Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Long story short, I made a stupid careless error on a quick post on the identification of Hatshepsut today. I had an interest in Egyptology about 22 years ago, and was working on memory without fact checking (and it showed). My mistake was dumb and careless, but it wasn't the end of the world. Ten seconds of googling would have made me not make that mistake. I failed to do so.

A comment corrected my error in a harsh, nasty tone and accused me of an error, I didn't make. In a fit of self righteous anger I deleted the post in the process of editing in a correction, before realizing how dumb I was acting. I goofed up and got called on it. After doing that, I reposted the error I made, but my tone was harsh on the commenter.

This led me to think about the public's relationship with the media. Putting myself in their shoes for a second, it was easy to see how many deflect any attempts to be held accountable for their errors. The critics are obnoxious. Not all of their criticisms are accurate. Let me get self-righteously angry about where I have been aggrieved.

The fact is though, that we screw up, especially when you are sloppy like I was today. I made a mistake about a 3,000 year old mummy. Some writers write about absolute proof of WMDs in Iraq. They are all mistakes. Even if one was writing copy for a box of cereal, you still need to own up to your errors even if Murray from Oklahoma City writes in to call you a retarded albino monkey and then says that you misspelled Corn Syrup and he was wrong, you should address his point that you forgot three items on the list of ingredients if you did.

This is the first time I got seriously hounded for writing something without fact checking my memory, and I did deserve it. The critic was less than constructive about pointing it out. But, let that never be an excuse against owning up to your screw ups.

I also will give a person in the media the benefit of the doubt when finding an error they made, and gently point it out, until I know that this isn't an effective strategy with them. Then I will be as snarky as all get out.

(end of topic for me)