The quickest way to find out you’re wrong is to post your imaginary fact on the Internet. Being wrong in public is no fun, especially when you’re a) stubborn b) always convinced you’re right c) impervious to change.
For example, there was the time that Gary C. advised me that in general the pluralization of acronyms didn’t require an apostrophe, e.g. “KOMs” not “KOM’s.” I battled this losing fight pretty hard, up to and including a forced reading of one of Gary’s academic treatises. Nonetheless, faced with facts, convention, rules, and examples, I proceeded to apostrophize my acronyms out of sheer spite.
Then one day, when I hoped no one was noticing, I gently took the sweet little apostrophe out behind the apartment building, the little apostrophe who had stayed with me through thick and then, ever ready to lead the charge (or rather, trail it) in the cause of plural acronyms, and shot it. After that, they became proper KOMs.
The act of writing something every day, or almost every day, is nothing more than the practice of error, a practice refined until eventually my two regular readers either stop looking for mistakes or they throw up their hands, hopelessly, and accept that granite will never absorb water.
One reader, however, has refused to give up the fight. He’s not one of those people who happily subscribes and then gets angry when I make fun of his cat or misspell “mispell” and sends me a nasty cancellation notice. He’s not one of those people who gloats in the detection of error. Instead, he carefully reads each post and when the inevitable errors occur, he gently emails me with the correction.
Here is a sampling of his messages:
Last Line: dead elephants, >>T<<here will be a next
Or this one:
In Volt Dolt: She loves anything made by Toyota or Sony. But me, I’m a red-blooded American and I’m ready for a Chevy even though all I’ve ever>>y<< owned are Toyotas.
And even a bit of analysis:
Salmon or slalom? “In the past, riders have been clocked head-on by oncoming cars as they salmon…”
I am pretty sure you meant salmon as in swimming upstream against the current of traffic, but I wasn’t entirely sure they weren’t slaloming through traffic, which seems also probable as seen in this Alley Cat illegal race in NYC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRTLnt8Kx20
Although I try hard to minimize typos and mistakes, even to the extent that I occasionally read what I write before hitting the “Publish” button, a writer who proofs his own work has a fool for an author and a fool for an editor. Can’t beat having your own correction elf, and since I don’t know Eric, my only question is where to PayPal my subscription for his awesome editing services?