Quote: If a unit of data gets shared enough times it is considered true

“The Internet is, in a lot of ways, its own folklore-creating machine,” she says. “If a unit of data gets shared enough times it is considered true.”

Debunking the Myth of 19th-Century ‘Tear Catchers’.” Atlas Obscura. 2 May 2017. http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/tearcatchers-victorian-myth-bottle Accessed 25 May 2017.

This is a problem with the echo chamber of the web. If something is repeated enough times people assume it’s true. This is especially true of not very reputable websites that often copy content from each other. So you find a shakey fact on one site, google it and you’ll find the exact same list on another shakey website and it’s confirmed. People also love good stories, especially with lots of (capital R) Romance and drama like the “tear catchers” (really perfume bottles) even if they don’t make sense if you take a moment and think about them. If it’s a good story it’s very difficult to shake someone’s belief. So be a good example if something is too good a story take a minute and dig a bit to see if it’s true before you believe it in the first place.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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Quote: Back when it was spelled publick

“People were making stuff up and foisting it on the public back when it was spelled publick. Ye olde fake news, you might say.” – Gregory S. Schneider

The fake news that haunted George Washington.” Washington Post. 10 April 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/04/10/the-fake-news-that-haunted-george-washington/?utm_term=.78d63ebc65b1 Accessed 2 May 2017.

Whenever people talk about all fake news today and how it’s a brand new thing, I know they haven’t read much history. False stories printed as fact date back to the Colonial era of this country. In the 18th and 19th century most large cities would have two newspapers one for each party and you would barely recognize the same news as it was carried in the two papers.

For all the fuss kicked up about the “new” term fake news (new as in approximately 1890), people have always used made up stories, or at least their own political slant on them, to try to sway opinion. I highly recommend reading both the article the quote is from and this one about people’s ideas about science and where they get them.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Quote: Monkey First

Big Think’s description of this video is “Astro Teller, the CEO aka ‘Captain of Moonshots’ of innovation factory X (formerly Google X) illuminates a critical difference: when undertaking a project, do you want to feel you’ve accomplished something, or do you want to accomplish it?”. That does sum up what he’s talking about on the importance of making it OK for people to fail and to go on to other things rather than feeling compelled to push on with a project they don’t think is going anywhere.

Although I think it’s worth watching as a whole, the phrase that really jumped out at me was “Monkey First.”

There are many times that “once you get it done it will look like you’ve made progress, but you haven’t, you’ve made motion…..Our shorthand for this at X is we joke #MonkeyFirst….If you’re trying to get a monkey to stand on a pedestal ten feet high and recite Shakespeare monologues and you have a choice between training the monkey first and building the pedestal, if you build the pedestal first when your boss walks by he’s like, “Hey nice pedestal!” And then you feel good. You just did something useful, you just got a little bit of attaboy. That’s why people do that. But you’ve utterly wasted your company’s money [and your time] if you build the pedestal first because all of the hard part is getting the monkey to recite Shakespeare. If you can get the monkey to recite Shakespeare, we can always build the pedestal afterwards. But if you can’t, thank goodness we didn’t spend a moment or a penny building what turned out to be a useless pedestal.”

Teller then talks about how they try to fight that instinct at Innovation Factory X, but I think it’s the idea that important no matter what you are doing. Are you building the pedestal because it’s easy and people will say nice pedestal or are you doing something real and important and figuring out how to train the monkey.

In the quote above a cut a few sentences and phrases to keep it a reasonable length, but the full text is within the video. It has corrected closed captioning if you want all the words.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Quote: Best Lack All Conviction

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell

O’Toole, Garson. “The Best Lack All Conviction While the Worst Are Full of Passionate Intensity.” Quote Investigator. 4 March 2015, quoteinvestigator.com/2015/03/04/self-doubt. Accessed 9 January 2017.

Why I’m Citing Quote Investigator

I first found this quote in a list of book quotes that were sent around, but even librarians when they are looking for something cool sometimes fall pray to accepting an attribution without checking. The library didn’t have the source I wanted to check and it wasn’t in the ones we did, so I checked with Quote Investigator that is a thoroughly reliable source that does in-depth searching on quotes to find out who said what.

“The problem with internet quotes is that you cant always depend on their accuracy” -Abraham Lincoln, 1864

Which ironically enough travels around without attribution.

People Who Know Least Tend to Win Arguments

The trouble with knowing a lot about a subject or even similar subjects is that it allows you to see gray areas, shades of meaning, times when things that aren’t generally the rule might in fact happen. That means that in any argument or conversation the people who truly understand the subject will tend to hedge. They will be able to see the nuances and nuances are terrible for convincing people.

The World Isn’t Flat

Unfortunately people who only know one thing or THINK they know one thing will be very sure about that one thing, after all it’s all they know. They can’t admit they’re wrong and they don’t understand enough about it to see the different sides.

For example:

Person A: “The world is flat.”

Person B: “Well, it may APPEAR flat due to…..”

Person A: [Snorts] “Of course it’s flat any fool can see that, use your EYES! [To third person who doesn’t know anything about it] You can SEE it looks flat, can’t you?”

Who is going to convince that third person?

Sometimes You’re Wrong

Wrong ideas are often short, simple, easily explained. That makes them easier to win arguments, but you shouldn’t let them convince you.

So make it a practice to believe….or at least seriously consider…6 impossible things before breakfast…to paraphrase Alice in Wonderland. Or to follow Gibbs’s Rule #51 “Sometimes you’re wrong.” I think that’s his most important rule for everyday life. I say it to myself daily, “Sometimes you’re wrong.” You may not win arguments, but you’ll understand things much better.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Quote: Simple Pictures Are Best by Nancy Willard

Willard, Nancy. Simple Pictures Are Best. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976.

This is picture book comes from the era of my childhood although I don’t think I ever read it until I was an adult. It’s the story of a couple who build a life together and when a big wedding anniversary rolls around they decided to have a photographer come and take their photo. The photographer and his young assistant James come to the farm to take a picture with a large box camera. They start off with a simple photo in front of the house, but the photographer asks a series of questions about what they want. His questions are always this or that and his assistant James convinces them to do both. It gets crazier and crazier until you just have to see the actual photo he took.

After every time they add something the photographer would say “Simple pictures are best.” That is one of my best pieces of advice I’ve gotten from a picture book. It’s Occam’s Razor for kids.

When I’m trying to figure out how to do something, I always tell myself “Simple pictures are best” and look for the simplest way to do it. You might have heard me mutter this to myself. I say it a lot. So now you know what I’m talking about.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Quote: We never really fixed it (Civil War)

Reenactors at Ushers Ferry
Reenactors at Ushers Ferry

From time to time I offer a post with a quote I want to be able to find again. Usually it’s something true and clever and makes you think. Today’s quote comes from a video about re-enacting and how Civil War battle sites (long left as either farm fields or left alone just because of the lack of development in the areas where they were fought) are now falling prey to development at a rapid rate.

Why They Fight: Civil War Re-enactors and the Battle over Historic Sites

The video features images of reenactors juxtaposed with battle sites now turned into things like fast food restaurants when people fought and died there and the future of the country was decided.

This quote comes from one of the reenactors.

“We had a catastrophic event as a nation. We shared this experience as a whole. It decimated the lives of so many people. And then we didn’t really fix it, even now….we’re still in some ways fighting it.”

I think that is really true. The Civil War is one of the wars we talk about most in America, but most people don’t know a lot of accurate information about it or precisely what happened afterwards. I think it would change the worldview of a lot of Americans if we did. Many forces that effect what we do, say, and think come directly from the Civil War and by understanding that we could better move forward.

I would highly recommend the book Lies Across America by James W. Loewen.

Learn more about why the Civil War is Still Important.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Quote: “Academic Writing Becomes Academic When…”

From time to time I offer a post with a quote I want to be able to find again. Usually it’s something true and clever and makes you think. This time is a very interesting take on academic writing, specifically that when you write in an academic style you are exposing your work, showing your work like they used to call it in math class, and letting people have a chance to repeat it or prove it wrong. I think that is the key point when it comes to any research or analysis. You have to go into with the attitude that this is to the best of your knowledge right now, but you may be proven wrong. That could be wrong is heart and soul of the theory of academic writing, sadly I don’t think there are people who don’t remember that.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Associate Executive Director and Director of Scholarly Communication of the Modern Language Association in an article about the future of citation and their new version of the MLA citation guide:

” This reproducibility is perhaps more accurately and evocatively described as falsifiability — the more skeptical, but more important sense that you could follow those procedures, or perhaps some better procedures, and wind up disproving the hypothesis in question. In this same way, research in the humanities exposes the details of its procedures via citation such that it too might be rendered falsifiable. Readers can return to the sources in question and render their own better interpretations of them. Academic writing becomes academic, in other words, precisely when it exposes its process to future correction.

Read the rest of the article:
https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/the-future-of-academic-style-why-citations-still-matter-in-the-age-of-google

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.