Screengrab via SmarterEveryDay/YouTube (Fair Use)
With seemingly the entire sports-loving world tweeting about the Cubs’ 8-7 World Series victory against the Indians on Wednesday night, astrophysicist and Pluto-denier Neil deGrasse Tyson wanted in on the fun. But instead of breaking down the cultural ramifications of the dick bump or describing where the Cubs fans’ long-lost relatives were watching the game, Tyson tweeted some fun facts about what was happening the last time the Cubs took home the title.
As the Daily Dot’s Jay Hathaway once wrote, Tyson is known “for issuing pedantic, scientifically accurate corrections on Twitter,” and that continued to be true Wednesday night. But if you wonder where Tyson gets those facts, one Twitter user seemingly made the ultimate discovery. And it’s a place where information, true or not, is readily available.Funny stuff, but is that actually true?
Yeah, that Butch-Cassidy-and-Sundance-Kid-killed-in-Bolivia fact seems kind of suspect—especially since Wikipedia admits it’s not sure if it’s actually true—but like any good aggregator, Tyson put his own spin on most of his tweets. So, even if some of those facts came from Wikipedia, Tyson managed to add a little something more. Some examples:According to Wikipedia: “August 8—Wilbur Wright flies in France for the first time demonstrating true controlled powered flight in Europe.”
Good tweet or not?: Tyson made this fact more local for people in the U.S. This is OK. No bad-tweet violation.Good tweet or not?: Though that Mark Twain fact does not appear on Wikipedia as of this writing, this is still not a good tweet. In fact, if Twain did buy a house in June, that would be much more interesting than the fact he was still alive. Good tweet or not?: Not a good tweet. Particularly because this is really the only tweet in Tyson’s run that almost definitively seems like it was pulled from Wiki. Especially the part about Bolivia.
But there were other tweets that probably didn’t come from Wikipedia that were still solid Tyson-on-Twitter-is-smarter-than-you tweets.And my personal favorite: Very science-based. Very on brand.
So, did Tyson simply steal those facts from Wikipedia? I’m inclined to say probably not. There’s enough uniqueness there to pass any kind of copy-and-paste test. But as a reminder, not everything on Wikipedia is completely factual. As 39-year-old Cubs catcher David Ross could attest.