Conservapedia:Schlafly on NPR

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On March 13, 2007, Conservapedia founder, Andrew Schlafly made one of his first forays into the media world, in order to tout his blog to a wider audience. He was interviewed by NPR's Robert Siegel, during a segment on their "All Things Considered" show.

The introductory blub on NPR's website states:

For conservative computer users who find the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to harbor too many values that conflict with their own, a new site awaits. Conservapedia founder Andy Schlafly says the new site is an alternative to Wikipedia and what he deems to be a liberal bias.

Below is a transcript of the interview. For clarity, Siegel's questions and comments are in italics, with Schlafly's in plain text.

Transcript[edit]

Siegel: An encyclopedia, according to Merriam-Webster, is "a work that contains information on all branches of knowledge, or treats comprehensively a particular branch of knowledge, usually in articles alphabetically arranged, often by subject." An on-line encyclopedia, epitomised by the communally-written and edited Wikipedia, is an instantly changing variation on the theme and some of Wikipedia's conservative detractors have launched an alternative. It's called Conservapedia.com; Andy Schlafly is it's founder and he joins us from Hackettstown, New Jersey.

Er... Mr. Schlafly first, I know that Wikipedia has been criticised for inviting self-appointed, sometimes amateur editors to its ranks, but I didn't know it was suspect of being too liberal.

Schlafly: Yes, Wikipedia has a liberal bias that's about six times greater than the level of liberal bias in the American public, according to studies that we've done.

Siegel: (interrupting) How... how do you measure that... that liberalness?

Schlafly: Well, the American public can be polled uh... how many identify themselves as conservative and how many identify themselves as liberal. It's about a 2-to-1 conservative among the American public, according to polls that are published. On Wikipedia, they've asked editors to identify who is liberal and who is conservative, and they find that three times as many editors identify themselves as liberal, compared to conservatives.

Siegel: Now tell me if I have found a typical distinction between Wikipedia and Conservapedia. In the entries on the kangaroo, in the Wikipedia er... toward the end, after the overview of various species of kangaroo er... there's a list of prehistoric kangaroo genera, whereas in the Conservapedia entry, 'Origins' includes the following, "According to the origins theory model used by creation scientists, modern kangaroos, like all modern animals, originated in the Middle East and are the descendants of the two founding members of the modern kangaroo baramin that were taken aboard Noah's Ark..." and it goes on from there. A typical difference between Conservapedia and Wikipedia?

Schlafly: I don't know if that's a typical difference, but it certainly is a difference that reflects Conservapedia's willingness to present topics and treatment of subjects that are embraced by many conservatives and by many members of the American public.

Siegel: Here is the Conservapedia entry on "Democratic Party," which admittedly it says er... "this article has been identified as having problems length, content and/or style." "The Democratic Party is one of two major political parties in the US. When the Democrats and Republicans split the control of the Presidency and Congress, the US enters a state of divided government, often resulting in gridlock. Catholics identify as Democrats more than Republican, but the opposite is true for evangelicals. Reference needed." and then "Agenda" is "the official platform of the Democratic Party emphasises strengthening America, the Democratic Party as a political unit supports abortion, gun control and organised labor and the funding of some of those by taxes." Now the Wikipedia item, it begins with Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and history of the Democratic Party. I mean there's a big difference there in approach.

Schlafly: Well there certainly is and I think Wikipedia's attempt to legitimise the modern Democratic Party by going back to Thomas Jefferson is specious and worth criticising.

Siegel: But implicit in what you do and what you're saying and I... perhaps explicit as well, is an encyclopedia entry is inherently argumentative... it makes a case... it should make a case.

Schlafly: That's exactly right. It's impossible for an encyclopedia to be neutral. I mean, let's take a point of view, let's disclose that point of view to the reader.

Siegel: Well, Andy Schlafly, thank you very much talking with us about the website that er... you have created, Conservapedia.com.

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