Posted Mar 14, 2011 02:31 pm CDT
A social psychologist-turned-lawyer learned of his death through an entry at the Wikia.com site on psychology.
Rubin tried to correct the entry—twice—and both times the entry reverted to its original form. “Apparently the site had its doubts about some lawyer in Boston tinkering with the facts about American psychologists,” he says.
Rubin then spoke to the site’s co-founder—twice—before the site was corrected. Wikia.com had based its information on an incorrect listing in a dictionary of psychology.
Rubin sees parallels to fiction: “The situation reminded me of my favorite children’s book—The Bear That Wasn’t, by Frank Tashlin—in which a factory is built around a bear while he is hibernating. When the bear wakes up, no one believes that he is a bear; everyone is certain that he is a malingering factory worker ‘who needs a shave and wears a fur coat.’ The bear keeps protesting, ‘But I am a bear.’ Ultimately, his confidence in his own identity as a bear is shattered.”