Giving Conservative Scientists a Bad Name

Have you ever cringed at the cavalier way your students cite Wikipedia?  Wait until they start citing Conservapedia

Conservapedia is an online encyclopedia modeled after Wikipedia, but ostensibly aimed at promoting a “conservative” point of view.  Unfortunately for scientifically literate conservatives, what these people seem to mean by promoting “conservatism” includes describing biological species as if Biblical creationism were true.

Here is a gem from the current article on the brain:

<<Many liberal scientists believe that modern neuroscience is a subversion of free will, and that the brain is all there is to personality. This is to the direct exclusion of the soul and God’s will…  Many conservative scientists are now taking into account the soul, when they factor in free will, which allows for much more variation among individuals.[Citation Needed] >>

Setting aside the obscurity of these statements, I’d really like to see what citation they come up with!


  1. I guess I don’t see what’s obscure about it. Free will is a political/theological issue. Hard determinism is the easy position for a materialist. Some kind of libertarianism is the easy position for a religious dualist. Compatibilism has a bad rep these days. I’ve met reasonable scientists who agree to all this and feel driven to be eliminativists.

  2. gualtiero

    Tony, I appreciate your effort to be charitable. But I see a large number of problems with the quoted statements: an apparent conflation of political stance and metaphysical stance, an illegitimate inference from the denial of free will to the denial of the soul/god, a possible confusion between someone’s personality and her personhood, a hardly intelligible link between “taking the soul into account” (what does that even mean?) and “allowing more variation among individuals” (ditto).

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