Jarre-ing quote?

Critics of Wikipedia will no doubt crow over the latest hoax in which a Dublin student inserted a faked quote into the article on Maurcie Jarre which was picked up by several papers. I’m not very concerned – history is full of faked quotes, and at least in Wikipedia we can see what user account inserted the unreferenced quote

Apart from leaders who are known to have worked on their own speeches like Lincoln or Churchill, almost every quote from major political figures is the work of a speechwriter.  Most autobiographies of celebrities today are ghostwritten or polished by editors. Surveys of textbooks regularly turn up long lists of easily correctable errors.  From time to time, commonly accepted misquotes or errors are corrected, but the correction often gets scant notice. The daily grind of checking facts and references is what makes the difference in history and journalism between amateurs and professionals.

At least Wikipedia has clear rules about citations and references, and ‘facts’ which don’t meet those standards will be deleted, as the Jarre quote was, several times.  Controversial or topical pages are restricted and monitored, often by unpaid volunteers, with a great deal of success. Unlike most other forgeries floating round the world, the page history in Wikipedia makes it possible to see what account was used to create the falsehood, and when it was done.

The whole thing reminds me of an exchange involving Oscar Wilde who, when he a particularly good bon mot, remarked that he wished he had said that to which Whistler’s response was “You will, Oscar, I’m sure you will”

2 thoughts on “Jarre-ing quote?

  1. Robert Cosgrave

    I think the there are two factors in the anti-wikipedia brigade in academe, one for the smart ones, and one for the less smart ones…

    1. Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.
    Wikipedia is fundamentally disruptive to the University model of knowledge creation and transmission, as the printing press was to the monasteries. Smart Academics will poo poo it until the can reposition themselves for the Reformation.
    2. It says it in my book, so it must be right. This isn’t anybodies book, so it must be wrong. There is a set of people who substitute hard work regurgitating the knowledge of ‘experts’ to actual thought in creating their own. Wikipedia disrupts the ‘expert’ model. Critical reading is expected for Wikipedia. You can’t just parrot what it says in the book, or hope people will just parrot what it says in yours. This is very threatening for the second rate scholar.
    Robert Cosgrave

  2. Pingback: Airminded · History Carnival 77

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