The Questionable Authority

Conservapedia Redux: Reality Matters

Yesterday, a brief review of Conservapedia appeared on one of New Scientist’s blogs. The review quoted two Sciencebloggers as well as the Schlafly responsible for the Hellerian, if not Orwellian, trainwreck of a website), and has sparked a second round of posts here. A sane reader (presuming, of course, that we have one) might wonder why we are so obsessed with a right-wing lunatic website that is, at first, second, third, and fourth glance indistinguishable from a parody of right-wing lunacy. The reason that a website like this should spark concern as much as laughter is simple: this particular website is an extreme symptom of a condition that has become extremely widespread, particularly (but not exclusively) among the political right in America.

The condition here could be (and has been) described as a delusional mindset, but I’m not sure it’s that simple, that harmless, or that easily excused. These people are not content to simply live in their own little alternate reality. They are determined to make certain that we live there, too. This means that when inconvenient little fact come up – the ugly little facts and inconvenient truths that can slay even the most beautiful hypotheses – reality gets rewritten and the facts that disagree with the core beliefs get omitted.

Conservapedia is symptomatic of the right wing’s ever increasing reliance on what Stephen Colbert so famously called, “truthiness.” It’s the reliance on gut instinct over actual fact, combined with a willingness to mock and attack those who believe that we should make our way through the world based on facts and not beliefs.

Conservapedia is symptomatic of the truthiness culture, where everyone is entitled not only to their own opinions but to their own facts. It’s the worldview that allows the Bush to claim, after two years of pushing a “stay the course” strategy that, “we’ve never been stay the course.” It’s the culture that allows the Whitehouse to claim, despite numerous on the record statements by the president questioning humanity’s role in climate change, that, “[b]eginning in June 2001, President Bush has consistently acknowledged climate change is occurring and humans are contributing to the problem.”

Facts matter. Reality matters. Right now, it’s possible that facts and reality matter more than ever before, as we are being faced with crisis upon crisis. If we do not stand up for the facts, and demand that reality be restored to its rightful place in our politics and policies, we will not be able to survive all the crises that we are faced with.

Conservapedia is a joke, to be sure, and it’s not even a good joke. The truthiness culture that it represents, on the other hand, is a clear and present danger to our future well-being and that of our children. It is a mindset that is unhealthy and unacceptable, and it needs to be fought.


  1. #1 Boo
    February 27, 2007

    Conservapedia is symptomatic of the truthiness culture, where everyone is entitled not only to their own opinions but to their own facts.

    You’re not entitled to your own facts, you’re entitled to their facts. Key difference.

  2. #2 Lurker #753
    February 27, 2007

    Aha! An opportunity to de-lurk and post one of my favourite quotes!

    “The very powerful and the very stupid have something in common: rather than change their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views. This is unfortunate if you are on of the facts that needs altering.”
    Dr. Who, The Face of Evil

  3. #3 DragonScholar
    February 27, 2007

    The irony here is that the right-wing, the supposed basion of morality – is engaging in the worst kind of blatant childish relativism they claim to decry oh so often. A regular moral relativist acknowledges their responsibility for moral choices – these folks take relativism and then try to claim its not.

    I try to comfort myself that, when history is written (if we survive the various apocalyptic nuts), that these people will become a sick, sad footnote in history. Just not the history on their website.

  4. #4 Metro
    February 27, 2007

    I had the perfect quote for this and Lurker#753 stole it!Maybe if I hop in the TARDIS and go back?

    Still, it’s a day for celebration: it’s not everyday I’m someplace geeky enough that I get scooped on a Doctor Who quote!

  5. #5 Stephen
    March 2, 2007

    The reasonable man adapts himself to his environment.

    The unreasonable man adapts his environment to himself.

    Therefore all progress is due to unreasonable men.

    I’d like to make progress. I’d like to be reasonable. That’s why i started my blog, predelusional.

  6. #6 David Blomstrom
    March 3, 2007

    Wow, they should change their domain name to This should be really popular here in “liberal Seattle,” which is actually run by conservatives (aka the Discovery Institute, Alliance for Education, etc.).

    David Blomstrom

    Seattle Mafia

  7. #7 Amadan
    March 3, 2007

    Ah, but over at UD, Dr Who’s Time Machine (which miraculously accommodates a Big Tent of space in a mere phone box) has been adopted as a perfect metaphor for ID:

    (Tragically, the first comment has been airbrushed away by the DaveScot’s Thought Police. But the Tard remains!

  8. #8 jummy
    August 1, 2007

    i’ve got to point out: you’re pissing your pants with red faced rage over a wiki with maybe 100 hits a week.

    and then pretending that it’s the tip of the spear of “power” when in fact it’s a dozen or so middleclass churchladies. the founder is a grade-school teacher, if i remember correctly.

    i doon’t know of any conservatives, especially none at any commercially subsidized blogs, who get so twisted over left-wing alternate reality wikis like dkosfopedia.

    and progressives do manage to insert noon-factual politically motivated material into wikipedia articles. take for instance the article about democrat gary condit, famous for kkilling an intern he was screwing, wherein he is identified as a “conservative, despite a lifetime rating oof 44% and 78% from the american conservative union and the aclu repectively. it”s not a far out conspiracy to note it. progressives manage to pollute wikipedia so in part by their prominence in the wikipedia editors community and through the sheer white-knucked obcession evidenced in this article.

    honestly. if conservapedia were in fact a big deal, you’d concienciously ignore it. the only reason you’re screaching about it so is because you prefer to beat up on little guys.

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