A long time reader emailed me a link to Conservapedia, a conservative version of Wikipedia that promises over 3200 “educational, clean and concise entries” on a variety of topics, all designed to counter their perception that Wikipedia is “increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American.” As evidence for this anti-Christian bias, they offer:
On Wikipedia, many of the dates are provided in the anti-Christian “C.E.” instead of “A.D.”, which Conservapedia uses.
Oh my god, how anti-Christian! On the other hand, you get nothing but pro-Christian objectivity at Conservapedia, as shown in the “Today in History” item on the front page for February 2nd:
Did you know that faith is a uniquely Christian concept? Add to the explanation of what it means, and how it does not exist on other religions.
I’m not sure which will come as more of a surprise to the adherents of other religions, that they don’t have faith or that Christians invented faith on February 2nd. Conservapedia includes an entire page full of examples of “bias” at Wikipedia and some of them are rather amusing. Like #8 for instance:
Gossip is pervasive on Wikipedia. Many entries read like the National Enquirer. For example, Wikipedia’s entry on Nina Totenberg states, “She married H. David Reines, a trauma physician, in 2000. On their honeymoon, he treated her for severe injuries after she was hit by a boat propeller while swimming.” That sounds just like the National Enquirer, and reflects a bias towards gossip. Conservapedia avoids gossip and vulgarity, just as a true encyclopedia does.
Uh, yeah, that’s just the sort of thing you’d read about in the National Enquirer. Except in the National Enquirer version, Reines would have been having an affair with Paris Hilton during the surgery before she checked into a clinic for teatment for anorexia in the room next to Jennifer Aniston. This is a rather odd definition of “gossip”, but nowhere near as odd as their definition of “objective” as seen in #15:
Unlike most encyclopedias and news outlets, Wikipedia does not exert any centralized authority to take steps to reduce bias or provide balance; it has a “neutral point of view” policy but the policy is followed only to the extent that individual editors acting in social groups choose to follow it. For example, CNN would ensure that Crossfire had a representative of the political right and one from the political left. In contrast, Wikipedia policy allows bias to exist and worsen. For example, even though most Americans (and probably most of the world) reject the theory of evolution, Wikipedia editors commenting on the topic are nearly 100% pro-evolution. Self-selection has a tendency to exacerbate bias in the absence of affirmative steps to limit it. Gresham’s Law reflects the problem in economics of bad money driving out good in the absence of corrective action. As a result, Wikipedia is arguably more biased than CNN and other information sources.
This is a rather bizarre, internally incoherent defiition of objectivity. It’s not objective withotu a “centralized authority” that will “reduce bias and provide balance.” And then in the very next sentence, the complaint is that bias is not reduced by “centralized authority” but by including whatever ideas are popular with the public. Then it says:
The above paragraph was posted on the Wikipedia entry for “Wikipedia”, under bias, but its editors then illustrated their bias by replacing the above with this: “Ojective [sic], or neutrally biased, articles present different opinions as equally legitimate regardless of validity, while unbiased articles focus on accuracy and validity. For example, the evolution article is not objective because it does not present creationism, a counter argument to evolution, as a valid scientific theory. However, this does not make the article biased because evolution is an accepted scientific theory. CNN’s Crossfire, on the other hand, was considered objective because it had representatives from the political right from the political left.”
An even more bizarre definition of objectivity, the notion that you can only show you’re not biased by presenting both reality and un-reality as equally plausible. Aren’t conservatives supposed to be opposed to this kind of postmodernist nonsense? Yes, there is an objective truth. Evolution is true, creationism is false. An encyclopedia that presented astronomy and astrology as equally plausible “theories” is not objective, it’s objectively idiotic. I bet the Wikipedia entry for gravity doesn’t present the “angels pushing the planets in their orbits theory” as a valid alternative either. That doesn’t mean the entry is biased, it means reality is biased.
So they claim that Wikipedia’s article on evolution is biased because “most Americans (and probably most of the world) reject the theory of evolution”, yet if you look at #23 on their list, they use the following quote from Robert McHenry, a former editor of Encylopedia Brittanica:
One simple fact that must be accepted as the basis for any intellectual work is that truth – whatever definition of that word you may subscribe to – is not democratically determined.
Exactly right. Objectivity is adherence to what is true, not by balancing truth with nonsense. This site is so bad it reads like a parody.