Veracity does not consist in saying, but in the intention of communicating truth.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834).
Poet, literary critic, philosopher, theologian.

(The narrative which follows appears in the Preface, not this section, which in the book simply lists the references cited throughout its pages).

Alternative facts and fake news: the referencing antidote

In ‘opinion/comment’ columns and many blogs there lurks the danger that the author is unwittingly misleading the reader about the intentions and meanings within the sources they have drawn upon or, much worse, are guilty of plagiarism.

‘Fake news’ is nothing new but in the world of social media it is unprecedentedly pervasive. Also, fakeness and falsification are not uncommon in what appear on the surface to be eminently reputable business books. Where there is any doubt in the reader’s mind regarding the veracity of content there is no substitute for seeking out original sources, articles or books and examining these for themselves. As Ronald Reagan repeatedly observed when discussing US relations with the Soviet Union: “Trust, but verify”.

To facilitate this for the reader, the final section of the book provides references to every source cited throughout its pages. A more positive reason for referencing is to allow the reader to take any specific topic of interest and follow it through to its broader domain, essential for a book that covers a range of disciplines and which has the inquisitive reader as its target audience.

As a final observation regarding the smart use of references by readers, well-written articles and books have very thoughtfully constructed titles and will convey meaning and insight as to the main thrust of their content. For the reader with the time to do so, it is worth looking at these reference titles as they arise to garner further insight on the scope of the work being cited. For the speed reader, meanwhile, the disruption to comprehension associated with footnotes and traditional endnotes is avoided. Referencing is ‘light’ so as not to distract yet authoritative to reassure the reader regarding the book’s content and recommendations.


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All content © Colin Edward Egan, 2023