Wikiality

Through an interesting series of clicks, today I ended up watching on Youtube a section of an American satire show, The Colbert Report. This section discusses what the show’s host (Stephen Colbert) calls wikiality, that the truth is determined by whatever the majority happens to think.

To emphasize these points, he (supposedly) gets on Wikipedia and edits a few articles. This generally made a lot of people posting comments at the end of several of the 2 million or so blog entries on the subject very angry; that he was taking something great like Wikipedia and vandalising it. I wonder, however, how many of them actually watched either the segment (or a video posting of the segment), given as how there seems to be little comment on how Coulter managed, for example, to navigate to the Wikipedia page on George Washington and edit it so that it turns out that Georgie didn’t own any slaves, in about half a dozen keystrokes and without touching his laptop’s mousepad. Or, for that matter, how he changed his own entry without even looking at it.

Shortly afterwards, meanwhile, it seems some people shortly afterwards took his advice and edited several of the pages on elephants, whose population has seemingly tripled in the last 10 years. Of course, it’s not like they’d jump off a cliff if Stephen Coulter told them too. Reporters tracked down several of these editors, however on knocking the door all they heard was an extended scream and a less extended thump.

I guess you can have no yellowcake and yet eat it too.

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