Monday, July 30, 2012

#346: Andy Schlafly

We won’t describe the antics of Andrew Layton Schlafly in too much detail; there is simply too much to mention (do check out the Lenski affair, though), and he has an extensive biography here (or here, for one that sacrifices accuracy in favor of non-offensiveness). Schlafly is a blogger, conservative conspiracy theorist and – most famously – the owner of Conservapedia (famously described by his mother Phyllis: “He has started this thing on the Internet. I don't know what to call it.” Indeed). Schlafly is known to be currently undefeated in any debate due to his deployment of the Schlafly Reversal, the Schlafly Stretch, the Schlafly Rearguard, the Schlafly Slip, Schlafly Statistics, and the fact that he can just ban anyone who disagrees with him from his site. As Richard Carnes aptly put it “... arguing with Andy is like playing chess with a small child who doesn't know the rules”.

Schlafly is also general counsel to the wingnut quack-organization Association of AmericanPhysicians and Surgeons (not to be confused with the American Medical Association).

He is, of course, a Young Earth Creationist located somewhere around Ray Comfort and Linda Kimball. Combining his creationism, crackpottery, wingnuttery, American Exceptionalism, endorsement of theocracy, Taliban fundamentalism, extreme conspiracy theory adherence, racism, misogyny, self-aggrandizing delusions (he purports to have superior expertise in, among other things, anthropology, astronomy, biblical scholarship and translation, the entertainment industry, microbiology, nutrition, oncology, psychiatry, mathematics, relativity, statistics, and world history) and general bigotry, he eventually launched the still dimmest, most powerful black hole of insanity (and bigotry) on the Internet (yes, Schlafly wins that one; no mean feat): Conservapedia ( isn’t even in the running for that one).

Constructed to rectify the liberal bias of Wikipedia, Conservapedia (Newcomers’ guide here) is governed not by the definitional schema “x is liberal, hence x is evil”, but by “x is evil, hence x is liberal”, and the law that anything Schlafly does not particularly fancy is dismissed as “liberal evolutionist abortionist claptrap” (such as the idea that the Greek wrote comedies (disproven by the fact that humor cannot exist without Christianity) or that anything “useful has ever been built based on the theory of relativity” – in fact, relativity is a liberal plot). Conservapedia is constructed to meet the educational needs of homeschoolers, and Schlafly offers courses on selected scientific topics for homeschooled kids. He considers Conservapedia to be one of the greatest achievements throughout history (special mention goes to one of the most active sysops, the Unification Church member Ed Poor, who must rank as one of the most incompetent human beings ever to have walked the earth).

Understandably, he is openly contemptuous of credentialed experts, especially when they disagree with his uncited assertions – much is summed up by his slogan “Don't read a book to learn, write a book to learn”. He has also suggested that editing Conservapedia is a better way to learn than “reading a book, attending a seminar, ... discussing with people” (“Most books (other than the Bible) are liberal claptrap”) and that “[i]n merely a few spare minutes or hours, the participants in The Conservative Bible Project have learned more than they could have after spending 10x or 100x many hours in any other medium”.

… yes, the Conservapedia Bible Project, the purpose of which is to purge the Bible of liberal bias. You’ll have to read about it for yourself. Words fail.

A “Best of Conservapedia” list is here. One among innumerable favorites: “Atheistic theories of the origin of the Moon, widely taught for decades despite lacking the falsifiability requirement of science (see Philosophy of science), have been proven false”. For regular updates on the activities on Conservapedia, you can visit this one (or for updates on Conservapedia in the news, this one).

Diagnosis: ”Obviously many people refuse to read the Bible and thus miss out on the benefit of its foreknowledge. Had scientists carefully studied the walking on water with an open mind, then it may not have taken 1900 years before they recognized the existence of wave-particle duality. Ditto for many other phenomena.” [A. Schlafly] 

(Roger “I suspect that high empathy measurements are correlated with an assortment of psychological problems” Schlafly is Andrew Schlafly’s older brother and has established his own credentials as a conservative activist with interminable lack of insight (see his take on the Violence against Women Act here. He is usually considered to be Andy’s saner counterpart, but Roger’s alleged sanity is visible only when compared to his brother (or mother). He does not deserve his own entry, however.)

1 comment:

  1. Conservapedia is so sloppily fact-checked it was initially dismissed by conservatives as a liberal hoax. And I first heard about their Bible project on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me." That says it all!