Wikipedia or Conservapedia? Do we really have to choose?

By Catherine Potts | Mar 8, 2007
More Articles by Catherine

How about neither? Some could call it revisionist history. When you take something that happened and change it to suit a need. Some say that’s what Conservapedia is doing. Conservapedia was started by Andrew Schlafly, the son of well-known conservative Phyllis Schlafly. The website shows in the comparison offered on the ‘In the Weird‘ blog between what Wikipedia has on Bill Clinton as opposed to Conservapedia. Go ahead… go see for yourself. It’s actually pretty entertaining. One would think that actual fact would win out, but I guess not. I think I can safely say right now that I am not a fan of Conservapedia because they are wanting to treat what they write as historical fact and teach it in schools. What? What happened to teaching what really happened as opposed to an opinion of what happened? A funny thing my dad, who is a journalist, always quotes from an old movie is “when the fact becomes legend, print the legend”.

I’m not sure I’m going to fully trust a site that wages an all out attack on another just to try and drive a point. Then again, Universities are not allowing Wikipedia to used as an absolute source either, since it is subject to public editing. Here is an example of the list of biases on the Conservapedia site. Conservapedia has a long and somewhat heated list of the biases within Wikipedia. Here is Wikipedia’s answer to their claims, they seem a bit more factual as opposed to attacking. Wikipedia states that in some recent stories it is said that Conservapedia “originated from a project by homeschooled children, with many of its entries created by teenagers as part of a school assignment.” This has been corroborated in other articles I’ve read.

Interestingly enough there are conservatives that question the validity of the entries contained within the Conservapedia site.

Source: Wikipedia

“The Conservapedia project has come under significant criticism for factual inaccuracies and allegations of a bias of its own. Critics, including the conservative writer Andrew Sullivan and conservative blogger Jon Swift, as well as the science writer Carl Zimmer and others, have criticised and mocked the website for factual inaccuracy, extremism, hypocrisy, bias, and ignoring the scientific consensus on subjects such as the Big Bang and evolution in favor of biblical exegesis… Widely disseminated examples of Conservapedia articles that contradict the scientific consensus include the claims that all kangaroos descend from a single pair that were taken aboard Noah’s Ark, that “Einstein‘s work had nothing to do with the development of the atomic bomb“, and that gravity and evolution are theories that remain unproven.”

In reading about both the ‘pedias I come across various blog entries. I am linked to this snippet site via one of the blogs regarding what Conservapedia says about the Moon “Our solar system is one of the few that has only one sun. Only one sun and only one moon: this uniqueness may reflect the existence of only one God.” What?

I guess I need not go on, it’s clear that when reading either site (or any website for that matter) take it with a grain of salt unless it’s considered a trusted source by say… a library or your university. With Wikipedia being open for editing, it’s tough to say that it’s completely credible since the content can be changed by anyone. I’m not comfortable with saying Conservapedia is credible at all since they claim that the “uniqueness” of the Moon could be an example of one God. We all know that making such a statement is more representative of an opinion and most certainly not fact. Religion, however you look at it, is something that can’t be backed up by fact. I’m not trying to “go there” and make any religious statements, but a site who tries to mix an scientific fact with a religious opinion, is not a good source for a book report.

It’s safe to say that you need to do your research and compare multiple sources and don’t just assume the people writing what you’re reading are entirely informed. Wikipedia also has top SERP results for the many topics/subjects covered on their site. A ton of inbound links and being a .org probably don’t hurt. This is one example of how top search results can make a web surfer or researcher think they’ve reached the ultimate source for their subject.

On a lighter note:
Stephen Colbert has a site ‘Wikiality’. It’s your site for ‘Truthiness’.

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