Of course, that is a totally made up story.
As a side note, it'd be funny if one of the stories on that page turned out to be made up.
The real myth of the medieval flat earth begins first
in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and has
two principal sources. Probably the most influential
of these was the American author Washington Irving
who in his fictional biography of Columbus claimed
that Columbus had to fight against the Church’s
belief that the world was flat in order to get
permission and backing for his voyage, a complete
That Columbus proved it, that is, not that the world is round.
I have young kids and it's fascinating watching them talk about half-remembered stuff from the past. They'll start off not really remembering much and taking guesses. Then the other takes that guess as gospel and repeats it back. Now the first has more confident. Soon they are both fully convinced of a whole pile of fabrications.
It made me realize how much of our memory is socially constructed.
Or is it something like there isn't "truth" in our memory ?
We all have the naive impression that memory is somehow like a video recording and we can just access it to find out what happened. Indeed, we all have some very vivid and probably quite accurate memories about some exceptional events, or can recall exactly what page and what part of the page we read some specific item. There area also examples of amazing memory stunts and records, and even memory contests and championships.
But we cannot assume that just because we have some very good memories, memory is generally good, indeed, it is mostly pretty bad, especially compared to any kind of recording system.
This is supported by several areas of research demonstrating how easy it is to plant fake memories, reshape memories, and get people to be completely convinced that they are describing are exact and real.
One area of research is eyewitness testimony, which has pretty much been the standard in courts since courts existed, yet when eyewitness accounts are compared, they almost always come up with a variety of contradictions.
There's also been research into the phenomena of "found" or "recovered" memories often used to convict accused child abusers. Again, it turns out that suggestion and guidance on the part of the investigator can create things our or whole cloth, so it must be very carefully guarded against.
There's also several other research areas in which this is relevant, but the outcome is pretty consistent -- human memory is generally pretty bad (sorry I haven't got the time to track down the references).
I've found that it's best to just treat memory as merely a good hint about what might have happened (or where I might have left that tool or the keys), and then look for actual evidence of what really happened.
For example I, as well as many others on the Internet, remember the James Bond Semi-Villain Jaws's romantic interest as being a blond, pig tailed, bespectacled girl with a large smile and a mouth full of braces. We're sure she had braces, that was the whole joke! Turns out, no record of her having braces whatsoever.
Weird that a memory could permeate society like that.
A completely made-up example: imagine that you saw a colored circle. Instead of storing a snapshot of what you saw, your brain really records two things - that you saw a "circle", and that it was of your "favourite color". Many years later, you recall that memory, and "see" a blue circle. But in reality, the circle was yellow - over those years, your favourite color has changed, and since the memory stores reference to it, your recollection also changed.
I've never heard this explanation for such a phenomenon. Quite interesting.
When I remember something, or when I purposefully recall a memory, it is very easy for me to change the details on purpose even as I am thinking the thing. It is also possible to create wholly false but entirely plausible recollections (for example, "remembering" having sex with a past girlfriend in a time or at a place which we never had sex, but because we spent so much time together, I have good baseline data to produce all the most pertinent details, and my mind doesn't care about glossing over the things which are fabricated.)
It's scary to think about. I am capable of consciously replaying totally false memories, so how often are the things which I remember a product of an unconscious version of the same process? How fallible is my memory really?
That's because they're good models of a fundamental concept of indirection :). People sometimes think it's hubris that programmers tend to talk a lot about fields they "know nothing about", but part of it really comes from the fact that programming is dealing with one of the most powerful abstract concept ever devised - that of computation.
> It's scary to think about. I am capable of consciously replaying totally false memories, so how often are the things which I remember a product of an unconscious version of the same process? How fallible is my memory really?
Yeah, it is scary, though one gets used to it. Experience shows that most of the time at least your recent memories are pretty robust. There's a lot of context ensuring the consistency and accuracy of the "procedural recollection" of a memory, but it's procedural generation nonetheless.
EDIT: want another fun programming analogy? Think about how fast you can answer questions you've already heard and thought about vs. ones that are new to you. You may come to the conclusion that the brain is mostly a massive cache, and most thoughts being cache lookups. You know the concept of "speaking before you think"? For me that sometimes happens literally, and it really smells like a partial pattern-match to a question doing a cache lookup in the brain.
And now add to this that it's been estimated that the brain itself is clocked around 200Hz (Hertz, without SI prefix) of sequential computation speed...
I consider this sort of mischief to be a healthy thing. If you are exposed to true facts constantly, all facts are true, in the same way that a TSA X-ray tech who sees ten thousand not-bombs might miss the one actual bomb.
I think of lies and disinformation as good for a mental agility, and an adjunct of storytelling. Is there no space for the trickster in our lives?
A lot of mystics use the argument, "because you can be fool here, truth itself does not exist" and sometimes that can be fairly harmful.
The confession is sort of a buzzfeed-ish version of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum, and he digs in, at length musing on lies and truth and how they mush together in ways that are very hard to untangle.
At any rate, if you liked the essay, I recommend the book.
Was the black power ranger ever bad? I recall the green ranger going bad, then later returning, reformed, as the white ranger.
Or was mixing up the colors intentional to further your point?
In the season finale, Zack absorbs Rita's evil power crystal and turns on the Power Rangers and Angel Grove. Zordon informs the Power Rangers of a secret cave containing the reversal crystal, but Rita and her Octopig monster have other plans. Can the Power Rangers morph in time to save Zack and Angel Grove?
I lol'd. Too over the top though.
Another example : around 2005 someone made a playlist for himself of some Mars Volta b-sides and called it "A Missing Chromosome" . Somehow it spread on P2P networks, was even listed on Wikipedia in the band's discography section with a back story etc.
I still have it in my collection under that name with the art etc and don't see the need to correct it.
A forum I'm in maintains a list of some fake things they put in Wikipedia. It's harder to do these days but some are still there and we joke that some parts may have found their way in some student school work.
A Google search for my real name still returns my IMDB actors page as one of the top links.
Let me show you how dangerous sidewalks are
by telling you the story about the time I
went for a walk while swinging a spiked bat
at every passer by. It was great fun, but it
demonstrates why sidewalks are dangerous.
Seriously, I don't really care if some teenager creates a non-sense fanfic world on poorly monitored sites.
However, it is noteworthy how the utter lack of quality control on so many Internet properties can propagate falsehoods.
This undermines the claim that the Internet was supposed to be this "Information Superhighway" (lol, remember that term?) leading to a more informed society.
This just hasn't panned out the way the tech utopians of the 90s thought it would. What they failed to foresee is that the abundance of information can lead to just as much ignorance as the lack of information.
Information (re: "Information Superhighway") is information. In this utopian idea of "quality control", who does the quality control? Houghton Mifflin?
If history is just a set of lies agreed upon, I'd rather have the consensus of the Internet than whoever it is you purport should be in control of quality.
It would take quite a major revision to copyright law but it's not impossible to imagine some future version of a library where one can search digitized versions of all known works and correlate between them.
Per the article "The only place that’s still entirely accurate is Wikipedia, hilariously enough." And for tvtome, "It was a user-edited wiki for TV shows. To be an editor for the big, popular shows you had to prove why you were qualified"
Clearly there are systems that are much more robust against tampering than others. I'm sure dozens or hundreds of people came across this streets shark stuff on IMDB and thought "This is an error" but had no way to report it on IMDB. Wikipedia solves that problem (and in the event of dispute there's a full history).
It's not a "lack of quality control". It's that the internet is data-starved. I'm familiar with how much data is recorded each year, and it seems paradoxical that we could still be data-starved, but it is so.
Starving people/organizations ignore all the warning signs. They're desperate for what it is that they seek. The people looking for this bit of nostalgia want to be able to find information on it. Synopses, screenshots, and even videos. For these people, there aren't any substitutes. And the internet just doesn't have much on it (not like some Encyclopedia Britannica editor will have spent 18 months tracking down real information on this show).
Adding more quality control won't fix this, as the root cause wasn't lack of quality control. Attempting to do so will backfire, those people desperate for this will merely go out and create their own websites to hunt down the dreck that doesn't pass QC, and once they host it on a blog or whatever it will leak back into the higher quality sites (like has happened on IMDB in this article).
Bottom line: Henry Winkler voicing a shark as a meta-jumped-the-shark reference is brilliant.
I'm especially wary of anything that has even a touch of marketing involved with it. Especially on social media. You know how all those photos with words are made - be it dietary advice or philosophy quotes or whatever? I had some ideas, but wasn't really sure until my SO did an internship with a social media marketing company.
It's literally: 1) Google for some keywords on the topic you need, 2) take the first article or blog post that pops up, 3) find a good enough quote or idea on it, 4) pick a random picture from the Internet, 5) stick the two together in Photoshop or Paint.NET, 6) spam the living shit out of all your channels with it.
It's that. Zero research. And preferably done by unpaid interns.
The other places just copied the information from whatever source they had available, which happened to be from tvtome.com.
This is about someone editing some minor little website, and then a bunch of companies and other websites copying that information, and then other people saying that information is true and accurate, and even expanding on it with their own memories about the misinformation.
That's the scary thing - that people build on the lie.
I might not trust that little website, but I should be able to trust Netflix.
That said, I think your analogy isn't quite on point. The noteworthy thing here isn't just that it's possible to lie on the internet -- people have clearly been doing that for a while. What's interesting here is that those lies, while not at the time intended as an experiment, have still demonstrated how perniciously they can become a part of what is becoming our collective memory and record of truth.
We already know that our memories are malleable, fuzzy, adaptive, and often downright wrong. It's interesting to see how this relates to the possibility that lies, or untruths, take on a life of their own online, and can serve to mold our own recollections.
If he did that for fun, tons of others can do it for fan, more with malicious intent, even more for profit, even more than those from idiocy and repeating misinformation, etc.
Though, about the latter story (kid, clock etc.) I've followed it a little at the time, but what do you mean "turned out to be a completely different story"? From what I know it was like what it was reported from the start. And Obama even called the kid to the whitehouse later. Am I missing some development?
I looked at the descriptions for the three shows. Frankly, nothing seemed out-of-line because I didn't watch toy-oriented cartoons in the 90s and that subject matter falls into a genre I just don't care about. Truthfully, I suspect that those synopses pretty much describe all 90s cartoons.
For that matter, your entire article could be a social experiment, but the subject matter of Street Sharks is so far off the spectrum of things I care about that it's the first time I've ever even heard of them.
But, it does illustrate how easy it is to slip things in like that. Do it enough times with lots of small things and sooner or later, you have enough evidence for something larger and so on and so forth.
Still don't care about Street Sharks, though.
And please, for the love of <deity>, don't show this to Michael Bay.
News sources these days are so programmed to chase every story that there's no room for fact checking and they all look like incredible idiots. It's amazing to me that anyone takes Old Media seriously anymore.
On-line news publishers don't care about accuracy or truth. Period.
Plus a good old fashioned bullshit filter.
When I was in NYU's grad math program, the Wikipedia just getting going. It had a lot of articles, but not on every topic. I was studying Analysis and decided to start the article on the Hessian Matrix.
Yes, I started that article and it's been fun to watch it grow over the years. Most sections I have added are still there, as well as some phrases such as "more can be said from the point of view of Morse Theory". It really set the direction of the subsequent topics and edits.
One section in particular, there, was completely made up by me. It was ACTUALLY TRUE, but it was never (to my knowledge) stated anywhere. No one had really made a treatment of the matter. Namely:
Hessians of vector valued functions. I said they were tensors of rank 3.
There was a discussion in the talk page about it. Some people were confused and argued for a bit but since was true, the community kept it, thinking that being a true math concept it must have a source somewhere. Now it has been expanded and an actual analysis of how it can be a tensor of rank 3 has been worked out. Now this may have led to citations that will lead to research on Hessians of vector valued functions acting as tensors. All because I wrote it there.
It wasn't false, like the Colbert's lie that "Elephant population of Africa has tripled in the last six months." But it was an experiment to see what an unsourced original statement would lead to on a fairly mainstream article.
Edit: to be fair, I'm trusting the author's current account, I never watched Street Sharks myself. I could be the victim of some epic meta trolling.
Wikipedia doesn't allow you to cite Wikipedia, of course, but the trickster added an unsupported, false fact to Wikipedia, which was quoted by someone's blog, which was quoted in an article by a "science" "journalist", and then the trickster updated the Wikipedia page to reference that article.
I think it's important to take note that this can happen instead of dismissing it as childish pranks. We should apply the "security mindset" to our sources of information, not just to our computation.
"We form rough consensuses based on vast amounts of conflicting data, but who really has the power to verify any of it? This is especially true when the stakes are low. A lot of people will put effort into dispelling rumors that the Moon landing was fake or that Hitler is still alive, sure, but who cares enough about something as meaningless and easy to ignore as Street Sharks to make sure all the information about it online is totally accurate?"
In this article, the author mentioned he became an editor for street sharks to help him spread his lies.
If Obama used the fake fact in a speech of his, would you blame his researchers or the guy who originally made up the lie?
I think the point is that authorities on information have a responsibility to ensure the information is accurate.
Had me in tears. Also, I completely forgot about that show until coming across this so thanks for bring back some history!
And of the fingerboxes meme on 4chan.
the fact that you do not understand that people simply do not care about street sharks does not make his premise intelligent or thought provoking.
After all, what kind of person would intentionally sow lies about Street Sharks across the internet?
Well, not a good one.
The best trolling may not be precisely lying, but it's certainly more about assuming alternate versions of reality than it is about e.g. just being rude.
True. But people do it, regularly and consistently, and in fact protect their children from finding out about said lies, with ever more complex mechanisms. But, strangely, most people who do this seem to think it's a good thing to lie like this. Not sure why, and I suspect it sets a bad example to children that adults are not to be trusted, as they make things up. And that it is OK to do it, since there are no bad consequences for the adults, so why not lie themselves?
It has long been my policy to tell my young nieces and nephews really obvious lies on a regular basis, just to let them practice their critical thinking. I love the looks of dawning realization and the swiftly following cries of "nuh-uh!" My oldest niece has heard enough of these that she just smirks when she hears another one.
Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are sort of an internal critique of Christianity. Sadly I think this critique goes over most people's heads, and their eventual disillusionment is more upsetting as a result. Still, parents have to try. To give away the game, I don't actually think there's anything wrong with this particular lie.