Talk:Liberal Bias in Popular Dictionaries

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Gents, this list is very much work in progress. Please feel free to add more examples but stick to popular dictionaries such as the Oxford English Dictionary and the Marriam-Webster. I think directly quoting dictionary entries would maintain the integrity of the examples here, but only the meaning we're concentrating on needs to be quoted. GFasten 12:22, 22 February 2009 (EST)

Why don't we see how they define creationism? AddisonDM 12:56, 22 February 2009 (EST)

Aha! The OED's definition is clearly mentions an alternative "the belief that the universe and living organisms originate from specific acts of divine creation, as in the biblical account, rather than by natural processes such as evolution" So, in the evolution definition there is no mention of its controvosy, however in the creationism definition the alternative is presented. I would be interested to see if this is prevalent in other dictionaries? I only have the OED to hand, though I may go to the local libraray and have a browse. GFasten 13:24, 22 February 2009 (EST)

Now how does it define Conservative? (I would look up myself if I had one!) AddisonDM 14:20, 22 February 2009 (EST)

It doesn't in the political sense, but I think this is because its a British based dictionary and conservative means something different over there. (ie the British conservative party is far more left than an american conservative would be, and it's secular.)GFasten 15:57, 22 February 2009 (EST)

Definition vs. Connotation of Liberal

I would be careful with this one. The definition of liberal is not an actual set of positions on specific issues, but rather a relatively vague political ideology of change from the status quo. If you consider the history of the word "liberal" and "liberalism" you will see that its connotation (aka the specific positions of those labeled liberals) has changed quite a bit. Back in the late 19th and early 20th century (in the times of Bismarck, Lenin, Mussolini etc) liberals were in fact those who opposed government involvement in the economy, something which is considered quite a liberal stance today. If you consider the full history of these terms, the strongest constant is that liberal was used to describe those who wished some departure from the established order, whatever that order may be. Thus I would state that the definition given by MW (although the personal liberty aspect could be challenged effectively) is about as accurate of a definition, without connotation, as I can think of. Something to consider.--AndrasK 14:41, 22 February 2009 (EST)

I would agree with the above. This site has formed a set in stone opinion of what a 'liberal' and a 'conservative' believe. This is not to mention the slight differences in meaning between countries, and bear in mind this is a British based dictionary. It is not so much the actual issues that define the political ideology, but it is the principles behind the issues. For example, with abortion, it is not the case that liberals have simply decided they are for it and conservatives are against it. That is far far too simplistic. Opinions are formed based upon a set of beliefs that a person has on the principles behind this, such as individual liberty, particularly weighing up the rights of the mother against the rights of the child. The use of the terms here has jumped straight to the conclusions rather than using the reasoning behind them as the definition. RobertWDP 14:59, 25 February 2009 (EST)
Having looked into this further I would in fact propose the deletion of this article. I have online access to the most detailed and up-to-date OED in which it does state that evolution is a theory. This is not to mention my above points and the fact that conservatism is defined. I believe all of the issues in the article have been adequately addressed and especially since it is based upon one dictionary it seems odd to keep the article. This is not to mention that nobody has provided a reasonable explanation as to why a dictionary of all things would show any significant political bias. People may dispute a few entries but that does not constitute a general bias by any means. RobertWDP 15:04, 25 February 2009 (EST)

(unindent) Not having the OED, I cannot verify what RobertWDP has stated regarding the evolution entry, but if it does indeed state that it is a theory, then the entry in the article really has no place. I still stand by my first entry regarding the Liberal entry. Some administrator discussion would be appreciated as to keep the article in its present state is not accurate or factual. --AndrasK 16:51, 25 February 2009 (EST)

For both public editions of the OED I have (both the paper copy and the free online copy)this article is true. I see no evidence of your claims RobertWDP since the source you cited requires you to pay to view! Surley the editions that most of the general public will see are the most influential ones and thus any bias in them will have a greater effect. GFasten 11:22, 1 March 2009 (EST)
My apologies for the citation in question, I had forgotten that access was via subscription. However, although you may well be right that most people will see other versions, the actual question of why there would be 'liberal bias' in dictionaries is not addressed. Personally it seems like a very odd claim, nowhere is there any explanation as to why the OED of all things would be 'liberally biased' and this of course feeds back into my point regarding the definition of 'liberal' and 'conservative'. Also, the article only looks at a very few, very specific examples and it seems ludicrous to base claims of bias on just these few. There may well be definitions that would appear to be 'pro-conservative' for example. RobertWDP 11:35, 1 March 2009 (EST)
What the majority see is obviously a dictionaries main output, and therefore, any bias it contains can be associated with the whole organization. Many university related publications (such as the OED) would be liberally bias due to the higher amount of liberals based at British educational institutions. Just look at how many range blocks here come from universities for liberal vandalism/parody. While there are the few examples, this is more than outweighed by the significance of the definitions. These are very important ideas and concepts which will influence the reader. I very much doubt there will be "pro-conservative" examples, and your claims of these are unfounded and lack any sort of evidence whatsoever, and hence your claims have no credibility. GFasten 12:42, 14 March 2009 (EDT)


I wonder if in addition to the criticism of existing dictionaries' entries, Conservapedia could also include definitions of some of the mis-defined words. It would be sort of like a mini-dictionary, giving proper definitions of words that have liberal bias in most common dictionaries. --RobertZ 22:37, 17 November 2009 (EST)

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