Sunday, November 17, 2013


Being the kind of fangirl I am, when I entered Eddie Izzard fandom I read every current and past article I could get my hands on, and continue to read every article where he's mentioned. (I have a google alert set up and everything.)

And one thing I've noticed in reading all these articles on a very specific subject with a rather narrow scope is the frequency with which they reuse quotes or statements or information from old articles, without regard for whether that information is still current.

The example of this that I find most egregious is the oft-repeated statement, most recently seen in Post City, that Eddie raised over £200,000 for Sport Relief when he ran 43 marathons in 51 days in 2010.

This statement is completely true.  And it is completely misleading.  Because Eddie did in fact raise well over £1 million with his marathons.

I blogged about it when it happened.  The now-defunct video I'd linked to in my blog (which I so wish was still alive because it would completely prove my point) was from the Sport Relief 2010 broadcast.  Eddie himself also confirmed the 1.6 million number on Twitter. There's also a BBC article with the million pound number prominently featured, an article in the UK newspaper The Guardian citing 1.8 million, and an archived Sport Relief page from when the total was 1.1 million.

The fact that the number is over a million is important, because that's commensurate with the number of Twitter followers Eddie has.  In my blog post linked above, I mentioned that it was more than the number of followers he had at the time.  There's a huge difference between raising an amount of money commensurate with your number of Twitter followers and raising exponentially less money, especially with a feat so ridiculous as 43 marathons in 51 days.  (Analogy: I have 189 Twitter followers.  If I were to attempt to raise money, raising $189 is a reasonable expectation.  However, raising $40 would not be gloat-worthy at all.  And if I were doing multiple marathons, raising $40 would be pretty much a failure.)

Eddie deserves full credit for raising an amount of money commensurate with his feat and his audience reach, but because of citogenesis (although not necessarily through Wikipedia in this case) he isn't always getting it.

And this leads me to wonder: what other defunct or misleading statements are making it into media reports, perhaps on more important subjeccts?

1 comment:

laura k said...

This often happens to me when I research for posts. It's frustrating, and potentially dangerous, in the information sense.

Thank you for the xkcd link re citogenesis! It's exactly what I was trying to describe recently.