Pharyngula

At least, I hope so. The “conservapedia” is supposed to be an alternative to Wikipedia that removes the biases—although one would think the creators would be clever enough to realize that even the name announces that Conservapedia is planning to openly embrace a particular political bias. Unfortunately, that bias seems to be more towards stupidity than anything else.

In fact, reading through it leads me to wonder if it isn’t actually a parody site. Some people are getting the same impression of Overwhelming Evidence, the Intelligent Design site that was set up to cater to the teen crowd, but is also looking like a magnet for parodists; the rebuttal to Ian Musgrave’s summary of the evolution of the clotting pathway, for instance, is an amazingly subtle thing that basically puts the IDists on the side against any detailed discussion of molecular pathways. It’s also obvious that the people behind OE are completely oblivious to the sneaky undermining that is going on, largely because it is so close to their actual positions.

I predict that Conservapedia is going to experience the same problem—I look forward to seeing devious examples of the conservative position being delicately exposed as inane. You can’t find a better example than their tirade against the biases in Wikipedia, which I suspect was written by a sincere conservative, but reads like something out of The Onion. Among the things they find objectionable:

  • The use of “BCE” and “CE” instead of BC and AD in dates.

  • Wikipedia has lots of articles about trivia, like music and movies.

  • Some articles use the British spellings for words.

  • They just want more credit given to Jesus for everything.

  • The whole worldwide community of English speakers edits Wikipedia; they’re going to emphasize American (by which they mean not liberal) opinions.

  • Too many Wikipedia entries are “gossipy” or sound like something from the National Enquirer.

You know, if someone wanted to just go with it and pretend to be the most obnoxious, sanctimonious, narrow-minded blue-nosed prig, you could probably have a ball writing all kinds of sneering articles for Conservapedia. I predict that the history pages are going to be great fun to read, as the editors egg each other on to be more and more outrageously reactionary.

But of course, the most amusing bits on that page are the anti-evolution tirades.

Edits to include facts against the theory of evolution are almost immediately censored.

This is a point in Wikipedia’s favor: there is some quality control. Since these so-called “facts” creationists try to introduce are typically lies, distortions, and error, I think it’s a good idea that Wikipedia has informed editors. Conservapedia, on the other hand, will encourage absolute idiots who know nothing about the subject to frolic. Here’s their entry on evolution, complete with misspellings.

The Theory of Evolution, introduced by Charles Darwin in his book On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, published in 1859, is the scientific theory that explains the process of evolution. The basic principle behind evolution, called natural selection, states that in the struggle for life, fitter organisms will survive thus saving ‘good mutations’ and discarding ‘bad mutations’ enabling a species to become more specialized.

There are two parts of evolution: Microevolution and Macroevolution. Microevolution refers only to change within a speicies; e.g. a dog can be bred for certain traits but never can become a cat. Macroevolution is the theory that species can add information to their genetic makeup and therefore change into a different species; e.g. men and apes originating from a common ancestor.

Pathetic. The old “dog into cat” canard is such a silly idea, it really doesn’t belong in any serious definition of evolution; no one promotes it other than creationists. And this is all they can say about evolution, that it’s in two parts, macro and micro? Look at Wikipedia’s definition, which goes on and on and talks about evidence and mechanisms and history.

Here’s their justification for including tripe about science:

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.

Well, it is true that if you poll ignorant people, you can get the most amazing ideas…but it doesn’t imply that those opinions are valid. Again, it seems to be saying that while Wikipedia has benefited from knowledgeable people taking part, Conservapedia is going to go with the gut instincts of Joe Sixpack on science.

Then there is this kind of foolishness:

The Wikipedia entry for the Piltdown Man omits many key facts, such as how it was taught in schools for an entire generation and how the dating methodology used by evolutionists is fraudulent.

You really won’t find that much about Piltdown in old textbooks. It’s mentioned, but often with a quizzical air. I understand it was a bit more heavily promoted in old British textbooks, but in the American books I’ve looked at there’s usually an expression of dubiety—it just didn’t fit well with other known fossils. Complaining about the dating methods is weird: when the technologies that allowed dating were developed and applied to the fossils, they exposed the relative recency of the bones. All the Wikipedia entry says about the dating is that methods to accurately date the skull were not available when it was discovered.

Poor conservatives. I almost feel sorry for them for the way this kind of rank idiocy is getting tagged to their political position, but I am looking forward to many opportunities for satire.

Comments

  1. #1 David Marjanovi?
    February 22, 2007

    Conservatives are for — altogether now — fiscal discipline, small government, limited intrusion into people’s affairs, respect for the law and the Constitution, and tempered changes.

    All together now: Fiscal discipline and tempered changes are conservative values. Limited intrusion into people’s affairs and small government are liberal values — remember that “liberal” and “left” are not the same. I can’t see how respect for the law and the big-C Constitution are limited to any ideology; what ideologies differ about is whether the laws should be changed, and if so, in which directions.

    If you’re liberal about social issues, just say it.

  2. #2 David Marjanovi?
    February 22, 2007

    I got curious and tried to go to the plesiosaur article… it opens too slowly…

    Z, it may surprise you, but as a scientist you do not have the right to hold a testable opinion and anxiously shelter it from all possible tests. Put up or shut up — publish or perish.

    Do you want my e-mail address? I’ll gladly discuss with you, after you’ve read the talk.origins FAQ.

  3. #3 Niblox
    January 10, 2010

    This, from Conservapedia, the so-called ?Trustworthy Encyclopedia” (I checked it out yesterday – I kid you not).

    ?Conversions to Christianity (from any faith or lack thereof) outnumber those to Islam, but cannot keep up with the birthrate discrepancy. Only a small extremist sect of Muslims participate in this activity, using the concept of “Jihad” (Holy War), to justify their actions?.

    Wow. What ARE they referring to? I didn?t know that conversions to Christianity were being undertaken by a small extremist sect of Muslims. Or is this the secret agenda of Schlafly et al.? COULD CONSERVAPEDIA BE ALL CLOSET MUSLIMS? SHOCK HORROR!

    Come to that, I didn?t realise that the high birthrate among Muslims was justified by the concept of Jihad. If you read George Orwell?s novel ?Nineteen-Eighty-four?, you will find that sex is a subversive activity. That?s why the powers that be set up the Junior Anti-Sex League. But then, if you try to find what Conservapedia says about sex, you get a blank page.