Comment and Opinion
Conservapedia - The trusted encyclopedia
This site was a joint winner of an Encouragement Award in the 2009 Millenium Awards. The award citation read:
There is not enough humour in the world of irrational and uncritical thinking these days, so it was exceptionally pleasing to see not one but two sites which promise hours of fun. Both Conservapedia and CreationWiki are based on the wiki platform, thus ensuring enormous amusement as competing anonymous parties make changes, undo the changes, make the changes again, undo again and so on. The two sites should be encouraged to continue building their respective stores of nonsense and pseudoscience so that the world's supply of laughter can be continually replenished.
A new reference source (24/3/2007)
Andy Schlafly is the son of Phyllis Schlafly, head of the Eagle Forum whose web site holds the current record for the number of categories in which it is listed in The Millenium Project, but it is not fair to judge a person by the actions of his parents. Andy Schlafly is a lawyer, a trade which usually indicates a more-than-passing familiarity with the use and nuances of language, but he is one of the people who have accused me of not knowing how to spell "millennium". When it was pointed out to him by several people (none of them me) that a clear explanation of the etymology of the word "millenium" as used on this site was and is displayed on the front page of the site he carefully considered the situation and then said that he understood but that I still didn't know how to spell "millennium". While an intellect like that serves a useful purpose by ensuring that the left-hand half of the graph of intelligence distribution doesn't distort the overall bell shape of the curve, it is unfair to judge a person harshly just because they don't seem smart enough to know how (or why) to tie shoelaces.
Mr Schlafly has now made a grab for great fame by starting a web site named Conservapedia. This has been established to counter the extreme left-liberal, evolutionist and atheist bias in Wikipedia which apparently prevents the truth from appearing there. I have my own critical opinion of the value of Wikipedia, but I have to say that I haven't seen any real evidence of Jimmy Wales being a reincarnation of Charles Darwin, Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin or of the anonymous writers, editors and arbitrators being members of The Great Left Wing Conspiracy. (A comment from an anonymous person: McDonalds is where you go when you are hungry but don't care about the quality of the food you get. Wikipedia is where you go when you are curious but don't care about the quality of the information you get. But I digress ...)
I like to see a diversity of opinions, and Conservapedia goes beyond that to present a diversity of facts. I wish the site well and I hope that it will evolve (if I can use that word) into a useful repository of crackpottery and misinformation. An example of the high quality of information in this encyclopaedia can be found in the definition of "Beef". Here it is in its entirety at the time of writing:
Beef is the meat of cows. Hindus do not eat beef. Vegetarians also do not eat beef.
Conservapedia gets even better! (14/8/2010)
In the 2009 Millenium Awards the Conservapedia site received an encouragement award. I am pleased to see that its founder, illiterate lawyer Andy Schlafly, has actually been encouraged to improve the information available from the site. The buzz this week has been about the Conservapedia entry Named "Counterexamples to Relativity". It seems that relativity as espoused by Einstein (and corroborated by every scientist who has ever devised an experiment that tested the theory) is not really true. Here are the reasons given to explain why one of the most productive scientific theories in physics of the 20th century is not reliable.
The theory of relativity is a mathematical system that allows no exceptions. It is heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world. Here is a list of 28 counterexamples: any one of them shows that the theory is incorrect.
- The Pioneer anomaly.
- Anomalies in the locations of spacecraft that have flown by Earth ("flybys").
- Increasingly precise measurements of the advance of the perihelion of Mercury show a shift greater than predicted by relativity, well beyond the margin of error.
- The discontinuity in momentum as velocity approaches "c" for infinitesimal mass, compared to the momentum of light.
- The logical problem of a force which is applied at a right angle to the velocity of a relativistic mass - does this act on the rest mass or the relativistic mass?
- The observed lack of curvature in overall space.
- The universe shortly after its creation, when quantum effects dominated and contradicted Relativity.
- The action-at-a-distance of quantum entanglement.
- The action-at-a-distance by Jesus, described in John 4:46-54.
- The failure to discover gravitons, despite wasting hundreds of millions in taxpayer money in searching.
- The inability of the theory to lead to other insights, contrary to every verified theory of physics.
- The change in mass over time of standard kilograms preserved under ideal conditions.
- The uniformity in temperature throughout the universe.
- "The snag is that in quantum mechanics, time retains its Newtonian aloofness, providing the stage against which matter dances but never being affected by its presence. These two [QM and Relativity] conceptions of time donít gel."
- The theory predicts wormholes just as it predicts black holes, but wormholes violate causality and permit absurd time travel.
- The theory predicts natural formation of highly ordered (and thus low entropy) black holes despite the increase in entropy required by the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
- Data from the PSR B1913+16 increasingly diverge from predictions of the General Theory of Relativity such that, despite a Nobel Prize in Physics being awarded for early work on this pulsar, no data at all have been released about it for over five years.
- The lack of useful devices developed based on any insights provided by the theory; no lives have been saved or helped, and the theory has not led to other useful theories and may have interfered with scientific progress. This stands in stark contrast with every verified theory of science. The only devices based on relativity are the atom bomb, the nuclear power plant, and medical scans such as PET (Postitron Emmision Tomography), but they have destroyed far more lives than they have saved so they can hardly be considered useful.
- Relativity requires different values for the inertia of a moving object: in its direction of motion, and perpendicular to that direction. This contradicts the logical principle that the laws of physics are the same in all directions.
- Relativity requires that anything traveling at the speed of light must have mass zero, so it must have momentum zero. But the laws of electrodynamics require that light have nonzero momentum.
- Unlike most well-tested fundamental physical theories, the theory of relativity violates conditions of a conservative field. Path independence, for example, is lacking under the theory of relativity, as in the "twin paradox" whereby the age of each twin under the theory is dependent on the path he traveled.
- The Ehrenfest Paradox: Consider a spinning hoop, where the tangential velocity is near the speed of light. In this case, the circumference (2πR) is length-contracted. However, since R is always perpendicular to the motion, it is not contracted. This leads to an apparent paradox: does the radius of the accelerating hoop equal R, or is it less than R?
- The Twin Paradox: Consider twins who are separated with one traveling at a very high speed such that his "clock" (age) slows down, so that when he returns he has a younger age than the twin; this violates Relativity because both twins should expect the other to be younger, if motion is relative. Einstein himself admitted that this contradicts Relativity.
- Relativity predicted that clocks at the Earth's equator would be slower than clocks at the North Pole, due to different velocities; in fact, all clocks at sea level measure time at the same rate, and Relativists made new assumptions about the Earth's shape to justify this contradiction of the theory.
- Relativity claims the aether does not exist, but in order to make subatomic physics work right, theorists had to introduce the aether-like concept of the Higgs field, which fills all of space and breaks symmetries.
- Minkowski space is predicated on the idea of four-dimensional vectors of which one component is time. However, one of the properties of a vector space is that every vector have an inverse. Time cannot be a vector because it has no inverse.
- It is impossible to perform an experiment to determine whether Einstein's theory of relativity is correct, or the older Lorentz aether theory is correct. Believing one over the other is a matter of faith.
- In Genesis 1:6-8, we are told that one of God's first creations was a firmament in the heavens. This likely refers to the creation of the luminiferous aether.
I will leave it up to people who know more about physics than I do (a set which I sometimes feel includes Cody The Religion Hating Dog) to provide scientific responses, but the very idea that a scientific theory can be rejected because it supports one side of politics over another is ludicrous. Does the name Trofim Lysenko ring any bells?
Still, I suppose the Conservapedia objection to relativity isn't as silly as one I once saw drawn from "feminist science". In that universe the equation E=mc2 had to be rejected because of its patriarchal origin, placing as it does the speed of light in a superior position over all other physical constants and thereby signifying the oppression of women and condoning rape where the man is always on top of the woman. Or some such bullshit.