This is awesome, and interesting: The other night on "The Colbert Report" (which is quickly becoming unmissable), Stephen Colbert raised the truthiness meme a notch with "wikiality," Wikipedia's all-editors-welcome method of establishing encyclopedia entries, and the truth therein. Then he proceeded to hilariously prove his point, onscreen -- and beyond:
Colbert goes on to declare that he doesn't believe George Washington had slaves.
"If I want to say he didn't that's my right, and now, thanks to Wikipedia *taps keyboard* it's also a fact."
Here's the fun part -- Colbert actually did this. The Wikipedia articles on his show and George Washington were both edited by the user Stephencolbert to reflect the changes he declared on air as he tapped at his computer around 23:35 UTC -- which is 6:35pm on the East Coast, during the taping of his show, hours before it aired. ... Colbert then urged his audience to find the Wikipedia entry on elephants and create an entry that stated their population had tripled in the last six months, a fact he freely stated to not know if it was "actually true," with his sidebar stating "it isn't."
Viewers subsequently went on Wikipedia and edited "approximately 20 articles on elephants" accordingly. Colbert is now blocked from the website, but not before slamming another blow into Wikipedia's credibility — not to mention providing a kind-of-disturbing-when-you-really-think-about-it example of how playing fast and loose with facts onscreen can quickly harden into accepted conventional wisdom.
Update: From the Wikipedia entry on Stephen Colbert:
"Because of recent vandalism or other disruption, editing of this article by anonymous or newly registered users is disabled (see semi-protection policy)."
And note how Colbert is described on the entry: "Stephen Colbert is a fictional character portrayed on The Colbert Report and The Daily Show by real-life comedian Stephen Colbert." How meta.