Garth George duped by Wikipedia

Ah, the tricks of the trade.  You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but how easy is it to trick an old dog?

Here at AUT we always tell students that “Google is not research” and that “Wikipedia is not a reliable source to cite in essays”. This is particularly the case if you can’t confirm the information from somewhere else. By all means use Google and Wikipedia as a starting point, but remember the old adage: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.”

It’s a shame that the New Zealand Herald‘s old-fogey columnist, Garth George, doesn’t heed similar advice.

In his column for Thursday 11 June, [Immediate exit only Worthy option] George  calls on embattled National MP Richard Worth to resign from Parliament over the “inappropriate conduct” towards women allegations. That’s all well and good, Worth probably will now that PM John Key has “washed his hands” of the troublesome dweeb.

But George gets himself into trouble when he adds a wry footnote at the end:

And postscript on Richard Worth: in 2002 he was appointed Honorary Akela (Great Lone Wolf) of the Girl Scouts Korea. Prophetic, eh?

Unfortunately for Mr George, he’s been the victim of an internet sting operation. This little nugget, which at best seems a little odd, was added to Richard Worth’s Wikipedia entry, by a witty cyber-jester:

An advocate of closer business and social ties between New Zealand and South Korea, Worth was appointed Honorary Akela (Great Lone Wolf) of the Girl Scouts Korea[citation needed] in the same 2002 ceremony as US First Lady Laura Bush. [5]

A a nice thought, Mr Worth in a Brownie outfit,  fingers splayed up by his ears “dib-dib-dibbing” and “dob-dob-dobbing”;  but it’s simply not true.

It’s unlikely that this false information will stay up on Mr Worth’s Wikipedia page for too long. Though some bright spark has now attempted to make Mr George’s repetition of the joke the actual source (to replace the “citation needed” comment in the text).

And postscript on that: the Wikipedia admin says that George is “not a reliable source” for the Akela comment.

cur) (prev) 09:04, 11 June 2009 Gadfium (talk | contribs) (14,801 bytes) (Background: George is not a reliable source. Bush’s speech doesn’t mention Worth. Need a source for this pronto, or it will be removed from the article.) (undo)

Funny about that. “Prophetic, eh?”

Sorry Garth, you’ve been had. It will be interesting to see if the Herald publishes a correction, or changes the online version of the story.

2 Responses to Garth George duped by Wikipedia

  1. Mark says:

    Surely this was just an attempt to replicate this:
    http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090512/ap_on_hi_te/eu_ireland_wikipedia_hoaxer

    You would have thought that with this so fresh in people’s minds, they might have been a little more cautious. But perhaps the necessity to beat other sources to what might be the new headline overrides fact-checking?

  2. Dan says:

    Brilliant! You should join the ‘Garth George’s column makes me spew up in my mouth a little’ Facebook group.

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