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Conservapedia…!? Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Christianity, evolution, faith, rationality, religion.
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This is incredible.

I first came across Conservapedia in this news article few days ago, and was totally appalled. For those who have not heard of Conservapedia, it is a wiki founded by disgruntled American conservative Christians aiming to provide an alternative to an “increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American” Wikipedia, and that it is “an online resource and meeting place where we favor Christianity and America”.

Well, readers, should we start a “Hindupedia” for an online resource and meeting place where Hindu and Indian values are favoured, or something similar? Will the Conservapedia community translate the wiki into multiple languages such as Arabic or Tibetan, in the spirit of being a Wikipedia alternative?

The point here is not that Wikipedia is imperfect – fair enough, Wikipedia has its critics and shortcomings, even itself has a list of criticism. The point is this: the American Christian Right has yet again shown its ugly face. Why not devote the time and resource for something positively useful, rather than creating a wiki that adds no value to the knowledge of mankind, except for and offering comfort to its closed American conservative Christian community?

The biggest problem, needless to say, is its content fairness. It is designed to be biased to start with, since it aims to promote Christian and American values. As fellow blogger

An encyclopedia that can be trusted shouldn’t indicate a partisan affiliation right from the start as doing so injects bias directly into the core of the project. Therefore, stating it can be trusted because it is conservative, while not only being another example of opinion, is also in direct opposition that it can be trusted to begin with.

Let’s take a look at the topic that is dear to this blog, evolution. At the time of writing this post, the article starts off with three paragraphs introducing what evolution is. Immediately after this, the conservative Christian value takes over. The rest of the article shows selected quotes and grossly one-sided content implying the invalidity of the theory. Absolutely no details are given, no science presented. Not even a word of “gene” is mentioned. This smells like your typical creationist way of arguing.

The second problem is its information quality. Already mentioned above is the bias. Now let’s consider who edit the content. Given the closed and biased nature of Conservapedia it is safe to say that most people do not, and would not, want to edit the wiki – that is, lots of quality knowledge and expertise on many topic areas would be missed. Why would people not edit it? Because, much to the disappointment of the Conservapedia community, most knowledge and information in the world has got nothing to do with American Christian conservatism, and most people don’t care about it either – so why would they bother to edit this wiki? The essence is that Wikipedia is created for everyone, Conservapedia is not.

Now the third problem is its information quantity. Doing a quick research on such topic as “C#” (a computer programming language) or “Kenya”, one finds no entries. Admittedly the wiki is very young, created in November 2006 (I hope it will fade into oblivion), one must wonder what future it has, as an alternative to Wikipedia, given its unfair and twisted nature. The topic on World War II is unbelievably only of three sentences long! If the article on abortion reads “like brochure for the abortion industry” on Wikipedia, then the article on Nicolaus Copernicus on Conservapedia reads like “I didn’t do it” plea of a child.

It is disheartening to see the existence of Conservapedia as it reflects a certain illness in society.

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Comments»

1. Phillybits - Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Thanks for the link. The whole site is hilarious. Did you read Jon Swift’s write-up on it?

2. poppies - Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Though I’m a conservative Christian, I too can only be amazed at the lameness that is Conservapedia.

3. icanplainlysee - Tuesday, March 6, 2007

I’m really glad your not the judge of what any other people want to do with their time and resources.

Your arrogant condescension about Christians earns you the marxist totalitarian award for censorship with pompous ass clover leafs.

4. Juke - Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Don’t be disheartened. Just look around the web; there are thousands of people, including myself, that think that Conservapedia is hilarious. Rationality will win out, have faith! (joke)

5. Henry - Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Thanks everyone for the comments so far… I would just like to clarify that this post is NOT about Christians in general – it is about about the very idea of Conservapedia. If there is a Muslim or Hindu or Buddhism equivalent, I will be equally dismayed.

6. abyssalleviathin - Tuesday, March 6, 2007

I’ve been seeing a lot about this so-called “encyclopedia” scattered about the blogosphere and I fear for my very sanity. Can’t we pretend it just doesn’t exist?

7. Pierre - Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I’m not sure that it reflects a “certain illness in society.” It’s just another group of people using the internet to push an agenda, the same way your blog does, the same way my blog does, and the same way almost every other political website does. If anything, we should be celebrating Conservapedia not for it’s message, but simply because it has the right to exist without government intereference.

Not to mention, I don’t think anyone is using conservapedia for academic research, just like people shouldn’t be using wikipedia for academic research.

I certainly don’t agree with their ideals, but I fully support their write to exist.

8. h3nry - Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hi Pierre, you have raised a point I haven’t thought about before – that the internet is a great tool for pushing one’s agenda and the freedom of utilising such tool is indeed a good thing – I totally agree with you there.

I suppose my point is that the underlying agenda of Conservapedia is something to worry about – your blog (a good one too!) and my blog have decent, healthy agendas – but this cannot be said for Conservapedia.

Thanks for your comment!


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