Conservapedia

From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is developed but not approved.
Main Article
Talk
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
 
This editable Main Article is under development and not meant to be cited; by editing it you can help to improve it towards a future approved, citable version. These unapproved articles are subject to a disclaimer.

Conservapedia is an Internet encyclopedia project whose purpose is to present information from a conservative and pro-American viewpoint. Founded in November, 2006, by Andrew Schlafly, son of the conservative commentator Phyllis Schlafly, and originally begun as a class project by homeschooled students,[1] it is a wiki project using the same Mediawiki software that Citizendium and Wikipedia do. It has, in particular, set itself up in opposition to Wikipedia and its perceived "liberal bias".[2] As of October, 2008, it had about 26,000 articles.[3]

Editorial policy

Conservapedia's stated goal is to help readers discover the truth, and so it exalts certain viewpoints and principles in accordance with its Christian-friendly, US-conservative viewpoint. Alternate ideas may be described, but not presented as truth.

In particular, Conservapedia disputes the mainstream of academic and political thought on evolution and homosexuality. In its first year, the evolution article was heavily biased towards a Young Earth creationism perspective, but that has shifted as Old Earth creationists have come on board. Its stance against homosexuality is based on a Christian perspective shared by senior administrators: i.e, it is immoral and unhealthy.

Conservapedia has had a rocky relationship with people who disagree with its viewpoints, philosophy and policies. After a spring and summer of Conservapedia trying to "engage the opposition", project critics/opponents created the rival RationalWiki to coordinate their efforts.

Recruiting of new writers has been slow, with hundreds of new user accounts being created each week and all but a handful promptly banned as sockpuppets.

As at Wikipedia, all contributors can freely edit articles unless the page has been protected, and anonymity is permitted. In line with its religious and Christian theme, Conservapedia's editorial policy consists of "Commandments", a reference to the two sets of laws the Bible says were handed down to Moses from God. The Commandments require, among others, that "everything... be true and verifiable" and also enforce a family-friendly policy.[4] Until March, 2007, Conservapedia required by Commandment that "As much as possible, American spelling of words must be used",[5] but now the site's "Manual of Style" presents American spellings as being preferred, with Commonwealth spellings possible depending on the context.[6]

Conservapedia administrators frequently have to block vandals attempting to insert inappropriate material.[7]

Liberal commentators have made fun of the obsession of Conservapedia readers with homosexuality,[8] as well as the entries on creation science.

Positions

The ideological views of the authors stand out quite strongly on Conservapedia and can be characterized as follows: the authors of Conservapedia are Christian, usually of a Biblically literalist position, usually a creationist (including both young- and old-earth creationist, and supporters of intelligent design theory). Politically, Conservapedia takes a position that is anti-abortion, for capital punishment, against homosexuality, against gun control, against Medicare and state-funded health services, anti-vaccination,[9] against perceived left-wing bias in academia and what they describe as "professorial values" (following the line given by other right-wing critics of academia including David Horowitz), against the minimum wage, broadly against what they deem left-wing economic values and many liberal social values. They are strongly for home schooling, and generally hold to a neoliberal, laissez faire economic position.

Regarding the current President of the United States, Barack Obama, Conservapedia alleges that he is a Muslim, that work he did with the community-organizing group ACORN was actually communistic, that Obama's stated influence by Frank Marshall Davis is a sign of his latent Communism, that Obama is heavily connected with William Ayers, the former leader of the Weather Underground, that as President, Obama has pushed a "Muslim agenda" in both domestic and foreign policy (examples include diplomatic meetings with leaders of Muslim countries, and rather strangely the successful Navy sniper mission to rescue Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates). Conservapedia reports on but does not agree with the stance of the "birthers"—people who claim that Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States.[10]

Richard Lenski

After the biologist Richard Lenski published scientific results showing how bacteria in his lab had evolved through natural selection over many generations,[11] Conservapedia issued a challenge to Lenski asking for samples from his laboratory. Lenski sent back a strongly condemnatory e-mail pointing out that Conservapedia doesn't have the relevant background to properly evaluate his scientific work and stating that he would not ship the samples as Conservapedia isn't a adequately-fitted research laboratory capable of receiving E.coli bacteria samples.

The e-mails have been published and are considered by some science bloggers like PZ Myers to be highly amusing and indicative of the failings of Conservapedia.[12]

Comparison with Wikipedia and Citizendium

Both Wikipedia and Citizendium are attempting to produce an online wiki-based encyclopedia that presents viewpoints that are broadly neutral, and to cover controversies and differences of opinions fairly and equally. Conservapedia maintains a list of differences from Wikipedia.[13] Some of the key differences are:

  • Conservapedia publishes study guides and lectures. This stems from Conservapedia's origins as a home-schooling resource. The Wikimedia Foundation publishes similar material through the Wikibooks and Wikiversity projects, and Citizendium allows study guides and other educational resources to be published as subpages.
  • Conservapedia does not have a neutrality policy and does not attempt to use neutral language. The example it gives is the use of the loaded word 'terrorist' rather than the supposedly neutral word 'militant'.
  • Unlike Wikipedia, Conservapedia maintains a family-friendly policy. The RationalWiki website states (as of 2009) that a link to "The Silent Scream", a video showing the ultrasound footage of an abortion at eleven weeks produced by pro-life activists, is an example of a violation of the family-friendly policy.[14]
  • Wikipedia allows edits from users who are not logged in. Conservapedia requires people be logged in to edit and that the account they use not have an "anti-intellectual" username. Citizendium requires that editors be logged in with their real name (with a very small number of exceptions).
  • Conservapedia claims to value experts by not "pretending that some random anonymous user who just signed up is as knowledgeable and authoritative as a scholar with decades of experience in teaching or research". The founder of Citizendium put in place a similar policy because of a perceived deficit of respect given to experts on Wikipedia.
  • Wikipedia operates a strict "no original research" policy. Conservapedia does not have this policy, and allows posting of material that matches the views and ideology of the site. Citizendium also allows some original research to be published, through both the Topic Informants Workgroup and through Signed Articles by experts.

Footnotes

  1. Conservapedia: 'Conservapedia:About,'
  2. Conservapedia: 'Examples of bias in Wikipedia.' July 25th 2007.
  3. Conservapedia: 'Special:Statistics.'
  4. Conservapedia: 'Conservapedia:Commandments.' June 23rd 2007.
  5. Conservapedia: 'Conservapedia:Commandments.' March 21st 2007.
  6. Conservapedia: 'Conservapedia:Manual of Style - Spelling.' July 27th 2007.
  7. Conservapedia: 'IP block list. According to this list, in June 2007, administrators blocked 1,598 accounts and IP addresses; in the same period, the English-language Wikipedia blocked 8,574, despite the latter having about 100 times more articles. Citizendium blocked four, with about 2,400 articles.
  8. The Young Turks, How Ridiculous are Conservatives?
  9. Andrew Schafly, founder of Conservapedia, has worked as a lawyer for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a conservative medical group who oppose mandatory vaccination - see Doctors' group votes to oppose vaccine mandates, a 2000 press release from AAPS. Other sources: [1] [2] [3] [4]
  10. Conservapedia: Barack Obama. September 21, 2009.
  11. Barrick, J. E., D. S. Yu, S. H. Yoon, H. Jeong, T. K. Oh, D. Schneider, R. E. Lenski, and J. F. Kim. 2009. "Genome evolution and adaptation in a long-term experiment with Escherichia coli". Nature 461:1243-1247. Lenski's website contains a full list of articles deriving from this long-term research project; also see the Long Term Experimental Evolution project homepage.
  12. Pharyngula blog, Lenski gives Conservapædia a lesson, June 24 2008.
  13. Conservapedia, How Conservapedia Differs from Wikipedia
  14. Conservapedia:Differences with Wikipedia - RationalWiki. Retrieved on 2011-11-24.