Dark Christianity
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God's word, plus static, on Calvary Satellite Network


Amid accusations over sex, money and control, Pastor Chuck Smith is about to surrender much of the evangelical radio empire to a man he calls morally unfit for ministry. )

Current Mood: cynical
dogemperor [userpic]
What Would Jesus Wiki?


~I'd say this is not turning out how they had hoped. lol

Wired News
By Michael Calore
02:00 AM Feb, 28, 2007

An alternative Wikipedia written by conservative Christians has become a major target of mockery on the web.

Conservapedia, a wiki-based encyclopedia that offers the historical record from a conservative perspective, is attracting lots of derisive comments on blogs and a growing number of phony articles written by mischief makers.

Conservapedia "is a gold mine of unintentional hilarity," wrote Mark Frauenfelder on Boing Boing last Monday.

The Wonkette political blog encouraged its readers to contribute to "this fast-growing, Jeebus-and-America-friendly online resource." So did the ScienceBlogs network, which said, "There's much fun to be had."

Even conservative commentators like Andrew Sullivan are bemused.

Conservapedia brands itself on its main page as "a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American."

"The site is intended as a resource for the general audience, but without the defects of Wikipedia," says Conservapedia's project leader, Andy Schlafly, a conservative writer and attorney.

Schlafly argues that Wikipedia's content displays a liberal bias, and that the site is rife with so much gossip, vulgarity and long-winded writing that it has become unusable as an educational resource.

In fact, creating a conservative-minded online encyclopedia for students was Schlafly's prime motivation for launching Conservapedia. He started the site in late November 2006 in conjunction with 58 high-school-level, home-schooled students from the New Jersey area.

Wikipedia's content, which is maintained and edited by its readership, has spurred a rash of criticism lately for perceived inaccuracies, bias and vandalism. The Wikipedia community polices itself, weeding out inaccurate content whenever possible, but Schlafly contends that's not enough.

"Wikipedia does not poll the views of its editors and administrators," Schlafly says. "They make no effort to retain balance. It ends up having all the neutrality of a lynch mob."

Using the same open-source software as Wikipedia, Conservapedia's entries are written in a manner sympathetic to the views of the religious right, social conservatives and creationists. The Conservapedia entry on homosexuality, for example, begins with four biblical citations decrying same-sex relationships.

"We have clear principles that we display, whereas Wikipedia pretends to be neutral and ends up biased," says Schlafly, who is the son of famous conservative politician and activist Phyllis Schlafly.

Conservapedia's entry on kangaroos says that, "like all modern animals ... kangaroos are the descendants of the two founding members of the modern kangaroo baramin that were taken aboard Noah's Ark prior to the Great Flood."

The site's entry on George Washington identifies the first U.S. president as "the person other than Jesus who declined enormous worldly power ... by voluntarily stepping aside as the ruler of a prosperous nation."

After it launched, the site quickly found itself picked apart by bloggers of all stripes. Conservapedia was lampooned by conservative blogger Jon Swift for its brash denial of scientific facts in favor of biblical rhetoric.

Science blog The Loom and liberal blog Daily Kos also pointed to some of Conservapedia's more unconventional entries.

With all of the attention, vandals quickly followed. The site's entries were edited to include parody-style riffs on topics and bogus source citations. Schlafly says most of the vandalism was edited out or under control within a week, and that the site will continue to thrive.

"All they accomplished was to give us enormous publicity," he says.

Even so, many have pointed out that while the vandalism on the site is easy to spot, some of the parody on the site is more nuanced, and thus more difficult to identify.

Conservapedia isn't the first example of the religious right turning to social software to reach a wider web audience -- there's also CreationWiki, an encyclopedia of creation science written from a Christian perspective.

While CreationWiki remains mostly unscathed by the web's parodists, Conservapedia has fallen victim to countless attacks. One entry in particular has gotten a great deal of attention: the page about a tree-dwelling mollusk called the Pacific Northwest arboreal octopus.

Schlafly is amused by the page and its references to the endangered species falling victim to the ravages of logging and suburban encroachment. He sees it as a parody of environmentalists, and he plans to leave it up.

"Conservatives have a sense of humor, too," he says.

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales and Andrew Sullivan failed to respond to requests for comment for this story.

Current Mood: amused
dogemperor [userpic]
"Evolution" by any other name


A peer-reviewed scientific journal has published a rather disturbing article: Evolution by Any Other Name: Antibiotic Resistance and Avoidance of the E-Word

In it, they go in and note that the word 'evolution' has been replaced by other not as specific words in various scientific journals.

The increase in resistance of human pathogens to antimicrobial agents is one of the best-documented examples of evolution in action at the present time, and because it has direct life-and-death consequences, it provides the strongest rationale for teaching evolutionary biology as a rigorous science in high school biology curricula, universities, and medical schools. In spite of the importance of antimicrobial resistance, we show that the actual word “evolution” is rarely used in the papers describing this research. Instead, antimicrobial resistance is said to “emerge,” “arise,” or “spread” rather than “evolve.” Moreover, we show that the failure to use the word “evolution” by the scientific community may have a direct impact on the public perception of the importance of evolutionary biology in our everyday lives.

This isn't a good thing. What did they learn?

In reading these papers, we found no evidence that deliberate efforts were being made by medical researchers to deny that evolutionary processes were involved in the increase of antibiotic resistance. The frequent use of the term “emergence” rather than “evolution” seemed more to be the result of a simplified phraseology that has “emerged and spread” out of habit and repeated usage. It may also be that many nonprofessional evolutionary biologists consider “evolution” to be a rather nonspecific word meaning “gradual change,” and that “emergence” more explicitly incorporates the component aspects of the evolutionary process, namely, mutation, recombination, and/or horizontal transfer of resistance. The word “spread” may, similarly, appear to incorporate the component processes of transmission, horizontal transfer, and increase in allele frequency. While these processes are recognized by professional evolutionary biologists as important aspects of evolutionary change, biomedical researchers may have the sense that the word “evolution” is itself too imprecise. Indeed, evolutionary biologists are sometimes accused of focusing too much attention on “change in gene frequency” rather than on the origin of variants by mutation and recombination, or on the consequences of changes in allele frequency for numerical abundance and distribution.

There is also the possibility that the failure to use the word “evolution” may reflect the mistaken sense that evolution implies processes that are long past, slow, and imperceptible. This is more worrying, as it fails to acknowledge the importance of evolution as a powerful force in present-day populations of all organisms, and not only microbes.

A critical question is whether avoidance of the word “evolution” has had an impact on the public perception of science. To investigate this, we examined whether the use of the term “evolution” in the scientific literature affects the use of this word in the popular press, i.e., whether there is evidence for “cultural inheritance” of word use. We searched articles on antimicrobial resistance in national media outlets, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fox News, and the BBC (Text S1). Our results showed that the proportion of times the word “evolution” was used in a popular article was highly correlated with how often it was used in the original scientific paper to which the popular article referred (Figure 2). This clearly shows that the public is more likely to be exposed to the idea of evolution and its real-world consequences if the word “evolution” is also being used in the technical literature.

And here's the pay dirt:

We wondered whether these patterns were changing, so we carried out a survey of the use of the word “evolution” from 1991 to 2005 in the titles and abstracts of papers published in 14 scientific journals, as well as in the titles of proposals funded by both the US National Science Foundation (Division of Environmental Biology) and the US National Institutes of Health (National Institute of General Medical Sciences). The results showed that the use of the word “evolution” was actually increasing in all fields of biology, with the greatest relative increases in the areas of general science and medicine (Figure 3). This reflects the growing importance of evolutionary concepts in the biomedical field, and highlights even more the strange rarity with which the word “evolution” is used in the biomedical literature dealing with antimicrobial resistance. It has been repeatedly rumored (and reiterated by one of the reviewers of this article) that both the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation have in the past actively discouraged the use of the word “evolution” in titles or abstracts of proposals so as to avoid controversy. [emphasis mine] Indeed, we were told by one researcher that in the title of one proposal, the authors were urged to change the phrase “the evolution of sex” to the more arcanely eloquent wording “the advantage of bi-parental genomic recombination.”

Controversy? Oh, yeah, that's right. NIH and NSF have been taken over by True Believers™ who toe the party line, and who are actively working to actually destroy scientific inquiry in our country.

This is alarming. But it is a reflection of how deeply the forces of the religious right have penetrated into territory they have no business being in. This should be a wake-up call to anyone who is interested in science and how it is taught to people.

dogemperor [userpic]
Transgendered people force "religious discrimination"


Or so claims a Christian (dominionist) minister who campaigned to get a transgendered city manager fired:

Charlie Martin, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, said he encouraged parishioners to attend because it's the "biggest issue facing Largo[, Florida]" in his 36-year tenure as pastor of the church, one of the largest in Pinellas County.

Stanton's continued employment will be devastating to Largo's reputation and future business interests, Martin said.

Moreover, he said, it would trample on the rights of religious employees to force them to call the city manager Susan, the name Stanton plans to use when he comes to work as a woman this spring.

"Do we want what's controversial or do we want what's best for Largo?" said Martin, whose church includes many members from Largo.

The city council, led by Mary Black, an anti-LGBT commissioner, voted to fire public employee Susan Stanton after a newspaper outed her upcoming gender reassignment and the religious bigots came out in force.

According to another minister in the area, Jesus himself would fire the man:

"Mr. Stanton is not a role model. He's proven that. I think for the sake of our young people today, you need to do what's right, and that's terminate him. ... If Jesus was here tonight, I can guarantee you he'd want him terminated. Make no mistake about it."

- Ron Sanders, pastor, Lighthouse Baptist Church of Largo

The city is able to fire Stanton, their city manager of 14 years, because in 2003 they rejected a city ordinance that would protect gay and transgendered public employees from discrimination.

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