Monday, March 14, 2011

How long have you been dead when a wiki says you died in 1997?

Facing death by wiki, Zick Rubin fights back. And surreality ensues:

When I complained to, I got a prompt and friendly reply from its co-founder, Angela Beesley, sending me her “kind regards” and telling me that she had corrected the article. But when I checked a week later, the “1944-1997” had returned. So I e-mailed her again (subject line: “inaccurate report that I am dead”), and got the following explanation:

“My change to the page was reverted on the grounds that the info included in this article was sourced from Reber and Reber’s the Dictionary of Psychology, third edition, 2001. Is it possible the page is talking about a different Zick Rubin? The article is about a social psychologist.”

I didn’t doubt that the Dictionary of Psychology was a highly authoritative source, and yet I persisted in wondering why Reber — or, for that matter, Reber — would know more than I would about whether I was alive or dead.

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  1. Check out the Talk page on the entry on Rubin; it's pretty funny!

  2. Rubin draws a parallel between this episode with the story "The Bear That Wasn't." YouTube has a video.

  3. While Rubin was accused of having been dead for over 12 years, John Seigenthaler was accused of far worse in 2005; a Wikipedia entry said, "For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven." It all got sorted out -- but only after he went public with it.

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Thanks to Prof. S. Ranganathan for the e-mail alert.


  1. L said...

    Like Mark Twain--- reports of his death were highly exaggerated.