The h2g2 Post 07.06.21

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Posted: 7th June 2021

Going to the Source

Mrs Hoggett's first irises.

We've got lots of great Stuff to show you this week. But before I get into it, let me drone for a bit about a subject dear to the hearts of all of us who do Field Research for the Earth Edition of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: checking your sources.

Far from being a tedious exercise insisted upon by Miss Zlotnik, your party-pooper of a sixth-grade teacher1, fact-checking is a form of self-defence that keeps your and your friends from becoming victims of the kind of people who should – and we say this in the kindest possible way – go and stick their heads in a pig.

What brings this on? Well, for one thing, the obituaries dedicated to Eric Carle, author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. That book is remembered fondly by many people who used to be children, and its author's passing was noted with respect. Alas: it was also noted with inaccuracy. Far too many of these copy+paste 'journalists' copied+pasted an egregious error that arose from somebody's failure to note that an article 'deconstructing' the children's book was published on 1 April.

Now, nobody's blaming these people for having no sense of humour. We do not mock them for that. Oh, no. We mock them for being too lazy to look it up. We bet you copied Jimmy's homework in school, too.

There are some people I know – very dear, sweet people they are, too, retired folk on Twitter – who love to style themselves 'amateur historians'. They post old pictures. When I eagerly inquire, they reply, 'Oh that? I don't know where it came from, or who took it. I just liked it.' So there I am, with no provenance or way to verify.

These same people pass along urban legends as fact. When I send them source material and beg for a public retraction, they usually reply, 'Oh, but I like that story! I think I'll keep it!'

People. We do not do this. The Guide does not do this. And the h2g2 Post – while containing much that is fanciful and, in fact, completely made up – always clearly delineates its areas of doubt and uncertainty. In this way, we all do our bit to hold the line on what is becoming an increasingly foggy frontier of reality.

Here Endeth the Sermon.

Now for the Good Stuff:
  • You will not find nature any more varied on any website in the galaxy than here, in this issue. From fuzzy goslings (aw!) to a blood-curling scorpion (that probably makes Willem go aww! because he's weird like that), it's a wild ride. Our photographers demonstrate their ability to go to the source for this information. Even Paigetheoracle, who has been staring at that dandelion for far too long. (It doesn't like the way he's looking at it, either.)
  • Rare sidereal events, such as solar halos, do not go unnoticed. You may be sure this really happened. On the other hand, FWR is trying to palm off an ordinary (but beautiful!) sunrise as something otherworldly. Do not be fooled. UFOs like that don't even worry the US Air Force.
  • There is poetry. There is discussion of poetry. This is less dull than you think.
  • Some temporarily absent friends drop in with surprises. You'll enjoy.
  • Awix has a fascinating story about a very unusual bus station.
  • There's the usual snark, and comics, and cartoons, and things to guess at and caption. Willem's 'Desideria' is taking a break after this week: a good time to catch up on the story so far.

We'll be back next week with more Stuff. (Send more Stuff!) Remember to ask that goose for permission before you take its picture. They have privacy rights and tend to defend them.

Dmitri Gheorgheni

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1Actually, my sixth-grade teacher's name was Serbian and rhymed with 'Dracula'. She didn't teach me anything, either. She just wanted stuff copied from the encyclopedia.

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