Essay:Interview with Australian Researcher
This essay is an original work by Aschlafly. Please comment only on the talk page.
1) Why it is better for your cause to have a separate encyclopaedia - which is, after all, entails a lot of work - rather than just editing Wikipedia itself?
I've tried editing Wikipedia, but the liberal domination is so extreme there that any conservative edits are quickly diluted, distorted and eventually removed. It is thus a waste of time to make conservative edits on Wikipedia.
If the conservative, pro-American views propounded by Conservapedia are widespread enough to justify an entire encyclopaedia being set up, surely - given Wiki's user-edit nature - it would not be that difficult to counter the pro-liberal bias you allege in the current editorship?
Wikipedia is six times more liberal than the American public, and that bias is more likely to get worse than better. Wikipedia also allows pervasive gossip and pornographic images. I think there has been a brain drain from Wikipedia. Quality conservative contributors are not going to waste their time there.
2) In the Toronto Star on March 11, you were quoted as saying the following: "An encyclopedia should be factual...I don't know what you mean by neutral. It's neutral to the facts." Could you expand on this statement? Surely facts are, indeed, "just the facts?" Isn't it disingenuous to say that you don't know what is being implied by 'neutral', given that this is one of the main points of controversy about Conservapedia - that it self-admittedly presents a pro-Christian, pro-American view of the world?
Wikipedia uses the word "militant" rather than "terrorist" to describe terrorist organizations. That may be neutral towards terrorists, but it's not neutral to the facts.
There is really no such thing as a "neutral" ideology, point-of-view, opinion, or belief. Be neutral to the facts.
Alternatively, if facts really are 'just facts', then doesn't this undermine Conservapedia's reason for existing?
The facts are being censored by Wikipedia and other media, so Conservapedia is necessary.
3) Wikipedia's entry on Conservapedia notes that, "The project has also been criticized for promoting a dichotomy between conservatism and liberalism and for promoting the notion that there "often are two equally valid interpretations of the facts." Similarly, Conor Clarke, writing in The Guardian (http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/conor_clarke/2007/03/a_fact_of_ones_own_1.html <http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/conor_clarke/2007/03/a_fact_of_ones_own_1.html> ), observed that:
"The other interpretation is that conservapedia is the logical conclusion of a slightly worrying trend. It's virtually impossible to write about this trend without being accused of overt, shameful liberal bias, but the trend is this: creating the appearance of a reasonable factual disagreement were no such disagreement actually exists. Conservapedia, as its name implies, does not aspire to objectivity. Nor does it aspire to fairness. It aspires to give you the impression that there's always a second, equally valid interpretation of the facts."
Would you agree with this assessment? If so, how does this fit with the tagline on the homepage, "A conservative encyclopedia you can trust"? If you don't agree, how do you respond to these accusations and those of critics such as Andrew Sullivan, Jon Swift and Carl Zimmer?
Conservapedia fully discloses its point-of-view and approach. The reader can then decide for himself. Wikipedia, in contrast, denies its pervasive liberal bias, fooling users into thinking it is unbiased when it really is.
Liberals love to deny the existence of liberal bias, but of course that is absurd. Conservapedia is exposing the liberal bias and opening many people's eyes to it.
4) On the same line of questioning, would you acknowledge that the neutrality of Conservapedia's position is not only contentious, it is merely the opinion of contributors? The entry on Fox News for example, as of today, contained significant editorialising ("Since the Vietnam War era, mainstream journalists have tended to see such blunt language and side-taking as unsophisticated, a betrayal of journalistic objectivity, or perhaps their own ingrained biases against government in general."). Again, how does this square with being an information source one can "trust"?
The opinions and biases of journalists are a matter of fact. This can be studied, polled and analyzed. No one credibly disputes the existence of journalistic bias.
5) How would you respond to the comments of Tom Flanagan (described as a fiscal and social conservative) in the same article, who is quoted as saying: "It looks like this outfit is far more guilty of the crime they're attributing to Wikipedia. I wouldn't use this thing at all...This is loony tunes stuff."
He also calls the examples of bias in Wiki which Conservapedia cites, "quixotic and narrow. So somebody has found fault with a few dozen entries out of millions. So what, really!"
Would you agree with Flanagan's assessment that Conservapedia is more a tool for the religious right, rather than conservatives generally? (Flanagan bases this assessment on the grounds that Frederich Hayek is given thousands of words in Wikipedia but just a paragraph in Conservapedia, and the same applies for David Frum and Stephen Harper.
The Toronto Star article was wrong in claiming Ayn Rand was a conservative (she was an atheist) and I think it was wrong in claiming Tom Flanagan is a social conservative. He is affiliated with a group that advocates legalizing marijuana, for example. So this is a strawman by the liberal Toronto Star: setting up someone who may already disagree with social conservatives in order to criticize them.
By the way, the approach of Wikipedia that more words is better is silly. Conciseness is what a reader wants in an encyclopedia.
6) Do you think that ultimately Conservapedia is doing your cause a disservice? Erick Erickson notes, for example, that, "Wikipedia (certainly does have) a liberal bias...as does modern academia. But conservatives do themselves and the public a disservice by walling themselves off. Christ said to the apostles, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations," not "wall yourselves off from the world and only talk to each other." Do you agree with this assessment? If so, does this undermine Conservapedia's stated aim of countering Wiki's "anti-Christian and anti-American" viewpoint? If you think Erickson is incorrect, why?
We're not "walling [ourselves] off" by any stretch of the imagination. We welcome all ideologies and have Sysops/administrators from all across the political spectrum. We have administrators from Australia, Canada and Britain, for example, and welcome those who disagree with conservative principles.
7) After some widely reported examples of differentiation between Conservapedia and Wikipedia (on such as dinosaurs, the Democratic Party, and Harry Potter), Conservapedia appears to have toned down some of its more outlandish statements (such as, "the behemoth in Job and the leviathan in Isaiah are almost certainly references to dinosaurs").
The Wiki process is one of constant refinement. I have not personally spent much time on those particular entries, and I welcome the contributions of others.
On this line of questioning, however, would you accept the observation of Wiki's entry on Conservapedia? For the record, this says that, "The policing of articles is accomplished by Andrew Schlafly himself, and 30 additional sysops. Throughout March of 2007, this small group (of sysops) had numerous problems preserving the creationist viewpoint of Conservapedia, since the majority of the dedicated editors and administrators of the site disagree with their goal of censorship of non-creationist viewpoints, and edit accordingly."
Wikipedia's statement here is false and misleading. Given Wikipedia's pervasive liberal bias, its falsehoods are hardly surprising.
8) Similarly, further evidence for this can be found at http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/article.html?in_article_id=41802&in_page_id=2&expand=true#StartComments <http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/article.html?in_article_id=41802&in_page_id=2&expand=true#StartComments> , where one of the posters writes, "I'm a contributor on Conservapedia, a liberal agnostic myself, trying to make sure that the site doesn't go too far overboard. And I can tell you that this is not a parody site. I'm blocked at every channel trying to edit out creationist propaganda by *people who truly believe it* and think that pushing creationism is what the site should be about. It's really only a few admins that keep the site as off-the-charts fundamentalist as it is, but, make no mistake, Conservapedia represents what actual creationists really believe." Do you reject "Ames G's" views? Can you think of anything which would make him hold the view that he does?
I welcome Ames G's criticisms, but disagree with his statements. I think he has preconceived, anti-conservative views, as illustrated by his accusing his opponents of "propaganda". I am hopeful that a more open-minded outlook will be embraced by Ames G as he spends more time on Conservapedia.
You might also consider my interview answers at: http://www.conservapedia.com/Essay:Accuracy_in_Academia_Interview
--Aschlafly 12:27, 10 April 2007 (EDT)