I said, get Mitty
Though my blood pressure is well within the normal range, I should still know better than to look at Wikipedia.
The other day at work, I chanced upon the Wikipedia entry on James Thurber’s classic short story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” According to the entry, in the ending of the story, “Mitty imagines himself fearlessly escapes [sic] his captures [sic] in a large hot air balloon.” And also, “The closing scene comes with Mitty stood [sic] in the balloon, smoking.”
The subliterate grammar aside, the writer describes one of the most frequently anthologized American short stories of the 20th century and gets the ending wrong. Whether this is an inexplicable misreading of the plain text or some kind of prank is beyond my power to evaluate.
But a couple of days later, despite Wikipedia’s pride in its relentless self-editing, this piece of trash survives intact. And there lies my dislike of Wikipedia. The reader simply cannot tell when looking at an entry whether it is an accurate account, a blundering error, or a hoax. It might have been right a minute ago, and it might be right again in a minute, but you have no way of knowing whether it is right at the minute at which you come across it. A reference that is unreliable hardly qualifies as a reference.