Posts Tagged ‘quotations’

Read ‘Em And Weep

Apparently, pointing out to Trump fans or rabid Brexiteers that they’re being taken for a ride by corrupt, loathsome bastards may make them double down on their commitment to said bastards. Clearly this precautionary principle has been adopted wholesale by Goodreads, to judge from their policy on correcting fake Thucydides quotes; anything that has lots of ‘likes’ from users of the site is not to be deleted, regardless of its proven falsehood. Yes, my occasional mission to give F.B. Jevons and William F. Butler their proper due for ‘Of all manifestations of power…’ and ‘The nation that divides its soldiers from its warriors…’ respectively has a new target. Those two have been sorted out – Jevons gets credit now rather than Thucydides, while somehow the Butler has been deleted as insufficiently worthy, but apparently nothing can be done about ‘peace is an armistice in an endless war’, ‘justice will not come to Athens’ and even, dear gods, ‘a collision at sea can ruin your whole day’.

”We are,” Goodreads tell me, “book review and recommendations site.” Well, yes. So what’s with the quotes?

While we do have quotes on the site, we consider them to be community-owned content and therefore we have strict rules regarding removing.

So, the people of Goodreads have had enough of experts, and resent being talked down to by people who think they know better and want to delete their favourite quotes. I find myself thinking so much more positively of Wikipedia and its editors than I did a few months ago…

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Another new pseudo-Thucydides quote – an increasingly rare event, not because the level of misattribution is dropping to any measurable degree but because it’s the same couple of familiar misattributions every time – as French Minister of Economy Bruno le Maire commented* in a private meeting for French businessmen about Trump’s imposition of sanctions on Iran and the funding of international terrorism: “money is the nerve of war”, attributing this to Thucydides. (more…)

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Hope is an expensive commodity. It makes better sense to be prepared. Thucydides

A new addition to the taxonomy of Thucydides misquotations! This popped up on the Twitter for the first time this morning, though I see from Google that it already features on a couple of the dodgier quotes websites and – rather unexpectedly, at first glance – in a couple of books on topics like Biosecurity and ‘making Chemistry relevant’. (more…)

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Der Wiki’ser

One of the things that I’ve meaning to do for ages, in the event that I had any spare time or energy, is to contribute something to Wikipedia. The basic principle of the collective creation of a gigantic repository of knowledge is inspiring, the overall quality of entries has improved so much over the years so that we academics need no longer discourage students from drawing on it (as a first step, and without citing it, of course, let along copying it…) – and it has been very helpful at times, when trying to correct Thucydides misquotations and misattributions on the Twitter, to be able to point people towards the small Misattribution section within the entry on Thucydides, which gives the correct source for the ubiquitous ‘Scholars and Warriors’ quote.

Don’t bother looking for it; it’s not there any more. (more…)

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One of my main aims, in monitoring references to Thucydides on the Twitter, is to keep a sense of proportion. Partly this is about relative scale: fifteen fake quotations in a day is a lot, relative to normal traffic in this area – but given that over 6,000 tweets get fired off every second, it’s thoroughly negligible in the greater scheme of things. Similarly, it’s about remembering that my view of this is very odd; for me, a tweet may be the sixth tedious repetition of the misattributed ‘Scholars and Warriors’ quote that afternoon, but for the person tweeting it this is generally the first time they’ve done it, having found a really neat quote that sums up the point they want to make perfectly. Even with that annoying Social Jukebox system I aim to stay civil unless it’s from a user whom I’ve attempted to correct many times and so I know they won’t pay any attention anyway, and if there’s the faintest possibility that I’m dealing with a real person tweeting in good faith, I do my best to interact in the spirit of truth, not snark. (more…)

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Increasingly, the most interesting aspect of investigating fake or dubious Thucydides quotes on the internet is not establishing their fakeness (Morley’s Law: the majority of quotations attributed to Thucydides on the internet fall into one of three categories: not quite what he said, not really what he meant, or not actually Thucydides at all) but exploring the processes by which anyone came to believe in them in the first place, and what this tells us about the cultural image of Thucydides. (more…)

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It’s been a bumper year for Thucydiocy: an assortment of new sightings (‘Don’t confuse meaning with truth’, ‘You shouldn’t feel sorry for the lifestyle you haven’t tasted, but for the one you are about to lose’, ‘Democracies are always at their best when things seem at their worst’, and ‘You should punish in the same manner those who commit crimes with those who accuse falsely’), and the results of my study of who exactly is responsible for the ‘Scholars and Warriors’ quote with the stupid graduation photo (answer: a deeply annoying Social Jukebox), which means I feel justified in responding to it with emojis rather than a properly considered response.

But this year’s William F. Butler Award for Egregious Misquotation of Thucydides can have only one winner: (more…)

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