Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wikipedia's 16th Biggest Blunder

Contrary to what the Brian O'Rourke wikipedia page may claim, I am not an Irish lord from the mid to late 16th century. I have never offended Queen Elizabeth (and it's a good thing too), and I have also never been extradited within Great Britain for treason "over the seas"...

Okay, obviously the wiki page is not about me but about someone much cooler, Lord Brian na Múrtha Ó Ruairc, an Irish dude who apparently did all these things. According to the article, he was a fairly learned Irish chieftain, though also addled by the sin of pride and brazen enough to assist the Spanish friggen Armada after one of its battles with the Royal Navy.

The O'Rourkes were the historic rulers of Breifne, and I've heard the old castle is still over there, somewhere in County Leitrim. On our sole trip to Ireland, the wife and I did not make it to Country Leitrim unfortunately. But, according to a very drunken Irish fella who once stood at the urinal next to the one I was using one night in Union Jack's Pub in Glenside, PA, "Leitrim? There's f----ng nothing up there." So apparently I wasn't missing much. The merry fella had a good laugh at his quip, and by the time I figured out exactly what he said (the accent coupled with the alcohol made his speech nearly incomprehensible to me), he had already exited the bog.

But now I'm rambling. Anyway, the title of this post refers to this article, which lists wikipedia's greatest blunders of all time. It's pretty funny. I especially enjoyed the eighth entry, which claimed that "The University of Cincinnati's former president is a whore." Wow.


seana said...

You know, you do have to wonder why Wikipedia has felt the need to dispense with any kind of fact checker or gate keeper until now. Don't they know that people are for the most part either prone to error or certified nutters.

I must correct you on one point, though. I'm pretty sure you are the coolest Brian O'Rourke I'm ever going to know.

Brian O'Rourke said...


Nice use of the word "nutter." That's one of those expressions I really like but never seem to use for whatever reason.

I was hesitant to use the word "bog" in the post also, for fear of coming off like a Plastic Paddy, i.e. an American trying so desperately to be cool by playing up his Irish-ness.

And thanks for the kind words. I can also safely say you are the coolest Seana Graham I'm ever going to meet.

Nathanael Green said...


Thanks for the article! I'm definitely going to keep this in my pocket to show students why Wikipedia is not a valid research source.

But, I have to admit, even if you can't use it to find reliable information on mitochondria, where else will you find this kind of valuable information?

Brian O'Rourke said...


Nice linkage. Did you ever see Ladyhawke? That's an awesome* flick.

* Dear random reader: Please note I have not seen Ladyhawke in approximately twenty years, so it might not be that awesome.

Nathanael Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nathanael Green said...

I'll say it without qualification: Ladyhawke is awesome.

Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Broderick, Alfred Molina? Fantastic cast.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Directed by Richard Donner of Superman/Lethal Weapon fame, too!

On my lunch break, I checked out the IMDb page for Sorceress. In describing it, someone left a comment entitled, "Swords, Boobs, Sorcery...and Stuff." Sounds promising.

Nathanael Green said...

The reviews of "Sorceress" are great. Including this line:

"Hopefully you will not be able to find a copy of this video on VHS."

Um, sir ... I take that as a challenge. Nate Green is now on a quest.

Jenna said...

Speaking of quests, I found that amazon sellers offer used (in "very good condition") copies of Beastmaster - the DVD release (yes, it happened) for as little as $18.75 plus shipping. Perhaps you and your partner in crime should split the cost and trade the dvd back and forth after the big viewing, in some sort of sick mock-visitation schedule.

On the topic of the actual blog post - The Urinal Man (as he is now known to me) was quite the character and kept the bar quite entertained for the night. Alas, we've never seen him again :)

Brian O'Rourke said...


How is the teaching going by the way?

Brian O'Rourke said...


"As little as $18.75"???

All kidding aside, I like your idea of a visitation schedule for Beastmaster. You are always thinking outside the box.

The Urinal Man, a.k.a. homo urea, was quite the character. I wish we had shared a few pints with him before he sailed off into the mystic.

seana said...

It doesn't sound like he needed any more pints, though.

marco said...

You can use Wikipedia to find reliable information on mitochondria. The kind of intentional falsities mentioned in the article only occur with real people and pop culture phenomena.
I doubt anyone would think to add juicy revelations about the sex life of amoebas, but someone could slip unnoticed a new, plausible 1980 fantasy film (like "return of the urinal man") to the list.

Nathanael Green said...


Teaching's going well so far. I'm really digging it.

Also, I have to admit a mortal sin: I saw Beastmaster on half.com for $7.50 last week. Then I went to buy it yesterday, and it'd been sold.

Still, $18.75 is a steal for this rare classic.

And back on-topic: I think Wikipedia is a fantastic resourse to start your research. I use it all the time. And for most people, it can give a little background on just about any topic in the world. But beyond that introductory hearsay, you really need something else.