Appeal to Authority, Scraping, and how journalism became irrelevant.

Quote collecting is an interesting cheat to make you sound more learned than you actually are. [youtube]

Journalists often used quote collecting as a hack in their stories, and often, there is a place for it.

But quotes are not facts. They are an interpretation of truth, and often, not a primary source.

I have often found that quotes attributed to various people weren't actually spoken or written by those people.

It's just an observation that gets bolstered and accepted because someone decided to play dirty and add a false kind of enforcement.

There are other problems with the hack.

For one, it appeals to authority: if an authority said it, it must be right.

And second, it is regurgitation of someone else's thoughts, a lazy way of making other people do the heavy mental lifting for you.

It is a form of scraping: slopping someone else's observations and then using it as "proof" your argument is correct, which is absurd.

Quotes do not prove something is right or wrong. Often, it is mere sophistry that does not take important things into consideration.

You still need data and facts.

Often, quotes are mere theories. We still need to test those theories before we can determine what is right or wrong.

I have come across many pithy quotes that turned out to have no basis in reality: yes, the idea is all well and good if you were dealing with a completely different set of facts and circumstances.

There are no short cuts to finding truths and chronicling reality. That's why true journalism was never an easy ideal. I have had my share of rent-a-quotes who could say all sorts of banal things in such glorious ways, but research showed those quotes did not contribute very much to figuring out a problem, let alone finding a solution.

Journalism relied on quotes, and as more outlets had fewer resources, quoting was cheap filler, but the more quotes used, the quality control slid until the point articles became very little more than a list of quotes instead of a map of reality.

Anyone can spew something that sounds wise, but few can find the primary sources to show us the true state of affairs.

And as anyone can quote another person, journalism became irrelevant, as people believed they were broadcasting something important and contributing to something other than noise.

A new form of journalism has to get away from scraping in order to be something of value and meaning.