Pharyngula

At least, that’s how Andy Schlafly characterizes Conservapedia in a New Scientist article. I called it “shallow and useless or downright wrong,” if you’re interested in an alternative position on it.

Josh Rosenau wasn’t any more charitable.

They are re-defining their own truth and seem to think facts are malleable.

Strictly speaking, I guess Schlafly was correct: if you’re redefining facts and making up nonsense as you go along, you certainly are presenting a new way of learning.

Comments

  1. #1 Bruce
    February 26, 2007

    The level of vandalism and obscenity was shocking.”

    OK, I can understand if he wants to keep obscenity out of it, but I fail to see how having actual scientists editing topics about science is tantamount to vandalism. I think he meant to say “the level of reality was shocking.”

  2. #2 Jud
    February 26, 2007

    I haven’t encountered anything on Wikipedia as shocking as the entire Conservapedia entry on the Holocaust:

    “The Holocaust was the massacring of the Jewish race during World War II. The Germans are not to blame for this but the Nazi are. Besides 6 million Jews dying, 3 million Christians were killed also along with many priests and nuns. This is a very touchy subject for the Jews and is not often discussed amongst them.”

  3. #3 abeja
    February 26, 2007

    “This is a very touchy subject for the Jews and is not often discussed amongst them.”

    Since I’m Jewish, I think I’m quite qualified to say that statement is BULL.

    I’m sure that Conservapedia is full of anti-semitic freaks. How disgusting.

  4. #4 David Wilford
    February 26, 2007

    Strictly speaking, I guess Schlafly was correct: if you’re redefining facts and making up nonsense as you go along, you certainly are presenting a new way of learning.

    It’s a “new way of learning” in the same way that a shit sandwich is still a sandwich, I suppose.

  5. #5 Dustin
    February 26, 2007

    I’ve been getting the distinct impression that ASchlafy is a little more than just “conservative”. Particularly when it comes to Einstein. They hate Einstein, and I don’t know why, and try to give credit for relativity to other people (like Ponicare, never mind that his formulation isn’t consistent with the Michaelson-Morely experiment), and are generally hostile towards him. I can understand maybe pointing out where Einsteins contributions were, and where he got them from other people, but some of the things I saw were completely irrational.

    And then I read that Holocaust entry and figured it out: Einstein was a Jew, and ASchlafy is probably a goose-stepping, propaganda spouting, Jew-hating Nazi asshole.

  6. #6 386sx
    February 26, 2007

    It’s a “new way of learning” in the same way that a [expletive deleted] sandwich is still a sandwich, I suppose.

    Yeah, but the real irony here is that all the parodies being added to the Conservapedia that are being unwittingly accepted by the Schlaflys as legitimate entries are merely adding to their uncritical “knowledge” base. A Schadenfreude sandwich that tastes like [expletive deleted].

  7. #7 afarensis
    February 26, 2007

    Is it normal to have 58 students at a home school?

  8. #8 Dustin
    February 26, 2007

    Yeah, that’s why it took me so long to figure out that the Einstein stuff wasn’t a parody. Then ASchlafy reverted it to something from before the blitzkrieg, and I had my answer.

  9. #9 Tom
    February 26, 2007

    Sure. According to many conservatives, birth control is a tool of the devil, so 58 kids sounds about right to me.

  10. #10 Ichthyic
    February 26, 2007

    what in the hell is going on with new scientist that they felt a compelling need to give conservapedia even the briefest of mentions?

    I swear, the pop science mags seem to get worse every year.

  11. #11 Molly, NYC
    February 26, 2007

    You know the line: “You’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts” ?

    Apparently, conservatives think that’s a lot of hippie crap.

  12. #12 Dustin
    February 26, 2007

    Apparently, conservatives think that’s a lot of hippie crap.

    Same goes for conservatives and vaccinations. I guess they’re more into the Intelligent Design approach to medicine (that’s the one with rattles and beads).

  13. #13 Interrobang
    February 26, 2007

    I think the genuine freaky wingnuts (of which Conservapedia is a prime example) have a problem with Einstein for the same reason that they have a problem with a lot of mathematics.

    Since we’re now seing honest-to-goodness geocentrists come out of the woodwork, I don’t think it’s too farfetched to say that probably a lot of them have a similar attitude about math to Mel Gabler, who once (in)famously opined, “When a student reads in a math book that there are no absolutes, suddenly every value he’s been taught is destroyed. And the next thing you know, the student turns to crime and drugs.”

    Read too much on the Theory of Relativity, and you too can become a crack-smoking variety store knock-off artist…

  14. #14 Dustin
    February 27, 2007

    That is a truly warped quote. But I can fix it.

    When a math teacher grades a math test, suddenly every value he’s been taught is destroyed. And the next thing you know, the math teacher turns to crime and drugs.

    And speaking of which… *grabs red pen*

  15. #15 Dustin
    February 27, 2007

    …and PZ, I’m delighted to inform you that you have a flash banner for “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” at the top of your page.

  16. #16 kathleen
    February 27, 2007

    But without Conservapedia, I would never have learned about the endangered Tree Octopus, an amphibian mollusc that surely you would be interested in learning about, PZ: http://www.conservapedia.com/Pacific_Northwest_Arboreal_Octopus

    I believe mating season approaches, which should involve some sighting opportunities in the vicinity – surely worth a trip out west.

  17. #17 PZ Myers
    February 27, 2007

    Jebus H. Christ. You’re right. There’s a Jebus ad at the top of my page.

    The Discovery Channel may regret that.

  18. #18 Mena
    February 27, 2007

    The random function brought this up. Nah, they wouldn’t make stuff up!
    Their version
    What…a…thirty…second…session…with…Google…turns…up…

  19. #19 craig
    February 27, 2007

    ” Since I’m Jewish, I think I’m quite qualified to say that statement is BULL.”

    See, there you go getting touchy.

  20. #20 Liz Ditz
    February 27, 2007

    I’m not sure, but I think the 58 kids were not all physically present–think distance learning.

    I keep having flashes of Andy Rooney and Judy Garland–“I know! We’ll put on a show!”

    Here’s Part I of my response to Conservapedia — I’m not sure if there will be a part II or part [more]

    http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2007/02/attention_high_.html

  21. #21 MartinC
    February 27, 2007

    At last, the real truth about dinosaurs.
    http://www.conservapedia.com/Dinosaur

  22. #22 cooper
    February 27, 2007

    Wikiality

  23. #23 Porlock Junior
    February 27, 2007

    Dustin figures that Schlafly’s opposition to Einstein results from anti-Semitism. No doubt, but it’s part of a bigger story.

    He hates Galileo too, after all. If you were to Google the soc.history.science archives for his contributions, though why you’d want to is way beyond me, you’d find a particularly strong statement of all the nonsense available from the More Catholic than the Pope party. (The people who engaged him on s.h.science didn’t do a particularly good job, but there’s some excuse for that: this particular sort of lunatic was a new experience for those used to nothing worse than Archimedes Plutonium.)

    Einstein was Jewish; Galileo was worse, if such is possible: a Catholic who didn’t bend over on demand. And, I think it’s relevant, they were both smart. Both intolerable.

    I suspect that any Catholic who stumbles into a discussion with Schlafly should try a tactic not available to most of the readers here: start praising Jesuits with great enthusiasm. It would probably give him apoplexy. A useful service to the world, though maybe an unChristian thing to do.

  24. #24 natural cynic
    February 27, 2007

    Uh, Liz, that’s Mickey Rooney. I don’t think that the 60 Minutes curmudgeon had anything to do with Judy.

  25. #25 Jillian
    February 27, 2007

    Well, the real hatred of Einstein probably has a lot to do with him having been something of an atheist and a good deal more of a socialist.

    The A Beka people are convinced that free market capitalism is given unto us by God, and any turning away from it is a turning to Satan and his evil works.

  26. #26 Possummomma
    February 27, 2007

    “A new way of learning about history and science.”

    HA! That should be ammended to read: “A new way to learn about history and science, or…as we like to call it, revisionist history and creation science 101.”

    Smokey holes. The sad part of all of this is that there are kids out there who are going to google some random topic for a school report and THIS is the bullshit they’re going to find. I think every entry should come with a disclaimer: Warning! The entry you are about to read was written by a person who watches NASCAR, thinks Bush is “a great leader!”, and defers to myths for morality. Use with caution.

  27. #27 abeja
    February 27, 2007

    See, there you go getting touchy.

    Jeez, I guess the very mention of the word holocaust sent me into fits! Those good folks at conservapedia must be right. 🙂

  28. #28 Carlie
    February 27, 2007

    I’m not sure, but I think the 58 kids were not all physically present–think distance learning.

    Trying…not to make joke…about if they were mentally present…

  29. #29 Carlie
    February 27, 2007

    Dear disco ball, please tell me the dinosaur page doesn’t actually have a picture of Jesus on a sauropod, holding what may be an iguana. I’m hallucinating, right? I’ve never been able to get on the site before now due to the combo of high traffic/bad bandwidth, but now that picture is going to haunt me all day.

  30. #30 Mena
    February 27, 2007

    Was this page done by someone from here? I find it fairly offensive (but I’m one of those darn librul PC types) so I didn’t know if it was satire that the good Christians there either didn’t notice or didn’t care that it was offensive.

  31. #31 Mrs Tilton
    February 27, 2007

    Mena,

    I’m pretty sure the baramin entry was (at least largely) swiped from Objective Ministries. But then, I don’t think the Conservapedists would recognise Objective for what it is…

    propos, I made sure to point out in the entry for “Species” that, when secular scientists say “species”, “baramin” is what they mean. But now I am afraid I have been banned (apparently, for editing the article of “College of Cardinals” to point out that the College only offers post-graduate degrees). The ban lasts for two weeks, after which I am sure I will be much more accurately conservative.

  32. #32 Nix
    February 27, 2007

    It dates from the Punking Period, so it probably was done by a parodist/satirist.

  33. #33 MJ Memphis
    February 27, 2007

    “(apparently, for editing the article of “College of Cardinals” to point out that the College only offers post-graduate degrees)”

    Well, there’s the problem. I have it on good authority that they offer a BS in programming. They’re a bit behind the times though- they only teach Red Hat.

  34. #34 quork
    February 27, 2007

    That New Scientist article would have been less vacuous if they had provided some actual examples of edits which were made and then removed.

  35. #35 Doc Bill
    February 27, 2007

    At Insane-o-pedia under the heading “What’s wrong with Wikipedia” the authors bring up British spelling. Yes, articles about British subjects might spell the word “color” as “colour” and that’s just wrong! It’s downright un-American!

    Insane-o-pedia uses only American spelling.

    That’s telling ’em!

  36. #36 barkdog
    February 27, 2007

    Interrobang mentioned the fear that mathematics would undermine values by denyhing absolutes. Way back in the 1920s Friedrich Torberg had a story in which a school boy loses faith in god after being taught about imaginary numbers. In the story the boy is better off for it.

  37. #37 Chris Bell
    February 27, 2007

    I remember years ago seeing a show about religious zealots home-schooling their children. My favorite part was when they interviewed one of the boys who said, in a thick southern accent:

    “I don’t want to go to college. College is where they teach you to hate God.”

  38. #38 Tukla in Iowa
    February 27, 2007

    Conservapedia appears to be hosted on a Commodore VIC-20 equipped with a 300 baud modem.

  39. #39 Rick @ shrimp and grits
    February 27, 2007

    Conservapedia appears to be hosted on a Commodore VIC-20 equipped with a 300 baud modem.

    Do not insult the VIC-20 that way. Obviously, the site is hosted on a TRS-80.

  40. #40 Tukla in Iowa
    February 27, 2007

    …and the database is stored on cassette tapes.

  41. #41 Warren
    February 27, 2007

    I suspect that any Catholic who stumbles into a discussion with Schlafly should try a tactic not available to most of the readers here: start praising Jesuits with great enthusiasm. It would probably give him apoplexy. A useful service to the world, though maybe an unChristian thing to do.
    Posted by: Porlock Junior

    No, it’s Christian. Jesus allegedly kicked out a bunch of world-pushing nitwits from the synagogue. I think argument could be made that the Conservapedia inbreds are being as disrespectful of (at least a conceptual) sanctuary.

    As for Jesuits — this is a good idea. Mendel rocked!

  42. #42 Mrs Tilton
    February 27, 2007

    But Warren, wasn’t Mendel an Augustinian?

    The only Jesuit scientist that springs to my mind is poor old Teilhard de Chardin, the paleontologist and woo-merchant, whom Peter Medawar gave such a thorough spanking.

  43. #43 Blake Stacey
    February 27, 2007

    Mrs Tilton:

    The first one which popped into my mind was Christoph Scheiner (1573–1650).

  44. #44 Mrs Tilton
    February 27, 2007

    Blake,

    I gladly bow before your superior knowledge of Jesuit sages!

  45. #45 Mrs Tilton
    February 27, 2007

    Having clicked on Blake’s link, I see that Scheiner was no Gregor Mendel:

    Until the end, he worked on a massive refutation of the Copernican theory, the finished part of which was published posthumously, in 1650, under the title Prodromus pro Sole Mobili et Terra Stabili contra Galilaeum a Galileis (“Introductory Treatise in Favor of a Moving Sun and a Stable Earth against Galileo Galilei”).

    But all’s well that ends well:

    The work remained virtually unkown and had no effect on the outcome of the debate between Copernicans and advocates of the geocentric/geostatic cosmology.

  46. #46 Blake Stacey
    February 27, 2007

    Mrs Tilton:

    Hee hee! Actually, I just have a fair memory for people mentioned in James Burke documentaries.

  47. #47 Jud
    February 27, 2007

    PZ said: “Jebus H. Christ. You’re right. There’s a Jebus ad at the top of my page.

    “The Discovery Channel may regret that.”

    I’ll tell you what they’ll really regret: If they find Jebus’ Lost Tomb and **it’s occupied**.

  48. #48 RedMolly
    February 27, 2007

    I’ll tell you what they’ll really regret: If they find Jebus’ Lost Tomb and **it’s occupied**.

    Zombie Christ: ‘Cause resurrection is for sissies.

    Forget winning hearts and minds. All Zombie Christ wants is… BRAAAAAINS!

  49. #49 Blake Stacey
    February 27, 2007

    Dustin wrote:

    I’ve been getting the distinct impression that ASchlafy is a little more than just “conservative”. Particularly when it comes to Einstein. They hate Einstein, and I don’t know why, and try to give credit for relativity to other people (like Ponicare, never mind that his formulation isn’t consistent with the Michaelson-Morely experiment), and are generally hostile towards him. I can understand maybe pointing out where Einsteins contributions were, and where he got them from other people, but some of the things I saw were completely irrational.

    I don’t know if it’s directly relevant, but a few years back John Farrell wrote an article in Salon called
    Did Einstein Cheat?“, exploring the seamy anti-Einstein underworld of the Internet.

    If you’re tired of hearing about creationists and the war against Darwinism, you might be surprised to learn that another pillar of modern science, Einstein and his theory of relativity, is under attack.

    An underground of “dissident” scientists and self-described experts publish their theories in newsletters and on the Web, exchanging ideas in a great battle against “the temple of relativity.” According to these critics, relativity is not only wrong, it’s an affront to common sense, and its creator, Albert Einstein, was a cheat.

    A review of anti-relativity proponents and their publications reveals a plethora of alternative theories about how the universe really works. In spite of their many differences, common themes do emerge: resentment of academic “elites,” suspicion and resentment of the entire peer-review process in the mainstream scientific journals and a deep strain of paranoia about government involvement in scientific projects.

    […]

    Could these attacks on Einstein be related to the Christian right’s opposition to Darwin? A cursory search through creationist Web sites shows that a few actually embrace relativity as a tool in their speculations about the true age of the universe. Earlier opposition to relativity did show strains of Christian reaction to the idea that God’s absolute space and time had been somehow dethroned. But classical Christian tradition is more in line with Einstein, if St. Augustine’s ruminations can be taken as indicative.

    As to politics, it can’t be said with any confidence that anti-relativity types are registered Republicans either. For example, the editor of [Petr] Beckmann’s anti-relativity newsletter told me that her contributors cover the entire political spectrum.

    On the other hand, Brad DeLong, professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, points out that for many conservatives, “The admission that measurements of time and space depend on the motion of the observer is in their minds somehow tied up with the erosion of traditional cultural ‘absolutes,’ and scientific truth should be sacrificed to cultural order whenever necessary.” He cites the writings of Bethell as an example.

    Loonballs who don’t know physics, to put it briefly. The article concludes as follows:

    Whatever motivates the anti-relativity fringe, it certainly isn’t science. When Isaac Newton first advanced the idea of space and time as entities existing absolutely and independently of matter, his arch rival, Gottfried Leibnitz, challenged him to prove it. Newton couldn’t. His spokesman, the Rev. Samuel Clark, tried to cover for his master with the contention that space and time were absolute in the mind of God. Leibnitz replied that such a statement was scientifically meaningless.

    Not to anti-Einstein cranks. They have no trouble hopscotching between philosophy and science whenever it suits them. They remain stubbornly nostalgic for what they believe is a “simpler world,” one where space and time are hallowed absolutes. And they are happy to subordinate science at whatever cost to the limits of a mirage.

  50. #50 Patrick Quigley
    February 27, 2007

    Strictly speaking, I guess Schlafly was correct: if you’re redefining facts and making up nonsense as you go along, you certainly are presenting a new way of learning.

    Sadly it isn’t new. Religion has been around for a very long time.

    In the lust for short-term election victories, conservatives have irrevocably merged their political ideology with religion, and so they have begun to apply the infinitely malleable, evidence-free methodology of theology to the political realm. Thus we have “faith-based” politics rather than “reality-based” politics. Ann Coulter’s frenetic claims that liberals have turned politics into their religion seem like a perfect example of psychological projection to me.

  51. #51 MikeM
    February 27, 2007

    I still can’t find a conservapedia entry for “Scrotum.” Hmmm. Maybe I should check “Nutbag” instead.

  52. #52 A. Nonny Muss
    February 27, 2007

    I recommend we start spelling it “Conservapaedia”. You know, just to advance the anti-American agenda with that weapon of mass irritation, UK spelling. 🙂

  53. #53 Blake Stacey
    February 27, 2007

    A. Nonny Muss:

    Excellent.

  54. #54 Mena
    February 27, 2007

    Mrs. Tilton,
    That’s too rich! I do hope that you have learned the error of your ways though. ;^)
    MikeM,
    I can see how the non-PC crowd wouldn’t have any problem with using terms like negro and mongoloid in that baramin article but nut-anything strikes too close to home.

    I was thinking of trying this when I get some time and their site works a bit better. Zheesh, how long would I have to wait for those pages to download without broadband?!?!? I was going to start with pointing out that the conservatives during the Revolution were the loyalists but haven’t figured out a sneaky or funny way of doing that yet.

  55. #55 Kagehi
    February 27, 2007

    Nah. Its hosted on an Apple III. For those not knowing this gem, it was their attempt at a *business machine*. It only ran CP/M applications (those old pre-8086 CPU programs), required extra hardware to run AppleII applications, and then only if you first “booted” through a special disk. They where pieces of total crap. And, he’s probably using the joystick port on it to “fake” a serial port (standard practice in some, “make your own device”, concepts for the early Apple computers). The standard model didn’t come with any ports at all, if I remember, and you had to add those seperately too. All in all, the III was a boat anchor and even the better high res that later became standard on the Enchanced IIe and II+ was virtually impossible to actually use unless you had pre-existing software from them, like a crappy picture editor. Not even the Pascal language disks came with “proper” libraries for it. lol

  56. #56 Madam Pomfrey
    February 27, 2007

    Reminds me of Randall Terry going on about how much he “hates the Enlightenment.” Says it all.

  57. #57 ray
    February 27, 2007

    Mrs. Tilton,

    I was disappointed to see you were (temporarily) banned. I, too, was banned, though permanently. I thought I was doing a better job at being subtle, and Ashcyfly (sp?) banned me only a day after thanking me for my valuable, though strongly-worded, contributions. I’m not sure if it was my edits pointing out the anti-free market nature of the Gracchi brothers, that George Danton remains popular with homosexuals, or my insistence that scientists wrongly value evidence over the unchanging word of God. The only remaining vestige of my fun is the “Democrat” page that mentions their treasonous anti-Americanism with a link to a story with the headline “Democrats disagree with Bush.”

    I particularly enjoyed your comment that (paraphrasing) “while all nazis were atheists, not all atheists are nazis (some are communists, for example)”.

  58. #58 Goffr
    February 27, 2007

    I think part of the issue is that there was a goon rush by somethingawful.com … I think they took delight in adding in some obscene pictures and changing some articles to make them comedically conservative.

    Similar to what happened here but by a much more immature(?) community?

  59. Man! I gotta stop doing my very best Okazaki Fragment. I am totally lagging on this issue…

    Great comments thread – Smart People Be Here…:)

    (Kagehi and Tekla: I not only remember the Apple III, I have a desk drawer full of FORTRAN punchcards, and one of those envelopes holds the program for the perfect shuffle. I also still have tapes for a tape-drive machine I haven’t owned for 20 years – but damnit – someone may want to read my Senior Thesis on Tryptophan and ADD/ADHD, written in 1986 when we were at our Neuro zenith. I also have Tandy DOS for a TRASH-80 on 5 1/4″ floppy. And Appleworks by R.J. Messner. And dBASE-III. And Lotus. And WordPerfect 5.0. I seriously have a 51/4 library that I should be ashamed to admit I own.)

    There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those of us who understand binary, and those who don’t.

    –BG

  60. #60 Porlock Junior
    February 28, 2007

    Speaking of which, does anyone know of a service that will read punch cards onto a usable magnetic medium?
    Didn’t think so. about 15 years too late, I guess.
    (Wrote that as magentic medium. But no need for flying purple card eaters.)

    As to Jesiuts, I wasn’t thinking of them as scientists but as intellectual Catholics of a sort that I just know Schlafly can’t stand. And I won’t tell the story here about the Franciscan, the Dominican, the Benedictine and the Jesuit at dinner, out of respect to the norms of the group.

    But forget Scheiner. In fact, he’s Schlafly’s kind of guy, not only as a fierce opponent of moving the Earth, but as one who heard someone praise Galileo in a bookstore and started quivering with rage. But there’s another Jesuit of legitimate fame: Clavius, who was Mr. (or Dr.) Astronomy in the time between Copernicus and Galileo&Kepler.

    Not to mention the still-living Fr. Coyne, the subject of comments some weeks ago, who really isn’t Schlafly’s sort.

  61. #61 David Marjanovi?
    February 28, 2007

    And I won’t tell the story here about the Franciscan, the Dominican, the Benedictine and the Jesuit at dinner

    Please do!!! Pretty please!

  62. #62 David Marjanovi?
    February 28, 2007

    And I won’t tell the story here about the Franciscan, the Dominican, the Benedictine and the Jesuit at dinner

    Please do!!! Pretty please!

  63. #63 anon
    February 28, 2007

    “I don’t want to go to college. College is where they teach you to hate God.”
    ************

    They tell that to you with Canadian accents, too. In private schools.

    And tell you to ground yourself in scripture before taking philosophy courses, and Lit courses, and science courses…. Lest you lose all faith.

    After a while it gets old.

    Not so much when you first hear it.

    Eh.

  64. #64 Sylvanite
    March 1, 2007

    I noticed that the entry for the “Pacific Northwest Arboreal Octopus” now has a comment by ASchlafly mentioning how the Conservapedia site has been bombarded by science bloggers, but that the science bloggers are too stupid to notice that the article on the tree octopus is actually a parody making fun of environmentalists. So there science bloggers!

    Seriously, check it out.

  65. #65 Keith Douglas
    March 3, 2007

    The PNAC entry in that basteon of useful information is gone … 🙁

  66. #66 Keith Douglas
    March 3, 2007

    Oops, wrong PNA* acronym.

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