Wikipedia is under attack by a conservative lobby group that says it presents anti-American and anti-Christian views. But who is attacking? And are they really that much better?
Wikipedia is a tremendous effort but it's not perfect. It's not immune to factual flaws, bias and personal agenda. Wikipedia's structure, which co-founder Jimmy Wales has said is based on trust and confidence, makes it open to abuse and whimsies of unscrupulous users.
Just the other week Ryan Jordan, a Wikipedia editor, who flaunted himself as a "tenured professor of religion" complete with a doctorate in theology and cannon law, resigned after being exposed a fraud. He turned out to be a 24 year old college student who, according to a number of news agencies, based his expertise on books such as "Catholicism for Dummies".
Wikipedia has its share of critics, however, a distinction must be made between those who criticize it fairly and those who criticize it unfairly. In this article we take a look at one site which has a vendetta against Wikipedia. This site is called Conservapedia and it is a conservative-evangelical wiki "encyclopedia".
Conservapedia states that it "is a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American". It lists examples of bias and problems in Wikipedia such as:
- Wikipedia allows the use of B.C.E. instead of B.C. and C.E. instead of A.D. The dates are based on the birth of Jesus, so why pretend otherwise? Conservapedia is Christian-friendly and exposes the CE deception.
- There is a strong anti-American and anti-capitalism bias on Wikipedia.
- Wikipedia often uses foreign spelling of words, even though most English-speaking users are American.
- Wikipedia displays an obsession with English social distinctions, such as obscure royality, and with unexplained academic distinctions earned in the English college system, such as references to "double first degree." The entry on Henry Liddell illustrates this extreme form of Anglophilia that characterizes many entries in Wikipedia.
- Gossip is pervasive on Wikipedia. Many entries read like the National Enquirer.
- Wikipedia is six times more liberal than the American public.
- Wikipedia's entry on abortion reads like a brochure for the abortion industry.
|Examples of Bias in Wikipedia
To be completely honest, some of the criticisms Conservapedia puts across are valid, others, however, are misleading. A few are simply bogus.
After making a point about being fair and balanced one should expect Conservapedia to lead by example. So here are some interesting tidbits from different articles on it.
The entry on the Theory of Evolution says that "creationists can cite material showing that there is no real fossil evidence for the macroevolutionary position and that the fossil record supports creationism" and that "biblical creationists can point out examples where the scientific community was in error and the Bible was clearly correct".
On Iraq the whole entry says: “A Middle-Eastern country, invaded in 2003 and currently occupied by a U.S.-led coalition”.
On CE it states: “The term "Common Era" (CE) is an attempt to erase the historical basis for the primary calendar dating system in the Western world. "Common Era" has no real meaning, and even the origin of this term is unclear.”
On Global Warming the entry says: “the theory is widely accepted within the scientific community despite a lack of any conclusive evidence, though that is not to say there is no evidence at all” and “It should be noted that these scientists are motivated by a need for grant money in their field of climatology. Therefore, their work can not be considered unbiased, though no more than any scientist in any other field. Also, these scientists are mostly liberal athiests, untroubled by the hubris that man can destroy the Earth which God gave him.”.
|Wikipedia on Conservapedia
Balanced debate? Yeah, we’ve heard of it. If you read through Conservapedia’s articles you will see that they are all unashamedly one sided. The opposing point of view is never properly mentioned, explained or sufficiently explored. After reading Conservapedia it becomes even harder to criticize Wkipedia for the lack of balance. And maybe that is the point.
In all likelihood Convservapedia will remain inconsequential and will never be a threat to Wikipedia. In terms of traffic Alexa ranks Wikipedia 11th while Conservapedia is ranked 59,587th. Yes, Conservapedia is biased but its existence does illustrate an important point about balance, impartiality and fairness. Or, rather, what really constitutes a lack thereof.
Have you found examples of bias in Conservapedia or Wikipedia? Let us know in the comments below.