I love listening to people being interviewed on NPR, because I learn so many fun “facts”. Recently, they interviewed a gentleman representing a new website titled Conservipedia – presumably the conservative answer to Wikipedia. (I would put up a link to it, but my hands might seize up and I might physically fall to the floor in a fit of convulsions). In that interview I learned that conservatives in the United States outnumber liberals 2 to 1 (he said it, it must be true); however, only 1 out of every 3 people who go to Wikipedia considers themselves to be conservative. With Wikipedia’s open editing capabilities, I’m not certain what that figure actually means. Does it mean, as the representative from the site suggests, that there needs to be a conservative answer? An alternate site with an opposing view? Or does it mean that conservatives haven’t quite figured out how to use the internet – at least enough to edit Wikipedia?
One of the examples they used was the entry on the Democratic Party:
Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic Party in 1792 as a congressional caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights and against the elitist Federalist Party. In 1798, the “party of the common man” was officially named the Democratic-Republican Party and in 1800 elected Jefferson as the first Democratic President of the United States.
The Democratic Party was founded in 1792 by Thomas Jefferson as a congressional caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights and to oppose the elitist Federalist Party. Ironically in view of the party’s image as the “party of the common man”, Jefferson was a member of the landed gentry and a slave owner.
Golly, those “democrats” were a right pack of bastards even back in the day. My whole view of our founding fathers has been shaken to the core. Landed gentry? SLAVE HOLDERS? In that day and age? He doubtlessly fornicated with barnyard animals. I bet he even had access to education that wasn’t available to the general population. SHOCKING! Who did Jefferson think he was when he put pen to paper and wrote out our constitution? He certainly wasn’t representing you or me. I want a “do over” on this whole constitution thing.
My point is about to jump all over the place, but basically it boils down to this – you’ve got a source of information that is open to everyone for editing, which in my mind doesn’t make it a reliable source of information whether we’re talking Wikipedia or Conservipedia – liberal or conservative.
Personally, I use Wikipedia to look up important facts on the TV show Lost or to verify the birthdate of Lillian Hellman. Other than that, and even with that, it should not be your final stop for lessons in history – whether you believe that Anna Nicole Smith was created by the media in their likeness or she descended from a long line of buxom apes. READ A BOOK! (… and keep history within its historic perspective)