it into a silk purse."