The Bad News Bearers & Pandemic Pessimism
- David Leonhardt, "Bad News Bias", The New York Times, 3/24/2021
Bruce Sacerdote, an economics professor at Dartmouth College, noticed something last year about the Covid-19 television coverage that he was watching on CNN and PBS. It almost always seemed negative, regardless of what was he seeing in the data or hearing from scientists he knew.
When Covid cases were rising in the U.S., the news coverage emphasized the increase. When cases were falling, the coverage instead focused on those places where cases were rising. And when vaccine research began showing positive results, the coverage downplayed it, as far as Sacerdote could tell.
But he was not sure whether his perception was correct. To check, he began working with two other researchers, building a database of Covid coverage from every major network, CNN, Fox News, Politico, The New York Times and hundreds of other sources, in the U.S. and overseas. The researchers then analyzed it with a social-science technique that classifies language as positive, neutral or negative. The results showed that Sacerdote's instinct had been right…1.
I've been complaining about the negative news coverage of the epidemic since it started, so it's nice to see that someone else has noticed. Still, I didn't really need an elaborate study to convince me of the obvious. Next, they'll be telling me that MSNBC is liberal and Fox News is conservative!
The coverage by U.S. publications with a national audience has been much more negative than coverage by any other source that the researchers analyzed, including scientific journals, major international publications and regional U.S. media. "The most well-read U.S. media are outliers in terms of their negativity," Molly Cook, a co-author of the study, told me. Notably, the coverage was negative in both U.S. media outlets with liberal audiences (like MSNBC) and those with conservative audiences (like Fox News).
Sacerdote is careful to emphasize that he does not think journalists usually report falsehoods. The issue is which facts they emphasize. Still, the new study…calls for some self-reflection from those of us in the media.
I also don't think that journalists usually report falsehoods, though sometimes they do. However, emphasizing certain facts while ignoring or downplaying others can have much the same effect, leading people to believe falsehoods, such as the widely-believed myths about the risks of COVID-192. You can mislead people with half-truths just as much as with whole-lies.
Given that I'm complaining about pessimism, I hate to be pessimistic about the likelihood of self-reflection on the part of the news media. Nonetheless, honesty requires me to say that, while there may be some soul-searching by journalists, what there is will probably have little effect upon future practices. That, at least, is the lesson of history.
If we're constantly telling a negative story, we are not giving our audience the most accurate portrait of reality. We are shading it. We are doing a good job telling you why Covid cases are rising in some places and how the vaccines are imperfect―but not such a good job explaining why cases are falling elsewhere or how the vaccines save lives. Perhaps most important, we are not being clear about which Covid developments are truly alarming. As Ranjan Sehgal, another co-author, told me, "The media is painting a picture that is a little bit different from what the scientists are saying."
That's an understatement. Not all of this is the journalists' fault, though; the so-called "public health community" bears a great deal of responsibility.
The researchers say they are not sure what explains their findings, but they do have a leading contender: The U.S. media is giving the audience what it wants. When the researchers examined which stories were the most read or the most shared on Facebook, they tended to be the most negative stories. To put it another way, the stories that people choose to read skew even more negative than the stories that media organizations choose to publish. "Human beings, particularly consumers of major media, like negativity in their stories," Sacerdote said. "We think the major media are responding to consumer demand." That idea is consistent with the patterns in the data, Sacerdote added: It makes sense that national publications have better instincts about reaching a large audience than, say, science journals.
An alternative hypothesis is that scientific journals know more about science than "major media", but maybe that's wrong.
The following article is overly-long, wordy, repetitive, could use a good editing, and is still worth reading as a whole. I've cut down the following excerpt as much as possible in order to highlight the important part about vaccines.
- Zeynep Tufekci, "5 Pandemic Mistakes We Keep Repeating", The Atlantic, 2/26/2021
When the polio vaccine was declared safe and effective, the news was met with jubilant celebration. Church bells rang across the nation, and factories blew their whistles. "Polio routed!" newspaper headlines exclaimed. "An historic victory," "monumental," "sensational," newscasters declared. People erupted with joy across the United States. Some danced in the streets; others wept. Kids were sent home from school to celebrate.
One might have expected the initial approval of the coronavirus vaccines to spark similar jubilation―especially after a brutal pandemic year. But that didn't happen. Instead, the steady drumbeat of good news about the vaccines has been met with a chorus of relentless pessimism.
The problem is not that the good news isn't being reported…. It's that neither the reporting nor the public-health messaging has reflected the truly amazing reality of these vaccines. There is nothing wrong with realism and caution, but effective communication requires a sense of proportion―distinguishing between due alarm and alarmism; warranted, measured caution and doombait; worst-case scenarios and claims of impending catastrophe. We need to be able to celebrate profoundly positive news while noting the work that still lies ahead. However, instead of balanced optimism since the launch of the vaccines, the public has been offered a lot of misguided fretting over new virus variants, subjected to misleading debates about the inferiority of certain vaccines, and presented with long lists of things vaccinated people still cannot do, while media outlets wonder whether the pandemic will ever end.
This pessimism is sapping people of energy to get through the winter, and the rest of this pandemic. Anti-vaccination groups and those opposing the current public-health measures have been vigorously amplifying the pessimistic messages―especially the idea that getting vaccinated doesn't mean being able to do more―telling their audiences that there is no point in compliance, or in eventual vaccination, because it will not lead to any positive changes. They are using the moment and the messaging to deepen mistrust of public-health authorities, accusing them of moving the goalposts and implying that we're being conned. Either the vaccines aren't as good as claimed, they suggest, or the real goal of pandemic-safety measures is to control the public, not the virus.
One of the most important problems undermining the pandemic response has been the mistrust and paternalism that some public-health agencies and experts have exhibited toward the public. A key reason for this stance seems to be that some experts feared that people would respond to something that increased their safety―such as masks, rapid tests, or vaccines―by behaving recklessly. They worried that a heightened sense of safety would lead members of the public to take risks that would not just undermine any gains, but reverse them.
The theory that things that improve our safety might provide a false sense of security and lead to reckless behavior is attractive…. But time and again, the numbers tell a different story: Even if safety improvements cause a few people to behave recklessly, the benefits overwhelm the ill effects.
I'm glad to hear that safety measures don't seem to backfire, but even if they did, that would be no reason to treat adults like children. The price that public officials pay for mistrusting the public is that the public comes to mistrust the officials.
…And yet, two months into an accelerating vaccination campaign in the United States, it would be hard to blame people if they missed the news that things are getting better. Yes, there are new variants of the virus, which may eventually require booster shots, but at least so far, the existing vaccines are standing up to them well―very, very well. Manufacturers are already working on new vaccines or variant-focused booster versions, in case they prove necessary, and the authorizing agencies are ready for a quick turnaround if and when updates are needed. Reports from places that have vaccinated large numbers of individuals, and even trials in places where variants are widespread, are exceedingly encouraging, with dramatic reductions in cases and, crucially, hospitalizations and deaths among the vaccinated. … So why isn't this story more widely appreciated? …
So we didn't get our initial vaccine jubilation. But as soon as we began vaccinating people, articles started warning the newly vaccinated about all they could not do. "COVID-19 Vaccine Doesn't Mean You Can Party Like It's 1999," one headline admonished. And the buzzkill has continued right up to the present. "You're fully vaccinated against the coronavirus―now what? Don't expect to shed your mask and get back to normal activities right away," began a recent Associated Press story.
People might well want to party after being vaccinated. Those shots will expand what we can do, first in our private lives and among other vaccinated people, and then, gradually, in our public lives as well. But once again, the authorities and the media seem more worried about potentially reckless behavior among the vaccinated, and about telling them what not to do, than with providing nuanced guidance reflecting trade-offs, uncertainty, and a recognition that vaccination can change behavior. …
The good news kept pouring in. Multiple studies found that, even in those few cases where breakthrough disease occurred in vaccinated people, their viral loads were lower―which correlates with lower rates of transmission. Data from vaccinated populations further confirmed what many experts expected all along: Of course these vaccines reduce transmission.
And yet, from the beginning, a good chunk of the public-facing messaging and news articles implied or claimed that vaccines won't protect you against infecting other people or that we didn't know if they would, when both were false. …
What went wrong? The same thing that's going wrong right now with the reporting on whether vaccines will protect recipients against the new viral variants. Some outlets emphasize the worst or misinterpret the research. Some public-health officials are wary of encouraging the relaxation of any precautions. Some prominent experts on social media―even those with seemingly solid credentials―tend to respond to everything with alarm and sirens. So the message that got heard was that vaccines will not prevent transmission, or that they won't work against new variants, or that we don't know if they will. What the public needs to hear, though, is that based on existing data, we expect them to work fairly well―but we'll learn more about precisely how effective they'll be over time, and that tweaks may make them even better.
A year into the pandemic, we're still repeating the same mistakes. The top-down messaging is not the only problem. The scolding, the strictness, the inability to discuss trade-offs, and the accusations of not caring about people dying not only have an enthusiastic audience, but portions of the public engage in these behaviors themselves. Maybe that's partly because proclaiming the importance of individual actions makes us feel as if we are in the driver's seat, despite all the uncertainty. …
Vaccines are the tool that will end the pandemic. … But also, after a weary year, maybe it's hard for everyone―including scientists, journalists, and public-health officials―to imagine the end, to have hope. We adjust to new conditions fairly quickly, even terrible new conditions. During this pandemic, we've adjusted to things many of us never thought were possible. Billions of people have led dramatically smaller, circumscribed lives, and dealt with closed schools, the inability to see loved ones, the loss of jobs, the absence of communal activities, and the threat and reality of illness and death.
… After a terrible year, many things are understandably making it harder for us to dare to hope. But, especially in the United States, everything looks better by the day. … The vaccines are poised to reduce or nearly eliminate the things we worry most about―severe disease, hospitalization, and death. …
Offering clear guidance on how this will end can help strengthen people's resolve to endure whatever is necessary for the moment…by building warranted and realistic anticipation of the pandemic's end. Hope will get us through this. And one day soon, you'll be able to hop off the subway on your way to a concert, pick up a newspaper, and find the triumphant headline: "COVID Routed!"
If so, I'll be surprised. The government and the news media are now so invested in keeping the public in a state of fear that I don't expect to ever see such a public pronouncement of success. For one thing, how will they explain to us their sustained pessimism? They can't admit that they were wrong. Rather, if we ever do get back to pre-coronavirus normality, it will be because people will simply ignore the doom-and-gloomers and go back to normal life.
- The report is here: Bruce Sacerdote, Ranjan Sehgal & Molly Cook, "Why Is All COVID-19 News Bad News?", NBER Working Paper No. 28110, 11/2020
How many COVID-19 patients are hospitalized?
Before reading further, please consider the question asked by the title of this entry. I don't expect you to know the answer exactly without doing research, which I also don't expect you to do. Instead, just guess a percentage that you think is within, say, five percentage points in either direction of the true answer.
Last year, we saw from a couple of surveys that, despite the news media's single-minded coverage of the coronavirus―or, perhaps, because of it―people grossly overestimate the risks of dying from COVID-191. The question that forms the title of this entry is from a survey conducted by the same group that did one of those we already looked at2, namely, the venerable Gallup organization.
I hope that you were brave enough to guess the answer to the question, because here's an excerpt from the researchers' report that reveals the correct answer:
The U.S. public is…deeply misinformed about the severity of the virus for the average infected person. In December, we asked, "What percentage of people who have been infected by the coronavirus needed to be hospitalized?" The correct answer is not precisely known, but it is highly likely to be between 1% and 5% according to the best available estimates, and it is unlikely to be much higher or lower. … Less than one in five U.S. adults (18%) give a correct answer of between 1 and 5%. Many adults (35%) say that at least half of infected people need hospitalization. If that were true, the millions of resulting patients would have overwhelmed hospitals throughout the pandemic.3
If you're answer was correct, or closer to correct than most people's, then congratulations. If not then you're in good, or at least numerous, company.
So, why are we so badly misinformed despite months of constant coverage by the news media? According to the study authors:
People's "information diet" plays a crucial role here. In the first and second rounds of our survey…, we found that those who get their news primarily from social media had the most erroneous perception of the risk of death by age.3
Which is why I call them "anti-social media". However, that doesn't mean that the traditional news media have done a good job of informing us.
As was true of the previous Gallup survey, this one was not based on a random probability sample of the population, but on a large panel recruited from the internet. For that reason, such statistical tools as the margin of error are inapplicable. Also, despite the large size of the sample, we should be on our guard against the possibility that it is unrepresentative of the whole population. However, the survey's results are consistent with the other surveys I've seen, as well as with my informal sense that the news media have been consistently exaggerating the risks of COVID-19.
- Survey Says, 8/23/2020
- Survey Says & How to Read Scientific Research, 9/27/2020
- Jonathan Rothwell & Sonal Desai, "How misinformation is distorting COVID policies and behaviors", The Brookings Institution, 12/22/2020
Parity or Parody
One problem with spellchecking programs is that they won't catch a misspelling of a word if it spells a different word that's found in the program's dictionary. As a result, an over-reliance on spellcheckers can lead to the perverse result that certain spelling errors become more common. For instance, the common misspelling of "led" as "lead" won't be caught by spellcheckers1.
Here's another example I recently came across:
On the parity in college basketball today:
"You see it around the country where teams beat teams that maybe they weren't expected [to beat]. However, I'd also tell you there's a lot of guys who-the parody is just so evenly spread out in college basketball, besides maybe the top eight, nine teams in the country, anywhere between 30-250 in the country is pretty evenly spread out. There's not that much difference anymore. You can win the national championship at any school, you can go to the NBA from any school, you can be on TV from any school. So, the days where you can only go to a certain group―not anymore, that's why the talent is spread out so much, and that's why there is so much parody in college basketball."2
"Parity" means "equality", though it's most often used with specific technical meanings in mathematics, physics, and economics3. "Parody", in contrast, is a type of satire involving exaggerated, usually intentionally humorous, imitation4. Clearly, what the person quoted above was talking about was a rough equality in ability among college basketball teams.
What makes this a particularly odd example is that the word "parity" is correctly spelled in the introduction to the quote, but misspelled as "parody" twice within it. Moreover, it appears to be a quote of spoken words, in which case the misspellings were introduced by whoever transcribed those words rather than the speaker. Given that the two spoken words are near homophones, this mistake is probably most likely to happen in such transcribed speech.
I don't know how common this "parity"/"parody" confusion is, but I've seen two additional examples of it recently. I checked a number of reference works that list easily confused pairs of words5, but none listed "parity" and "parody". In any case, this is a mistake worth watching out for, especially since your spellchecker won't save you.
- See: Get the "Lead" Out, 2/5/2007.
- "Post-Game Quotes: Men's Basketball Vs. Prairie View", Georgia Tech, accessed: 3/16/2021.
- See: "Parity", Cambridge Dictionary, accessed: 3/18/2021.
- See: "Parody", Cambridge Dictionary, accessed: 3/18/2021.
- Some of the works consulted:
- Harry Blamires, The Cassell Guide to Common Errors in English (1997)
- Bill Bryson, Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words (2002)
- Adrian Room, The Penguin Dictionary of Confusibles (1980)
- Harry Shaw, Dictionary of Problem Words and Expressions (Revised Edition, 1987)
One thing you might expect of a supposed seer, such as the famous Nostradamus, is that he should have predicted events before they happen. For instance, there's no doubt that the most important event of 2020 was the coronavirus epidemic; did Nostradamus foresee it? The following was attributed to him on Nitwitter:
Nostradamus wrote in the year 1551 this! There will be a twin year (2020) from which will arise a queen (corona) who will come from the east (China) and who will spread a plague (virus) in the darkness of night, on a country with 7 hills (Italy) and will transform the twilight of men into dust (death), to destroy and ruin the world. It will be the end of the world economy as you know it.1
This is a good chance to practice your quote-checking skills: Before you do any research, is there anything about the alleged quote that arouses your skepticism? I notice three things, each of which requires at least some familiarity with Nostradamus' life or writings:
- The "tweet" claims that the alleged prophecy is from 1551, yet The Centuries, Nostradamus' famous prophetic book, was first published in 1555. He did produce yearly astrological almanacs starting in 1550, but they did not include prognostications until 15552.
- Nostradamus' prophecies were written in quatrains―that is, poems of four lines―and this doesn't seem to be even a translation of one, though it's possible that it might be a translation that didn't keep the poetic form.
- As I mentioned at the beginning of the month3, you should always keep a look-out for anachronisms in supposed quotes of historical figures such as Nostradamus. The last sentence of the alleged prophecy refers to "the world economy", but this is a modern notion, and there was no world economy in 1551. So, the apparent anachronism is a sign that either the prediction was written, or at least mistranslated, within the last century or so.
If you put these three reasons for doubt together with the improbability of someone from half-a-millenium ago predicting what happens today, you have the basis for some serious skepticism. But don't stop there: now is the time to start checking.
If you search the internet, you will soon find a number of fact-checking sites that have debunked the quote4: it's not Nostradamus, and it was almost certainly written last year after the epidemic started. Something similar happened nearly twenty years ago, when a phony Nostradamus quote circulated claiming to predict what happened on September eleventh5. Whenever an important event occurs and an after-the-fact "Nostradamus" prediction of it is produced, one should always suspect fakery.
- David Mikkelson, "Did Nostradamus Predict the COVID-19 Pandemic?", Snopes, 3/20/2020.
- Edgar Leoni, Nostradamus and His Prophecies (1982), pp. 42 & 54.
- How to Check Quotes, Part 5: Reliable Sources, 3/2/2021.
- In addition to the Snopes article linked in note 1, above, see also:
- Samantha Putterman, "No evidence Nostradamus predicted novel coronavirus", Politifact, 4/6/2020
- Brad Sylvester, "Fact Check: Did Nostradamus predict the coronavirus outbreak?", Check Your Fact, 3/23/2020
- Benjamin Radford, "Did Nostradamus Really Predict the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks?", Live Science, 9/11/2011.
Another Surprise Puzzle Prize at the Logicians' Club*
There are currently five members of the Logicians' Club, one of whom is the president. As you might expect, logicians love variables, so the five members are known only by the letters V, W, X, Y and Z, ranked by seniority. V is the most senior member of the club and, therefore, its president.
The club's treasury has swollen to $100 and, according to the bylaws of the club, the sum must be distributed to the current members whenever it hits that amount. The president, V, withdrew it from the club's bank account in the form of one-hundred silver dollars.
The following procedure for distributing the money to the membership was specified in the club's bylaws: The president, V, would decide upon and announce a distribution of the silver dollars among the five members. Then, a vote would be held immediately on V's plan so that the members have no time to consult with each other or negotiate agreements to share the money. If the plan receives a majority of the members' votes―including V's―then the coins will be distributed accordingly. However, if the plan receives half or fewer of the votes, then it is rejected and V loses eligibility. Should that happen, then W as the next most senior member of the club would come up with a new plan, and the above procedure would be repeated until a plan was accepted and the money distributed.
All members of the Logicians' Club are perfect logicians who are able to reason out all of the consequences of any plan. Moreover, the only thing they care about is maximizing the amount of money they personally receive; they do not care whether a distribution is fair, nor do they get emotional about it. They don't resent another member who receives a greater amount of money than they do, so long as they get the maximum amount they can in the situation. If the amount of money they would get from accepting the plan is no more than they would receive from rejecting it, then they will reject it.
How much money would Z receive under V's plan, and was that plan accepted by the club members?
Suppose there were only two members of the Logicians' Club: what would happen? What about three members?
V's plan was accepted. It was for V to keep $97, to give $1 to X, and $2 to Z. So, the answer to the puzzle is that Z got two dollars.
Hold on! Why would V offer such a crazy plan, and why would more than half of the members accept it?
As is suggested by the Hint, above, the way to solve this puzzle is to start with simpler cases and work your way up to five. Let's do so:
- Suppose there is only one club member. This case is obvious, but we'll need it for the next case, which is not. If there were only one member, obviously the plan would be to keep all the money and vote for the plan, thus getting 100% of the votes, which is a majority. So, the sole member would get $100.
- Suppose there are two members, Y and Z. This case is not much more complicated than the previous one. Since there are only two votes, to be adopted a plan must be accepted unanimously. Obviously, whatever plan Y comes up with will receive Y's vote. However, if Z rejects Y's plan, then only Z will be left and will get to keep all of the money, as in the previous case. Thus, the only plan that Z will vote for will be one that gives Z all the money. So, no matter what plan Y comes up with, whether it is accepted or rejected, Z will get $100 and Y will get nothing.
- Suppose there are three members: X, Y, and Z. Now it starts to get interesting! The senior member's plan needs at least one additional vote to get more than half the votes, but X does not need more than one additional vote. If X's plan is rejected and X is removed from eligibility, then we are back to case two, and Z will get everything and Y will get nothing. So, Z has no motivation to vote for any plan that would benefit X. Therefore, X must get Y's vote and to do so all that X needs to offer is more than nothing. So, X's plan is to keep $99 and give one coin to Y, and Z gets nothing.
- Suppose there are four members: W, X, Y, and Z. We're almost there! W's plan needs two votes in addition to W's own in order to get a majority, and W wants those votes as cheaply as possible. If the plan is rejected, X will get $99, so X has no reason to accept any plan except one that would give X the entire amount. In the previous case, Y gets only a dollar, while Z gets nothing. Therefore, in order to get Y and Z's votes, all that W needs to do is offer $2 to Y and $1 to Z. So, W's plan will be to keep $97, give Y two dollars, Z one, and X gets nothing.
- Now, we're at the case asked for in the puzzle. As in the previous case, the senior member, V, needs two additional votes for V's plan to prevail. If V's plan is rejected then X will get nothing, so V only needs to offer X a dollar to get X's vote. The cheapest additional vote that V can buy is that of Z, who will get only a dollar in the previous case. Therefore, all that V needs to do to get two additional votes is to offer one dollar to X and two to Z. Thus, V's plan will be to give $1 to X, $2 to Z, and to keep $97. W and Y will get nothing.
This is a pretty tough puzzle, so if you couldn't solve it completely, even with the help of the Hint, then don't feel too bad. However, it's a useful one to work through because it reveals one of the basic strategies of problem solving, namely, breaking a problem down into simpler versions and working back up to the full problem. In this case, that means thinking about what happens when there are fewer members of the club, as shown in the Solution, above. If you try to think your way through the full, five-member puzzle, you'll probably be stymied unless you're a genius. However, if you learn to apply this problem-solving technique, you may convince your friends that you are a genius even if you're not!
Disclaimer and Disclosure: This puzzle is a work of fiction. There is no Logicians' Club. In real life, logicians are not as dopey as fictional ones.
- A Puzzle at the Logicians' Club, 1/31/2016
- A Meeting of the Logicians' Club, 9/26/2018
- Another Meeting of the Logicians' Club, 11/24/2018
- An Independence Day Puzzle at the Logicians' Club, 7/4/2019
How to Check Quotes, Part 5: Reliable Sources
As the final installment of this subseries on quote-checking*, here are some reliable sources and advice to help you check quotes:
- Online Sites: There are some reliable online sites for quotes and quote-checking, but most of them are specialized for particular quote magnets or specific types of misleading quote:
- False Nazi Quotations: The Nazis are the go-to baddies for condemning your enemies with fake quotes. There aren't many quotes here, but if you want to investigate one attributed to Hitler or some other Nazi, this is the place to start.
- Familiar Contextomies: My contextomies page, so no misattributions, misquotes, or bogus quotes. There aren't a lot here, but some should indeed be familiar. If you suspect that a quote is taken out of context in a misleading way, check here first.
- "Spurious Quotations", George Washington's Mount Vernon: Washington is a quote magnet, especially for bogus quotes about God and guns.
- "Spurious Quotations", Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia: Like Washington, Jefferson is a quote magnet, as shown by the large number of phony quotes listed on this page. The following article on how to spot a fake Jefferson quote is also worth reading. Though some of the advice is specific to Jefferson, a number of points apply, mutatis mutandis, to suspicious quotes in general:
Anna Berkes, "How to Spot a Fake", 11/22/2011. From the same folks at Monticello that bring you the Jefferson Encyclopedia, this short article explains how to tell that a quote is probably bogus. While the advice is specific to Jefferson, much of it can be generalized to other quote magnets. In particular, always be on the lookout for anachronism, either in language or sentiment.
- Books: Rather than relying strictly on the internet, dare I suggest that you check such old-fashioned sources as books? Yes, I do! Do you dare to use them? Here is a selected and annotated bibliography of useful books for the quote checker:
- Paul F. Boller, Jr. & John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions (1989). The grandaddy of misquote books. It's rather old now, but still a good source for many "classic" misquotes.
- Alice Calaprice, editor, The Expanded Quotable Einstein (2000). Obviously, this is only for checking alleged quotes of Albert Einstein, but he is a quote magnet. Calaprice helpfully includes a section of quotes attributed to Einstein (pp. 311-322), including ones misattributed to him (pp. 313-314), and ones attributed to him but probably not his (pp. 318-322).
- John P. Kaminski, editor, The Quotable Jefferson (2006). Unfortunately, this collection does not have a section of spurious quotes―for that, see the encyclopedia, above―but if Jefferson actually wrote it, it's probably in here.
- Ralph Keyes, "Nice Guys Finish Seventh": False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations (1993). A slightly more recent source for quote-checking than Boller & George.
- Ralph Keyes, The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When (2006). Similar to his earlier book, but better for understanding the different types of misquotation.
- Elizabeth Knowles, What They Didn't Say: A Book of Misquotations (2006). Similar to Boller & George but more recent.
* For earlier entries in the "How to Check Quotes" subseries, see:
- Four Types of Misleading Quote, 11/27/2020
- News Sources Vs. Familiar Quotations, 12/4/2020
- Rules of Thumb, 1/2/2021
- A Case Study, 2/4/2021