February 23, 2007

Those Damned Liberals

We don't engage in wholesale conservative bashing here, though we do indulge ourselves every now and again. This is one of those times.

Via Pharyngula, we discover Conservapedia, the wiki that removes the liberal bias that infests Wikipedia.


While I'll admit to some issues in Wikipedia, they are mostly factual (as in: getting things plain wrong), not ideological. But, silly me, I was thinking of facts, when I should have been worried about ideological purity and whatnot.

I'll present (with comments) the from-the-horses-mouth ideological problems with Wikipedia (from the appropriately named Examples of Bias in Wikipedia entry of Conservapedia) below the fold (they aren't that funny or interesting).

In a general sense, the Conservapedia is asking for balance: present both the liberal and conservative side of all the debates (they also have some issues with language, but their criticisms are either single data points - Wikipedia doesn't mention a Christian issues here - or complaints about omissions from Wikipedia which could be corrected in Wikipedia - its open to the public for editing, you know - if they would bother to do so). They want "evidence" of creationism given as much weight and credence as evidence of evolution. They want Christianity to have as much recognition as social, material or political factors in as historical causes of important events. And they complain when Wikipedia doesn't do this.

There are two problems with this. First (and least important), it seems to misunderstand how Wikipedia operates. There isn't any sort of editorial board to police issues of bias or deliberate errors. Entries are left as the last person made them, which generally means they are finally left alone when they've reached some sort of middle-of-the-road position (among those interested in working on Wikipedia, which I'll freely admit isn't like an average cross-section of America). Thus, if there are bias, they reflect the backgrounds and norms of those people who contribute there - and this is by design.

Second, there seems to be a common misperception that the "media" (mainstream and not) is only objective when it provides a pro and a con position on issues (the CNN "Crossfire" idea, which the Conservapedia references at one point in their complaints). While I'll certainly grant that some issues are best understood through a pro-versus-con lens, this isn't true of all issues (basic questions of science come to mind). Moreover, even where there is some debate, the idea that the debate has to be "balanced" in some way seems inaccurate. Take the idea of the round-versus-flat earth. There are people out there who believe in a flat earth. Any discussion of the earth could (I suppose) mention that some people don't believe the earth is round, but why should any Wikipedia entry give equal weight (meaning equal space) to a flat earth idea that only a very small minority give any weight to? Thus, to seek balance (or, similarly, the idea that all view points/causes/theories should be discussed equally) implicitly argues that all theories/arguments are equally "good" (read: logical, backed by evidence, backed by actual experts with evidence, etc.), when this is patently untrue. And a good reference source, including Wikipedia, should reflect that bias (which, if you follow my logic, isn't really a bias). The Conservapedia folks don't seem to understand this (witness their objections), but that's just a reflection of a more widely held view among some on the right wing that they are persecuted and discriminated against in a broad spectrum of issues because they can't get an equal debate (equal time/space/etc.) for their positions (creationism versus evolution is a good example of this).

It isn't the role of a reference source (as Wikipedia is trying to do) to be balanced (in the Conservapedia sense); a reference source should, as much as possible, reflect the accumulated knowledge of the society. Failure to give equal space to ideas and theories that aren't widely accepted is a feature, not a bug, in Wikipedia.

This rant leads naturally to the numerous complaints (some we've discussed here) of the Conservative bend towards anti-science. I think the anti-science position falls naturally from the logic above: they seek to give equal weight to their ideology, and are offended when science wants to argue that their ideology isn't reflective of reality, and thus should be rejected/discarded. The Conservatives see science as attacking their beliefs, which to them is discrimination. It isn't, but that is a longer argument (for another day).

If you really want to see what Conservapedia objects to (all 27 points), you can click on the extended entry, below.

The growing list of examples of bias and errors on Wikipedia. Please add to this, and also contribute entries to Conservapedia.

1. Wikipedia allows the use of B.C.E. instead of B.C. and C.E. instead of A.D. The dates are based on the birth of Jesus, so why pretend otherwise? Conservapedia is Christian-friendly and exposes the CE deception.

And the #1 reason for ignoring Wikipedia is...they put the wrong letters behind the dates? I'm lost. I google the issue, and CE and BCE stand for "Common Era" and "Before Common Era". I'll admit that I'm not grabbed by using these, but is it really that important? Or interesting? Or relevant? How is it a deception, since the numbers are the same? If this is the best they've got, they have some trouble.

2. The entry for the Renaissance in Wikipedia refuses to give any credit to Christianity.

And, since Christianity - according to most historians - didn't have much of a role in causing the Renasissance, why should Wikipedia talk about it? In any event, if the authors of Conservapedia want a section on Christianity in the Renaissance, why don't they put one in?

3. Wikipedia's entry for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a conservative group, features a rant against the group by a British journalist who was a former press officer for the leftist Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.[1] The only cited credential for the journalist is that he works for a television "programme-production company," and there is no citation for any of the factual claims in his intemperate and misleading description of the group, which were prompted by an independent criticism in England of the journalist's own work. After receiving a complaint about this, Wikipedia trimmed this rant but still kept most of it, reflecting Wikipedia's bias. Preserving this unpublished diatribe is against Wikipedia policy (e.g., NPOV), but it Wikipedia administrators insist on keeping it. Wikipedia's entry also features another liberal journalist's swipe at AAPS from ... 40 years ago!

In fact, this long diatribe seems to be wrong. There is no "rant" or any other complaint about the AAPS in Wikipedia (though it is possible it is in one of the footnotes; I didn't look). It looks as if Wikipedia (the community) updated their entry (which happens, like, daily) and Conservapedia didn't. That doesn't speak well of this enterprise.

4. There is a strong anti-American and anti-capitalism bias on Wikipedia. In its description of the post-war Bell Trade Act of 1946, in which the United States gave the Philippines $800 million in exchange for some free trade provisions, Wikipedia omits any mention of the $800 million dollars and instead lambasts the "wrath of Father Capitalism."[2] The agreement was approved by popular vote on the Philippines, but the Wikipedia article omits that fact also.

Uh, no. The entry is about the act passed by the US Congress which gave the Phillipines their independence; there is no mention of capitalism or its wrath. As for factual errors (the popular vote issue), just find a footnote and make a correction to Wikipedia.

5. Wikipedia often uses foreign spelling of words, even though most English speaking users are American. Look up "Most Favored Nation" on Wikipedia and it automatically converts the spelling to the British spelling "Most Favoured Nation", even there there are far more American than British users. Look up "Division of labor" on Wikipedia and it automatically converts to the British spelling "Division of labour," then insists on the British spelling for "specialization" also.[3]. Enter "Hapsburg" (the European ruling family) and Wikipedia automatically changes the spelling to Habsburg, even though the American spelling has always been "Hapsburg". Within entries British spellings appear in the silliest of places, even when the topic is American. Conservapedia favors American spellings of words.

What? The fact that some words are spelled in alternative spellings (correct ones, mind you) is somehow an example of bias? The British are EVIL!!!! or something.

6. Wikipedia distorts the youthful acceptance of deism by Benjamin Franklin by never acknowledging that he later abandoned it and failing to admit the significance of how Franklin, near the end of his life, proposed the saying of prayers at the Constitutional Convention for divine intervention and assistance in the proceedings,[4] an act that was debatably against the teachings of deism. Wikipedia also omits any acknowledgement of Franklin's praise of Pilgrim's Progress in his autobiography.

"distorts the youthful acceptance" isn't a phrase one usually sees in something attempting to be an encyclopedia. In any event, this isn't bias (or error) but a judgement in Wikipedia that the issues these conservatives are raising are irrelevant (to the life of Franklin) or wrong (I'm guessing the latter). In any event, I think we begin to see the "bias" that Wikipedia has: it neglects to mention every last aspect of religion that might have some bearing on a subject. If Franklin might have suggested prayers to help write the Constitution, how is that fact (even if true) really all that important compared to everything else that Franklin did do?

7. The entry for the Spanish Golden Age does not even tell the reader when it occurred, but makes the doubtful claim that the Spanish Golden Age flourished in Latin America.

As you can see, this one has at least a small point. The entry doesn't list the beginning dates of the Age (though it does list the ending date). It does prominently say that the age lasted while the Habsburgs were on the throne, and their is a convienient link to another Wikipedia article that gives those dates. Thus, a small point here (the dates should be in the entry). As for the issue of whether the Spanish Golden Age "flourished" in Latin America, I'll note that some of the artists the entry discusses (El Greco, etc.) painted/wrote about the empire in the larger sense (conquistadors, etc.). Thus, while the Age didn't flourish in Latin America, it was affected by events in Latin America. Sloppy writing by Wikipedia, but not really bias.

8. Gossip is pervasive on Wikipedia. Many entries read like the National Enquirer. For example, Wikipedia's entry on Nina Totenberg states, "She married H. David Reines, a trauma physician, in 2000. On their honeymoon, he treated her for severe injuries after she was hit by a boat propeller while swimming." That sounds just like the National Enquirer, and reflects a bias towards gossip. Conservapedia avoids gossip and vulgarity, just as a true encyclopedia does.

Well, this is just silly. Perhaps Wikipedia (as noted) suffers from bad writing, but that doesn't make the entry wrong. And a single example of a "bias for gossip" isn't a bias, but a single example. Who cares? I'd rather have the entry accurate (and full of gossip) than inaccurate. And where did the vulgarity comment come from? I've never seen swearing in Wikipedia, have you?

9. Edits to include facts against the theory of evolution are almost immediately censored. On Conservapedia, contributions that meet simple rules are respected to the maximum extent possible.

As they should be. Moreover, I expect that Conservapedia is overstating the case: entries that bring up recognized issues that evolution (and science/biology in general) are still trying to understand wouldn't likely be "censored." However, talking about how the dinosaurs are only 6000 years old is likely to be immediately removed.

10. Wikipedia removed and permanently blocked a page identifying its many biases.

Something like this page? I'd take it out to, for the simple reason that objects to entries should be made in those entries themselves, not spread all over a single page. This seems petulant.

11. Wikipedia claims about 1.5 million articles, but what it does not say is that a large number of those articles have zero educational value. For example, Wikipedia has 1075 separate articles about "Moby" and "song".[5] Many hundreds of thousands of Wikipedia articles -- perhaps over half its website -- are about music, Hollywood, and other topics beneath a regular encyclopedia. This reflects a bias towards popular gossip rather than helpful or enlightening information.

And your point is...? I think the Conservapedia people are missing the point of a Wiki: anyone can put anything in, subject to the whims/votes of the other users. The fact that a bunch of articles have (according to these nuts) "zero educational value" isn't a relevant concern to Wikipedia, and not an issue when articles are considered for deletion. It's user created, not managed like other encyclopedias. This simple fact seems to have slipped through the Conservapedia's fingers.

12. The Wikipedia entry for John Peter Zenger links to an incorrect Wikipedia definition of "Philadelphia lawyer", which Merriam-Webster defines as a lawyer knowledgeable in "even the most minute aspects of the law." Wikipedia claims the term comes from the Zenger trial, but Merriam-Webster puts the first use of that term at over 50 years later. Wikipedia is simply unreliable.

In other words, Merriam-Webster disagrees with Wikipedia. Wikipedia has faults, and has been known to be wrong. It's also free, and online (something other encyclopedias can't claim). This is a known issue, and not really a "bias," but more something to keep in mind when using Wikipedia.

13. Often key facts are missing from Wikipedia entries in favor of meaningless detail. Wikipedia's entry about Indentured Servitude is massive, but it omits any reference to Bacon's Rebellion, which was the turning point for the use of indentured servants in the New World!

Again, this isn't bias, but the weight of the Wiki community. I suspect it can be debated as to whether Bacon's Rebellion is the "turning point" of Indentured Servitude or not; if it's a clear historical point, find a footnote and stick it in the entry in Wikipedia. Where is the bias here?

14. Wikipedia has many entries on "concession", but none explaining its main historical meaning (from imperialism). Quantity is not quality.

No, quantity isn't quality (as evidenced by this list). How is a missing entry on the relationship of "concession" to Imperialism (which I think is here, in any event) evidence of bias? Again, if Wiki has an error, you should correct it, not cry about bias.

15. Unlike most encyclopedias and news outlets, Wikipedia does not exert any centralized authority to take steps to reduce bias or provide balance; it has a "neutral point of view" policy but the policy is followed only to the extent that individual editors acting in social groups choose to follow it. For example, CNN would ensure that Crossfire had a representative of the political right and one from the political left. In contrast, Wikipedia policy allows bias to exist and worsen. For example, even though most Americans (and probably most of the world) reject the theory of evolution,[6] Wikipedia editors commenting on the topic are nearly 100% pro-evolution.[7] Self-selection has a tendency to exacerbate bias in the absence of affirmative steps to limit it. Gresham's Law reflects the problem in economics of bad money driving out good in the absence of corrective action. As a result, Wikipedia is arguably more biased than CNN and other information sources.

Uh, "most Americans (and probably most of the world) reject the theory of evolution"????? I have two comments: (A) NO. (B) If true (highly doubtful), then most of the world is wrong. This has happened before (earth at center of universe, ether in space, flat earth, etc.), so subjecting scientifically verifiable facts to popular votes isn't a very smart thing to do. And the fact that there is no central Wikipedia authority is one of the strengths, by some lights (a biased central authority will create bias everywhere in the organization, where the Wiki model creates local biases, in theory). In any event, none of this is evidence of bias, just carping.

The above paragraph was posted on the Wikipedia entry for "Wikipedia", under bias, but its editors then illustrated their bias by replacing the above with this: "Ojective [sic], or neutrally biased, articles present different opinions as equally legitimate regardless of validity, while unbiased articles focus on accuracy and validity. For example, the evolution article is not objective because it does not present creationism, a counter argument to evolution, as a valid scientific theory. However, this does not make the article biased because evolution is an accepted scientific theory. CNN's Crossfire, on the other hand, was considered objective[citation needed] because it had representatives from the political right from the political left."

I have no idea what any of this means (other than any idiot can post something at Wikipedia, which we already knew). It doesn't make any sense, and isn't really a response to the Conservapedia's point. In any event, to argue that to be unbiased an article (or anything) needs to present two competing sides (like CNN's Crossfire; that paragon of journalism) is moronic. A debate can have two sides, but not everything is a debate. Some things are actually known (Science!), which means you don't need to pretend to have a debate about them. Gravity? Stars? Matter? Round earth? Air? Water? Who wants to be opposed - show of hands please. Judging bias by whether Wikipedia allows opposing viewpoints isn't a good way (especially when the bias of the accusers is showing so clearly)

16. Wikipedia has many entries on mathematical concepts, but lacks any entry on the basic concept of an elementary proof. Elementary proofs require a rigor lacking in many mathematical claims promoted on Wikipedia.

Well, they do have an entry. If it isn't as extensive as you would like, then write up a longer one. How is this bias?

17. The Wikipedia entry for the Piltdown Man omits many key facts, such as how it was taught in schools for an entire generation and how the dating methodology used by evolutionists is fraudulent.

Ah, "the dating methodology used by evolutionists is fradulent." I see. A whole field of biology is just wrong, and the Conservapedia is right. I'm guessing I can ignore this debate.

18. Wikipedia's article on Feudalism is limited to feudalism in Europe and does not mention the feudal systems that developed independently in Japan and India.[8]

And, once again, Conservapedia has decided to complain about this, rather than write up a better entry. And how, by the way, is this any sort of bias?

19. Wikipedia's article on the longest-serving and most powerful Maryland official in its history, William Donald Schaefer, contains about 1900 words, but over two-thirds of those words (1400/1900) are devoted to silly gossip, outright vulgarity and National Enquirer-type material.[9] 406 words, which is over 20% of the entire entry, is devoted to a silly dispute Schaefer had one day with the local newspaper!

Is it factually incorrect? That's the important question. One can quibble with the editorial merits of the objection (and I didn't check Wiki, so I don't know if the entry is still "bad"), but if the facts are correct, why object? What's the bias here?

20. Wikipedia's article about the late Senator John Tower includes a mean-spirited story whose only point seems to be to indicate the degree of his ex-wife's bitterness toward him. The article spells his wife's name incorrectly, and cites no source for the item. The item has been in that state since it was first inserted in May 2006.[10] No real encyclopedia would print such silly gossip.

If true (and at this point I can't be bothered to check), then I ask again whether the entry is accurate or not. Whatever the faults of Wikipedia, it is amazing that inaccurate material seems to be removed fairly quickly. In any event, perhaps Tower was mean-spirited (I had heard that as well), in which case, why is this wrong?

21. Wikipedia's entry for the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) reads like an advertisement for vaccine manufacturers, including unsupported and implausible claims about vaccination.[11] Unsupported claims featured there include "Vaccine makers indicated they would cease production if their proposal for the NCVIA was not enacted" and "concern that the NCVIA may not provide an adequate legal shield." Wikipedia's entry omits references to leading pro-parent websites concerning vaccination,[12] and instead Wikipedia's entry lists pro-government and pro-vaccine-manufacturer websites. Wikipedia's entry even includes this entire paragraph, which is unsupported and is little more than an advertisement for drug companies:

Public health safety, according to backers of the legislation, depends upon the financial viability of pharmaceutical companies, whose ability to produce sufficient supplies in a timely manner could be imperiled by civil litigation on behalf of vaccine injury victims that was mounting rapidly at the time of its passage. Vaccination against infectious illnesses provides protection against contagious diseases and afflictions which may cause permanent disability or even death. Vaccines have reduced morbidity caused by infectious disease; e.g., in the case of smallpox, mass vaccination programs have eradicated a once life-threatening illness.

I'm not sure any of this is wrong. The effects of vaccines are debatable, though (I would argue) generally positive for society. In any event, Wikipedia has gotten in trouble before for having PR people for companies try to change entries to the company's benefit. When discovered, these entries are always changed to remove the PR, and bring the entry back to a more reasonable position. But what is the objection here? Previous compaints by Conservapedia have pointed to an anti-capitalist bias; now they are complaining about a pro-company bias? This isn't consistent: bias is in a single direction, not two contradictory ones at the same time. This argument reinforces the idea that Conservapedia's major objection to Wikipedia isn't particlular issues, but is that Wikipedia doesn't reflect the Conservative viewpoint (inconsistent and biased as it is).

22. Wikipedia displays an obsession with English social distinctions, such as obscure royality, and with unexplained academic distinctions earned in the English college system, such as references to "double first degree." The entry on Henry Liddell illustrates this extreme form of Anglophilia that characterizes many entries in Wikipedia.[13]. That entry fails to tell us when Liddell was dean of Christ Church, Oxford and has a grammatical error in its first sentence, yet describes in painstaking detail four obscure royal titles for Liddell's relatives and his "double first degree" in college. The casual reader of that entry wouldn't even notice a buried reference (well after a description of all the royal lineage) to Liddell's primary claim to fame: his daughter Alice inspired Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The arcane English descriptions in many Wikipedia entries may be due to its copying, verbatim, passages from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. This copying was not disclosed in the debate in late 2005 about whether Wikipedia was as reliable a resource as the Encyclopedia Britannica.[14]

So? The fact that Wikipedia has a penchant for obscure English titles and academic distinctions stems from the fact that there is no single writer or editorial board that polices Wikipedia, and entries reflect the biases of the authors. What is the objection here? That the information isn't accurate? That it is wrong? No, it seems to be not in a form that Conservapedia likes, which isn't much of an objection.

23. Robert McHenry, former Editor-in-Chief for the Encyclopedia Britannica, wrote about Wikipedia's bias and included this observation:[15]

One simple fact that must be accepted as the basis for any intellectual work is that truth – whatever definition of that word you may subscribe to – is not democratically determined.

This isn't an objection, but an observation. And it has nothing to do with bias (and, in fact, would be just as much a rejection of the Conservapedia as the Wikipedia). In any event, it isn't actually true. Some things (truths) are determined democratically (governance, rights, duties), and some aren't (science). I think this is closer to a philosophy of science debate (longer than we have time for here), and not really a bias or criticism.

24. Bob Schmidt observed on the Illinois Review:[16]

I just spent some time in Wikipedia checking if my recollections of its bias are correct. The bias is much worse than I had remembered. I looked only at topics on business and information technology. Clearly there are enthusiasts for certain vendors who are spending a large portion of their time hyping technology in a way that makes their vendor look good in comparison to other vendors. They will set up a set of criteria for the definition of a product that their product will meet. They conveniently omit from the criteria anything that would detract from their favorite. In short, Wikipedia is not objective. It is accurate only within its selective use of facts that are convenient to promote a predetermined outcome. Even for just one area of knowledge, it would take a major time consuming effort for a person or group to have an impact on reducing the bias and improving the accuracy of the entries.

OK, so some guy disagrees with Wikipedia. And has found the same problem Conservapedia noted above (the vaccines thing): since anyone can post to Wikipedia, the PR types will post PR nonsense. This is why Wikipedia isn't always a great source, but this really has nothing to do with bias (since the PR language isn't consistent throughout Wikipedia).

25. Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, admitted the following understated bias in an interview in 2006:[17]

I would say that the Wikipedia community is slightly more liberal than the U.S. population on average, because we are global and the international community of English speakers is slightly more liberal than the U.S. population There are no data or surveys to back that [Conservapedia editor: why not? Wales admitted that only about 615 editors are responsible for over 50% of the edits on Wikipedia.[18] Why doesn't Wikipedia survey these editors? Is this deliberate indifference to bias?].

OK. This is the standard canard about academia: since most professors are liberal (mostly unproven), they must be indoctrinating the students to become liberal. While this might make some sense to some people, there is no evidence that this is true. The goal of Wikipedia is to provide information; the goal of the editors is to facilitate that. How their own personal political bias would interfere with that is unclear.

26. Many people know how a prominent Tennessee journalist John Lawrence Seigenthaler was defamed for four months on Wikipedia before it was corrected. He described and criticized this in USA Today, concluding with the following:[19]

When I was a child, my mother lectured me on the evils of "gossip." She held a feather pillow and said, "If I tear this open, the feathers will fly to the four winds, and I could never get them back in the pillow. That's how it is when you spread mean things about people."

Boo Hoo. I've never been much impressed with this argument. I'll be the first to admit that printing inaccurate/incorrect facts is wrong, and what was done to Seigenthaler was, in the same way, wrong. Did it do any damage to his reputation? Almost impossible to prove (one way or the other), but I hazard a "no." Are we supposed to believe that he lost jobs because of the Wikipedia entry? He lost friends because of the entry? Again, the entry was incorrect, and the errors were fixed as soon as the larger Wikipedia community knew about the issue. In any event, how is this bias? This is a flaw in the Wiki system (any Wiki), not a bias.

27. What most people don't know is how many Wikipedia editors savaged Seigenthaler afterwards on a Wikipedia talk page for publicly criticizing the falsehoods about him:[20]

"Mr. Seigenthaler's attitude and actions are reprehensible and ill-formed," said one typical comment. "[He] has the responsibility to learn about his own name and how it is being applied and used, as any celebrity does on the Internet and the world-at-large. Besides, if there is an error whether large or small, he can correct it on Wikipedia. Everyone fails to understand that logic." Another wrote: "Rather than fixing the article himself, he made a legal threat. He's causing Wikipedia a lot of trouble, on purpose."

Are any of these quotes incorrect? They may be mean-spirited (though one wonders if this is an accurate sample of what was written, or is instead biased toward finding the meanest of the comments about Seigenthaler - which, of course, would be that bias thing Conservapedia is talking about), but they aren't really inaccurate. Seigenthaler did threaten to sue Wikipedia, which is sort of silly, since Wikipedia doesn't control the content, and thus isn't responsible for it. In any event, as noted many times, Seigenthaler could fix the entry himself, which would alieviate the issue/problem. Again, it was wrong of someone to post inaccurate information about Seigenthaler, but the problem was fixed. This is how the WIki system works. In any event, again, how is this a bias? Where is the attempt to slant information against a certain point of view here?

In the end, all these complaints amount to an argument that Wikipedia isn't biased so much as (for lack of a better word) "icky" or something. The Conservapedia people argue that Wiki is wrong (when it disagrees with their version of facts), gossipy (when discussion people they approve of), and unresponsive (when the mythical Wiki-politburo fails to correct the problems). All of these complaints are true to some degree or another, but that's how the Wiki system works. Any Wiki (even, perhaps especially, the Conservapedia) will only be as good as the people who populate the Wiki, which means it will be wrong, gossipy, and slow to act (at times).

In any event, there is no substantiated charge of bias anywhere in these points. I told you it wasn't worth reading them.

Posted by baltar at February 23, 2007 03:29 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Blogorama | Crunchy Nutbars | Hacktastic! | You Can't Make This Stuff Up


Sounds like the work of a lone nitwit with too much time on his hands.

Posted by: jacflash at February 23, 2007 07:14 PM | PERMALINK

I don't have the cite, but the original Conservapedia group was, in fact 40 or so home-schooled high-school students (maybe college? I don't remember). It has grown (according to them) since then.

But yes, it sounds like a lone nut.

Posted by: baltar at February 23, 2007 09:35 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew Sullivan flags this entry about cacti as a particularly choice example. It reads almost like parody to me, like something Colbert would write.

Posted by: jacflash at February 26, 2007 09:20 AM | PERMALINK

I've read in a few places that Conservapedia (which has hit all the blogs) may be having some issues with parody. Since it's a Wiki, anyone can modify it, and some on the left have made a few changes to make the original entries seem more "wingnutty." Thus, the humorus cactus entry.

Posted by: baltar at February 26, 2007 10:11 AM | PERMALINK
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