Talk:Lake Wobegon

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I recall the baseball team being the Lake Wobegon Whippets, not the Leonards (as currently in the article). However, I've been out of the US for a while and this is based on one of the old Comedy Theatre tabes. Anyone know for sure? --Dcclark 19:20, 26 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Yes, the team is the Whippets. I have a well-worn Whippets cap. LorenzoB 08:11, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

First segment[edit]

I'd be curious to know when the first "News from Lake Wobegon" segment aired, and roughly how many segments have aired since that first one. 03:37, 13 November 2005 (UTC)


Does anyone know why Holdingford, MN is thought to be the real Lake Wobegon?

With 726 people and its geographic location, it's the right size and in the right place. There are a number of similar towns in the area that are candidates.

  • This whole thing sounds like WP:OR to me, and so I've removed it. Is there any actual evidence that Keillor ever based Wobegon on Holingford?--Pharos 17:46, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Holdingford -vs Freeport[edit]

I'm going to remove the new paragraph which asserts that Lake Wobegon was based on Holdingford for a simple reason. Keillor has stated in print that Freeport was the model for Lake Wobegon. In the same article he said that Holdingford looks the most like LW, but he named Freeport as the inspiration and model for it. I'm sure that there's a way to integrate the Holdingford statement into the existing info that already exists. Spottacus 18:48, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Merger, Mist County[edit]

Merger works for me. There are MANY towns in the upper midwest that could be, and are, the REAL Lake Wobegone. I grew up in one of them: Scobey, Montana. --Midnite Critic 12:08, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

As someone who has listened to GK's radio shows since the 1970s, I never heard of Mist County until I read about it here. It sounds like it might be a GK joke, but I've never heard it mentioned. Ive also never heard mention of a county courthouse or the numbers of lawyers supported by a county seat. Now, Balsam Lake, WI is a county seat town about the same size as the legendary Lake Wobegon, so its possible, but the idea that Lake Wobegone was a county seat raises its importance beyond what shy people could probably tolerate. I guess I'd like to see some documentation for the assertion that Keiller invented Mist County.BartBee

Nothing easier. Check out Keillor's book Lake Wobegon Days (New York, Viking, 1985), pages 8-9: "Lake Wobegon is the seat of tiny Mist County, the 'phantom county in the heart of the heartland' (Dibbley, My Minnesota, founded by Unitarian missionaries and Yankee promoters, then found by Norwegian Lutherans who straggled in from the west, headed first to Lake Agassiz in what is now North Dakota, a lake that turned out to be prehistoric, and by German Catholics, who, bound for Clay County, had stopped a little short, having misread their map, but refused to admit it." BPK 17:26, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Merge by all means. And I suggest that "Mist County" is just a homonym for "missed county" since, according to the book, the county was omitted by the initial survey of the state. J. Peterka 23:28, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

NE Montana[edit]

The area I am referring to is specifically the two northeastern-most counties in Montana, Daniels and Sheridan. These counties are characterized by the following: a)a large percentage of the population is of Norwegian extraction; b)Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism are the dominant faiths, with a smattering of others, including various types of fundamentalism; c)Farming is the major industry; d)All of the towns are "under 2,000", most of them closer to 500. My hometown, Scobey is just under 1,000; e)Winters are long and cold; f)"Hotdish" is a major component of everyone's diet. I could go on, but I think the point has been made, and this area was only settled in the early 20th century. Scobey was founded in 1913, again, Scobey IS "Lake Wobegon." --Midnite Critic 23:23, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

BTW, if any area is debateable here, it is eastern SD, which is much more heavily German than Norwegian. --Midnite Critic 23:26, 3 September 2006 (UTC)


I split the article into a few sections, but I'm not sure I managed to pick very good names for them. Any ideas? Sverre 10:32, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

The Lake Wobegon effect[edit]

I have allowed myself, to point out in the article the relationship of this effect to the Confirmation bias. It would be nice, if someone could maybe write a few words about the way it is relationed to this and other biases treated in the scientifical literature but not yet in the Wikipedia, such as the "myside bias" (David Perkins) or the "self-serving bias" (Babcock and Loewenstein) etc etc. But I wonder, if the article should really list, as it does now, groups of people, which have such biases. There are being found meanwhile in studies more and more such groups, and so the article risks getting very very long. A better idea seems to me to list the few groups, in which these biases have NOT been found, namely scientists, which conduct these studies, and scientifical journalists, which write about them. Of interest would also be a few words about the etymology. How the uneducated lumped all the biases together under "wishful thinking", until in the middle of the last century the scientists started to bring order into the muddled minds. -- Hanno Kuntze (talk) 10:00, 26 November 2007 (UTC)


Keillor's Lake Wobegon monologues are referenced in The Simpsons episode "Marge on the Lam"[1]. (talk) 06:44, 2 January 2008 (UTC)


If you can't find it at Ralph's, you can probably get along (pretty good)without it. (pretty good) in brackets as popular opinion (google search) has it as "get along without it". [1] Bogger (talk) 18:47, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

If you've heard it with the "pretty good" phrase, I'll take your word for it. GK evidently writes out the scripts for nearly everything on the show and then proceeds to ad lib at will -- even in the "News from LW" segments. It's just that the "pretty good without it" phrase sounds so unlike what I expect from GK -- even as an ad lib. BartBee (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 14:59, 6 June 2008 (UTC)

Magadance vs. Magendanz[edit]

Is this a typo (Magadance)? The family in the books I've read (first 2 & then Liberty) refer to Magendanz. What is the source for LuAnn Magadance? Milletseed (talk) 04:34, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Wabigoon Lake[edit]

Has nobody ever investigated whether there is a connection, even if only in Garrison Keillor's subconscious mind (he is quoted as mentioning native north American names), with Wabigoon Lake just north of Minnesota over the border in Northwestern Ontario? To me the similarity between Wobegon and Wabigoon is too close to ignore completely but the word is not mentioned on the Lake Wobegon page so far. Iph (talk) 11:18, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

  1. ^ ""Pretty Good" at 1:50". BBC7. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 

"Ubi quid ubi"[edit]

Whatever this could possibly mean in Latin - as far as I can see, nothing at all (literally "Where what where") - it certainly could never mean "We're here - where are we?". Of course the style of this whole article is jokey in the extreme, but the other piece of Latin "Sumus quod sumus" does indeed mean "We are what we are". So I wonder if the "Ubi quid ubi" quote is correct in the first place. (talk) 13:05, 5 June 2017 (UTC)

the Lake Wobegon effect[edit]

I've long been curious about the use of the phrase "the Lake Wobegon effect" to describe a phenomenon where everyone thinks they are above average. Lake Wobegon, of course, comes from Garrison Keillor's radio show "Prairie Home Companion" (PHC). A few years ago, on the PHC website, I posted a message to Mr. Keillor, as follows (between the * * *):

  • * *

Dear Mr. Keillor,

In Wikipedia, "the Lake Wobegon effect" is defined as "a natural human tendency to overestimate one's capabilities, [and it] is named after the town. The characterization of the fictional location, where 'all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average,' has been used to describe a real and pervasive human tendency to overestimate one's achievements and capabilities in relation to others." But as I've listened to your stories over the years, I've come away with a different take. You speak often of how shy the residents are and how little they toot their own horns. I grew up among older Norwegians and Swedes who, rather than overestimating their capabilities, often downplay them and turn the conversation in another direction. If anything, they indulge in a little false modesty in order to avoid seeming to boast.

Have I just misunderstood at least part of the theme all these years?


Gary Engstrand

  • * *

I never bothered to see if Mr. Keillor had responded, and was startled a short time ago to learn that he had, as follows (and inasmuch as this response is on a public website, I don't think I'm violating any copyright provisions by repeating it here with attribution)(again, between the * * *):

You're right about the reticence of Wobegonians in keeping with their Scandinavian heritage ("Don't think you're somebody") and their genuine modesty and their tendency to step away from any sort of praise. I share that tendency and I try to understand it because at times it seems rude of me -- if someone says "That was a good show" and I hurry to point out what was wrong with it. (And it is rude. And I've learned to say, "Thank you" and shut up.) I was brought up to be modest, though I secretly entertained delusions of grandeur, imagined being heroic, saving lives, winning games, setting world records. In a small town such as Lake Wobegon, the social fabric of the community is so important that the members are careful to avoid attracting too much attention that might turn into envy. Your life might depend on your neighbors and if you get a reputation as someone High and Mighty, people might not come to your aid as readily as they ought to, figuring that you're much too capable to need their help. Look at the rich and famous who have died in stupid accidents because people nearby didn't dare warn them. . . .

So the "Lake Wobegon effect" is a bunch of hogwash where Lake Wobegon is concerned. And the slogan about all the women and all the men and all the children is so obviously not about overestimation—when you say that all the children are above-average, you are saying that tests and grades and intellectual measurement are not, in the end, so important. If everybody is above average, then you have junked the idea of averages. That "pervasive human tendency to overestimate one's achievements" is found in New York and Los Angeles and in Wikipedia, but it doesn't have anything to do with the Little Town That Time Forgot.

  • * *

You can read the exchange, as I've reproduced it here, on the PHC website, at

I can't change how the world uses the phrase "the Lake Wobegon effect," but I wonder if it would be worth some kind of note on the Lake Wobegon Wikipedia page indicating that the creator of Lake Wobegon doesn't think the phrase is apropos. I leave it to experienced Wikipedia editors to decide if that's a good idea. I use Wikipedia a lot, and make a small donation from time to time, but I have never edited or contributed an article.

MinnesotaGuy (talk) 20:47, 1 September 2017 (UTC)

Tnx fr pointing this out. I've added an item to the text. jxm (talk) 02:29, 2 September 2017 (UTC)