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Monday, October 19, 2015

John Oliver Joins the War Against Fake Quotations

Many posts have discussed fake quotations from Lincoln, Jefferson, Tocqueville, and others.

Dieter Holger writes at Inquisitr:
John Oliver can’t stand fake quotes. On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, the comedian blasted presidents and presidential candidates for saying quotes that founding fathers and historic politicians never said.

Oliver pointed to an October 5 interview with Ben Carson on Fox News, where the presidential candidate cited a false Thomas Jefferson quote on gun control.
“Thomas Jefferson himself said,” Carson said on Fox News. “‘Gun control works great for the people who are law-abiding citizens and it does nothing for the criminals, and all it does is put the people at risk.'”

Carson really cited a quote from Italian philosopher Cesare Beccaria that was copied by Jefferson into his law school notebook. According to the Thomas Jefferson Society, the wrongly cited Beccaria quote is “spurious” since it’s not clear that Jefferson agreed or disagreed with Beccaria’s words.
“You cannot give people credit for things they copied into notebooks,” Olivers said. “Otherwise my teenage self would claim credit for the Pythagorean Theorem and most Smashing Pumpkins lyrics.”


In response to all the fake quotes, Oliver has created the website There you can generate all sorts of fake (but entertaining) quote memes that are improperly attributed to historical figures.

“It seems we have a decision to make,” Oliver said. “Either we care about the accuracy of quotes and make sure they’re correctly sourced. Or, we don’t care at all.”