Column 18: Special “RationalWiki is down” Edition!

It’s funny. Usually, whenever Andrew Schlafly or one of his minions release their crazy ramblings into the wild, I can at least decode the reasoning and the assumptions behind it, even if I don’t agree with it or can otherwise relate to it. But the most recent one of Schlafly’s “Insights” concerning the “secular concept of the ‘past'” really has me puzzled. It may be true that Jesus doesn’t speak much about the past, since he’s generally more interested in the future, but he does refer e.g. to the Law of the Fathers and all that.

And indeed, one of the important differences between Christianity and other religions of the time is actually exactly its emphasis on a linear rather than a cyclical time: That there is a natural progression from the creation of the universe, through the various ages of the world, until the end of everything in the Judgement Day.

So I don’t get it. Apparently, Schlafly has decided to deny one of the central aspects of Christianity as being “secular”, and I don’t understand why. After all this time, he finally has me stumped. So… props to him for once, I guess.


Also, this is the official “talk about whatever until RationalWiki comes back online”-thread. So feel free to talk about whatever until… yeah, you get the idea.


Leifr Eiriksson is not amused!

As you may or may not be aware, early August witnessed a curious incident – to briefly summarize, Andrew Schlafly stumbled across an obscure article that mentioned there was no evidence that the Vikings who reached North America in the early 10th century had ever sailed as far south as New England – a fairly uncontroversial statement. However, in Mr Schlafly’s mind – and in Conservapedia’s News column – this got turned into the more unusual claim that the Vikings had never been to North America at all. Instead, the whole story about Leifr Eiriksson and his intrepid crew who landed in Vinland is merely a liberal myth intended to downplay the “Christian achievement” of Christopher Columbus.

As might be expected, certain CP editors, including your author, took a careful exception to this interpretation, pointing out particularly that there is ample historical and archaeological evidence for a brief Viking presence in North America, that Leifr Eiriksson was just as much a Christian as Columbus, making the whole discussion somewhat pointless, and that the freaking article didn’t even say what he claimed it said. As might be expected, Mr Schlafly refused to budge an inch, even going so far as to claim that the Viking artifacts excavated at L’Anse aux Meadows was planted there by the archaeologists who discovered the site. For interesting parts of the discussion, see especially Talk:Main Page and Talk:Leif Erikson.

Now, it is well-known to regular readers – to the extent that a blog on de facto hiatus can have regular readers at all – that the CP Column has never been known to mince its words, so I will be unapologetically frank here. While perhaps the question of Vikings in North America may seem less immediately important by comparison, I believe that what we have witnessed in this situation is in essence of the same species as Holocaust denial – the gross distortion, or even attempted falsification of history to serve a political agenda.

For that reason, following these events, I have decided that I will waste no further of my limited and precious time on that piece of group delusion. You just don’t mess with Leifr Eiriksson.┬áThere has to be a limit somewhere.

Besides, RationalWiki‘s What is Going on at Conservapedia now does a usually excellent job at documenting and discussing the various inanities that happen at CP, so this blog has really outlived its usefulness. We thus consign it to history.

In other news, you might or might not be interested in my other, newly-launched blog, Vox in Deserto, which will feature all sorts of interesting commentary about medieval subjects and other things. For instance, the very first post contains a quote by the Venerable Bede. For those who might be in doubt, I can inform you that this fact in se shows that this blog will be not just great – this is practically a given thing – but truly sublime.

As for Conservapedia, I may mention them at Vox from time to time. In the meantime, I wish those poor souls a good night and good luck.

Column 17: First Post-Unblock Impressions

It’s now been a couple of days since my unexpected unblock from Conservapedia, and I’ve collected a couple of impressions.

Curiously, it is at the same time much the same place and a much different place from the one I left a little over a year ago. It is much the same in that it still o’erflows with the usual ultra-right wing bias, the usual misconduct by management and their conies, and the usual almost gleeful disregard for demonstrable facts. Nothing new under the sun there.

On the other hand, it is also a much different place. For one thing, it is a much quieter place than it used to be. There seems to be very few actual editors left, and it sometimes takes days to fill up the recent changes list, especially if you only look at the, for an alleged encyclopedia rather important, main space edits. I guess this situation is one that one must expect considering the rather cavalier attitude that most sysops show towards user right and block reasons and such. These thing tend to erode the potential user base over time.

And for another thing – although one that it probably closely related to the first – Conservapedia is seriously messed up right now. And I’m not just referring to the ways in which it’s always been messed up; no, these days, it’s messed up technically as well. I’m getting network timeouts and connection interruptions for hours at a time here. I have no idea how I’m ever going to produce my many valuable contributions under these circumstances.

Nevertheless, I’m there, for the time being and to the extent possibly. And I’m contributing, for some reason unknown even to myself. And I’ve managed to only make one snarky comment in the two days I’ve been there. We’ll see how long I can keep that up.

Until then, good night and good luck.

A most surprising development

Dear readers! We interrupt your regularly scheduled hiatus to bring you this important update: Your author, yours truly, has recently been unblocked on Conservapedia, for reasons that are not entirely clear. Our favourite sysop Bohdan/Henry/SHahB/Oscar/Olaf/etc. claims that I have been “begging and whining to be unblocked.” I must admit this is news to me, so either someone has been impersonating me, or this is a manifestation of Henry’s somewhat ideosyncratic sense of humour. Or maybe I’m just suffering from amnesia.

Now what was I talking about again?

Seriously though, whatever the cause, I must admit this is an unsual situation, and that I find myself at a bit of a loss about what to do with this. On the one hand, I have serious moral issues about contributing meaningfully to a project whose only reason for existence is to push a political agenda that I fundamentally disagree with. On the other hand, while others might see this as a prime opportunity for vandalizing and/or parodying, I’m not going to do such things either. On the third (!) hand, this is far too unsual to just ignore it.

So this is a bit of a dilemma. I may let you know if I ever solve it.

In the meantime, as always, good night and good luck.

Another newsflash!

The Burma debacle on Conservapedia is changing almost by the minute here, and we are seeing some very interesting developments. For what is probably the first time ever, a discussion on RationalWiki seems to have led directly to a change in a news item on the Conservapedia Main Page.

I’m glad to see a slight bit of improvement here. Of course, the story is still racist crap, but at least now it isn’t an outright lie. Also, as an editor on RationalWiki, and a former editor on Conservapedia, I must say that I am happy to see that we can help in improving the material on Conservapedia in this way, and I am looking forward to much more valuable and fruitful collaboration in the future. Godspeed!


We interrupt our regular hiatus to bring you this important announcement, fresh from the presses at Conservapedia:

Myanmar monk mobs attack police.

Ever vigilant in their dedication to bring us the latest trusworthy news and analyses, Conservapedia – courtesy of sysop Ed Poor – bravely goes in the complete opposite direction of virtually every other news service out there in order to bring us this groundbreaking story of violent Buddhist monks attacking the police forces of the pro-American government of Myanmar.

In the following debate on Talk:Main Page, Ed provides a further elaboration of his views, including such stellar insights as “…to profess outrage that an attempt to overthrow a government resulted in a few deaths seems odd to me…” and “I think if an American tried to take a cop’s gun in New York, he’d face a “violent” police response.” These are interesting views. Frankly, I’m surprised that none of the major networks have decided to cover that angle of the story, preferring instead the touchy-feely stuff like how the evil police soldiers are shooting at unarmed demonstrators or the utter lack of democracy in Burma for the last 45 years. But of course, they aren’t trusworthy encyclopedias, are they?

Seriously, though: Isn’t Conservapedia amazing? Every time you think you’ve seen the worst their collective reactionary hive mind could possibly come up with, just wait a few days and they’ll spring the next surprise on you.

Other than that, I don’t really think there’s anything I can say that will add significantly to this story, crystal clear as it is. Follow the discussion on RationalWiki at Ed’s talk page or Talk:What is going on at CP?. Or at Talk:Main Page at CP, should you be in the mood for a… less frank discussion.

UPDATE: This just in before the deadline! Andrew Schlafly gives the seal of approval to Ed’s interpretation of events, presumably making it the official opinion of Conservapedia that violent Buddhist monks are behind the whole thing, and also noting that those who have a problem with that are liberals who “protest too much” (one must assume the dead people in Burma protest too much, as well.) Meanwhile, Ed heads over to RationalWiki to suggest “collaborating on a true version of the story”. Yeah.

En Passant: Pouring in

So, according to the current Conservapedia front page, “Letters pour into the Los Angeles Times in response to its article about Conservapedia.

Yeah. Three letters, all of them negative. I suppose that might theoretically be called “pouring in”, under the right circumstances, just like Wikipedia might theoretically be called “six times more liberal than the American population”, under the right circumstances. But I digress.

Also: Seriously, gentlemen. How long are you going to be parading that L.A. Times logo around on the front page? It’s been two weeks now. I think they might want it back now, although they don’t like to ask for it.

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