I am giving out a previously non-existent award today to a truly great denialist. Andrew Schlafly, spawn of anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly and some long-forgotten sperm-donor (ironic, eh?), was not content just being the legal counsel to the uber-crank Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. No, he had to take it one step further, and clog our precious intertubes with Conservaepedia, a repository of all things stupid. In fact, there is so much stupid there, an entire wiki is devoted to documenting it. I was newly enraged when a commenter over at the “blogging on peer-reviewed research” site tried to use this pile of electronic dreck as a legitimate reference.
For those of you who might have forgotten, Conservaepedia hit teh ‘tubes a little over a year ago, with a mission to counter the horrid liberal bias at Wikipedia. Well, no one is going to accuse Conservapaedia of liberal bias. In fact, the entire site is essentially a demented play book for reactionary Christian cults and denialists.
I don’t want to take you too far through the looking glass, but here are some fun examples of reactionary lunacy for you.
As we all know, Phyllis Schlafly gave up her role as a hausfrau to travel the country telling other women to get the fuck back into the kitchen. Her son, who suckled at the teat of this lunacy, has absorbed it well. Conservapaedia has a nice, non-liberal-biased article on the little ladies(emphasis mine):
Compared to men, relatively few women have had impact on history as leaders in diverse fields, but a small number of women have had enormous impact. They include Isabella of Spain, Joan of Arc, Margaret Thatcher, Elizabeth I, Boudicca, Catherine the Great, Cleopatra, Marie Curie, Benazir Bhutto, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Mother Theresa.
Well, if you’re using weighted percentages, how about the enormous group of women who’ve had moderate impact? The entire premise is absurd.
Where do they get their ideas about women?
Saint Paul also has much to say on the status of women in society, most memorably that women should submit to their husbands just as the church submits to Christ.
The New Testament contains several instructions regarding the role of women:
1. Women are to dress modestly and not wear “broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.”
2. Women may learn in silence, but may not be permitted to teach men. Some interpretations limit this rule to the teaching of doctrine.
3. Women are not permitted to speak in church.
4. Women are to be subservient to and follow the instructions of their husbands.
5. Women “shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
So, quoting a two thousand year-old text to decide the role of half of the members of our society is the best they can do…and then quibble on the details. This cult is definitely not for me or my wife and daughter.
Andy Schlafly, being the legal counsel to the fringe organization Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, takes a predictable view on vaccines:
Traditionally a few highly tested vaccines were mandatory for children to protect against deadly or severe diseases, such as smallpox and polio. In the 1990s, vaccine manufacturers began introducing and persuading states to require numerous additional vaccines for non-deadly and even sexually transmitted diseases. About one-third of the states have philosophical exemptions entitling parents to decline the vaccines; 48 out of 50 states have religious exemptions; all states have medical exemptions, but they are hardest to obtain.
So, rather than give objective information about vaccination, this “trustworthy encyclopaedia” talks about conspiracies, and how to avoid vaccination.
One of the best denialist discussions I’ve seen involved a debate between Schlafly and myself regarding my qualifications to comment on the HPV vaccine (vs. the qualifications of a few Wikipedia rejects and a handful of homeschoolers.
Breast cancer and abortion
Oh, and let’s not forget one of my favorites—breast cancer. I suppose I would expect an encyclopedia article on a disease to start with, say, a definition, or something similarly useful and objective. Here is Conserpaedia’s first paragraph:
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, striking 1 in 7.5 women during their lifetime in America, where the rate is among the highest in the world. Breast cancer is the most fatal cancer for women after lung cancer. The number of cases has significantly increased in America since the early 1970s, when abortion was legalized. Although it is far less common in men, breast cancer can also affect them.
A controversial Harvard abortion study concluded that childbearing before the age of 35 reduces a woman’s breast cancer risk.
Another study in 1996:
Animal studies have suggested that estrogen secreted early in pregnancy stimulates the multiplication of immature cells in the breast and that these cells do not mature fully until the end of pregnancy. Theoretically, then, when a woman’s pregnancy is cut short through induced abortion, a lot of immature cells remain in the breast that are vulnerable to cancer-causing influences.
Of course, when I tried to engage Schlafly in a debate of his unconventional views, he accused me of profiting from the “abortion industry”. Of course, it was shortly revealed that he sues doctors who perform abortion, based on the false assertion that they have put a woman at increased risk for breast cancer. What a piece of work.
Oh, oh! Wait! I just found another fun bit. In his article on STDs, he tried to tie rises and falls in STDs to politics—rises during liberal presidencies, falls during conservative presidencies. I wonder what he’ll make of the huge resurgence of gonorrhea and syphilis that have taken place under George II.
He hates those gay folks. The amount of material devoted to homosexuality on a small wiki is staggering. He has dozens of articles on homosexuality, most designed to disseminate lies and hate (with subheadings like “Homosexuality and Murder”).
I could go on and on…Conservapaedia is an endless source of reactionary Christian cult ideology. But it’s probably more fun to do it on your own. Or even better, just go an edit! It’s a wiki, after all!