Truth, the Internet, and Misattribution

I love truth. I am bothered when I hear someone saying something that isn’t true. This has led to late nights on the computer as I try to convince people of the truth. This has also led me to the place where some people think I have the attitude that I am always right. I have covered this in a previous post, but suffice it to say that I don’t think I am always right, but I always strive to be as correct as possible. When I find out that I am wrong, I change, but then I will defend what I know to be the truth with everything I have.

This is why I get frustrated with a certain proclivity that I have noticed in the past few decades, but it has gotten worse with the advent of the internet. Here it is:

People read a quote, a story, a funny song or something else that they really like. I don’t know exactly what happens next, but in MY mind the conversation goes something like this, “Wow, that was an inspirational story/funny saying/great quote. I think it would be funnier if someone famous had said it. Nobody has heard of this person who actually said it. I’m going to send this on, but I’m going to say that someone famous said it, because that makes it better!”

One example of this is the “Some Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School.” This is a wonderful piece with lots of good advice for graduating seniors as they start their adult lives. It was written in 2007 by Charles Sykes. The problem is that some people decided it sounded better if Bill Gates had said it. Others thought that it seemed like Kurt Vonnegut should have said it. The Atlanta Journal and Constitution newspaper stated it was written by “Duluth State Rep. Brooks Coleman.”

Examples of this abound. Morgan Freeman, Bill Gates, George Carlin, and Bill Cosby are just a few of the people who have had things attributed to them that they never said or wrote.

Reading one of these stories is like eating a wonderful meal, and then finding out that the meat was dog food. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.If I had written one of these stories or said something as pithy or wise as some of these quotes, and then I read later that evidently Harrison Ford was the one that said it, I would be upset.

I love the truth, but truth watered down with a lie is not more palatable, it is less so.


About Steve Picray

I am a conservative Baptist Pastor in the midwestern United States. Every day I commit my life to Jesus Christ. This blog is my view on life. My prayer is that, by reading what I write, you will learn more about me, more about God, and be assisted in becoming the person God means for you to be. If you have a question, just e-mail me at spicray AT gmail DOT com. God Bless!
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4 Responses to Truth, the Internet, and Misattribution

  1. Kay says:

    “The problem with internet quotes is that you cant always depend on their accuracy” -Abraham Lincoln, 1864


  2. The next time you feel compelled to “correct” a moronic/erroneous something or someone on the internet take just a second, click on this blog and read the title of the blog ten times out loud. If you STILL feel like commenting on the moronic/erroneous comment, you need to change the name of the blog.

  3. Barbara K says:

    I came across this blog post while researching a quote I see attributed to Rumi all over the internet, even though I’m quite sure that it’s not from Rumi. However, I can’t prove it without becoming a Rumi scholar, and I’m not willing to commit to that, so I’ll have to let it go. I can imagine someone wondering where the quote came from and thinking or having someone else tell them, “It sounds like Rumi,” and deciding that because they’d read some Rumi poetry that must be where they’d seen it. It’s frustrating to me, but I also know pursuing the error will lead only to frustration, and it’s not like I can correct every mention of it on the internet. Sigh.

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