Contact

trblair-at-ozemail.com.au

Monthly Archives

Most recent entries

Links

Achewood
Acidman
Andrea Harris
Andrew Bartlweet
Andrew Bolt
Andrew Landeryou
Angela Bell
Angie Schultz
Asian Football Business Review
Ask An Imam
Ausculture
Austin Bay
The Australian
Bastards Inc.
Belmont Club
Bernard Slattery
Big Pharaoh
Bilious Young Fogey
Bill Quick
The Bitch Girls
Bjørn Stærk
Blithering Bunny
Cathy Seipp
Charles Austin
Chase Me Ladies
Chuck Simmins
Clive Davis
Clive James
Coalition of the Swilling
Colby Cosh
The Corner
Currency Lad
The Daily Telegraph
Damian Penny
Dave Barry
David Frum
David M.
Dawn Eden
Day by Day
Decision '08
Derek Sapphire
Dissident Frogman
Dr Alice
Drooble
Ed Driscoll
Drunkablog
Dylan Kissane
El Cid
Environmental Republican
EURSOC
Evil Pundit
Flashman
Florida Cracker
Fraters Libertas
Free Will
Gay Patriot
Glenn Reynolds
Hablog
Harry Heidelberg
Healing Iraq
HispaLibertas
Hit & Run
Hugh Hewitt
Iain Dale
Iowahawk
Iraq the Model
James Lileks
James Paterson
James Wheeldon
Jawa Report
Jeff Jarvis
Jennifer Marohasy
Jessica’s Well
J.F. Beck
Jim Treacher
Joanne Jacobs
John Hawkins
Joy of Knitting
Jules Crittenden
Kathy Kinsley
Ken Layne
Ken Summers
Kitty Bukake
Les Enfants Terrible
Libertarian Leanings
Little Green Footballs
Lubos Motl
Mahmood's Den
Major John
Man of Lettuce
Mark Steyn
Mary Katharine Ham
Matt Welch
Megan McArdle
Melanie Phillips
Menorah Blog
Michael Jennings
Michael Totten
Michelle Malkin
Midwest Conservative Journal
Mike Jericho
Miranda Devine
Moonbat Media
Movies and More
Natalie Solent
The National Debate
Ned Wynn
Nick & Nora Charles
Niner Charlie
Ninme
Norm Geras
Oliver Kamm
Opinion Dominion
Opinion Journal
Pajamas Media
Patterico
Paul Bickford
Pejman Yousefzadeh
Peter Briffa
Pixy Misa
Pommygranate
Popular Mechanics
Powerline
Protein Wisdom
Quentin George
Questions and Observations
Rafe Champion
Rajan Rishyakaran
Reason
Rezwan
Right Thinking
RightWingDeathBogan
Rob Hinkley
Roger L. Simon
Romeo Mike
Ron Hardin
Ryne McClaren
Sam Ward
Samizdata
Scott Burgess
Scott Norvell
Sgt. Stryker
StraightShooters
Sheila O'Malley
Silent Running
Spartacus
Special Sauce
Spin Starts Here
Stop the ACLU
Stephen Pollard
Tim Newman
Tim Worstall
Time Goes By
Tony Pierce
Tony the Teacher
TramTown
Vampus
Venomous Kate
Virginia Postrel
Vodka Pundit
Warwick Hughes
Week by Week
The Weekly Standard
Whacking Day
Wheels 128
Will Type For Food
Wog Blog
Wonkette
Zoe Brain
Zombie Time

Previous Tim

Tim Blair on Spleenville

Tim Blair on Blogspot

Search


Advanced Search

Syndicate

Statistics

This page has been viewed 19238860 times
Page rendered in 0.4157 seconds

Referrers

Powered by ExpressionEngine

Friday, June 24, 2005

FACTS IN ON FACT-CHECKER

Miranda Devine’s Sun-Herald column last week featured a quote from Silent Spring author Rachel Carson:


“We should seek not to eliminate malarial mosquitoes with pesticides,” wrote Carson, “but to find instead a reasonable accommodation between the insect hordes and ourselves.”

This excited Professor John Quiggin, who had issues with the whole piece. His main concern, however, was that quote:


More seriously, she recycles an unsourced and obviously fabricated quote imputed to Rachel Carson ...

As Quiggin himself notes—while maintaining that the entire quote is “unsourced and obviously fabricated”—the second half of the quote is accurately taken from Silent Spring. But the first line, about eliminating malarial mosquitoes ... where did that come from? Quiggin’s view:


Clearly we’re seeing the usual game of quote fabrication here, with the line about malarial mosquitos inserted into an unobjectionable statement of the desirability of what’s generally called integrated pest management as opposed to indiscriminate use of pesticides. Devine has been too lazy to check her third-hand or fourth-hand sources, and no doubt her editors won’t bother pulling her up.

Tim Lambert then joined the fray, noting that the apparent source for the quote was a piece by Keith Lockitch at FrontPage. Wrote Lambert:


It looks like Devine is the one that fabricated the quote. The version at Front Page doesn’t have quote marks around the first part of the statement, so the author is passing it off as a paraphrase. Devine seems to be the one who added the quote marks.

Quiggin agreed:


Devine has actually taken the critical step in the fabrication herself.

And the Professor didn’t stop there. “This obviously bogus quote,” he declared, “is worse than anything I can recall seeing.” (Quiggin wasn’t nearly as outraged when lefty Phillip Adams was caught fabricating several quotes in a single column: “My guess is that this is sloppiness rather than deliberate distortion.”) Commenters at Quiggin’s piled on. Here’s Katz:


Miranda Devine was caught red-handed falsifying a quote. Let’s be clear about this: Devine’s falsification wasn’t the product of laziness. Neither was it the product of recklessness. No, it arose from a deliberate design to traduce and to assassinate the reputation of a Rachel Carson, a person who can no longer defend herself or her own reputation. If Miranda Devine had any respect for her putative profession as an opinion shaper, she’d resign. But we all know that Miranda Devine will not resign, because the truth means nothing to Miranda Devine. Miranda Devine has no shame.

And Katz again:


The fact is that Miranda Devine moved those quotation marks deliberately, knowingly and with malice aforethought.

Katz, Quiggin, and Lambert are wrong. Devine didn’t fabricate the quote. Her source was a Melbourne Age piece by Lockitch, published on January 29 and not available online, in which a sub-editor appears to have made the crucial alteration:


Carson wrote: “We should seek not to eliminate malarial mosquitoes with pesticides, but to find instead a reasonable accommodation between the insect hordes and ourselves."

Devine’s crime? Trusting the Melbourne Age. Quiggin has since posted a climb-down, in the form of an over-the-fold update:


Miranda Devine has written, indicating that she will correct the spurious Carson quote, and saying that she took the quote from a republication of the Lockitch article in The Age, where it appeared as she quoted it. So it looks as though this bogus quote evolved, rather than being consciously fabricated.

And that’s it, at least so far. No apology. No direct withdrawal of his knee-jerk assumption that “Devine has actually taken the critical step in the fabrication herself.” No revision of his view that the quote was “worse than anything I can recall.” As Quiggin fan Katz might say: No shame.

UPDATE. It’s interesting that Quiggin attacks Devine for being “too lazy to check her third-hand or fourth-hand sources”, seeing as he didn’t check many sources himself before rushing to an unequivocal condemnation (“Devine has actually taken the critical step in the fabrication herself”). Quiggin is a Fairfax columnist (with the Australian Financial Review) and, one assumes, can gain access to the internal Fairfax library. Or he could simply have emailed Devine and asked about the quote. Instead, he’s relied on some shabby Googling and Tim Lambert—a combination that will always land you in trouble. J.F. Beck has more on the DDT dispute, plus alarming eyeball news. Best wishes to your boy, J.F.

UPDATE II. Quiggin adds:


It was a mistake on my part to draw the conclusion that Miranda Devine was responsible for adding the quote marks, since I should have considered the possibility of an intermediate republication or reproduction of the quote. I apologise for this.

UPDATE III. And Miranda Devine writes:

Last week I inadvertently misquoted Rachel Carson by repeating a mistake from The Age of January 29. In an article by Keith Lockitch of the Ayn Rand Institute, Carson was quoted: “We should seek not to eliminate malarial mosquitoes with pesticides, but to find instead a reasonable accommodation between the insect hordes and ourselves."

But in Lockitch’s original, published in FrontPage Magazine, the quote was part paraphrase: “We should seek, Carson wrote, not to eliminate malarial mosquitoes with pesticides, but to find instead, ‘a reasonable accommodation between the insect hordes and ourselves’. “ Apologies.

Posted by Tim B. on 06/24/2005 at 11:19 PM
(36) CommentsPermalink