Where do you go when you need information from that paper you've had three weeks to write but haven't started and is now due tomorrow? I mean, besides Google. When I “wrote” my papers in college, I used online dictionaries and sources as much as the next guy. Maybe even more. His name was Jim. I got better grades than him and partied harder.

If that didn't work, or I wanted to make it look like I did more research than I did, I'd pull out the ol' Encyclopedia. Which one? Britannica of course! OK, I didn't really use an encyclopedia. I don't think I've used one since 6th grade when I wrote that report on numbats. I sure as hell did't use them in college, there was no way that a whole set would have fit in those ridiculously small dorm rooms. So I used the next best thing: the Wikipedia.

Now I find out that both have errors. According to this BBC link, which is based on research done by the “prestigious journal” Nature, in the 50 articles from each publication were tested and there were over 100 errors in each.

I thought we used reference materials like these to be able to talk and write about things we didn't know about before. If the dictionary ain't right, how we ever gonna be able to communicate?

I realize that if Encyclopedias had been around a 700 years ago, that they would have said that the Earth was flat and the moon was made of cheese. As we learn new things about the world, the books have to be updated. I get it. But what if the entries were just things that slipped passed the editor's noses:

  • Lists Michael Jackson as white
  • Reports that the cloned sheep was actually a llama named “Dali”
  • Praises Duke's basketball skills
  • Endorses Ross Perot for president
  • Claims jelly donuts are better than plain glazed
I can't tell you for sure if these are the actual errors, or even what the actual errors are because that would require a ton of research and this is a volunteer column and my babies gots to be fed.

So next time you bullsh** a paper and your prof wants to know where you came up with the information, say that you used the most accurate materials, but since you can't vouch for 100% correctness you didn't bother listing them.

Tell 'em The Beech said it was legit.

BTW: if you bothered to click on the link above, BBC had an error of their own spelling ‘encyclopedia' as ‘encyclopaedia'

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