Archive for June, 2007

Conservapedia on the Daily Show

As some of you may already know, Conservapedia got a mention on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart yesterday on June 28th. For those of you who did not have the opportunity to see this, the Column has laboriously managed to track it down, brought to you courtesy of Crooks and Liars.

Now, one thing I couldn’t help notice is that while Conservapedia will usually proudly parade any piece of news coverage they get around on the front page (seriously, that LA Times article was over a week ago), they seem to have missed this particular event completely. That’s sort of surprising, since I’d guess on average, the Daily Show has at least a few more viewers than the L.A. Times has readers. National television, too, definitely not bad. I’d say this is probably their best media appearance so far, so one would think they’d be proud. Someone should really run over and point it out to them, I think. I’m sure they’ll be happy.


Baraminology Revisited

Good news abound!

I’ll briefly take a page out of CP Sysop Conservative’s book and rejoice that we’re apparently moving up in the world. The Conservapedia Column today ranks as number 23 out of 15,800 on a Google search for “Baraminology”. Specifically, the post En Passant: Baraminology, which, if I may say so myself, is indeed a both well-researched and well-written post that contains everything the inquiring mind would need to know about Baraminology. I’m quite happy to learn this, since Baraminology is such an important subject as it is, so I’m looking forward to welcoming many new users who come here to learn about Baraminology. I hope that with time, this site can turn into an important learning resource about Baraminology.

Did I mention Baraminology yet? Oh yes, I see that I did mention Baraminology. Good, because we wouldn’t want to forget about Baraminology, would we?

In other news, I find this hilarious on a whole range of levels.

En Passant: Talkin’ About It…

…or not.

Alright. What in God’s name (sorry) is going on here? We have the Historicity of Jesus article, which after a brief perusal seems at least acceptable, and at least reasonably well researched – even if, as can be expected, the conclusion is given from the outset.

Surprisingly, it does not even appear to be locked. But the talk page, on the other hand, has been thoroughly wiped, deleted and locked. Why? Was there a long, contentious debate with much bile being spit across the ideological chasm, as has been seen on other talk pages? Nah. Just one snide comment.

So again – what’s going on here? Your guesses are as good as mine, and encouraged. I’m looking forward to learning from your constructive contributions!

Column 16: A Pox on Thee!

Lone Grasshopper draws our attention to the fact that this is all Andrew Schlafly wants us to know about smallpox:

Smallpox is an acute, highly infectious, often fatal disease caused by a poxvirus and characterized by high fever and aches with subsequent widespread eruption of pimples that blister, produce pus, and form pockmarks. It is also called variola.

Well, that is… concise. It’s also pretty ridiculous, because there exists an earlier and much longer variant of this articl, which was actually really good. Well-written, informative and concise (at least in the non-Schlaflyan meaning of that term, i.e. imparting much information in relatively little space.)

Mr. Schlafly doesn’t want us to see that, however. He’s pretty adamant about it, too:

Revision as of 10:24, 4 June 2007 (edit) (undo)
Aschlafly (Talk | contribs)
(reverting again; don’t revert back to the longer version or else your account will be blocked)

Now, most of us know perfectly well that Conservapedia cares much more about having a large number of articles to parade on the Main Page than about the actual quality of those articles, but even then, this seems a little extreme. The logical conclusion is that there is something in the longer article that mr. Schalfly doesn’t want us to see, but which would be too obvious to remove specifically. My guess is vaccination is the problem. Probably this paragraph in particular:


The annihilation of smallpox—the dreadful scourge of the human race—will be the final result of vaccination.” – Edward Jenner

Jenner predicted shortly after his initial trial vaccination that smallpox would eventually be eliminated as a threat to humanity. Although many western nations had achieved mandatory vaccination programs, other countries could not afford the expense. As early as 1958, the Soviet Union called from the eradication of smallpox by a volunteer effort. Beginning in 1967, the World Health Organization began a world wide vaccination campaign with the purpose of eradicating smallpox. The last natural case of variola major occurred in 1975, and the last natural case of variola minor in 1977.

Most reasonable people agree that the eradication of smallpox has probably been one of the greatest successes of modern medical history, saving countless lives through a coordinated effort of vaccination. Mr. Schlafly, however, seems to disagree, and there is probably a reason for that. Mr. Schlafly, you see, has the distinction of being General Counsel to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a strongly right-wing medical association which, among other things, is a strong opponent of mandatory vaccination. One can only guess what the good people in the AAPS think of a vaccination campaign like this one, especially a worldwide one perpetrated by an evil socialist international organization like the WHO. After all, one must not lose sight of the essentials here! And one could also guess that they might expect their General Counsel mr. Schlafly to… deal with differing opinions on his “trustworthy encyclopedia” in a smartly fashion.

Of course, some may argue that this is hardly in keeping with Conservapedia’s stated “neutrality to the facts”, but really – what does a little suppression of true and verifiable history and medical facts in the pursuit of economic benefit and ideological motives mean among friends?

Good night, and good luck.

UPDATE: Kelly Ramsey has a similar analysis of this issue and provides some more sources.

En Passant: Ed Poor vs. Jack Sparrow

This quote from the Main Page Talk caught my eye:

The government cannot permanently maintain an official “neutrality” toward religious and moral issues. Look at Wikipedia and their arbitration committee, which has become their acting government. They pretend to maintain a neutral stance toward everything, but they end up protecting some views more than others.

It would be be better to adopt an official view, and then define various degrees of tolerance for disparate or opposing views. For example, the Judeo-Christian ethic against murder and theft could be non-negotiable, but a mild degree of tolerance could be shown toward, say, Robin Hood (steal from the rich, give to the poor) with strong disapproval given to piracy (no ads for “Pirates of the Caribbean”) or socialist confiscation of property.
An ethic of support for pre-marital chastity would be good for any school system or government. Perhaps those parents who believe in promiscuity could be allowed to opt out, but the school staff should not tell girls to take off their chastity rings. —Ed Poor Talk 17:13, 22 June 2007 (EDT)

Is it just me, or does that sound like something distastefully close to a theocracy? Either way, it seems decidedly not-conservative to want the state to interfere with ads for entirely harmless non-violent movies, or with something as personal as whether or not to engage in pre-marital sex.

Makes you wonder how widespread such opinions are among the Conservapedia administrator group as a whole.

Column 15: Open Letter to SharonS, by AmesG

The following letter was first posted on RationalWiki by User:AmesG as a response to certain statements in the L.A. Times article from June 20. It was unsuccessfully attempted to bring this to the attention of the recipient at Conservapedia.

I personally agree completely with the contents of the letter, and am reposting it here to ensure that as many people as possible see it, hopefully including SharonS.


– – – – –


A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by petty statesmen…
Whoso would be a Man must be a nonconformist…

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Dear SharonS,

I saw the quote attributed to you in the LA Times today. Of course we knew instantly it was you; your interests are fairly unique, and we’re not as dumb as we look. However, some of your statements saddened me. I would like to take the time to address what I feel are misconceptions about the RationalWiki and Conservapedia projects. I thank you, in advance, for your time in reading this. I write this only because I care about the education that you are receiving through Conservapedia, and as an American and a man of some education, there is nothing that I consider more important than the proper education of those younger than myself.


First, I apologize for the vandalism attacks on Conservapedia. I can say categorically that I have no hand in them myself. I can also say that this site is not the launching point of the more recent or persistent ones. Certainly there is a small vandal group here, but that is not all this website is. As a smart person, I am sure you can see past that small facade into the rest of the goals of the project.


Because it always bears repeating, I want to enumerate again the goals of this project and of the Conservapedia “resistance.” We are not pushing an ideology. We are not pushing a world-view. We are not suppressing faith. We respect faith. However, we do not respect the use of ideology and shallow Biblical literalism to confine the world to a narrow frame of reference, ignoring all of the contrasts and questions that otherwise enrich life, and we do not respect the same shallow literalism, which also confines faith in too narrow a frame of reference. We will continue to spend our time resisting those evils.

Here is the problem. At Conservapedia, you are getting one perspective, and one perspective only. Worse, you are being sectioned off from anything that might challenge you. You are isolated from controversy and told that, where debate exists, the answers have been solved in black and white in your favor. But the world is much more complicated than that: so little is black and white in the world, and most of the great questions of our day are shades of gray. And these shades are what make life compelling, and interesting. By shielding you from the shades of gray, and teaching you only one perspective, Mr. Schlafly is doing you a great disservice. For the mind to grow, it must be exposed to shades of gray. Not only are you not learning; you’re also not learning how to learn! To become a full person, you must grapple with dissent, and all of the myriad complexity of the world, with full academic freedom.


You said in your interview that RationalWiki seeks your destruction. We do not seek your destruction; rather, we seek your growth, and the growth of all of humanity through free academic discourse. But we are in favor of some forms of destruction. In brief, insofar as we seek the destruction of barriers to free learning, we do seek Conservapedia’s destruction. Insofar as we seek the destruction of ideologies that discourage free thought, the exchange of ideas, and valuable learning (God’s gift to Man), we do seek the destruction of Conservapedia. Insofar as we seek the destruction of groups that abuse religion to force a political agenda and keep their followers willfully blind to the world around themselves, we seek the destruction of Conservapedia.

However, we do not seek the destruction of Christianity or Christian beliefs. Religion is a powerful force for good. When followed as God intends it, it impels the human spirit forwards to great heights of charity and grace. The truly devout and truly religious do great things in this world. However, no good is ever accomplished by suppressing independent thought, or by approaching the world from a narrow perspective which assumes the preferred outcome. Rather, that is the great evil of all of human history. I will always encourage religion in its pure, unadulterated sense, but where religion goes too far – in seeking to control public policy or redefine science – religion harms those disciplines and itself. We at RationalWiki, as members of the scientific community of freethinking adults, seek to separate religion from science and politics not for the preservation of science and politics, and the hindrance of religion, but rather for the protection of religion, science, and politics jointly and severally. Only when the mind approaches the world free of religious agenda can the mind be free, and only when religion confines itself to the truly spiritual can it reach the levels of transcendence of which it is capable.


To conclude, I urge you to look beyond Conservapedia, and beyond what you have read before, and read what you have not. I urge you to challenge yourself: pick up an “evolutionist” textbook, and wrestle with the text and the ideas it contains. Pick up a volume on Christian history, or a volume of early Christian theology, and see how St. Augustine of Hippo himself spoke against unifying religion and science. Read about other religions. Read about other countries, and other lifestyles. Expand yourself’, and see how you think of the world afterwards. If, after all is said and done, you remain firm in your convictions, then your convictions will be firmer for the testing. But if they have changed…


Please feel free to write to any of us at RationalWiki. I can answer any questions you have about the law, society, Christian history, and ancient history. My e-mail is Many other people are willing to help you, too. You have only to ask. We have nothing to hide.

AmesG 00:46, 20 June 2007 (CDT)

En Passant: Joke

Well, at least some people on Conservapedia actually have a sense of humor.

An archaeologist was digging in the Negev Desert in Israel and came upon a casket containing a mummy, a rather rare occurance in Israel, to say the least. After examining it, he called the curator of the Israel museum in Jerusalem.

“I’ve just discovered a 3,000 year old mummy of a man who died of heart failure!” the excited scientist exclaimed.

To which the curator replied, “Bring him in. We’ll check it out.”

A week later, the amazed curator called the archaeologist. “You were right about both the mummy’s age and cause of death. How in the world did you know?”

“Easy. There was a piece of paper in his hand that said, ‘10,000 Shekels on Goliath’.”

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