We’ve long known that Conservapedia founder Andrew Schlafly has a tenuous grasp on such concepts as truth, facts, data, statistics and even reality. It’s not just that – despite his claims to the contrary – he’s not very good at them (as evidenced in the hysterical fall-out of the Lenski affair and his subsequent letter to PNAS), but it’s also that he sees data as a ball of plasticine – something that can be moulded, shaped, added to or reduced in order to suit the point he’s trying to make.
A good example of this is his so-called “Best new conservative words,” where Schlafly chose words he deemed to be conservative and made sure that there were double the number of new conservative words being created every century, thus proving – most to himself, everybody else was either laughing or going, “WTF?” – that the English language was becoming more conservative. Of course, if he added 1 new world in the 1600s, it would mean him having to add 8 new words in the 1900s, so it was not unusual to see him “trimming” (Schlafly-speak for “Whoops, let me remove this before it screws up my current bit of insanity) words that would otherwise mess up his “perfect geometric doubling of conservative words.
George Orwell would’ve been proud.
Another great example occurred in Schlafly’s analysis of the 2012 Olympics. Of course, for him it had nothing to do with the achievements of the athletes, and everything to do with religious athletes versus atheist athletes; outrage of a neo-Nazi sympathiser being sent home by her federation; how many public school students and graduates would achieve, as opposed to home schooled/privately schooled athletes; and whether or not feminism would “destroy the US men’s wrestling team.”
However, all of the above are not as insane as his next assertion:
Will countries that have implemented same-sex marriage underperform?
Because, as everybody knows, allowing a section of the community to enjoy the same human rights you do, will have a negative effect on a bunch of individual sportsmen. Then again, what would you expect from a small-minded bigot like Schlafly. If he still can’t get over the fact that Obasma bested him on the Harvard Law Review, it’s nothing for morons like Schlafly to believe same-sex marriage will destroy everything from his own marriage, to the Olympic team, to the very fabric of the universe itself.
In order to test this theory, the following countries, all of whom now allow same-sex marriage were chosen. (It would appear as if the metric was to compare the medals they won prior to implementing ssm with those won in 2012):
- Belgium – 5 in 2000; 3 in 2012
- Canada – 12 in 2004, 18 in 2012
- Denmark – 7 in 2008, 9 in 2012
- Iceland – 1 in 2008, 0 in 2012
- Netherlands – 25 in 2000, 20 in 2012
- Norway – 6 in 2004, 4 in 2012
- Portugal – 2 in 2008, 1 in 2012
- South Africa – 6 in 2004, 6 in 2012
- Spain – 19 in 2004, 17 in 2012
- Sweden – 5 in 2008, 8 in 2012
This gave a total of 94 medals pre-ssm and 90 post-ssm… according to Conservapedia. Using real world mathematics, the totals are 88 and 86 respectively. This drop of “4” medals was clearly significant to Schlafly, who posted:
The total number of medals decreased by more than 4%: a decline of 4 out of 94 in 2008. This 4.3% decrease appears to be statistically significant.
Fortunately, there are still some sane people on Conservapedia, such as GregG, who corrected Schlafly’s bullshit, with the edit comment “statistical significance does not work that way” and amending the entry to read:
The total number of medals decreased by more than 4%: a decline of 4 out of 94 in 2008. This 4.3% decrease is not statistically significant at any common alpha level. The 2008 Summer Olympics awarded 958 medals, of which 90 went to the selected countries. The 2012 Summer Olympics awarded 962 medals, of which 90 went to the selected countries. Using a 2-proposition two-sided Z-test, the p-value is 0.734, indicating that a difference as or more extreme than what was observed would occur under the null hypothesis (no correlation) 73.4% of the time.
Having been proven wrong, Schlafly now went about massaging the data. Denmark, Iceland, Portugal and Sweden were suddenly removed from the list because they “converted too recently to same-sex marriage” to have an effect. However, Schlafly didn’t amend the total, “conveniently” leaving it at “94 and 90.” He went on to trumpet on the main page:
Conservapedia proven right, again: there was a decline in Olympic medals won by nations that have adopted same-sex marriage.
Still, it was clear that his theory wasn’t holding water, so – as one does when you’re making up a statistical model out of complete and utter bollocks – he changed the parameters again:
The shortness of time between the adoption of same-sex marriage by those nations and their medals at the 2012 Games renders that particular analysis less meaningful. More significant, I think, would be nations that adopted same-sex marriage before 2008 and how they then trended lower in medal count from 2008 to 2012
However, if you take the countries Schlafly didn’t arbitrarily remove and compare their performances in 2008 and 2012, a very different picture emerges:
- Belgium – 2 in 2008; 3 in 2012
- Canada – 18 in 2008, 18 in 2012
- Netherlands – 16 in 2008, 20 in 2012
- Norway – 9 in 2008, 4 in 2012
- South Africa – 1 in 2008, 6 in 2012
- Spain – 18 in 2008, 17 in 2012
Giving totals of 64 and 68 respectively.
That’s right – those same-sex gay-lovin’ countries won MORE medals this Olympics than the last Olympics. So much for Schlafly’s theory, right? Now he’ll admit he was wrong and let the whole thing slide, right?
Schlafly is incapable of admitting he made a mistake and certainly isn’t going to let reality get in the way of his gay bashing. How does he explain the fact that his model doesn’t work?
Netherlands and South Africa seem to distort the results here. Removing those anomalies results in a decline from 47 to 42 – more than a 10% decrease. For example, it appears that Netherlands did unusually poorly in 2008, which may result in its analomous (sic) increase.
If you’re doing statistics Schlafly-style, you can just ignore all those little data points that don’t prove your theory.
Unfortunately, thsi is the kind of thing you get when you pull data out of your arse, in order to prove your bigoted view of the world.
And no matter how much you massage, stroke, knead and caress it, the fact remains that you are elbow deep in a crock of shit.