In my last post I mentioned a Leo Tolstoy “quote”. As you will have worked out, it was completely fake. You may have also worked out that I’m a tiny bit obsessed with fakery and falsehood, or where laziness leads otherwise intelligent people to believe what they read on the internet without critical thought, as evidenced by some earlier posts.
Tolstoy quotes are a good example of frequent false attribution of quotes, almost as much as fake Buddha quotes. In fact there’s a rather wonderfully titled blog called “I can’t believe it’s not Buddha” that examines the dissemination of false Buddha quotes.
Who would have though that such a site existed, and who would have thought it was so interesting?
Examination of the Buddha website led me to this great blog post from 2012 , which much more eloquently than I can describes this business of people disseminating bullsh!t as if it were verified fact. Today, some 4 years or so later the only difference is that it’s now Linked-in where I see much of this nonsense I refer to in the Wolves, Cod and the Internet post above. Here’s a quote:
There are people in my own circle of friends who do this kind of thing all the time, this spreading of disinformation via their own lack of information. What makes me nuts is that several of these people have jobs that are fact-dependent, that require critical thinking or enhanced deductive capabilities. ….Why do I care, you ask? Because it’s a waste of time. Because I want to believe that the people around me aren’t knee-jerk emotional reactionists willing to dispense with logic because the internet is such a shining bastion of quality information. Because it takes no time at all to stop, consider, and question. Because truth is better than bullshit. Because right is better than wrong, especially when wrong does nothing to move us forward.
Taking this back to why does this interest IMSL as a company? Well, related to this, in a sense, we are doing some interesting work about verifying incidents that are reported “on the internet”. We aren’t looking at Tolstoy quotes or made up images of animal behaviour falsely attributing anthropomorphic intent, or even Russian propaganda seeding alarm about Syrian immigrants – but fundamentally much more important reporting of incidents on social media and elsewhere – How , as OSINT specialists do we sort the wheat from the deliberate or lazy chaff? And we have some interetsing techniques to do that. Let us know if you want to find out more.