I accidentally started a Wikipedia hoax

Hoaxes roam the Information Superhighway, camouflaged as factoids. Consider this one: “Amelia Bedelia was a maid in Cameroon.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 4.08.23 PMThe “Amelia Bedelia was a maid in Cameroon” factoid had been cited in a lesson plan by a Taiwanese English professor. It was cited in a book about Jews and Jesus. It was cited in innumerable blog posts and book reports, as well as a piece by blogger Hanny Hernandez, who speculated that Amelia Bedelia’s tendency toward malapropisms was inspired by Parish’s experiences in Cameroon, as “several messages can be misinterpreted between a Cameroonian maid who is serving an American family.” One blogger even speculated that Amelia Bedelia wasn’t a maid, but a slave.

It was cited in the Amelia Bedelia entry on the website TV Tropes and Idioms, and Peggy Parish’s Find-A-Grave page. It was even cited by Mr. Amelia Bedelia himself: Herman Parish, Peggy’s nephew and author of the books after his aunt passed away in 1988, who apparently told a reporter from theWaterloo-Cedar Falls Courier that his aunt based “the lead character on a French colonial maid in Cameroon.”

I was stunned. How did a joke we made up about Amelia Bedelia while we were stoned get repeated all over the Internet for more than five years, by blogs and reporters and elementary school students and even the author of Amelia Bedelia himself? —Daily Dot

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