Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Feynman

by @edent | , , | 5 comments | Read ~1,978 times.

There are lots of celelbrities and famous academics on Twitter. Then there's Professor Richard Feynman. Who died in 1988.

Every so often, one of "his" pearls of wisdom is regurgitated into my Twitter feed.

Except - and I hate to be a party pooper - this is a joke by the Belgian comedian Philippe Geluck. It has nothing to do with Feynman.

La mort, c'est un peu comme la connerie. Le mort, lui, il ne sait pas qu'il est mort. Ce sont les autres qui sont tristes. Le con, c'est pareil.
(From 1995's "Ma langue au chat")

Go on. Search all of Feynman's published works. You won't find that phrase in there.

Or, take these "quotes" - which just appear to be trite "Live Laugh Love"-style clichés.

I can't find any evidence in Feynman's works that he said these things. So why do people follow and promote these ghoulish accounts?

When this account was created, in 2017, its first few Tweets all appear to be genuine Feynman quotes:

Although it occasionally veered off into pretending to be an actual person

At some point, the people running the account got bored of publishing the same old quotes repeatedly and started using some very dubious sources for their publication.

Now it just churns out any old inspiring rubbish - mixed with a few genuine quotations.

It reminds me of when Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom" started. Fans created accounts for the fictional journalists.

Then, inexplicably, those fan-accounts started tweeting about real events as though they were actual journalists.

Do people know that those accounts aren't from real journalists? Do they care?

Similarly, do people think that Feynman account is somehow official or endorsed by his estate? Do they think it only tweets out Feynman's thoughts?

Following the "Feynman" account is like having a "quote of the day" calendar. It's a fine way to consume micro-slices of information. But in an era of fake news, we all need to be a little more careful about the sources we follow - especially when they claim to speak on behalf of others.

5 thoughts on “Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Feynman

  1. I mean, he died in 1988, so…


  2. I’m tempted to block this account. Feynman said a lot of good things and I’m getting irritated by seeing all these things that he didn’t say. It doesn’t even sound like something that he would have said.

  3. Tracy King says:

    Any account of a dead person is (to quote Feynman), stupid


  4. Yeah, that clearly can’t be Feynman; it’s not sexist enough.


  5. Jack Deeth says:

    If it was Richard Feynman's personal account it'd be verified. Like John Lennon's.


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