Fellow ScienceBloggers Ed, PZ, Afarensis, Tim, and John have all been having loads of fun beating up on a rather amusing and pathetic project known as Conservapedia, which, according to its creators, is designed to “combat the liberal bias” in Wikipedia. There’s not much for me to add, except that I noticed one particularly amusing howler in Conservapedia’s Examples of Liberal Bias in Wikipedia page:
Wikipedia’s entry for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a conservative group, features a rant against the group by a British journalist who was a former press officer for the leftist Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The only cited credential for the journalist is that he works for a television “programme-production company,” and there is no citation for any of the factual claims in his intemperate and misleading description of the group, which were prompted by an independent criticism in England of the journalist’s own work. After receiving a complaint about this, Wikipedia trimmed this rant but still kept most of it, reflecting Wikipedia’s bias. Preserving this unpublished diatribe is against Wikipedia policy (e.g., NPOV), but it Wikipedia administrators insist on keeping it. Wikipedia’s entry also features another liberal journalist’s swipe at AAPS from … 40 years ago!
Here’s what the Wikipedia entry says about The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS):
The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS), until 2003 named the Medical Sentinel, is the journal of the association. It’s mission statement includes “… a commitment to publishing scholarly articles in defense of the practice of private medicine, the pursuit of integrity in medical research … Political correctness, dogmatism and orthodoxy will be challenged with logical reasoning, valid data and the scientific method”. Articles in the journal are subject to a double-blind peer-review process.
The journal is not listed in the major journal databases of PubMed nor the Web of Science. Quackwatch lists it among untrustworthy nonrecommended periodicals. WHO found that a 2003 article on vaccination published in the journal had “a number of limitations which undermine the conclusions drawn by the authors”. Investigative journalist Brian Deer states that the journal “is barely credible as an independent forum for such material. No objective medical scientist with important information of any standard would submit it to such a publication, unless they couldn’t get it published anywhere else”.
That’s actually a pretty mild description of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and JPandS. In truth, they’re a bunch of ultra-libertarian, antivaccination whackjobs, and their “journal” reflects that fully with its racist tirades against illegal aliens, antivaccination screeds, and HIV/AIDS denialist posturings, as I described so long ago.
Oh, and Conservapedia apparently doesn’t like mandatory vaccination, either:
Wikipedia’s entry for the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) reads like an advertisement for vaccine manufacturers, including unsupported and implausible claims about vaccination. Unsupported claims featured there include “Vaccine makers indicated they would cease production if their proposal for the NCVIA was not enacted” and “concern that the NCVIA may not provide an adequate legal shield.” Wikipedia’s entry omits references to leading pro-parent websites concerning vaccination, and instead Wikipedia’s entry lists pro-government and pro-vaccine-manufacturer websites.
I agree with PZ. How long before parodists sneak in to edit articles to make them subtle (or even not-so-subtle) parodies of far right wingnuttery? Or has it already happened?