A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Monday, February 26, 2007


BP has complained, both here and on his own blog, on a number of occassions that the Right is anti-intellectual, which has drawn me into the conversation to state that he is over-generalizing. A case which becomes harder for me to make when idiots like Andrew Schlafly, Phyllis' son, put together quite possibly the worst excuse for a "scholarly" web publication ever before attempted by mankind. I am talking about Conservapedia, a "conservative" alternative to wikipedia, which is so poorly written, researched and edited that it would make a Flat Earther cringe. Be patient-- this new-fangled internet thingie seems to be throwing the folks at the Idiotopedia, as I shall hence forth call it, so it loads REALLY slowly. If it doesn't crash altogether, which it does with remarkable frequency. Probably it was unprepared for the avalanche of Andrew Sullivan readers that have flocked to it in the last few days, looking for, and possibly writing, some of the worst examples of "scholarship".

The whole thing may be a hoax, in which case it is incredibly well done, but a brief bit of research makes me think it isn't. At any rate, for now I am treating it as an actual attempt to make a Conservative Wikipedia, albeit a ridiculous and pathetic attempt.

I put "conservative" in quotes in the first paragraph because the people writing most of the entries for this abomination are not conservative in any sense other than hating "liberals" and anything else they don't agree with. Here's their "About" page content:

Tired of the LIBERAL BIAS every time you search on Google and a Wikipedia page appears? Now it's time for the Conservatives to get our voice out on the internet!

Conservapedia began in November 2006, as the class project for a World History class of 58 advanced homeschooled and college-bound students meeting in New Jersey.

Conservapedia has since grown enormously, including contributors nationwide. Conservapedia already has over one-half the number of entries as the Oxford Dictionary of World History. Conservapedia is rapidly becoming one of the largest and most reliable online educational resources of its kind.
One thing they do like at Conservapedia is exclamation points. Apparently, exclamation points contain that essential element of truthiness that most scholarly publications lack. And they have half the entries of the Oxford Dictionary of World History, already. Woot! Lots of entries must equate with reliability, right? Well, they say they are reliable several times, so there you have it.
Here's Idiotopedia's entry on George Washington:

George Washington (1732-1799) was unanimously elected President of the United States of America and the Commander-in-Chief in the Revolutionary War![1] He was also a devout Christian, with his adopted daughter once stating that if you question Washington's faith you may as well question whether or not he was a patriot![2]

Washington is perhaps the person other than Jesus who declined enormous worldly power, in Washington's case by voluntarily stepping aside as the ruler of a prosperous nation. His precedent of serving only two terms was then voluntarily followed for 140 years.

Washington bravely led the colonists in revolt against the unjust British government, in its place establishing a new government. Fighting against the vastly more powerful British army, Washington lost nearly every battle in the American Revolution until winning at Trenton and Princeton, and then lost most battles afterwards until ultimately prevailing at Yorktown with the help of a new contingent of French troops.

Washington frequently invoked Christianity in his work. As General, he commanded that chaplains be included in every regiment: "The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier, defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.[3]

Washington declared in his Inaugural Address: "It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of Providential agency."

Comments such as this one have led many modern scholars to conclude that Washington was in fact a deist rather than a Christian.[4] On November 4, 1752, Washington was initiated into Freemasonry at Fredricksburg Lodge, Fredricksburg, Virginia. He was passed and raised at the same lodge, becoming a Master Mason on August 4, 1753. He later served as Worshipful Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 22 in Alexandria, Virginia. Upon his death in 1799, he was given a Masonic funeral at his wife's request.[5]
That's it. 1/2 a page, most of which is devoted to asserting that Washington was a Christian, with only a passing reference to Washington's presidency (no notation of even when his two terms were) and a Revolutionary War summary that amounts to "Washington lost a lot of battles before he won some and won the war, eventually." But there are exclamation points! And a reference to Jesus. So, it's all good.

Solid, solid research there. No need to muss about with Washington's pre-Revolutionary War career, or his ownership of slaves, or his freeing of his slaves upon his death, or his vision for the future of the country, or his Cabinet, or his time between the War and his presidency, or his Virginian roots, or... well, you get the idea.

The Idiotopedia really is amusing-- often laugh out loud funny-- but it's also depressing, because you know there are people out there taking it seriously. Taking it's idiocy and hate to heart. Also because it gives home schooling and Conservatives a black eye.

So, I hope the whole thing is a hoax-- then I can enjoy the satire!
It has to be a hoax. People can't be that stupid. Can they? Someone tell me it's not possible. Please.
well, reality has a well known liberal bias.

But, oh, yes, someone can be that stupid. And if anyone can, it would be Phyllis Schafly's progeny.

It's not a hoax, but some folks managed to help push it in that direction before they shut down new editors, so some pretty funny stuff has gotten posted.

I particularly like the entry for the Northeastern Arboreal Octopus.

Myself, I can't tolerate the site, because they are apparently running it on DOS 2.0 on a trio of Tandy desktop units. S-L-O-W.
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