Steinbeck appears to have anticipated the age of fake news. This is particularly pertinent as we try to tease out virus fact from sickness fiction and some governments take steps to slow the churning of the rumour-mill.

See another Steinbeck comment on the handling of news, again prescient.

Let’s filter for factual signal and analysis rather than fictional or pure opinion noise.

‘After listening to all this information we came to the conclusion that the world of Sir John Mandeville has by no means disappeared, that the world of two-headed men and flying serpents has not disappeared. And, indeed, while we were away the flying saucers appeared, which do nothing to overturn our thesis.  And it seems to us now the most dangerous thing in the world is the desire to believe a rumor rather than to pin down a fact.’

Portrait of Sir John Mandeville - "Travels" by John Mandeville (1459)

Source: John Steinbeck, A Russian Journal, with photographs by Robert Capa (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1999 (1948)), p. 7

Photo credit: Ali Müftüoğulları at unsplash

Image credit: Portrait of Sir John Mandeville – Travels (1459) by John Mandeville


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