The Conservapedia Mystery articles are a series started in May 2008 by Andrew Schlafly. The intention behind them is not totally clear, but the tone of the articles would suggest that their purpose is to invent a mystery and provide arguments to support the authors' beliefs.
Let us for a moment imagine a utopian world in which the founder of a wiki creates a Mysteries section in order to expand human knowledge and spark interesting debate and conjecture revolving around things that perhaps shall never be fully resolved. To believe this is the intent of Schlafly is akin to claiming that crucifixion was devised as a lovely way to get people out in to the healthy fresh air. The purpose of the mysteries is to present an often fictional mystery, present one side of the argument, and then wait for people to come to the talk pages to comment on how insightful the article is. In the case of Schlafly, he will accept minor corrections, but any suggestions that oppose his idea of how the mystery is resolved are swiftly rejected.
Mysteries tend to be based around the condemnation of liberals, with conspiracy theories regularly cropping up, such as the claim that Franklin D. Roosevelt conspired to allow Pearl Harbour to be attacked.
Overview of the mysteries
Here are some highlights of Schlafly's Mystery articles:
This article begins with the claim that conservatism is based on reason, implying that liberalism is irrational. The article starts as it means to go on. This is followed by a classic example of Schlafly statistics. To the layman that means numbers pulled out of his arse. The section is named Statistical Analysis, but there appears to be no statistical basis for his numbers. He was asked rather politely to explain his sources/methodology, and his response was in the classic evasive and aggressive style dissenting editors have come to know and love. Here is an excerpt from the conversation:
Ok I know this is a mystery and not an encyclopedic article but could we please get one or two cites for the statistical analysis section since it would be very interesting to read the studies that that was based off of --WillB 22:47, 13 December 2008 (EST)
- good wuestion WillB! how were these statistics compiled?
Agreed. It definitely does not look good at its present state where these numbers have nothing to back them up -- even if listed as estimates. --SJames 18:20, 14 December 2008 (EST)
- It's an estimate, and a work in progress. Do you doubt its truth? Perhaps you're simply saying that a liberal newspaper would not admit this, and you'd be right about that. But the truth is not constrained by what liberals will admit.--aschlafly 18:29, 14 December 2008 (EST)
Schlafly had in the article itself described the statistics as being estimates, and could have provided an explanation of how he derived his estimates. Instead he uses the famed Schlafly Reversal tactic to dodge the question by questioning the the editors' loyalty to the party.
The rest of the article is a series of categorized bullet points in which Schlafly writes down stuff he doesn't like about liberals, much of it obviously fictional or hopelessly generalized to the point that non-conservatives become atheistic charismatic suicidal sex maniacs seeking to corrupt children in order to preserve their fat paychecks.
There is a simple answer to the question posed by this mystery. The reason non-conservatives exist comes down to definitions. Schlafly's definition of conservative is remarkably narrow, and the majority of the human race doesn't fit Schlafly's definition of a conservative.
Like Schlafly's mystery of non-conservatives, this article is rife with statistics retrieved from a place very close to his wallet. Andy is looking for an explanation as to why Hollywood actresses are much more likely to get breast cancer than the average American woman. The answer to this mystery is that Schlafly is not even wrong. His statistics are clearly prone to selection bias, and this is best illustrated in the following conversation from the associated talk page. It opens with an editor trying to explain why Schlafly's reasoning is fallacious:
- The incidence of homosexuality in the general population is about 2-3%
- Evangelical preachers Ted Haggard, Paul Barnes, and Roy Clements were found to be homosexuals.
- Our study shows incidence of homosexuality in Evangelical preachers is far, far greater than the general population and is instead 100%.
- Therefore, all Evangelicial preachers are gay.
Except there's just one thing - we know that's not true. So what's wrong with the reasoning? Selective sampling, that's what's wrong. And which is what you're doing in this article. Bongabill 14:33, 4 May 2008 (EDT)
- Bongabill, your reasoning is so absurd that it does not merit a response. Learn how to spell "fallacious" and return only if you can figure that out. Godspeed.--Aschlafly 14:35, 4 May 2008 (EDT)
- Can you point out logical discrepancies between your logic and his? Refusing to respond does not give you credit, it makes you seem even more wrong. If your argument is correct, then why can you not point out problems in his? And by the way, taunting someone regarding one simple spelling error is puerile. AndrasK 14:42, 4 May 2008 (EDT)
- Well, duh, the incidence of homosexuality among evangelical preachers is 3 divided by thousands. Should I do the arithmetic for you?--Aschlafly 15:14, 4 May 2008 (EDT)
- Andy to try and translate Bongabill's reasoning into simpler terms: Selection bias/selective sampling is where the sample you choose for your study is rigged to give an inaccurate result. For example, let us suppose that Planned Parenthood did a study into teens and promiscuity and ecluded teens with STDs and tried to use that study to show teens were having "safe sex". Obviously this would be false since the sample was not representative of the teenage population. Likewise your sample (the list) is inaccurate since it only includes "hollywood" women who ever got breast cancer. Also to ignore Bongabill's point and to point out his spelling mistakes smacks of a childish ad homniem attack, to repeat AndrasK.Luder 16:05, 4 May 2008 (EDT)
This article is utter nonsense. The reasoning is absurd. It is just laughable. So you can name twenty well-known women who have had breast cancer. I can name twenty women I know who have had breast cancer. Does this mean women of my acquaintance are particularly susceptible? No, it's just a meaningless series of cases, anecdotal evidence of nothing whatsoever. This article is the same. Conservapedia really is a parody of itself! Humblpi 17:20, 4 May 2008 (EDT)
- Folks, your objections are incoherent. The incidence of breast cancer in the Hollywood culture can and should be compared to its incidence in the overall population. I realize that deliberate ignorance is a trademark liberal style, but you're in the wrong place if you think you're going to censor attempts to compare those rates. It can and should be done.--Aschlafly 18:19, 4 May 2008 (EDT) 
Once more there is the Schlafly Reversal, in this case complemented by a snarky comment about the editor's spelling. Everyone who questions Schlafly's statistical methodology is a liberal, and certainly not worthy of a reply if their post should contain a single spelling mistake.
- Mystery:Do Liberal Teachings Cause Mental Illness?
- Mystery:Was John a Child?
- Mystery:Do Sports Affect Sexual Preference?
- Mystery:Who Ghostwrote Obama's Books?
Mystery Conservapedia's list of Mystery articles