I’m sure this has happened to you. You’re reading a book and the author includes some detail that you KNOW is wrong. Maybe you even Google it to be sure, and you wonder how such misinformation slipped passed the watchful eye of the editors. (I’m more finely attuned to typos and grammar errors, but I occasionally notice other mistakes and anachronisms.)
Here’s a very interesting essay from Places @ The Design Observer Group on this topic: A Home Before the End of the World. The author, Adelheid Fischer, noticed some interesting errors (“eco-confabulations”) in the description of the natural world in Michael Cunningham’s A Home at the End of the World. (Armadillos and Joshua trees in Phoenix? Apparently not.) The essay asks the question: Do these mistakes matter? The author isn’t concerned about these mistakes as a literary matter (that would have been my first thought). Rather, the concern is for the environment:
The least we can do — for the survival of the world and for the thriving of our own species — is to learn the real identities of the organisms that surround us.
An interesting thought. Reactions?