British writer and journalist
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- Wikipedia relies on the wisdom of crowds. Knowledge is fluid. A definition contained in a reference work can never be regarded as complete and definitive. More reliable information emerges through continual revision. Consequently, anyone can edit an entry in Wikipedia. Many articles are plainly useless, but owing to the democratic nature of the medium the way is always open to incremental improvement.
Some may find this a seductive vision of the spread of knowledge. I find it alarming. It combines the free-market dogmatism of the libertarian Right with the anti-intellectualism of the populist Left. There is no necessary reason that Wikipedia’s continual revisions enhance knowledge. It is quite as conceivable that an early version of an entry in Wikipedia will be written by someone who knows the subject, and later editors will dissipate whatever value is there. Wikipedia seeks not truth but consensus, and like an interminable political meeting the end result will be dominated by the loudest and most persistent voices.
- "Wisdom? More like dumbness of the crowds" The Times (16 August 2007)
- The book lacks a bibliography, but this hardly matters given Hannan's taste for talking off the top of his head.
- "How We Invented Freedom and Why it Matters, by Daniel Hannan", The Times (2 December 2013)
- From a review of Daniel Hannan's book How We Invented Freedom & Why It Matters, London: Head of Zeus, 2013
- The principal Shakespeare claimant these days is not [Francis] Bacon but Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. The case was launched on an indifferent public in a book called Shakespeare Identified in 1920 by a Gateshead schoolmaster with the unimprovable name of J Thomas Looney. Looney surmises from the plays certain attributes that the author of Shakespeare had and then alights on Oxford as possessing them. A small cult following was convinced, including Sigmund Freud.
Yet the search for documentary evidence yielded nothing.
- "Where there’s a Will, there’s a wacky conspiracy theory" The Times (23 April 2016)
- [On the Shakespeare authorship question] This isn't mere whimsy: it's calumnious bilge. It derives not from documentary evidence (there is none) but from dismay that the greatest figure of English letters was a commoner. In his history of this perverse idea, Contested Will, [James] Shapiro documents how it's rooted in an anti-democratic ethos. It’s also irrationalist. If you reject Shakespeare's authorship, you dispense with the methods of historical inquiry altogether. Not coincidentally, the prominent Oxfordian author Joseph Sobran was a Holocaust denier.
- "We must denounce insidious theories about Shakespeare" The Times (3 July 2023)
- A response to Elizabeth Winkler's book Shakespeare Was a Woman and Other Heresies (Simon & Schuster)