Saturday, August 14, 2010

Relatively silly

Conservative dumbmness has finally, officially, completely jumped the shark. We find (by way of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday) about TPMMuckraker’s excellent story on Conservapedia, the conservative Christian revisionist Wikipedia knockoff founded by Andrew Schlafly, son of conservative doyenne Phyllis Schlafly.

His Web site has effectively called the Special Theory of Relativity a liberal plot to mislead people into embracing the official model of the concept of relativity. Solution? Do some misleading of your own, of course: “Some liberal politicians have extrapolated the theory of relativity to metaphorically justify their own political agendas. ...”

In 1905 when a nondescript patent examiner named Albert Einstein formulated E = mc2 — what’s become, in its lean and elegant way, the Promethean mathematical equation of our time — he made a discovery that’s stood the test of time because (more than anything else) it’s fully grounded in the bedrock of science, rather than trapped in the quagmire of politics.

But don’t tell that to Schlafly. He and the board of scientific advisors at Conservapedia came up with a gem of a refutation to Einstein: “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.”

“[E]vidence contrary to the theory is discussed outside of liberal universities,” the site says.

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It gets worse, or crazier. Later on the site in a further refutation of that which the scientific community has embraced for 100 years, Conservapedia notes that "Barack Obama helped publish an article by liberal law professor Laurence Tribe to apply the relativistic concept of 'curvature of space' to promote a broad legal right to abortion."

A flat-out untruth, as New Scientist explains:

“The article in question is "The Curvature of Constitutional Space: What lawyers can learn from modern physics" by Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School. Published in 1989 in the Harvard Law Review, the paper includes a "thank you" to Barack Obama in the acknowledgments, an unsurprising fact given that Obama was the journal's editor at the time.”

Energy equals mass times the square of the speed of light, as we know. But there’s always room for one more theory:

BS = 0 x βwww … Idiocy equals unfounded assertions in the public square times the speed of the Internet. That wouldn’t pass mathematical muster, but to go by Schlafly’s example of scientific fiction, it’s provable just the same.

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