Someone forwarded an email to me from some listserv by a librarian who had entered the WikiAnswers Answerthon and gotten soundly thrashed. (I think it was that Slam the Boards guy I've written about before.) I was going to poke fun at the librarian getting beaten out by people named Yarnlady, just to keep up my reputation for meanness, but then I checked out Wikianswers and got distracted by some of the most idiotic questions and answers I have ever seen.
I was unfamiliar with WikiAnswers, but apparently it's the place where really stupid people go to ask questions that other people answer off the top of their heads. For example: "Can you have sex with your cousin?" What a stupid question. And here's answer one:
"If you aren't in love with your cousin then don't do it. The jury is in from genetic scientists that say cousins can be married and have healthy children. I still feel this is a risk. I do know people that have married a cousin and it can happen if you haven't seen that person for a very long time and then when you get older it and see them you can fall in love. It's not unheard of. If you are out for adventure and experimenting I would say it's best not to have a sexual experience with your cousin."
As the kids say these days, WTF? What kind of an answer is this supposed to be? The answer of the babbling moron in the supermarket line? I was sipping coffee as I read the line about falling in love with the cousin you haven't seen for years and laughed so hard I almost splattered my monitor. Ah yes, there's the well known experience of meeting a cousin you haven't seen since childhood and falling in love with him. It helps, of course, if that cousin is really hot. And it would seem to me that if you were out for adventure and experimentation, having sex with your cousin would be something you might well want to do.
But then there's answer two, because no question has just one answer:
"Are you talking about your 14 year old cousin when the adults are upstairs or are you talking about your adult cousin? If we're talking about the former, your cousin is still a person. Would you have sex with your brother or sister? Having sex with him or her in that kind of situation may scar him or her for life. If we're talking about the latter, only you know what's best.
A lot of people do it so if you really want to then by all means do it. "
This answerer felt the need for a reference interview. Which cousin are we talking about? Yes, let's clarify this. It's a pity librarians can't answer questions with the last line. Can I use use large portions of this article as my own work and not cite any of it? A lot of people do it so if you really want to then by all means do it.
Changing this answer slightly is the sort of thing that counted toward the so-called answers of the Answerthon. At a later date, the Answerthon winner (552 "answers" in 48 hours) merged the question "Is it eleagal to have sex with your cosiun?" with "Can you have sex with your cousin?," which to me are separate questions, even if we assume the first moron meant "illegal" and "cousin." Neither question is answered as far as I'm concerned. If I'm reading the wiki right, the answerer then eliminated the phrase "go for it dude" at the end of the answer. Nice.
This question leads to the next obvious question, "Can you get pregnant by your cousin?" This person is crying out for some hard knocks, if you ask me. How could one answer this? Well, maybe, but only if you have sex, and you're a woman, and you're both fertile, and you're not using any sort of birth control. Otherwise, probably not, and definitely not if you don't have sex. Something tells me that the person asking this question might be unfamiliar with the concepts of fertility and birth control. What are the schools teaching these days?
Fortunately for this moron, the question has not one, not two, but three different answers.
First, we are told: "Yes you can get pregnant by your cousin, just like anyone else, but despite what others think and believe there is NO scientific evidence supporting the idea that the child will have birth defects." But then we are told: "Yes you can. But there is a great chance of a birth defect." Hmmm, something seems wrong here. What do we do with this contradictory information? How is this person to know whether she should shag her cousin?
Fortunately, a third answerer comes to the rescue: "There is a greater chance of having a healthy baby than an unhealthy one especially if your other parents come from a long way away. But if you live in a small community and there is a possibility that your other parents are related in any way then the chances of a sick baby are raised as it is more likely that any dangerous recessive genes will be present in both of you and they may come together in your baby." I think that's a tedious way of agreeing with the second answerer that if you and your cousin make babies those babies might have birth defects. Since truth is established by democracy, and the scholarly consensus on WikiAnswers is 2:1 in favor of the birth defect theory, then we'll have to go with that answer. It still doesn't address the original question, though.
As I understand it from rereading my own post about Slam the Boards, the Boardslammer wants librarians to go out and answer questions on services like this and let those folks know that real honest-to-goodness librarians are taking time away from the work they are paid with tax dollars to do to answer random questions on question websites for free. I'm paraphrasing a bit. Not my kind of thing, but if you're feeling generous with your time, as the Boardslammer obviously is from time to time, you can answer some of these unanswered questions (at the time of writing) posted by morons at WikiAnswers.
"Why aids can not be remove?"
"Bobert94 is the best?"
"Is travel a requirement for being a chef?"
It is if you're a chef on a cruise ship.
"Does US Airlines limit the size of the suitcase carried onto the plane?"
Absolutely not. Bring on that steamer trunk and just keep shoving. It'll fit into the overhead compartment.
"Places with the word green in it?"
You know how they say there are no stupid questions. Well, they're wrong.
"What did the ipod replace?"
Conversation and interest in the world outside our own minds.
"Has there been a blck prezident?"
Yes. Harry Truman was blck.
"A reason for being late thats starts with the letter E?"
"Is sean waltman dead you heard he comitted suicide?"
I heard no such thing.
"Why is tunis important and why?"
Obviously the second "why" is just misplaced, and the question is really, "Why, oh why is Tunis important?" It's not.
The Boardslammer thinks librarians should go out on sites like this to attract more people to libraries. I'm not so sure that's a good idea. I don't do public reference anymore, but if I did I think I would be grateful to WikiAnswers for giving these morons a place to ask their questions other than my reference desk.