It was an accidental hoax. A screenshot from Back to the Future got passed around this summer, showing that June 27, 2012, was the date when the DeLorean hurtled forward in time. After a certain period of excitement, posts, and retweets, people soon realized that the image had been modified: the “actual” date wasn’t for three more years. Turns out this wasn’t even the first time this had happened. A similarly fudged screenshot of the DeLorean’s time counters spread across the internet just two years before (though that was an intentional hoax).
Not only were people spreading incorrect information, but the collective internet consciousness didn’t even recognize the return of the same error. And even when we do recognize such errors, we can’t fix them as easily as we might like. Just ask Philip Roth about how difficult it was to correct an entry on his own Wikipedia page – he had to publish an open letter in the New Yorker to satisfy the requirement for a more reputable secondary source.Samuel Arbesman
Knowledge changes around us all the time. Yet we don’t always have the most up-to-date facts. This is true, I’d argue, even in an age of instant and massive information. Despite our unprecedented ability to rapidly learn new things and crowdfix mistakes, Knowledge and its sinister twin Error continue to propagate in complex and intriguing ways. Errors persist among us for far longer than they should and even when there is more accurate knowledge elsewhere. Newer knowledge does not spread as fast as it should and weaves its way unevenly throughout society.
The problem isn’t just epistemological – it can have serious consequences. Doctors might not realize there is a newer and better treatment. Teachers might not have the most current materials. Parents might not have the latest child-rearing techniques. Entire fields of science invest time, money, and other resources recapitulating the findings of others due to their ignorance of other fields’ advances.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2007—Resolution Condemning Limbaugh to be Introduced on Monday:
It appears that Representative (and Senate candidate) Mark Udall will be introducing a resolution on Monday which would seek to condemn Rush Limbaugh's obscene attack on the integrity and patriotism of American service members.
I wouldn't expect this resolution to pass, as I don't expect many — if any — Republicans to vote for it. But from my perspective, the point of this resolution isn't to receive a majority vote, or even really to condemn Limbaugh. After all, a great number of us in the Democratic Party don't believe that the United States Congress should be in the business of "condemning" the speech of American citizens. As I see it, the point of this exercise is: 1) to highlight the hypocrisy of those Republicans who would vote to condemn the speech of MoveOn, but not that of America's Favorite Chickenhawk — even as he smeared rank-and-file service members — and 2) to make sure that those Democrats who saw fit to publicly condemn their ally on the floor of Congress are willing to do the same to a man who despises them and the Democratic Party.
In light of those goals, I hope that all of us in the netroots will honor and respect the decision of those Democrats who choose to vote against both the MoveOn and Limbaugh resolutions. They're taking a responsible, ethical, and consistent position. As for Democrats who voted for the MoveOn resolution, but vote against the Limbaugh resolution? Well, let's just hope that there aren't any.