Vox: Oops, no, this Winter Solstice was not the longest night ever

posted at 9:45 pm on December 23, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham

For Christmas, schadenfreude:

This lie was all over my Facebook and Twitter for days. Vox is, ahem, “trusted,” the fact was weird enough to be interesting, add some seasonal flavor, and boom. Viral. Too bad it wasn’t true. The longest day on record was in 1912, not 2014. Oops:

On Sunday, I published a story claiming that the 2014 winter solstice would feature the longest night in earth’s history. That claim was absolutely incorrect.

How did I get this wrong? My reasoning was that the days on earth are gradually lengthening over time due to a phenomenon known as tidal friction, which slows down the planet’s rotation. That would mean that every new winter solstice — the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere — would also be the longest night of all time.

But as readers pointed out, this was far too simplistic — and I’d missed some important factors. Yes, tidal friction does slow down the earth’s rotation over extremely long periods of time. But other factors — including geological activity and shifting ice caps — can also slow it down or speed it up by a few milliseconds over the course of many years. If you take all of these factors into account, the 2014 winter solstice was not actually the longest night in history.

I apologize for this. My primary job as a reporter — and my biggest responsibility to readers — is to get the facts right. In this case, I failed spectacularly.

Sonny Bunch notes Vox has been wrong about pretty much everything it published that was interesting this year, including the intriguing notion that Israel was blocking construction of a literal bridge connecting the West Bank and Gaza. Seriously, they really published that.

It really is remarkable. Literally every time someone has tweeted something interesting from Vox into my timeline, it has almost immediately fallen apart under even the most modest amount of scrutiny.

Who among us hasn’t been duped by a VOX DOT COM hit? I remember being intrigued by the fact that Vox—by no means a primary source for pop culture news—was able to solve a mystery haunting premium cable fans for the last several years. One of their writers boldly claimed that David Chase had, finally, confirmed that, yes, Tony died at the end of The Sopranos.

Except, oops, Vox’s writer had more or less totally made it up.

Then there is their expert explaining of the Middle East, where it was voxplained to us that the dastardly Israelis were considering shutting down an actual bridge connecting the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in order to mess with the Palestinians.

Except, oops, no such bridge exists, as anyone who knows anything about the geography of that area could have told you.

Read Sonny’s whole run-down of Vox’s triumphs in explaining life to the rest of us. Look, people get stuff wrong. It’s going to happen and it’s honorable to correct oneself. But there’s something galling about the site positioned as the one that will explain the world to all the rest of us, the site so high on its own intellectualism, getting so very much obvious stuff completely, totally wrong. Good luck in the new year. I hear 2015 is going to be the longest year on record. Ever. On Earth.

Thanks for the explanation, guys.

Update: Speaking of corrections, I changed day to night in my headline.

Breaking on Hot Air

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Comments

As a Night Owl, er, NightHawk……..S.O.B!!!
(sarc)

canopfor on December 23, 2014 at 9:48 PM

But there’s something galling about the site positioned as the one that will explain the world to all the rest of us, the site so high on its own intellectualism
===========================

IntellectualismChooming!!!

canopfor on December 23, 2014 at 9:50 PM

MKH: I think you left out the link to Sonny’s article.

LibertarianRepublican on December 23, 2014 at 9:51 PM

Too bad it wasn’t true. The longest day on record was in 1912, not 2014. Oops:
============

VOX The Titanic!!!

canopfor on December 23, 2014 at 9:52 PM

They say that you can’t fix stupid. It appears that Vox is doing yeoman’s work to prove that assertion factually correct.

oscarwilde on December 23, 2014 at 9:52 PM

Vox has a clever way of getting double the traffic if you think about it. Once for the article; a second for the corrections to that article.

It’s brilliant.

lorien1973 on December 23, 2014 at 9:53 PM

Biggest factor of all:

The location of the world’s largest known mass, the current First Lady. She has personally drawn the moon 8 feet closer to the earth due to the gravitational attraction. Authorities try to keep her within 1000 miles of the equator to reduce the wobble, like an out of balance tire, she can cause as she approaches the higher latitudes.

BobMbx on December 23, 2014 at 9:54 PM

It’s all just Voxic waste.

Flange on December 23, 2014 at 9:55 PM

MKH: I think you left out the link to Sonny’s article.

LibertarianRepublican on December 23, 2014 at 9:51 PM

I think she’s busy wrestling Jazz for the Eggnog right now…

oscarwilde on December 23, 2014 at 9:55 PM

I failed spectacularly.

A fitting epitaph.

myiq2xu on December 23, 2014 at 10:01 PM

MKH: I think you left out the link to Sonny’s article.

LibertarianRepublican on December 23, 2014 at 9:51 PM

Here it is:

The Year In #VoxFails

Vox Conversations: The Smartest Thinkers, The Toughest Questions

Snort.

Resist We Much on December 23, 2014 at 10:01 PM

It’s all just Voxic waste.

Flange on December 23, 2014 at 9:55 PM

Flange: Lol,….VoxTastic!:)

canopfor on December 23, 2014 at 10:01 PM

I think she’s busy wrestling Jazz for the Eggnog right now…

oscarwilde on December 23, 2014 at 9:55 PM

I’d put up a big fight. I like wrestling.

arnold ziffel on December 23, 2014 at 10:02 PM

The Year In #VoxFails

Vox Conversations: The Smartest Thinkers, The Toughest Questions

Snort.

Resist We Much on December 23, 2014 at 10:01 PM

Resist We Much: Excellent:0

canopfor on December 23, 2014 at 10:03 PM

oscarwilde on December 23, 2014 at 9:55 PM

I’d put up a big fight. I like wrestling.

arnold ziffel on December 23, 2014 at 10:02 PM

Yea, I’m sure you do, but MKH really like her Eggnog… She prolly has poor Jazz in a double cow catcher with reverse elbow lock right about now…

oscarwilde on December 23, 2014 at 10:05 PM

Yea, I’m sure you do, but MKH really like her Eggnog… She prolly has poor Jazz in a double cow catcher with reverse elbow lock right about now…

oscarwilde on December 23, 2014 at 10:05 PM

lol, she can have all she wants, I’d just make her work for it. Win or lose, I still win.

arnold ziffel on December 23, 2014 at 10:09 PM

Can I get a lawyer to sue for those milliseconds that I lost? Or was it that I was burdened with? In any case, it has got me very upset. Where did those milliseconds go? Or was it where did they come from? Was it a Black Hole? The Sharpton Effect?

VorDaj on December 23, 2014 at 10:10 PM

For sure on the other hand the next two years will be the longest ever.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on December 23, 2014 at 10:11 PM

Update: Speaking of corrections, I changed day to night in my headline.

But wouldn’t it be that if the Night was the longest ever the day would be too? Day has in 1 rotation not has in daylight.

Gwillie on December 23, 2014 at 10:11 PM

George H. W. Bush
6m
Former President George H.W. Bush taken by ambulance to Houston hospital after experiencing shortness of breath, officials say – @HoustonChron
Read more on chron.com

https://twitter.com/HoustonChron

canopfor on December 23, 2014 at 10:13 PM

Rich white boy elitists Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias don’t need your puny facts. They serve The Narrative.

If a few hundred million people have to die to form a New Socialist Utopia, it’s also a price they are willing to have someone else pay.

Adjoran on December 23, 2014 at 10:14 PM

Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, US
1m
More: Former President George H.W. Bush taken to hospital ‘as a precaution;’ to be held for observation – statement
End of alert
=============

https://twitter.com/WMCActionNews5

WMC Action News 5 @WMCActionNews5 · 4m 4 minutes ago

JUST IN: President George H.W. Bush hospitalized http://www.wmcactionnews5.com/story/27699504/president-george-hw-bush-hospitalized

canopfor on December 23, 2014 at 10:15 PM

Biggest factor of all:

The location of the world’s largest known mass, the current First Lady. She has personally drawn the moon 8 feet closer to the earth due to the gravitational attraction. Authorities try to keep her within 1000 miles of the equator to reduce the wobble, like an out of balance tire, she can cause as she approaches the higher latitudes.

BobMbx on December 23, 2014 at 9:54 PM

I think she must be an astronomical micro Black Hole, so dense that no intelligence, nor class, can exist withing the range of her voice. Kind of like no liberty can exist withing the range of her husband’s pen or phone.

VorDaj on December 23, 2014 at 10:16 PM

I think if both Barack and Michelle and Al were sent into orbit around Uranus, the earth would go around a whole lot faster than it does.

VorDaj on December 23, 2014 at 10:17 PM

News Flash:::
AP

Reports that U S Marines on Christmas leave have gone to one side of several islands to drink and party tipping said islands over to reveal many of Harry Reid’s land investment frauds!

APACHEWHOKNOWS on December 23, 2014 at 10:18 PM

You have to hand it to vox. Getting things wrong on such a consistent basis does not rest solely on a lack of talent, you also have to work at being to lazy to check facts or to pick up a phone and call an expert, or even to avoid looking at a map.

The 1899 Cleveland Spiders would be impressed by vox’ futility.

rbj on December 23, 2014 at 10:19 PM

Obama Approval on the Rise Unlike Dubya Bush who loitered in low 30s.

Jeb Bush 2016

A new CNN/ORC poll finds President Obama’s approval rating has jumped to a 20-month high at 48%.

“The approval jump follows a late-quarter jolt in Obama’s governing agenda, which gained momentum after unilateral actions on immigration and relations with Cuba. Separate surveys have showed those moves popular among the American people. It all amounts to some welcome good news for Obama, whose unpopularity — despite consistently improving economic conditions — led to widespread losses for his party in November’s midterm elections.”

Poll Date Sample Approve Disapprove Spread

CNN/Opinion Research 12/18 – 12/21 1011 A 48 50 -2
Gallup 12/20 – 12/22 1500 A 44 51 -7
Rasmussen Reports 12/20 – 12/22 1500 LV 48 51 -3

Ned Pepper on December 23, 2014 at 10:19 PM

More: Former President George H.W. Bush taken to hospital ‘as a precaution;’ to be held for observation – statement
End of alert
=============

canopfor on December 23, 2014 at 10:15 PM

Why can’t B.O. Obama be taken to a hospital and held for observation? Not for his good, but for ours.

VorDaj on December 23, 2014 at 10:20 PM

Faceplam. Magic 8 ball says Vox is a piker. M8B knows that all some days are shorter because of the clouds.

SpongePuppy on December 23, 2014 at 10:21 PM

Ned Pepper on December 23, 2014 at 10:19 PM

Snicker.

Resist We Much on December 23, 2014 at 10:21 PM

Former President George H.W. Bush taken by ambulance to Houston hospital after experiencing shortness of breath, officials say – @HoustonChron

canopfor on December 23, 2014 at 10:13 PM

Was he resisting arrest? Better call Al.

VorDaj on December 23, 2014 at 10:22 PM

The possibility that those at Vox are the left’s best and brightest explains a lot about the epic failures of government under Democrat rule.

talkingpoints on December 23, 2014 at 10:22 PM

Let’s see…

Obama departs the news cycle, abandons his demand for constant space in our lives, and goes on vacation…

…And, his numbers go up.

Out of sight; out of mind.

Resist We Much on December 23, 2014 at 10:24 PM

Out of sight; out of mind.

Resist We Much on December 23, 2014 at 10:24 PM

He’s out of our sight and out of his mind.

VorDaj on December 23, 2014 at 10:25 PM

Ned’s Woodpecker eats tree ring worms.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on December 23, 2014 at 10:27 PM

Typical low IQ delusional liberals who believe that they are the smartest people on the planet…

mnjg on December 23, 2014 at 10:27 PM

Well, for Vox, 2015 might become the longest year ever… on earth… at least in their perceptions.

Physics, however, says that our years will get shorter and shorter as the Earth slows in it’s orbit (due to a tiny bit of interaction with the tiny bit of stuff in space) and falls closer to the sun. Yes, it seems counterintuitive, but moving slower means a smaller orbit and a shorter orbital period.

Of course there are a few other interactions that will affect the orbital period, but the long-term trend is definitely towards shorter years.

DaveK on December 23, 2014 at 10:28 PM

Poll Date Sample Approve Disapprove Spread

CNN/Opinion Research 12/18 – 12/21 1011 A 48 50 -2
Gallup 12/20 – 12/22 1500 A 44 51 -7
Rasmussen Reports 12/20 – 12/22 1500 LV 48 51 -3

Ned Pepper spreads for obozo. IYKWIMAITYD.

Flange on December 23, 2014 at 10:28 PM

canopfor on December 23, 2014 at 10:13 PM

Was he resisting arrest? Better call Al.

VorDaj on December 23, 2014 at 10:22 PM

VorDaj: You bad,..(sarc):0

Eric Garner dies in NYC police custody
27m
Photo: Crowds march against police violence in Harlem, New York – @miguelmarquez

https://twitter.com/miguelmarquez

canopfor on December 23, 2014 at 10:30 PM

Reports that U S Marines on Christmas leave have gone to one side of several islands to drink and party tipping said islands over to reveal many of Harry Reid’s land investment frauds!

APACHEWHOKNOWS on December 23, 2014 at 10:18 PM

APACHEWHOKNOWS: Speaking of War at Christmas—-:0

Do not mistake a pre-Christmas lull in combat for lasting peace http://econ.st/1GOOEDi

https://twitter.com/TheEconomist/status/547190065399865344/photo/1

canopfor on December 23, 2014 at 10:33 PM

Poll Date Sample Approve Disapprove Spread

CNN/Opinion Research 12/18 – 12/21 1011 A 48 50 -2
Gallup 12/20 – 12/22 1500 A 44 51 -7
Rasmussen Reports 12/20 – 12/22 1500 LV 48 51 -3

Ned Pepper on December 23, 2014 at 10:19 PM

I swear to God, do you trolls just sit there with your vienna sausage out while posting? Does your fart post have anything to do with the topic at hand or in yours?

arnold ziffel on December 23, 2014 at 10:37 PM

Ned Pepper on December 23, 2014 at 10:19 PM

…still Nob Bobbing!

JugEarsButtHurt on December 23, 2014 at 10:43 PM

Eric Garner dies in NYC police custody
27m
Photo: Crowds march against police violence in Harlem, New York – @miguelmarquez

https://twitter.com/miguelmarquez

canopfor on December 23, 2014 at 10:30 PM

Meanwhile, this happened…

stephen gallucci @stevegallucci

Incredible scene at @NYRangers game as @NYPD presents colors for National Anthem to crowd chanting #NYPD!! @AielloTV

6:19 PM – 23 Dec 2014 Manhattan, NY, United States

Jon Weinstein ✔ @jonweinstein

Awesome ovation for NYPD at Rangers game as they present colors before national anthem. Really loud and well deserved.

6:08 PM – 23 Dec 2014

mike @chickr_

The applause that this crowd just gave to the NYPD was something I’ve never heard/seen before #Rangers #NYPDLivesMatter

6:09 PM – 23 Dec 2014

Brian Warager @bwarager

Multiple standing ovations for the #NYPD tonight at the #Rangers game. As it should be

6:10 PM – 23 Dec 2014

Seriously outnumbered. It’s not even close. In fact, it’s humiliating.

Resist We Much on December 23, 2014 at 10:45 PM

Ratso!

OmahaConservative on December 23, 2014 at 10:46 PM

I apologize for this. My primary job as a reporter — and my biggest responsibility to readers — is to get the facts right. In this case, I failed spectacularly.

No, in about EVERY case you’ve been WRONG!

But that’s okay. Liberal BELIEVE they know everything. And constantly prove themselves WRONG.

BTW, why doesn’t Vox allow COMMENTS?

Could it be……………………..

GarandFan on December 23, 2014 at 10:49 PM

Is this the QOTD?

OmahaConservative on December 23, 2014 at 10:53 PM

No this is Woodpecker talk.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on December 23, 2014 at 10:55 PM

Seriously outnumbered. It’s not even close. In fact, it’s humiliating.

Resist We Much on December 23, 2014 at 10:45 PM

RWM: Now thats better news!:)

canopfor on December 23, 2014 at 10:57 PM

For Christmas, schadenfreude:

Schade, MKH always DID like you bestest… ;-)

Newtie and the Beauty on December 23, 2014 at 10:58 PM

If you take all of these factors into account, the 2014 winter solstice was not actually the longest night in history.

LOL. What does he mean “IF you take all of these factors into account”?? The longest day/night has nothing to do with taking any “factors” into account. It’s simply a matter of measuring how long the day/night is. People can take no factors into account and that wouldn’t change anything about how long a particular day or night is.

I apologize for this. My primary job as a reporter — and my biggest responsibility to readers — is to get the facts right. In this case, I failed spectacularly.

Actually, just being able to write half-intelligently (forget anything about actual facts) is your primary job as a “reporter” and you can’t even do that. You should stop masquerading as a writer and take yourself out. Do it for the planet.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on December 23, 2014 at 10:59 PM

Ezra Klein ✔ @ezraklein

We badly blew

And that’s where I stopped reading…TMI…

Newtie and the Beauty on December 23, 2014 at 10:59 PM

1912 doesn’t count because that was, like, so long ago, and dusty, and hard to read!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_IhX0v-lHg

NotCoach on December 23, 2014 at 11:27 PM

In other words, he made it up.

GeeWhiz on December 23, 2014 at 11:43 PM

I have a brother who could write splendidly for Vox.

He will tell you stuff that you know is patently untrue, and yet he will insist it is so “because he read it” somewhere.

It sounds plausible to him, so it fits in his lefty universe. What a waste of time it would be to “check” these “fact” thingies! You know, if something feels right…

Dolce Far Niente on December 24, 2014 at 12:00 AM

Santa is Satan sideways.

profitsbeard on December 24, 2014 at 1:34 AM

No surprse. Communists, progressives, liberals etal. never let anything as trivial as facts intrude into their world

Deadeye on December 24, 2014 at 2:31 AM

What’s a VOX?

Should I care? Apparently not since they don’t have a good track record for accuracy anyway.

Andy__B on December 24, 2014 at 3:20 AM

For sure on the other hand the next two years will be the longest ever.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on December 23, 2014 at 10:11 PM

Good one.

justltl on December 24, 2014 at 6:29 AM

How does a website I have never heard of until a few months ago, while reading Hotgas, become a trusted news site?

LoganSix on December 24, 2014 at 7:50 AM

I really thought that Vox would try to go for something different.

How about: what is the longest night preceded by the longest day of the longest week of the longest year in the longest century?

Really, Vox should be able to handle that one…I mean when you have truthiness in your head, you are half-way to being hard boiled. Or something. If a Vox article came out saying the sun will rise in the East, I would be worried about a good sized asteroid about to impact the place to get it spinning in the other direction.

ajacksonian on December 24, 2014 at 8:07 AM

It could be the longest year in Vox’s history, anyway. If they continue to failboat so spectacularly. And anyway, you have to understand, they don’t really understand anything older than they are, which of course is most things.

Madcap_Magician on December 24, 2014 at 8:37 AM

Haven’t had daylight in days in NJ. It’s been miserable.

njrob on December 24, 2014 at 9:26 AM

Haven’t had daylight in days in NJ. It’s been miserable.

njrob on December 24, 2014 at 9:26 AM

Same here in the midwest. My 220 watt x 6 panel solar experiment hasn’t been able to power a nightlight.

Forward!!!!

WryTrvllr on December 24, 2014 at 10:02 AM

In this every case, I failed spectacularly.

FIFY, Ezra.

GWB on December 24, 2014 at 10:08 AM

How about: what is the longest night preceded by the longest day of the longest week of the longest year in the longest century?

ajacksonian on December 24, 2014 at 8:07 AM

You wingerz think you’re so smart… the answer is this year, because #globalwarmingmatterz.

Man, I hate you science deniers.

Dolce Far Niente on December 24, 2014 at 10:37 AM

the days on earth are gradually lengthening over time due to a phenomenon known as tidal friction, which slows down the planet’s rotation


OMG!!!!! When will the Benevolent King Barry the Magnificent stop the tidal friction?!?!?!!?

Nutstuyu on December 24, 2014 at 11:44 AM

Merry Easter. VOX

2Tru2Tru on December 24, 2014 at 1:47 PM

I suppose a better question is… why does a genius like ezra klein have anything labeled in statute miles running along a line of longitude.

WryTrvllr on December 25, 2014 at 1:08 AM