Conservatives Ape Left -- Again

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Whether they're taking over the welfare state, censoring a major scientific debate, using government "encouragement" to reduce carbon emissions, or boarding the racial quota express, conservatives are looking more and more like their fellow altruists, the leftists, all the time. Today, we can chalk up another example: Conservapedia.

Recall that there is nothing conservatives like more than to complain about the "Mainstream Media" -- not that I am getting ready to deny the well-known biases of news media dominated by left-wing reporters and commentators.

But if conservatives are going to complain about "liberal bias" with the implication that they are champions of objectivity, projects like the new Conservapedia speak volumes about their motives. An article from the Houston Chronicle lists several excerpts from Wikipedia and Conservapedia head to head, including the following from their respective entries on dinosaurs.

  • Wikipedia: Dinosaurs were vertebrate animals that dominated terrestrial ecosystems for over 160-million years, first appearing approximately 230-million years ago.
  • Conservapedia: Of those Christians who reject evolution, the Young Earth Creationists believe, based primarily on Biblical sources, but also drawing on archaeological and fossil evidence, that dinosaurs were created on the 6th day of the Creation Week approximately 6,000 years ago; that they lived in the Garden of Eden in harmony with other animals, eating only plants; that pairs of various dinosaur baramins were taken onto Noah's Ark during the Great Flood and were preserved from drowning; that fossilized dinosaur bones originated during the mass killing of the Flood; and that some descendants of those dinosaurs taken aboard the Ark still roam the earth today.
No missing evidence or ideologically-motivated distortion there! Riiiiight.

-- CAV


: Corrected a typo.


Adrian Hester said...

Yo, Gus, that Conservapedia is a truly awful site. I searched on a few words and names, and boy, were the results pathetic. There's no entry for H.L. Mencken, for example, but he does come up in the article on the Scopes Trial: "A famous liberal reporter at the trial, H.L. Mencken, published such one-sided articles that it would make today's media blush." Mencken a liberal? Oddly enough, while they go to so much trouble to point out which figures were atheist or atheistical (such as Bentham), the most they can manage for atheistical Mencken is liberal? (Oh, and they point out that Blaise Pascal and John Stuart Mill were home-schooled, but they neglect to mention the home-schooling of the atheistical Jeremy Bentham.) As for his articles, I consider them restrained to the point of mealy-mouthery myself given his targets, but your mileage may vary.

The entries on Hobbes, Locke, and Descartes are paltry, skimpy things filled with chaff about inessentials. As for Francis Bacon: "A scientist during the Age of Exploration who lived from 1561 to 1626 and promoted research based on experimentation." Actually, Bacon wasn't a scientist (in fact, he was a lawyer, statesman, and essayist), but as a philosopher of science he was quite important. Interestingly enough, the balance of the entry, about the twisted painter of the same name, is significantly longer: "Not to be confused with the 20th Century Anglo-Irish artist (1909-1992)[1] of the same name, although the artist Francis Bacon, a confirmed bachelor, was what is known as a 'collateral descendant' of his earlier namesake.[2]" Um, if you're writing an encyclopedia in which you feel the need to set off "collateral descendant" in quote marks, perhaps you should spend the extra electrons to define the term in the entry as well.

And check out the entry on "knowledge." No great contributions to epistemology there, but I love this bit: "Many believe that sharing of knowledge is the best way to increase knowledge. Others believe so firmly in one kind of knowledge that they fear learning. Encyclopedias often contain a wealth of 'knowledge' unless they espouse only one single type of knowledge in which case they seem to become repositories of 'opinion'. Wikipedia is considered to lack knowledge because it is so open about its liberal bias, for example. As opposed to conservapedia which ... [needs further thought]." Further thought? All I've seen so far on the site is regurguitated pap.

And ya gotta dig the entry on Plato. (In an odd lapse in the lack of rigor in the site, and indeed in the very entry, they didn't misspell his name as Play-doh.) "He was a student of Socrates and founded the Academy, a school bereft of buildings wherein Plato taught his students math, logic, and the tenants of Sophitic thought." Those were the people who lived across the way in a school with buildings, you see; the Academicians roomed with them in return for private tuition.

It continues, "He wrote the Republic, and its logical sequel, The Laws, as well as a large number of other, less popular works in which he showed (amongst other things) how to teach geometry to slaves, how to irritate sophists, and how everything in the world is made of triangles. One of Plato's pupils was Aristotle, who went on to greatly influence Aquinas, and much of the Magesterium of the Roman Catholic Church." Truly a magesterial writer of true sophitication, no?

Then I checked out what they'd say about various languages of Biblical and Christian importance. On the subject of Babel, it reads: "Babel is the sound your tongue makes when it doesn't know what it is trying to say. Many people say speaking in tongues is a form of "babel"-ing, but really you are speaking through the spirit of the Lord." 'Nuff said.

Oh, and then there's the brain-dead entry on Aramaic: "Aramaic was the language of Jesus. It is an Indo-European language, most closely related to Armenian and Hittite. However, it borrowed extensively from Hebrew, and therefore has often been mistaken for a Semitic language. It is somewhat unusual because it has no voiceless consonants, and no unaspirated consonants. Its syntax is that of a typical Indo-European language." No, no, NO! Every single sentence but the first is in error here--couldn't they find even a failed divinity student to vomit out the basics for them? It's a distinct Semitic language (though it did borrow a number of Hebrew words); it most certainly does possess voiceless and unaspirated consonants; and its syntax is that of a typical Semitic language and among the Indo-European languages is vaguely similar only to the Celtic languages (VSO word order, for example). (The article on Latin is somewhat more accurate, though it still has this boner: "Verbal morphology distinguishes both case and aspect." Uh, no, it distinguishes tense and aspect.)

I say, may their enterprise prosper! It will keep these addlepates busy when they could be doing real damage in society, and advertise their abysmal stupidity and intellectual bankruptcy as well.

Adrian Hester said...

Yo, Gus, the entry on St. Augustine is truly ironic as well as pathetic in the extreme. There's a sentence about his upbringing, nothing more (nothing about The City of God, for example, or any of his theological views--an amazing lapse for that brand of Christian conservatives), and then a long quote that includes the following admonition that among other things condemns the entire site: "Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics [science]; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion." Indeed.

Gus Van Horn said...

What howlers! I couldn't bear that stinking swamp long enough to unearth such jewels, so thank you for doing that dirty work!

If no other adjective describes your curiosity, "morbid" does!

In the lack-of-rigor department, check out the one-line entry on Roger Bacon: "A great English friar and philosopher who wrote an encyclopedia and is hailed by many the father of modern science." Not bad, but only when they meld the Bacons together into one "Roger Francis Bacon" entry, will their work will be complete.

Adrian Hester said...

Yo, Gus, you write: "If no other adjective describes your curiosity, 'morbid' does!" True that, but one sad thing is that I didn't have to search long or hard at all to find any of those. Pretty much every single name I searched on coughed up something swinish, and pretty much every single name I searched on is mentioned in my post.

And how much you want to bet the quote from Augustine was put up by someone who's not a fan of the site? I mean, the people running it are too senseless to get the point of it, I'm sure, and even if they suspected someone had taken a jab at them, it would take real gall to delete Augustine's words. If so, my hat's off to the guy or gal who thought to put it up there. It's a familiar enough quote if you've read about the whole to-do over Athens and Jerusalem in early Christianity, but to be reminded of it by browsing the Concervapedia shows true perspicacity.

Gus Van Horn said...

"[T]he people running it are too senseless to get the point of it."

That would apply not only to the quote but to the whole point of Wikipedia (and to each of its constituent subconcepts: the wiki and the encyclopedia).

To be sure, something composed by wiki can be vandalized easily and the process does not guarantee truth, but it has done surprisingly well. Schlafly et. al. do have a point, but ironically, it is their very own product that better demonstrates what a wiki would look like with a mainly biased (or at least non-consensus) input.

The right way to use Wikipedia is to not use it without corroborating it. But this doesn't satisfy those for whom independent thought is anathema. Many of the dolts behind Conservapedia would ban the teaching of evolution altogether if they could.

Xavier Ninnis said...

" ...not that I am getting ready to deny the well-known biases of news media dominated by left-wing reporters and commentators."
"Liberal bias", seriously? I can't believe you could be so astute in your criticism of the abominable Conservapedia, and still have been taken in by all the propagandizing about the liberal media that is spread by the same source.
Think: "Playing the Refs".

Gus Van Horn said...

If you think I got the idea that most news media have a left-wing bias from Conservapedia, of all places, you are wrong.

Furthermore, because Conservapedia is so outrageously wrong about so many things does not mean that if they say the news media have a left bias, that must be wrong, too.

I got the impression that the news media have a left wing bias simply by paying attention and keeping my mind engaged.