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Monday, August 25, 2008

You didn't think I'd forget, did you?

Many of you know that I am spending some of my time over on Scatterplot and, in my inaugural post, promised to stop blogging about Conservapedia so much. This is a promise that, to all of our surprise, I have actually managed to keep thus far. What can I say? I am actually quite tired of Conservapedia and need a break from writing about it as much as y'all need a break from reading about it. However, while I have not been writing about Conservapedia, it doesn't mean that I haven't been keeping an eye on it. I am coming to the grim realization that I may need some sort of twelve step program to free myself of this crippling addiction. Nevertheless, I've managed to resist blogging at length about such Conservapeon gems as denying the existence of extraterrestrial life because Jesus didn't tell us to evangelize the space aliens, Schlafly's insistence that a high student-teacher ratio is better than a small one, and the recent debate over whether atheists should be banned for being atheists. Don't worry, though, atheist conservapeons,* this won't be a "witch hunt" so much as a "selective cull." I know I feel better.

Alas, today I must comment briefly about two things at Conservapedia. In the first case, you'll see why basically immediately. I could not ignore this development. And in the second case... well, I mean, hell, it was a chance to make a tasteless joke. And you know how hard it is for me to pass that up.

So, to start with, many of you will probably remember the Lenski affair, wherein Andrew Schlafly denigrated the published research of Richard Lenski, and Lenski thoroughly bitch-slapped him for it. You may also remember that Schlafly submitted a letter to PNAS as well as other places critiquing Lenski's work. This was, in short, amazing given that Schlafly has absolutely no qualifications to judge the quality of any sort of scientific work. Regardless, the letter was sent and, according to Schlafly, is now under review at PNAS:

Or, in plain human language:

Update: Our Letter to PNAS objecting to the Lenski paper is now under Editorial Review. The PNAS has informed us that "[a]ll co-authors have been notified of the receipt of this submission. Your Letter will be forwarded to the Editorial Board for consideration. The Board may decide to accept, reject, or ask for revisions to your Letter. Additionally, the Board may solicit a response from the authors."

I have to admit, I sort of hope PNAS publishes it alongside a response from Lenski. I hope they publish it because it'll shut Schlafly up about how PNAS ignores legitimate criticism.** I hope they include a response from Lenski because, in all honestly, I really want to see a guy that smart ream Schlafly out in 250 words or less. Crap, who wouldn't?

Stay tuned for further updates.

And, as long as we're on the subject of Conservapedia, I also noticed this little tidbit:

Or, again, in text:

Conservapedians will wish to remember former British leader Margaret Thatcher in their prayers. Her daughter has just revealed that the great Conservative stateswoman has been suffering from dementia for some years. All those who value freedom will be grieved by this very sad news.

Okay, first off, I would like to extend my sympathies to the family of Ms. Thatcher. Regardless of her political views, and the extent to which I disagree with them, I do not wish her ill health or heartache, nor do I wish any of that for her family. That said, Conservapedia is fond of arguing that health problems among those they dislike are because of what they believe. So, for example, Schlafly is fond of claiming that an abnormal incidence*** of breast cancer among celebrities is a result of "Hollywood values."**** I think this is, at best, deplorable, but that's not the point. Given Conservapedia's penchant for this sort of behavior... well... is it just me, or should Thatcher's dementia and Ronald Reagan's Alzheimers perhaps suggest that those who hold ultra-conservative views are more likely to develop brain disease? C'mon, Conservapedia, where is your article on the very real risk that ultra-conservatism will rot your brain?

I mean, shit, at least this account helps explain Andrew Schlafly.

* Man, my head hurts just reading that.

** Granted, Schlafly is not leveling legitimate criticism, but I still like watching him squirm.

*** More accurately, an incidence Schlafly claims is abnormal. There are no reliable signs that he's correct.

**** Worry not fellow academics! There's also a similarly-flattering entry on professor values!

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