I just ran across a
YouTube clip of Stephen Colbert’s take on Wikipedia, in which he urges people to change the Wikipedia entry on elephants to indicate their numbers are increasing in Africa and talks about how realilty can reflect a majority opinion rather than true reality. He points out that if you took an astronony course before Galileo and said the earth revolves around the sun, you’d have been considered crazy.
This is one of his Word segments and, as usual, the Word’s comments on Colbert’s rants is funnier than Colbert. It ends with “The revolution will not be verified.” It’s a good segment, not only because it points out an inherent flaw with the Wikipedia model (Can you really trust the wisdom of crowds? Are all crowds equally wise and trustable?), but it looks at a larger problem, which is that if enough people say the same thing often enough, it becomes true. I’d like to think that librarians and online searchers are non-believers in “wikiality,” instead fact-checking and verifying sources, but I’m not always sure this is the case.