The Colbert Report

Season 3 Episode 109

Michael Shermer

Aired Weekdays 11:30 PM Aug 21, 2007 on Comedy Central
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Episode Summary

Michael Shermer
Tonight Stephen welcomes the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and Executive Director of the Skeptics Society, Michael Shermer.

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    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


    • TRIVIA (1)

    • QUOTES (2)

      • Stephen: …and it brings us to tonight's Word: Self Determination. Ladies and gentlemen, what I love about Wikipedia is that it lets democracy determine reality. If we all decide that there are five pints in a quart, that's objectively true. (And a bargain!) But now wikiscanner threatens a concept that's even more American than democracy, (Obesity?) self invention. The idea that you can be whoever you want to be, whoever you say you are. (It's pronounced "coal-bare") Now you may come from generations of Connecticut blue-bloods and have gone to the finest prep schools out east, but if you clear brush and talk with a Texas twang, you are a cowboy. ("Hi-ho, Silver Spoon!") And this is especially true in the virtual world where user names and avatars let anyone construct a brand new identity and leave reality behind. (Are you listening, Michael Vick?) In real life, you see I'm Stephen Colbert beloved pundit, but in the World of Warcraft I'm Urkon Orc warrior, and on craigslist I'm: Fit, Healthy, Clean and Athletic. None of these online personas ever trace back to your real world identity. (Except on Dateline) That folks is the social compact that protects people on the internet, and we have to remember that corporations are people too. (Only with better tax rates) Folks, they have the same rights to be whoever they want to be in the virtual universe. Think of Wikipedia as Second Life for corporations. If virtual Wal-Mart wants to pretend they're Norma Rae, fighting for workers rights, that's their business. (Though no their business model) And if ExxonMobil wants to present itself as a friend of the environment, well they have the right to that online fantasy. (Enjoys long spills on the beach) That's why we must get rid of wikiscanner and restore anonymity to Wikipedia, because to truly use democracy to create reality on the internet, we need a secret ballot so everyone can vote. (But corporations get the final say.

        And that's the Word.

      • Stephen: Tonight, corporations caught changing their own entries on Wikipedia. I knew Walt Disney didn't free the slaves!

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