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Sep 24 2012

Conservapedia goofiness

While writing about the Lenski experiment, I recalled the hilarious episode when Andrew Schlafly, founder of Conservapedia and the son of conservative icon Phyllis, concerned about the support this experiment gave to evolution, tried to discredit Lenski and his work and got a polite but severe smacking from him, resulting in Lenski’s work becoming even more widely known.

Conservapedia seeks to be an encyclopedia like Wikipedia except that everything is forced to be consistent with young Earth creationism. As a result, it ends up like something the editors of The Onion would come up with. Just check out the current home page. If you are not careful, you can get sucked into spending hours exploring its wonderful loopiness.

As an example, at one time the site suggested that kangaroos were among the animals saved by Noah in his ark and after the boat came aground on Mount Ararat in Turkey, they had to hop all the way to Australia before they decided to settle down and start a community.

At least kangaroos can move fast. What about koalas, who are notoriously sluggish and feed only on eucalyptus leaves. How did they make it to Australia? And how did the even slower sloths make it to South America? Not to worry! Conservapedia uses creationist sources like this one to explain everything.

Conservapedia was started by those who think that Wikipedia has a liberal and secular bias or what some of us think of as reality. It seeks to prevent the corruption of young minds who go to Wikipedia to do the research for their homework assignments by giving them an alternative, creationist source. I think this Doonesbury cartoon says it all.

With friends of religion like these, they don’t need any enemies.

22 comments

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  1. 1
    cottonnero

    My favorite bit about Conservapedia is that Andy Schlafly has some inexplicable problem with imaginary numbers.

  2. 2
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    My favorite thing is their dislike of relativity. I’m not sure what it is that makes them hate relativity (except maybe that Einstein was a Spinozan deist, or perhaps just an antipathy of science in general), but whatever the cause, the results are deeply amusing.

  3. 3
    eric

    Yeah, I’ve gotten sucked into Conservapedia before. Lots of fun wackyness. The dinosaur page is good for a laugh.

    cottonnero, your post made me look up ‘imaginary numbers’ on it, but alas, there is no entry.

  4. 4
    Randomfactor

    Conservapedia is a satirical site. Its creators just don’t yet realize that.

  5. 5
    Argle Bargle

    Nigel the Bold #2

    My understanding is Schafly et al think there’s some relationship between Einsteinian relativity and moral relativity. As fundamentalist Christians, they reject moral relativity for the absolute morals dictated by God and conflate the two types of relativity. It doesn’t make sense to me but who ever accused fundamentalists of being logical?

  6. 6
    Reginald Selkirk

    What about koalas, who are notoriously sluggish and feed only on eucalyptus leaves. How did they make it to Australia?

    It’s a miracle!

    And how did the even slower sloths make it to South America?

    It’s a miracle!
    The God solution answers everything. It’s only when you suffer weakness to tie your beliefs to natural theories that you run into problems.

  7. 7
    Reginald Selkirk

    Really? He has imaginary friends, but somehow imaginary numbers is a problem?

  8. 8
    w00dview

    I spotted this interesting admission in the article on that most patriotic of animals, the bald eagle:

    Reduced severely in numbers due to pesticides in the environment, the bald eagle was placed on the Endangered Species List in 1967; it recovered sufficiently to be re-classified as threatened in 1995. In 2007 it was removed from the list altogether.

    Did Conservapedia acknowledge that a government policy achieved good?

  9. 9
    Frank

    A search for imaginary number” redirects to an article on “Complex Number.” It’s actually reasonably well-written and lacks the typical Conservapedia BS. It makes me wonder if there are pockets of Conservapedia that Schlafly is unaware of, and thus hasn’t “corrected.”

  10. 10
    doubtthat

    I was on the receiving end of some creationist babble about Relativity once. As best as I could understand, somehow Relativity proves that the Earth and universe have to be more than 10,000 years old (obviously the totality of science proves such, but I’m not sure why they fixated on Relativity, specifically) and so Relativity must, therefore, be wrong, cause Bible.

    I’m pretty sure it has to do with the idea that given the speed of light and the distances between stars, if the universe was created as is 6,000 years ago, there’s no way we could be receiving light from far away galaxies. Thus, there’s this weird Big-Bang-esque theory of Biblical creation where everything exploded from a singularity and then accelerated out SUPER FAST, so in a matter of some thousand years, everything was spread out, then the acceleration slowed down, but, of course, this is sort of the exact opposite of how it happened. Somehow Relativity takes the jeebus blame for that.

  11. 11
    captainahags

    Apparently fundamentalists and YECs also have a strange problem with set theory. . . maybe it explains why they’re so bad with simple statistics.

  12. 12
    augustpamplona

    Conservapaedia does read like a Poe. I forgot/didn’t know that Andy Schlafly was a founder rather than merely someone who writes a lot there. I remember him being on the Barrett’s HealthFraud list pushing antivaccer idiocy.

  13. 13
    Psychopomp Gecko

    When the speed of light contradicts the bibble, they decide the speed of light must have drastically changed over time.

  14. 14
    mnb0

    From that chapter 17:

    “We cannot go back in a time machine to check what happened”
    Creacrap of the first degree. This is exactly the same argument creatonists use to dismiss the Big Bang and so forth: “you weren’t there!”

    These guys are great. This may have happened, and that may have happened, never mind empirical data and see? The Bible is perfectly reasonable.
    So what do we have?
    1. Creation 5700 years ago.
    2. Global Flood.
    3. Koala’s and sloths running along pathways with their special diets growing alongside.
    4. Ice Age (now thát happened fast!)
    5. Never mind Atlantis, the whole Atlantic Ocean sinking down plus some more.
    6. Degeneration.
    7. Yippee! The Bible is true!

    It’s hilarious.
    But yeah, it’s because of creacrap that I finally decided to study some evolution theory (TalkOrigins, Coyne and Prothero).

  15. 15
    Meriam K.

    I checked the site and it seems similar to wikipedia. I explore around it and enjoyed roaming around with great info. Its nice knowing that not only wiki has this type of references, and many people got help from this resources.

  16. 16
    Arancaytar

    What about koalas, who are notoriously sluggish and feed only on eucalyptus leaves. How did they make it to Australia?

    Riding on the backs of the kangaroos, obviously.

  17. 17
    Arancaytar

    Relativity implies the absence of an absolute inertial reference frame in the universe. To people who have barely managed to let go of the geocentric model, this is pretty scary.

  18. 18
    BecomingJulie

    Conservapedia is supposed to be a parody site ….. isn’t it?

  19. 19
    Corvus illustris

    Don’t you realize that if you’re looking up the real axis you have to turn left to see i? These complex numbers are just another liberal plot.

    Another thing that Andy doesn’t believe in is proof by reductio ad absurdum or contradiction. However, it may be possible to change his mind on this by pointing out that St Anselm’s ontological argument really looks like a standard application of Zorn’s lemma.

  20. 20
    Corvus illustris

    Andy has a brother who’s a genuine mathematician (student of I. M. Singer’s at Cal). I suspect the brother gets in and writes when Andy isn’t looking.

  21. 21
    BecomingJulie

    ^^ SPAM alert ^^

    The preceding comment is SPAM. Please do not click the link.

  22. 22
    Trebuchet

    Conservapedia is supposed to be a parody site ….. isn’t it?

    Sadly, no. Andy is the son of Phyllis Schlafley, founder of the “Eagle Forum” and as wacked-out a conservative as they come.

    For all the dirt on Conservapedia, be sure to visit Rational Wiki, which was started as a sort of un-Conservapedia and has grown into a pretty good resource on all things loony.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Conservapedia

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