We’ve been referring for some time to the fact that Conservapedia acts as Andrew Schlafly’s personal echo-chamber – a perception that is reinforced by his chorus of mindless, spineless goons, who echo everything he says. Or certainly don’t argue much if they disagree. Now nobody’s saying positive reinforcement isn’t a bad thing… except when the ideas you’re reinforcing are clearly bat-shit insane.
You could argue that it was bad enough when Andy decided that he was going to take on Wikipedia… and bring that bastion of liberalism down. Naturally, a website with a world-wide editor and knowledge base, would be no match for a second-rate right-wing hate blog, cut off from most of the world, run by a failed lawyer and his clutch of poorly educated, sociopathic sycophants. IIRC Andy even predicted that Wikipedia would be “finished” within 5 years. Well, we all know how well that prediction turned out.
However, over the past few years, Andy’s sense of self-importance has taken on alarming new proportions. In fact, one could argue that the more Conservapedia has been transformed into a septic tank of loony, fundie, teabagger hatred, the more Andy has become obsessed with the fact that Conservapedia is the leading conservative light in the U.S. – even as conservatives continue to avoid it in droves. Maybe he’s trying to convince himself that yet another aspect of his life hasn’t been a failure; maybe he’s trying to convince Mother Schlafly to keep paying the bills; maybe he’s trying to convince his hand-picked goons not to desert a sinking ship. Of course, there’s not much chance of the latter happening – Conservapedia is the only place where any of them have any kind of authority and influence, and where else can Terry Hurlbut link-whore his own blog?
There’s a number of signposts that mark the road of Andy’s descent into self-delusion. Clearly the “we’ll bury Wikipedia” claim would be our starting point, but after that, it picks up speed and – in some cases – becomes scarier. Let’s have a look at some of the highlights:
- The Lenski affair. Andy objected to a professor’s discovery of evolving bacteria and demanded, in writing, that said bacteria be delivered to Andy, so he could check for himself (or words to that effect). Lenski’s reply and put-down of Andy deserves a place in the Internet comedy Hall of Fame.
- Best New Conservative Words. Andy took it upon himself to pick words at random and assign a conservative or liberal label to them. He then massaged the data to create the impression that the rate of creation of “conservative” words was doubling every century. This finally culminated in the hysterical “Conservapedia Law”, which can be summarised as “the number of words that Andrew Schlafly decides are conservative double every century, because that’s the way he wants it.”
- Greatest conservative movies / songs / TV shows. Once again, a completely unscientific list (often “enhanced” by parodists – although it’s really hard to tell sometimes. I’m just glad that my “best of the public” entry is still in there.) list of items that Andy thinks are “conservative.” These often include (or exclude) films that he admits to never having seen, not to mention inclusions made on the flimsiest of excuses – “The Apprentice” is apparently conservative, because “liberals stopped watching when they realised Trump might be a conservative.” Clearly, this doesn’t take into account the fact that when reality shows hit the “celebrity” stage, the writing is already on the wall, popularity-wise.
- The Conservative Bible. Possibly the biggest cluster-fuck yet of Andy’s career. Not content with redefining the English language as being conservative, Andy suddenly realised that not only did God not posses a true conservative vocabulary when it came to writing the Bible, pesky 2nd century liberals had snuck in stories about Jesus forgiving people. Urgh! Everybody knows that Conservative Jesus is all about Hellfire!! Thus, armed with Terry Hurlbut, Google translate and a team a faithful parodists, Andy set out to shoehorn his Best New Conservative Words into the Bible – thus earning him the derision of Christians and conservatives across the internet.
- Biblical Scientific Fore-knowledge. Not really something unique to Andy, the ascribing of modern science to writings in the Bible, but – as only Andy can do – a very unique take on matters. If doctors had read about God knocking out Adam, when taking a rib from him, they would have invented anaesthetics that much sooner. Worse, he goes on to downgrade Jesus’ miracles to mere scientific phenomena, thus removing Christ’s divinity at a stroke.
There are plenty more examples – “Relativity is a liberal plot” being another, but for true delusions, you need to look at the things Andy says. Some of these are actually quite scary, when you consider the level of delusion required to believe them:
- “Those who saw it [a spinning gif logo on the CP main page] Monday night and Tuesday, however, are likely to be persuaded by the message it conveys: Conservatism is the backbone of the United States, and freedom in the world. “
- “The [Conservative Bible Project] could build a foundation of unity. It could address and patch up differences to “make way” for a more unified conservative movement in the future. If everyone accepts a particular Bible, then it’s awfully hard for them to engage in religious conflicts with each other.”
- “All of our traffic sees the conservative message, and with our high volume, our site could be the single biggest reason American culture is moving to the right. “
- “Unlike most websites, including Wikipedia, every one of our visitors is looking to us for life-changing answers, and we are not disappointing them.”
- “MySpace, once valued at $12 billion, “lost 10 million unique users between January and February of this year.”Will Facebook also go from boom to bust, as people turn away from gossip and liberal claptrap, to learn more at Conservapedia?”
- Biblical scientific foreknowledge has over 34,000 page views and I’m convinced it has opened many hearts and minds to the Bible, with the result of converting many atheists and potential atheists to Christianity. Note that a typical best-selling book on the New York Times best-seller list has sales of about 30,000 copies. This entry has surpassed that.”
- “Television is losing its relevancy, as people flock to Conservapedia for content” (Clearly he forgot, that it was liberals who’d stopped watching The Apprentice)
- Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh are losing fans. Try conservative knowledge, folks, as found here at Conservapedia.
However, the clearest indication that Andy is losing the plot when it comes to Conservapedia’s relevance, is when he starts including references to it, in his own “American history” exams. I kid you not:
36. New Jersey was the location for which of the following important events in American history?
I. The location of George Washington’s headquarters during the Revolutionary War.
II. The location of the duel brought by Aaron Burr against Alexander Hamilton.
III. The state where Woodrow Wilson was governor before becoming president.
IV. The location of the founding of ”Conservapedia”.
(a) I and IV.
(b) I, II, III, and IV.
(c) I, III, and IV.
(d) II, III, and IV.
It’s probably a good thing then that the Names Database, when listing alumni of the Harvard Law Review, lists Schlafly as “Conservapedia founder” – in amongst all the Presidents, politicians, judges, business leaders…