A 19th century engraving of French astrologer Michel de Nostradame (Nostradamus).
A blog called ‘Nostradamus and India’ by the French political writer François Gautier has caused a stir in India after it was published by India’s largest-selling English daily and later found to be inaccurate.
Soon after the blog went live on the Times of India, the alternative news portal Alt News exposed it for inventing "fake passages" and attributing them to the famed 16th century French astrologer Nostradamus.
The blog was taken down from TOI and republished on Thursday with a disclaimer.
Gautier claimed in his blog that in 2012, he’d chanced upon some "hidden manuscripts" in an "old trunk". Those manuscripts contained Nostradamus’ predictions on the rise of Indian prime minister (a.k.a. "supreme leader") Narendra Modi.
Alt News discovered through a few Google searches that Gautier had a knack of discovering this "old trunk".
"Francois Gautier has discovered the ‘old trunk’ so many times over that it is difficult to keep track. He discovered it in his 2009 blog ‘Nostradamus and Saffron’ and in his 2014 blog ‘Nostradamus and 2014’ elections.
The latest ‘old trunk’ discovery happened on March 28, 2017 on the TOI blog. In fact, every time Mr Gautier discovers this old trunk, the contents inside the trunk seem to change magically," it wrote.
This revelation left Indian Twitter in a whirlwind.
Though some users raised concerns over fake news being published by popular media, most people had a field day.
Hilarious. Francois Gautier invented fake Nostradamus predictions about Modi. TOI & Zee faithfully published it. https://t.co/961seroNqF
— Aditya Menon (@AdityaMenon22) March 29, 2017
Nostradamus predicted that Modi is the fourth reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, & is born to end the human race 😂
— Sam HellCat (@SoGe89) March 29, 2017
Nostradamus once said-C’est la vie, a prediction abt how Narendrus Modius govt will levy a cess in 2017 to make Bharatus Mataus a superpower
— Scotchy (@scotchism) March 29, 2017
However, the real concern is this:
‘Fake news’ is plaguing the internet. Facebook and Google, the biggest mediums of online news dissemination, have struggled to combat it. This makes it even more imperative for media organisations to fact-check before running their stories. The danger of influencing a significant readership wrongly has never been greater.