Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bizarro Hari

Given that Johann Hari has been caught stealing quotes elicited from other interviewers and claiming them as his own, what would a Bizarro World Johann Hari be like?

Presumably he'd take dramatic quotes and falsely attribute them to other writers.

Oh wait he does that too! Claiming that a quote by a 1960s Archbishop of Canterbury that "a nuclear war would involve nothing more than the transition of many millions of people into the love of God, only a few years before they were going to find it anyway" came from Christopher Hitchens's book God is Not Great. It doesn't.

One of the amusing aspects of that episode is seeing the self proclaimed scourge of lazy thinking and sloppy journalism, Ben Goldacre, retweeting such an extraordinary quote uncritically and seeming to be largely unperturbed that he's been misled.

* As Yaffle told me when I interviewed him the other day- "I'm no fan of Hari" he said, rolling his eyes, before pausing "but it really is Hitch's quote, verbatim - just not from the book.". Which means in this case Hari is only guilty of being too arrogant to correct a trivial error.


Yaffle said...

I'm no fan of Hari, but it really is Hitch's quote, verbatim - just not from the book. He said it to a bookstore audience (see YouTube (1:13 in), or transcript thereof).

It's Hitch who needs to cough up a source for this astonishing quote.

Ross said...

OK, I'll add a correction.

Matthew said...

If you go back to that link I left two commments giving what I think is the definitive source - the quote is true enough (although not 100% accurate) but wasn't in 1965, but earlier, and so was AoC Fisher.

Ross said...

That's good research, Matthew. Neither Hitchens nor Hari made the quote up then.

Anonymous said...

In the Youtube link Hitchens says the AoC said it in 1964. Hari says 1965 - Now I read the archive Time article that Matthew kindly dug up and the quote is from 1958, and attributed to Geoffrey Fisher (the reaction and debate in that article shows it was vilified by many other religious leaders at the time).
During 1964 and 1965 the AoC was Michael Ramsey. Different person, different time. I guess if no one has a problem with that then the AoC must be considered an entity like Dr Who and just regenerates between different bodies but is essentially is the same being ;)

Matthew said...

I think they were guilty of sloppy research. Then again everyone but myself seems to be, so I'm going to take the moral high ground.

Ross said...

Matthew- I'm going to take your research and pass it off as my own and then claim the moral high ground.