11 February 2009

Transactional truth, the flaw in proof, wikipedia

Slashdot is carrying an interesting post this morning pointing out an interesting error. Without diving into unnecessary detail, in a quickly evolving news story, a man named as a potential candidate for a public service post had his name changed by adding 'Wilhem' as an additional middle name. Now for most people this is a noticeable change, for example Barack Hussein Obama turned into Barack Wilhem Hussein Obama would stand out pretty well. But, when your name is Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg, things might go unnoticed for a little while. Then things get a little funny. A german newspaper decides to copy the name out of wikipedia and print it, and then wikipedia users use the newspaper as a citation on the name.

Uh - oh. This sounds truthier than the Bush Administration. Which seems to beg the question, how often do we authenticate inaccuracy by repackaging?

Warning: Law school story

I'm way too lazy to look this up, but consider this. Years ago congress passed an amended requirement for import reporting and duty for certain products. Due to a transcription error, when the law was transferred into the US code an error was made in the reporting requirements for the dimensions of those products. Originally congress passed a requirement that a product had to be reported by its length, width and height, or its volume. In its published form, a product had to be reported by its length and width, or its height and volume. When tested in Federal court, the Judge cited the Code as the law and ruled that the flawed transcription should stand.

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