Conservapedia: An encyclopedia for the delusional

Okay, I won’t mince words. Conservapedia sucks. I find the whole idea of a separate encyclopedia based on a narrow viewpoint revolting. If the facts don’t back up all of your positions, maybe you should change your positions, rather than going off to build your own parallel universe (including your own encyclopedias!) where bias rules? It’s scary that the theocrats and the neocons in this country basically live in their own separate world where they don’t have to hear, nay, even think about things they disagree with. They have their own news channel, their own radio stations, their own schools and educational materials (some that proclaim the Earth is only thousands of years old!), their own churches, their own sport (NASCAR), and now even their own collaborative encyclopedia? How can a group of people just decide to collectively disassociate with reality to such a degree? Here’s the mission statement from the front page of their site:

Conservapedia is a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American. On Wikipedia, many of the dates are provided in the anti-Christian “C.E.” instead of “A.D.”, which Conservapedia uses. Christianity receives no credit for the great advances and discoveries it inspired, such as those of the Renaissance. Read a list of many Examples of Bias in Wikipedia.

Conservapedia isn’t an encyclopedia, it’s a propaganda mill trying to disguise itself as an encyclopedia. And failing miserably. Let’s take a look at a quote from their abominable article on evolution:

Ironically, the thory of evolution is often disproved simply by the existence of those who argue against it. Intelligence, indeed the grasp of rote reason, seems beyond even the most articulate of the anti-evolutionists – a startling development, considering the difficulty of survival in modern times. Ostensibly, wolves, liberals and flagrant “street abortionists,” would easily predate upon these huddles masses – however, and perhaps due to the power of their De Jesus, many do not meet their ends this way; allowing thus for the continued distribution of their holy seed.

What the hell is that?! Is it supposed to be a coherent argument? Is it really supposed to be an encyclopedia article?! Why do blatant hostility and utter ignorance towards science always seem to go hand-in-hand with conservatism? Update 2007-02-25: I should’ve caught it earlier, but this section was a joke. Here’s a look at the opening section to the article on George Washington:

George Washington (1732-1799) was unanimously elected President of the United States of America and the Commander-in-Chief in the Revolutionary War! He was also a devout Christian, with his adopted daughter once stating that if you question Washington’s faith you may as well question whether or not he was a patriot!

Washington is perhaps the person other than Jesus who declined enormous worldly power, in Washington’s case by voluntarily stepping aside as the ruler of a prosperous nation! His precedent of serving only two terms was then voluntarily followed for 140 years!

Washington frequently invoked Christianity in his work! As General, he commanded that chaplains be included in every regiment: “The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier, defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country!

Notice how every sentence ends in an exclamation mark! Every single freaking sentence in the article! It even goes on for a few more paragraphs which I’ve mercifully decided not to quote here! It’s like the writer is in a perpetual state of amazement and awe! Even over mundane facts! Note that this article doesn’t really talk about George Washington too much, but rather, uses it to advance propaganda about George Washington’s religion!

One final thing that upsets me on a very deep free content movement level: there is no licensing information anywhere. I guess using an open source content license is too “Communist” for them, but the alternative, not using a license, is even worse. I have no idea what legal grounds they’re on with this, but it’s likely they’re setting themselves up for a world of hurt because none of the people contributing content to Conservapedia are releasing their work under any sort of license. It’s questionable if it’s even legal for Conservapedia to be redistributing and modifying this content at all. They could try to pull some draconian nonsense in the future claiming that they own all of the content that was submitted to them, but without an explicit release, that’ll never fly. And with an explicit release, who would bother contributing? Why would you want to work for free so someone else, who merely hosts the damn thing, gets all of the benefit from it? The beauty of Wikipedia is that you retain copyright to every contribution you make. It’s your’s. It is licensed so that other people can use it, modify it, and redistribute it under the terms of the GFDL, but you are still the ultimate owner. That is why Wikipedia has been so successful, and why Conservapedia is likely to fail (well, that and how ludicrous the whole concept is).

Addendum: Lots of people have been covering this Conservapedia lunacy. Here are some good links:

11 Responses to “Conservapedia: An encyclopedia for the delusional”

  1. goonsquad Says:

    The following quote of yours was penned by a liberal. It’s poking fun at anti-evolutionists.

    “Ironically, the thory of evolution is often disproved simply by the existence of those who argue against it. Intelligence, indeed the grasp of rote reason, seems beyond even the most articulate of the anti-evolutionists – a startling development, considering the difficulty of survival in modern times. Ostensibly, wolves, liberals and flagrant “street abortionists,” would easily predate upon these huddles masses – however, and perhaps due to the power of their De Jesus, many do not meet their ends this way; allowing thus for the continued distribution of their holy seed.”

  2. Cyde Weys Says:

    That doesn’t surprise me one bit. It’s hard to know what percentage of this site is actually being written by real conservatives versus people making fun of conservatives. One wonders if some conservatives are even able to make the distinction. I’ve already seen one person I know from Wikipedia editing on Conservapedia and he’s definitely no neocon, so I wonder how many others are editing for fun rather than because they really buy into the ideology.

  3. goonsquad Says:

    Yep. However, the evolution quote isn’t really too thinly veiled. No doubt it took a while before anyone realized who was the target of the jab.

    Editing this site looks fun if it wasn’t /.ed and sluggish as hell. The George Washington excerpt you posted above was edited by someone today who ended every sentence with one or more exclamation points.

  4. Cyde Weys Says:

    Their hosting package isn’t remotely up to snuff. They clearly weren’t ready for this large media rush. They were probably humming along for some months, largely unnoticed, and then boom, taken out.

    I do like in constant fear of being slashdotted or dugg myself :-/ I’m just hosting this site on residential asymmetric cable. There’s no way I could withstand it.

  5. CJ King Says:

    Cyde, do you believe in God?

  6. Cyde Weys Says:

    Hrmm, let me turn the question around on you: do you believe in the Celestial teapot?

  7. CJ King Says:

    I believe in a God, but I don’t think there’s anything between Earth and Mars except air. Its an amusing possibility, though!!

  8. CJ King Says:

    Sorry if I’m offending you!

  9. Cyde Weys Says:

    To be fair, there’s lots of things between the Earth and Mars. Asteroids, comets, etc. Depending on the lower size limit you want to put on it, we’re talking trillions of possible objects out there.

    But no, I do not believe in the celestial teapot. I see no evidence for it.

  10. arensb Says:

    It looks like Conservapedia has plenty of trolls desperately trying to parody right right wing by writing something even more outrageous than wha the right wing already writes. Some attempts are more obvious than others, e.g., from the article on Bill Clinton:

    Bill Clinton managed to serve two terms without botching the prosecution of two wars, manipulating intelligence, engaging in a systematic program of torture, or mishandling the federal response to flooding of a major American city. Obviously, he is the devil incarnate.

  11. Cyde Weys Says:

    It’s difficult to guess what percentage of Conservapedia edits are actually taking the whole ridiculous idea seriously and which percentage of edits are just people messing with them. At some point you reach the black hole of no return limit and all of the people who are “legitimately” trying to write anything just give up, because they are overwhelmed with people making fun of them. Look at it this way: if you were a neocon, would you bother contributing to an encyclopedia where half of the entries are basically making fun of your point of view? I’m hoping Conservapedia is doomed to failure.