Fisking Conservapedia: A paragon of lazy scholarship

JISHOU, HUNAN — For the last few posts, I have been critiquing just one entry in the bizarro-world online encyclopedia called Conservapedia, where relativity is liberal claptrap and physical science is just politics with a different name. Now, I want to address an even deeper issue: Con-pedia’s sloppy scholarship. No self-respecting teacher accepts even Wikipedia as a primary source in a term paper, but Wikipedia’s scholarship shines compared to Con-pedia’s reliance on proof by assertion and shaky, non-scholarly reference materials. I will use the present entry under examination, E=mc2, as a prime example. In the first four paragraphs previously fisked, there have been four notes. The first was to a strange footnote about how E=mc2 only works when metric units are used. No outside reference is mentioned. The second is to a likewise odd statement that “Many leading scientists (including Lord Rutherford and Princeton Physics Professor Robert Dicke) rejected the Theory of Relativity,” which to some extent was true in, say, 1905, but not so much now. This note has links to Con-pedia articles about Dicke and relativity. Note three follows the weird statement that the equation is “liberal claptrap,” and offers no basis in fact for the allegation. It ...

Fisking Conservapedia: ‘Nothing of value’, for sure

JISHOU, HUNAN — After a suitable recovery period, and some time devoted to my day job, I am returning to the cognitive black hole that is Conservapedia’s explication of the equation E=mc2. My paragraph-by-paragraph fisking is, alas, necessary, since the entry is so wrong on a fractal level. The closer you look, the wrongness continues to even finer levels. The entry begins by claiming E=mc2 is meaningless, liberal claptrap, and an attempt to unify matter and light. (It isn’t, and doesn’t.) Then, the principal author, Con-pedia founder Andy Schlafly, veers into the murky realm of Biblical Scientific Foreknowledge in an attempt to show that E=mc2 is simply impossawobble. In the third paragraph, Con-pedia completely mangles the definitions of mass and energy, which any engineering graduate like Andy Schlafly should have internalized just to pass Physics 103/104 (or whatever freshman course EE majors had to take at Princeton), and shows a pretty weak understanding of even basic physics. (Advice to Con-pedia writers: one should at least brush up enough on basic physics so as not to look like a complete blithering idiot.) The fourth paragraph is the focus of this latest installment. It states, with jaw-dropping conviction: For more than a ...

Fisking Conservapedia: Failing Physics 101

JISHOU, HUNAN — This is the third installment of my critique of Conservapedia’s blatantly stupid entry on E=mc2. In the previous posts, I fisked the entry’s opening paragraph, which calls the famous equation “liberal claptrap“, and looked into the entry’s reliance on some nonsense called Biblical Scientific Foreknowledge (a Conservapedia exclusive!), which supposedly shows that E=mc2 is just plain impossible. Eppur si muove. Up to this point, it is already clear that the principal author of the entry, Andy Schlafly (the mastermind of Conservapedia), really has no idea what he is talking about. High school students could have done a better job. While few sensible people would consider Con-pedia a reliable source of anything useful, other than a chuckle or two, some naive, overly religious homeschoolers (or politicians!) might indeed be using Con-pedia as a credible resource. It is far from it. Instead of a straightforward, factual, accurate explanation of a physical law, Con-pedia instead gets the physics all wrong, falsely claims only liberal politics ensures the equation’s persistence, and conflates religious belief with scientific discovery. Multiple levels of fail. So, let’s see what else the entry gets wrong. Paragraph 3 says: Mass is a measure of an object’s inertia, ...

Fisking Conservapedia: Biblical Scientific Foreknowledge

JISHOU, HUNAN — I began my commentary on Conservapedia’s ludicrous entry on E=mc2 by fisking its opening paragraph. Beginning with the false premise that the equation “purports to relate all matter to light,” the entry then introduces the principle of “Biblical Scientific Foreknowledge” and how BSF makes it clear that any unification theory is doomed to fail. As I explained in the last post, E=mc2 does not purport to relate all matter to light — in fact, light does come from matter — but it suggests that matter and energy are essentially the same thing. The author of the Conservapedia entry, Andy Schlafly, clearly does not understand this basic fact of physics. I’m not sure he really understands Scriptural analysis, either, as we shall see. Paragraph 2 of the E=mc2 entry goes like this: Biblical Scientific Foreknowledge predicts that a unified theory of all the laws of physics is impossible, because light and matter were created at different times, in different ways, as described in the Book of Genesis. Before I analyze this statement, which incidentally is offered with no further explanation, I need to introduce some terms. Cherry picking: selecting only that evidence which apparently supports one’s argument, while ...

Fisking Conservapedia: is E=mc2 really ‘liberal claptrap?’

JISHOU, HUNAN — Nincompoop is a word little used nowadays, but it’s appropriate for the likes of an Ivy League educated engineer who calls E = mc2 “liberal claptrap.” Here is what Conservapedia’s Andy Schlafly has to say about Einstein’s famous equation, an equation which I hasten to add has been verified repeatedly in the last century. E=mc² is a meaningless, almost nonsensical, statement that purports to relate all matter to light.[1] In fact, no theory has successfully unified the laws governing mass (i.e., gravity) with the laws governing light (i.e., electromagnetism), and numerous attempts to derive E=mc² in general from first principles have failed.[2] Political pressure, however, has since made it impossible for anyone pursuing an academic career in science to even question the validity of this nonsensical equation. Simply put, E=mc² is liberal claptrap[3] . When an encyclopedia article begins with such breathtaking, mindnumbing stupidity, it’s hard to know where to start writing a critique of it. It’s fractally wrong, as the poster above says. At first, I thought I’d just let it slide, since no halfway intelligent human would bother using Conservapedia as a resource, but it’s been nagging at me for several days. So, I’m going ...

Two can play at this game 3

JISHOU, HUNAN — I figure if Andy Schlafly, the perpetrator of Conservapedia’s Conservative Bible Project, can rewrite the King James Bible, so can I. Here’s my rendition of Mark, Chapter 1. (Please observe my copyright. Thank you.) THE GOSPEL OF MARK (draft #1,216,593A) Chapter One 1. This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus, as written by Mark, who believes Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. 2. The prophets wrote, “Behold, I will send my messenger to scope things out for you, to lay the groundwork, as it were. 3. “Someone will be crying in the wilderness, ‘Make way for the Lord, because he’s coming through! (No autographs, please!)'” 4. John the Baptist got his name because he dunked people in the river, saying baptism signified repentence for one’s sins. 5. He had quite a following all over Judea, and even among city folk from Jerusalem, who all came to be dunked in the Jordan River and to confess their sins. 6. John was a back-to-lander kind of fellow, dressing in clothes made of camel’s hair and wearing a leather loincloth; he also ate only locusts and wild honey. 7. He was overly humble, too. He said, ...

Monkeys rewrite the King James Bible

CHONGQING — Well, not literally, but pretty close. Via DailyKos, I learned today that Conservapedia (the Bizarro version of Wikipedia) intends to take the King James Bible and rewrite it into plain modern English, making sure the new version has no “liberal bias.” The Conservative Bible will be a wiki, so it will be a group project, rather like giving a large group of monkeys enough time and equipment to recreate the works of William Shakespeare. The rationale and methodology of this ill-conceived project piece of crap are so wrong on so many levels that’s it’s hard to know where to begin. The King James Version (1611) was an English translation from the Hebrew, Latin and Greek texts then available, done entirely by members of the Church of England. It became the “standard Bible” among English-speaking Protestants, largely because of its poetic language and of the breadth of the British Empire. Conservapedia’s head simians plan to retranslate the English in the KJV translation, which is a lot like playing “Telephone” with the Scriptures. Dumb, dumb, dumb. There’s nothing wrong with retranslating the Bible. It’s been done dozens of times already. But the new versions start from the original texts, not ...
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