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Michael Crichton’s 1996 novel “Airframe” opens with two quotations, one of which reads:

The irony of the Information Age is that it has given new respectability to uninformed opinion.

This is attributed to “Veteran reporter John Lawton, 68, speaking to the American Association of Broadcast Journalists in 1995”.

However, Crichton was a master of blending fact and fiction to the point that it becomes difficult to tell where one begins and the other ends. Several of his novels feature “quotations” that are easily identified as fictional as they are attributed to a character in the novel. This particular quotation appears next to another one attributed to the founder of the fictional Norton Aircraft company in the novel.

The quotation in question is in somewhat wide circulation online (use your favorite search engine to verify), sometimes with the full attribution as it appears in the novel, sometimes just “John Lawton”, and I believe I have also seen instances which attribute it to Crichton.

However, an online search for John Lawton reveals nothing other than this quotation, as well as some content which does not look related at all. In short, I cannot verify the existence of the purported author (John Lawton, journalist born in 1936/37 1926/27).

Does anyone have reliable information on the origins of said quotation? Is it an actual quotation by an existing person named John Lawton, or entirely fictional—or maybe inspired by some real-world statement and attributed to a fictional character?

  • Great question! The quote is listed here but that's probably a fault of Goodreads, since that John Lawton doesn't fit Crichton's description. – Rand al'Thor Nov 19 at 18:56
  • *He was born in 1949 in England*—at least 22 years younger than Crichton’s Lawton. – user149408 Nov 19 at 19:39
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It’s a fabrication. Rather than trying to verify the existence (or not) of John Lawton, the simpler route is to try to verify the existence (or not) of The American Association of Broadcast Journalists. Such an organization, if it existed, would have some presence on the internet, if only in a wikipedia article, but any search on the term reveals only the Crichton quote.

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    So, Crichton's book gave respectability to the "opinion" that this is a real quote from a real person named John Lawton. What a fine-crafted irony! – rumtscho Nov 20 at 16:50

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