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http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-schlafly19jun19,0,172899,full.story?coll=la-home-center

 

 

A conservative's answer to Wikipedia

Seeing a liberal bias on the popular online encyclopedia, a teacher launches Conservapedia -- to give a different angle on the facts, he says.

By Stephanie Simon, Times Staff Writer

June 19, 2007

 

Andy Schlafly was appalled. He was teaching a history class to home-schooled teens and one student had just turned in an assignment that dated events as "BCE," before the common era — rather than "BC," before Christ.

 

"Where did that come from?" he demanded.

 

Her answer: "Wikipedia."

 

At that, Schlafly knew he had to act. In his mind, the popular online encyclopedia — written and edited by self-appointed experts worldwide — was riddled with liberal bias. Dating events without referring to the New Testament was just one example. How about Wikipedia's entry on golfer Zach Johnson, winner of the 2007 Masters? Not a single word about how Johnson gave credit for his win to Jesus Christ.

 

Thus was born Conservapedia.com — labeled "a conservative encyclopedia you can trust."

 

Schlafly, 46, started small, urging his students to post brief — often one-sentence — entries on ancient history. He went live with the site in November. In the last six months, it's grown explosively, offering what Schlafly describes as fair, scholarly articles. Many have a distinctly religious-right perspective.

 

Take the Pleistocene Epoch. Most scientists know it as the ice age and date it back at least 1.6 million years. But Conservapedia calls it "a theorized period of time" — a theory contradicted, according to the entry, by "multiple lines of evidence" indicating that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, as described in the Book of Genesis.

 

"We have certain principles that we adhere to, and we are up-front about them," Schlafly writes in his mission statement. "Beyond that we welcome the facts."

 

Conservapedia defines environmentalists as "people who profess concern about the environment" and notes that some would want to impose legal limits on the use of toilet paper.

 

Femininity? The quality of being "childlike, gentle, pretty, willowy, submissive."

 

A hike in minimum wage is referred to as "a controversial manoeuvre that increases the incentive for young people to drop out of school."

 

And the state of the economy under President Bush? Much better than the "liberal media" would have you think: "For example, during his term Exxon Mobile has posted the largest profit of any company in a single year, and executive salaries have greatly increased as well."

 

With fewer than 12,000 entries and typos galore (the misspelling of Mobil above; the mayor of L.A. is referred to as "Anthony Varigoso"), Conservapedia isn't about to supplant Wikipedia — which boasts 1.8 million articles in English alone.

 

But the all-volunteer site has several thousand active readers and writers. Schlafly encourages his students to use it as a reference, saying that the articles are more concise than those on Wikipedia. On the home page, just above the daily Bible verse, he tallies total views: 12.3 million and counting.

 

Conservapedia's critics for the most part have no problem with the articles heaping praise on former President Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of Britain. But they worry about material presented as fact in science and medicine entries that typically seek to debunk evolution, condemn homosexuality and raise fears about abortion. They're also concerned that children who stumble onto the site will assume everything in it is authoritative.

 

Schlafly says students can always follow the footnotes to get more information, but few links connect to dissenting — or even mainstream — views.

 

"The project specifically targets high-schoolers, and that's probably what I find most dangerous," said Andreas Kjeldsen, 27, a Danish graduate student who wrote several entries on medieval history before stopping in protest.

 

Many, perhaps most, of Conservapedia's articles are free of ideology. There are brisk, straightforward entries about hundreds of topics: the tuba, Claude Monet, the nation of Latvia, Robin Hood, polygons, the Renaissance.

 

But consider the entry on Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (b. 1947). She "may suffer from a psychological condition that would raise questions about her fitness for office" — namely, "clinical narcissism," Conservapedia asserts. Evidence of her instability includes her "ever-changing opinion of the Iraq war." Though Schlafly demands that entries be rigorously footnoted, these sentences are not.

 

Schlafly calls the armchair psychology "borderline in acceptability" for his site, but he defends the Clinton article on balance as "an objective, bias-free piece from a conservative perspective."

 

The whole point of his encyclopedia, he said, is to provide a different angle on the facts — ones that a student researcher wouldn't necessarily find on Wikipedia, or in the school library.

 

Schlafly, the son of Republican activist Phyllis Schlafly, is a Harvard-educated attorney who practices in Chester, N.J. He does not know most of Conservapedia's contributors; they're spread out across the world and communicate through online pseudonyms. He promotes writers he finds trustworthy to be systems administrators, who are able to block editors and protect certain articles from changes.

 

Even among this elite group, there's no ideological conformity. Terry Koeckritz doesn't take the creation account in the Book of Genesis literally, but he enjoys the site and spends hours writing articles on topics such as Fox News.

 

"It is what it is," said Koeckritz, 56, a computer consultant in Reno. "A family-friendly, Christian-friendly encyclopedia."

 

That makes it an interesting window into a foreign world for college student Tasha D. Jones, 24, who says she loves to browse random pages and see how writers have inserted Biblical quotes or framed historical events in religious terms.

 

"It gives me a better understanding of how people feel religion relates to our lives," said Jones, who attends Sacramento City College and has contributed articles on lemons, mangoes and other nonpartisan topics.

 

The articles change constantly, as most are open to editing by anyone online; on a recent day, a few showed dissenting views. An entry about kangaroo origins, for instance, stated that most scientists believe in evolution. (It was the last line in the entry, after a lengthy discussion about which marsupials Noah may have brought aboard his ark.)

 

In other cases, a glance at the entry's history — which shows editing over time — makes clear how quickly dissenting views are deleted. Dr. Peter A. Lipson, an internist in Southfield, Mich., repeatedly tried to amend an article on breast cancer to tone down Conservapedia's claim that abortion raises a woman's risk. The site's administrators, including Schlafly, questioned his credentials and shut off debate.

 

After administrators blocked their accounts, Lipson and several other editors quit trying to moderate the articles and instead started their own website, RationalWiki.com. From there, they monitor Conservapedia.

 

And — by their own admission — engage in acts of cyber-vandalism.

 

In recent months, Conservapedia's articles have been hit frequently by interlopers from RationalWiki and elsewhere. The vandals have inserted errors, pornographic photos and satire, including this addition to an entry on Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales: "Mr. Gonzales is a strong supporter of torture as a law enforcement tool for use against Democrats and third world inhabitants."

 

The vandalism aims "to cause people to say, 'That Conservapedia is just wacko,' " said Brian Macdonald, 45, a Navy veteran in Murfreesboro, Tenn., who puts in several hours a day on the site fending off malicious editing.

 

Such aggression has reinforced the view among some Conservapedia writers that left-wingers are out to suppress their free speech.

 

"I had heard it spoken of, but it had never really hit home before just how hostile they are," said a 15-year-old in New Jersey whose mother asked that her name not be used.

 

The girl, who is home-schooled, wrote an article for Conservapedia on Irish dancing and uses the site to research papers. But the biggest lesson she's taken away as a young conservative is: "There are people who want to destroy us."

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The first time I went to that website I thought it was a joke. When I found out it wasn't I was pretty disgusted.

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And the state of the economy under President Bush? Much better than the "liberal media" would have you think: "For example, during his term Exxon Mobile has posted the largest profit of any company in a single year, and executive salaries have greatly increased as well."

 

I saw this one and laughed out loud.

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The girl, who is home-schooled, wrote an article for Conservapedia on Irish dancing and uses the site to research papers. But the biggest lesson she's taken away as a young conservative is: "There are people who want to destroy us."

Hahahaha.

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What really worries me is the breast-cancer comment; the connection between abortion and increased risk was scientifically disproven.

 

Anyone ever heard the quote "You're entitled to your own opinion...but you are not entitled to your own facts."?

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Liberal Mayor Michael Bloomberg becomes an independent after claiming that the United States is "really in trouble,"[4] fueling speculation that this pro-gay, pro-abortion and anti-Second Amendment politician will waste his personal fortune on seeking the presidency. The Democratic Party is terrified because he would split their pro-gay, pro-abortion and anti-gun vote!

 

yeah...fair and balanced. i don't think i saw a single objective statement there. and this is one of the main articles.

 

 

haha! and there's a daily bible verse. i see where the inspiration is now. all this because some home-school teacher's student used "BCE" instead of "BC" that's rediculous.

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"Wikipedia's entry for Johnny Appleseed, a Christian folk hero, omits a discussion of his strong faith and instead features baseless speculation about his health, a year of death different from that of his obituary, and a silly story designed to make a Christian preacher look foolish"

 

You have to be f&*%ing kidding me

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"an objective, bias-free piece from a conservative perspective."

 

Hahahaha, wtf, does that even make sense?

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Ok, i know some people support israel, but this is just ridiculous

 

Palestine is the name given to the land of Israel by the Romans and others in order to deny that the land belongs to the Jews

 

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has criticed the United States and Israel for not recognizing the victory of the terrorist organization, Hamas, in parliamentary elections and a violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in which Fatah had been routed

 

One of the names for this region over the years has been "Palestine," but that name never referred to a sovereign country. However this is the case prior to the creation of any state. Those who use this point in order to undermine the Palestinians claim to the land their ancestors have lived in for many generations never seem to apply this argument to any other Arab country that has been recently created, or any country for that matter

 

Also, under the "Israel" page, the links/sources consists of... (keep in mind this is verbatim)

-Internet jewish history sourcebook

-Welcome to Israel (for kids)

-Ways to support israel

 

And then the page about the Iraq war is horrible, it is just so sad that people actually believe that stuff.

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uh. please elaborate.

I Reeeealy dont want to get into this with you guys again, but here goes, Egypt acheived all goals and israel suffered far more substantial losses then egypt. There, now that thats said, i'm say no more in the intrest of keeping this thread on topic.

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I don't have a problem with rewriting Wikipedia from a specified point of view. Wikipedia's dedication to their "no original research" and "neutral point of view" policies have obvious advantages as far as inclusiveness and balance. But often there is much to be gained from looking at the world through a specific lens. That's why we have places like Wikinfo and GetWiki that encourage contributing articles that expound new ideas from individual viewpoints. Besides, quite a lot of Wikipedia is NOT kid friendly - they have pages on drug coctails, sexual fetishes, and so on - so you have to give them credit for their efforts in that direction.

 

But here's what gets me. I can't figure out why they're starting out from scratch. Wikipedia articles are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Why don't they just copy Wikipedia articles, skim them for whatever liberal bias is worrying them, and import them into Conservapedia? It's perfectly legal - even encouraged by Wikipedia - and would instantly get, for example, Conservapedia's article about the violin up to the quality of Wikipedia's article.

 

There is a completely inexplicable rant on Conservapedia about why the GFDL is too restrictive here, and an equally bizarre and even more vague explanation of Conservapedia's reuse license here. I have no idea what is going through their heads. Perhaps they were just so repulsed by the word "copyleft" they didn't care how much effort would be have to be duplicated?

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I Reeeealy dont want to get into this with you guys again, but here goes, Egypt acheived all goals and israel suffered far more substantial losses then egypt. There, now that thats said, i'm say no more in the intrest of keeping this thread on topic.

that's a simplistic view. sadat achieved certain political goals, but to say that egypt "won" the conflict is not accurate. his goals were designed to be achieved absent a military victory, strictly speaking. it's odd to suggest that this website is biased for claiming that israel "won" the war - that's a fairly standard formulation. the term is usually used in reference to military operations.

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your analysis is pretty laughable and it's obvious you've never read anything about the war besides noam chomsky's take on it. you have absolutely no grasp of military history or the issues at hand; masturbatory fantasies about dead israelis don't equal facts.

 

all sadat wanted was some form of military victory to be able to negotiate with israel. i admit that this was a brilliant example of statesmanship. however, his victory was essentially political and came about in spite of a military defeat. egyptian forces fared reasonably well on the first few days; this was due to a mixture of egyptian luck, rigorous planning, a number of technical developments, israeli hubris and shocking intelligence failures. by the cease-fire the arab advantages had been negated and the israelis were acting with a free hand. kissinger pressed for a cease-fire in order to offer the trapped third army to egypt as a gift.

 

despite the insanity your friend "eaf" (a pitiful organization if ever there was one) is spewing over there, the egyptian offensive was basically a very limited success, if at all. it required massive planning and training (equal to or greater than took place for the invasion of normandy), and only ever penetrated five or ten km. after the rehearsed moves ran out, egyptian tactical formations lost all combat effectiveness. especially on the west bank, egyptian divisions were unable to respond to rapid israeli maneuver.

 

egyptian losses of men and equipment were significantly higher than israeli losses; additionally, most of the israeli tanks were salvaged and returned to duty. egyptian tanks obviously weren't, and many ended up in israeli service.

 

the iaf suffered relatively heavy losses due to sams at the onset, but regained freedom of action after several days. sam performance was also fairly mixed - they fired roughly 40 heavy sams and 150 sa-7's per plane downed, which is a terrible ratio. they also probably downed more of their own fighters than israeli planes (40-45 vs. 20-25).

 

the eaf command realized that they weren't capable of doing much and left the anti-air role to ground-based batteries. they flew a handful of ground-attack missions that didn't hit much. the air-to-air exchange rate was about 1 to 25, which is not something to be proud of. the dogfight between 28 migs and 2 phantoms in which 8 migs were downed and the others driven off for no losses relates some of the disparity in pilot skill.

 

"Sharon was surrounded, and the IAF was practically non-existant, no my dear friend it was Israel that was begging for peace, it was Israel that was on its knees groveling beforw the might of truth, the might of righteousness and the might that shall forever triumph over all things that are evil." holy fucking shit LOL LOL LOL

 

edit: your analysis of the balance of forces is hilarious as well. the bar-lev line was manned by a reserve batallion and in the entire sinai israel only had an armored division and a brigade's worth of infantry. that's 18,000 men and 300 tanks. the egyptians used two armies in the assault - about 200,000 men and 1,600 tanks, not to mention thousands of superior soviet artillery pieces pre-sighted. they also had about another army's worth in reserve - another 100,000 men and 800 tanks. "inferior forces" fucking L O L

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i see you had to ask for advice at irandefense.net. i have no idea why you are so eager to eat up the bizarre revisionist history eaf is putting out there. the egyptian military does not really engage in "history" - they don't release their archives, they don't allow access to independent researchers, they hold opinions absurdly in opposition to the facts. it's one thing to be skeptical of israeli figures, but it's another thing entirely to embrace egyptian nonsense all the while bemoaning our western acceptance of "zionist fiction." i mean, seriously, eaf is claiming only 200 egyptian tanks were destroyed in the entire campaign? and that 1,300 israeli tanks were scrapped? i just don't know what to say....

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Believe me, that site is not all iranians and egyptians, there are a good deal of israelis and americans whom i argue with all the time.

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