Post-facto Editing of Cecil's Columns

Every once in a while I read a column that has been changed from the first time I read it, like today’s. The changes are usually cosmetic - changing a joke, removing some more of the more hostile responses, etc - but the fact they are being touched at all has me wondering. Is this a standard practice? Do the facts ever get changed?

For example, when you read this thread 10 years from now, the title will read “Post-facto Editing of Cecil’s Columns”. Ugh.

What changes are you noticing? Personally, I was living in a Straight Dope vacuum in 1995, and I haven’t had my hands on a book since about 1992.

I do recall reading some columns in the first couple of books, in which Cecil admits to having made personal appearances on radio call-in shows. These days, when such an article is found in the archives, he will claim that Little Ed was there representing him.

I don’t have my books handy so I can’t show a specific example, maybe I will be able to tonight. Like I say, the changes are generally cosmetic, I was just curious why they would get changed at all.

I’ve noticed changes, like the last line in this column which used to read “I bet that babe was a riot on dates”, but I have to confess to not finding a change in the column you linked to.

I’m pretty sure the line “you’re expecting them to tell your folks to come take you home from summer camp” was not in the original

That line is in the original, at least it’s in the book Triumph of the Straight Dope which was publiished in 1999. So, yeah, I think it was there.

The 1948 column predicting Dewey’s victory has been, like, totally rewritten.

We’ve been through a lot of changes over these years, doncha know.

All the columns were/are originally published in the Chicago Reader in dead tree format.

Some of the columns were published in the five Straight Dope books and in so doing may have been edited or updated on publication in the books.

Starting in mid-1996 and ending in early 1999 most of the old columns (and all the new ones in that time) were published in the Reader and published on AOL. Some of the columns may have been edited to reflect AOL’s Terms of Service; some may have been updated.

Since 1999 most of the old columns (and all the new ones) have been published in the Reader and published on the Straight Dope website. The versions that made it to the website may reflect all the changes/edits/updates listed above.

No, we didn’t keep track. Sorry.

The column on ahem gerbil stuffing, as originally published in the Reader, concluded that This Really Happens. When published in one of the Straight Dope books, the conclusion was changed to Sorry, We Were Wrong, It’s A Hoax. This was clearly stated in the book, so it’s not like anyone was trying to get away with re-writing history, but it’s as close to an edited Straight Dope column “changing the facts” that I’m aware of.

Got it. Thanks Tuba et al.