Saturday, August 04, 2012

Correcting Errors: Does the Internet Help?

Somewhere on the Net this week there was a discussion of whether the Internet helps or hurts in correcting myths and errors.  It may have been Prof. Bernstein (or maybe someone else) who opined that some errors were checked and caught very quickly, while others persisted on and on and on.

In the latter category is this from Gail Collins in today's Times, in the course of beating up on Congress for not working on the postal system or the farm bill:
The Senate recently voted 64 to 35 to approve a new five-year authorization, which reformed some of the most egregious bad practices, like paying farmers not to grow crops. [emphasis added]
The truth is that we haven't had the authority to pay farmers not to grow crops  for at least 16 years (unless one includes the Conservation Reserve Program, which normally people don't and Ms. Collins is not).   But this error will probably never die, it's like the ejecta from a volcano eruption which has escaped into the atmosphere and persists, dimming the sun of truth.  

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