Wednesday, February 21, 2007

When a bad idea gets worse...

Oy. I'm not a fan of wikipedia. There are some clear advantages to it. It's fast. It's easy to get information. But I have a problem with the open contribution policy. I think it's too vulnerable to be manipulated by the folks who care most about an issue, rather than the folks who know the most. It's the classic problem on the internet. Arguments are not won by people who are right, they are won by people who are shrill.

Apparently I'm not alone in my concerns about wikipedia. The folks at conservapedia think so too. They've decided to create an alternative encyclopedia:

Conservapedia is a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American. On Wikipedia, many of the dates are provided in the anti-Christian "C.E." instead of "A.D.", which Conservapedia uses. Christianity receives no credit for the great advances and discoveries it inspired, such as those of the Renaissance. Read a list of many Examples of Bias in Wikipedia.
What?!? So rather than try to edit wikipedia for perceived bias, they are creating their own system, and only allowing folks that are biased to contribute? And who are the mastermind contributing editors to this exercise in self-delusion?
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.
Perfect. Not just regular children. Homeschooled children. It won't be long before conservapedia is a conservative satire site. Yow, you can't make this stuff up.



Charles Gaulke said...

I suppose this comment, on an oldish post, might never get seen, but I feel compelled to say something.

I was homeschooled. I am not a Christian, conservative, cult-member, moron or lunatic. I am in fact a skeptic and athiest. I came to this blog from Skeptico's, and I've enjoyed the posts I've read. Please, though, do not lump me in with the kids who were raised to believe the world is eight-thousand years old, and don't lump my parents in with theirs.

Not all homeschoolers are Christians, conservative, or crazy. It is deeply dismaying to me that so many skeptics tar those of us who chose a different educational path with the same brush as those who chose ignorance. There are many reasons to homeschool besides wanting to shelter your children from opposing viewpoints.

The Factician said...


Thanks for the comment. You're absolutely right, I should be more clear. The stereotype of the head-in-the-sand, conservative homeschooler is just that: a stereotype. In the case of the homeschoolers involved in conservapedia, I think the results of said "education" are clear. These are folks whose writing is not just tremendously immature, it is also very often factually incorrect (and we're not talking minor errors here, but grave 180 degrees from the truth kind of errors).

That said, there are homeschoolers who do manage to give their children a better education than the education that kids might get at a regular school. Though I am not aware of any credible studies that have looked into this, it has been my experience that the kids who are homeschooled very seldom fall into the category of well-educated. In my life, I have only met one family that has done a good job homeschooling their kids. (But clearly, it can be done).

Again, thanks for the comment.