In February of last year, I wrote a rather alarming post about one of my offspring. Regular readers may recall his weight was increasing by 24% each month. At this rate, I predicted, he would be heavier than me by the time he was 19 months old, and would consume the entire planet by his mid-30s.
At the time, I was surprised the story didn’t get wider coverage, in spite of my bulletproof analysis. Still, Fox News will be underwater before they stop treating climate change as an unproven theory, so I guess they were just waiting for the giant toddler to eat somebody.
My blog has a small but loyal following, and I know some of you will be preparing for the inevitable showdown. Why do you think Elon Musk is building a spaceship? He knows good analysis when he sees it. This makes what I’m about to say a little awkward.
Initially, it really did seem like he was going to destroy us all, but as the days went by, his growth became less and less alarming, possibly thanks to all the blueberries he eats. 19 months has now passed, and he’s a perfectly normal size*. I’m a bit conflicted about this. On the one hand, I’m relieved that I haven’t spawned the force that will destroy us all**. On the other hand, it does mean that I need to issue a correction, and probably an apology. That shelter you built in the garden? You might not need it now. My bad.
I worry about the best way to get the word out.
Typically, newspapers hide their corrections away like dirty laundry, which doesn’t seem like a proportionate good-faith effort to fix all the damage you did. Somewhere at the bottom of page 22 there’s a little box that says “CLARIFICATION: Last Thursday’s front page headline strongly implied doom for all mankind. It now turns out the risk is mainly to blueberries and anything resembling lemon curd yoghurt”.
This isn’t the way to behave if you want to be a trusted source of accurate information. A publication that routinely refuses to clearly acknowledge its errors is a publication that knowingly leaves its readers misinformed.
The convention for corrections on blogs seems to be to update the article and note the changes at the bottom. This is fine for anybody who reads a story twice, but what about all those people who only saw the wrong version and went on to make terrible decisions about blueberry futures?
We rarely put the same effort and ingenuity into propagating a correction as we did into spreading the falsehood in the first place. Since many readers are subscribers who may never visit the website, I thought the news that you are not*** doomed was at least worth a post of its own.
Also, while I have your attention, I made a mistake about Spotify royalty rates in a post earlier this week. If you’re using what I write about this to inform your opinions, please go back and check the revised version.
* for a toddler, not for a 30-something strategy consultant