Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Conservapedia and the Earth's Moon

Conservapedia is an attempt at a wiki to write an encyclopedia from a right-wing, Christian perspective. The project was founded by Andrew Schlafly, son of Phyllis Schlafly. Conservapedia is a toxic combination of of political extremism, ignorance and gross stupidity.

Mike Dunford over at The Questionable Authority has found what even by Conservapedia standards takes the prize. This is more extreme than Conservapedia claiming that Barack Obama is a Muslim born outside the United States. This is more extreme than Conservapedia claiming that Leif Erickson never came to America and that the story is a liberal myth designed to undermine the accomplishment of the good Christian Christopher Columbus.

Mike found the following sentence in the article on the Moon:

Atheistic theories of the origin of the Moon, widely taught for decades despite lacking the falsifiability requirement of science (see Philosophy of science), have been proven false.

Let's just contemplate that sentence for a minute. This is the point in a blog post where one would normally eviscerate the quote in question. That's not necessary in this case.

I cannot determine whether the sentence in question was added in as a parody. On the one hand, the editor who made the edit only made a few edits to Conservapedia. This argues that it may have been added by a parodist. Furthermore, even Conservapedia editors are rarely this bad. Conservapedia has a long history of parodists infiltrating the project and producing deliberately extreme views.

On the other hand, the edit was made with an accurate edit summary which would not likely be added by a simple parody. The editor also made other edits to other articles some of which look productive.

On the gripping hand, the edit was made in December of 2007 and has stayed in the article for over a year. Since then the article has been edited by at least 3 Conservapedia sysops as one can see from a glance at the article's history page. So the article about a basic topic has had this sentence in it for over a year. In fact the same editor added an additional sentence repeating the standard misconception that the Moon's phases are caused by the Earth's shadow. After Roger Schlafly, Andrew's smarter and saner brother, attempted to take the claim about the Moon's phases out he was reverted by a Conservapedia sysop who thought that the information was correct. In all this time, no one bothered cleaning up this sentence.

Whether or not its original addition was a parody, the history of this article does not reflect well on Conservapedia. Conservapedia's own editors cannot distinguish between parody, actual Conservapedia beliefs, and simple sloppiness. And thus, Conservapedia remains the laughing-stock of the internet.


Ian said...

Roger Schlafly, Andrew's smarter and saner brother

Sad. True, but sad. Though I think that John is probably the smartest one :)

Hepius said...

The Atlas of Creation seems to have similar problems.