February 23, 2007

The brilliant unintentional comedy of Conservapedia

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at February 23, 2007 6:01 PM

I don't normally go reading crackpot right-wing sites for my own amusement, but Conservapedia is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. In fact, I'd be certain it's a parody if not for Andrew Schlafly's presence as a major editor. As the name suggests, Conservapedia is supposed to be a "fair and balanced" (in the Fox News sense) alternative to Wikipedia, which apparently suffers from liberal bias. The editors of Conservapedia have helpfully (and hilariously) listed their grievances against Wikipedia, which include such major offenses as:

1. Wikipedia allows the use of B.C.E. instead of B.C. and C.E. instead of A.D. The dates are based on the birth of Jesus, so why pretend otherwise? Conservapedia is Christian-friendly and exposes the CE deception.

5. Wikipedia often uses foreign spelling of words, even though most English speaking users are American. Look up "Most Favored Nation" on Wikipedia and it automatically converts the spelling to the British spelling "Most Favoured Nation", even there there are far more American than British users. Look up "Division of labor" on Wikipedia and it automatically converts to the British spelling "Division of labour," then insists on the British spelling for "specialization" also.[3]. Enter "Hapsburg" (the European ruling family) and Wikipedia automatically changes the spelling to Habsburg, even though the American spelling has always been "Hapsburg". Within entries British spellings appear in the silliest of places, even when the topic is American. Conservapedia favors American spellings of words.

Now, this project is still fairly new so one doesn't expect to find extended entries on many topics. Nonetheless I was disappointed to find that many entries are... well, "half-assed" doesn't quite describe it. It's more like 1%-assed. A lot of entries consist of a single sentence lifted from an appropriately slanted textbook (sample title: Exploring Creation With Biology). (I want to mention that I hit the "random page" button once to find that example.) And a lot of the more likely fodder for entertainment (such as the entry for evolution) has already been edited by visiting liberals in an attempt to either correct or parody, either of which makes it less funny. Nevertheless, the best examples of teh crazy occur where you don't expect: these guys object not just to evolution but to relativity, and there are some other gems as well. (I'm linking to people who have quoted them, since the original entries have probably changed by now.) I recommend just clicking random pages until you find something good.

Although the temptation to troll the site is immense, I have to agree with those who say we liberals should leave it alone and see what develops. The intra-wingnut edit wars alone should be worth it.

Tags: Evolution, Internet, Psychoceramics, Science

I wasn't familiar with the "Hapsburg" spelling; judging from google it's not widely used. Since de.wikipedia.org and es.wikipedia.org use the conventional spelling, I'll go out on a limb and say "Habsburg" is correct... How there can even be an American spelling for a European royal family is beyond me, anyway.

Regarding bias in wikipedia, of course there is! Reality has a well-known liberal bias (Colbert, 2006).

Dude! The 1%-assedness is no joke! "Microorganisms: Living organisms that are too small to see with the naked eye." citing that same Exploring Creation with Biology book. There's also an Exploring Creation with Chemistry book by the same guy.

Spectacularly poor spelling in some entries. Ending the Jamestown page, "then chose a little penin sula as the sight for there setelment.They named both the river and the setelment after King James the 1 of England."

So far the only funny entries I've found are the ones previously cited elsewhere. I'm disappointed! The 1%-assedness is a serious problem - they can't show off their conservative bias and hilarious reality denial skillz if they just put a single sentence (or at most, short paragraph) in each article! Also, the "six degrees" game from before won't work on conservapedia. Many entries don't have any links to other articles.

I wonder if conservapedia was created by some wingnut homeschooling group as a project their kids could work on. That would help explain the simplicity of most entries...

Posted by: Justin | February 23, 2007 6:57 PM

I think it would be really interesting if they could manage to create a large database of well-edited, self-consistent information out of this.

Did I say interesting? I meant to say surprising, but I guess it'd be interesting too.

Oh, and I was thinking the CE/AD distinction was retarded PC crap, then I remembered what AD actually stands for. At this point in time it should just be a noun, just like a dead metaphor, but I do have some sympathy for those who take offense. Words mean what they're created for when they're created, but after that they really only mean what they're used for.

(I know, Latin, dead language, yada yada, whatever. I just felt like commenting!)

Posted by: Lemming | February 23, 2007 7:53 PM

I'm glad that this site is clarifying some hard-hitting issues for me.

Posted by: Josh | February 23, 2007 8:38 PM

At Hebrew School back in the day, a lot of the teachers were morally offended by the whole AD bit and insisted on the students using CE, etc. Personally, I'm with Lemming on what is meant by the use. At this point, AD basically just stands for AD just like JILA stands for JILA.

And conservapedia is "impressive".

Posted by: Mason | February 23, 2007 10:02 PM

I agree with lemming about the BC/BCE thing. What it originially stood for is an outdated concept. While not religious, no one cares what a.m. and p.m. stand for. It should be like that. I mean goodbye is a shortened version of "God be with ye" but so what?
It's as silly as the feminists who insist on changing words that derive from the "masculine". So instead, the "womyn" attend "ovulars" (no seminars for them).
I hate when people let politics color their perception of everything. I mean does being a conservative or liberal really change your perception of everything in the entire encyclopedia? If so, you definitely need a life.

Posted by: Jenny | February 24, 2007 4:09 AM

Josh, I would have thought their preferred definition of that term would have been "The name of the Minneapolis professional football team consisting almost entirely of Christians, although many of them are black."

Posted by: JSpur | February 24, 2007 6:03 AM

By the way, here is a definition courtesy Ambrose Bierce:

Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

Posted by: Mason | February 24, 2007 10:39 AM

JSpur: Ha! I can only assume that the reason that definition isn't there is that Conservapedia considered a Viking (Disambiguation) section, but it was thrown out. The reason for rejection was that it was better to stay the course on their present definition.

Posted by: Josh | February 24, 2007 10:56 AM

Conservatives don't have time for ambiguity. Interferes with the basic conservative philosophy- as succinctly stated, in a different context, in "Payback"- which is, "if you don't understand it, get rid of it."

Posted by: JSpur | February 24, 2007 4:59 PM

There is an old saying that has served me well... do not shit where you eat. Or live. "Do not shit where you live." Yeah, I like that better.

Posted by: Josh | February 24, 2007 5:42 PM

Also, "If the fu shits, wear it." (Does anybody else remember this old, very dumb joke?) Ah, elementary school...

Posted by: Mason | February 24, 2007 5:50 PM

Three cheers for our queer old Dean!

Posted by: Josh | February 24, 2007 6:02 PM

Reminds me when I first moved here, went through a stretch where the toilet needed some work. I had myself regular enough that I only pooped at work for a week. Wow.

Posted by: Lemming | February 25, 2007 1:59 AM

Lemming: Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Mason | February 25, 2007 2:27 AM

wow. I have t say i agree with the sentimant liberals should leave the pages alone. I would be curious to see just how much crap the maker of the site can write without help.

Posted by: shellock | February 26, 2007 5:12 AM
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