Sunday, February 05, 2017

The Truth, The Post-truth, And Nothing Like The Truth

In yesterday's newspaper there was an interesting article about the sliding, slithery thing we call truth. I found myself agreeing with what the writer said and noting how well-written it was, and then saw who it was written by.
Jimmy Wales is a co-founder of Wikipedia. I laughed.
I know Wikipedia is trying to become a serious presenter of facts (they are trying very hard to engage with universities at the moment, getting undergraduates involved in research in the USA, for instance, and I took part in an event where a representative was talking about their move to become accepted as an authoritative source of truthful information).
Well, a musician of my acquaintance read in her Wikipedia entry that she had died, and I spent a long time haunted by the fact that Wikipedia said that I'd stopped performing because of stage-fright, which was not only a negative statement, but also completely untrue and lifted wholesale, I think, from the Faber Book of Popular Music, who simply made it up.
I am happy to say that someone has re-written my own entry and it's now more truthful, but we were talking about this this morning, and someone mentioned that they used to rewrite their school teacher's information every week to annoy him!
Wikipedia is not a source of reliable information, no matter how hard they try to be. I can appreciate that the founders hope to be associated with truth, but if you're managing a massive amoeba-shaped online encyclopaedia, you don't stand a snowflake's (original meaning of the word) chance in hell.

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