Saturday, 18 July 2009

Accountability of Demagoguery Creating Disinformation

Every now and then you'll see on RationalWiki's What is going on at Conservapedia page entries referring to "conservative words" and "geometric growth". The page they refer to is this one.

Which raises the question, what is a "conservative word"? If you can be bothered to read the Conservapedia article you will see that the words in this title are actually in the list of "conservative words".

This raises a second question, how exactly do you define a word as a "conservative" or "liberal"?

My gut says that all words are inherently neutral until they are used by someone to express an opinion using a political viewpoint.

The thing is that Conservapedia don't seem to give a definition of how you can tell if a word is "conservative" or if it is "liberal". Without at least explaining how words fit into these two groups it's quite simple for anyone to say that the list is useless.

Based on the edit history and also the words chosen for the "conservative" and the "liberal" section, it's rather clear that the words in the "liberal" section are ones that they don't seem to like. The converse is also true. Words like "atheism", "quote mining", and even "Big Bang" are classed as "liberal" while words like "competitive", "cross-examination", and even "demagogue" are listed as "conservative". Some of the other "conservative" words include things like "Good Samaritan" or "Trojan Horse". Apparently "local" is a "conservative" word, as is "transistor". Even "conservation of charge" which is more of a phrase then a word is "conservative".

The other thing that should be noticed is that the words are also being added to the list to create a geometric rate. They are giving this in the form of "1-2-4-8", starting at 1612, because of the King James Version. I'm starting at 1600 because that's where their table starts.

In the 1600's the number of new "conservative" words was 14, or on average 0.14 new words per year. 1700's, 28 (0.28), 1800's, 56 (0.56) and in the last century 112 or about 1.12 words are year. That means that last century we apparently saw a new "conservative" word every year. That would mean that at the end of this century we should see 224 new "conservative" words.

I'm aware that new words don't appear in a nice progression like that. If that were true we should already have about 20 new "conservative" words by now. According to the table the number is 5 (preliminary).

The other question is if "1000 new words are created every year" what will happen when the growth of "conservative" words exceeds the "actual" growth of words? Does that mean that the actual growth of words will increase? Or will the number be bound by 1000?

Lastly I think it's fair to ask how you could include words that predate modern conservatism as "conservative"? To someone from the 1600's a modern conservative would appear to be extremely liberal to them. If conservatism was really on an "inevitable triumph" wouldn't that mean that the world should technically be more conservative compared to someone in the 1600's?

Oh, and my own personal opinion of the article: It's completely bollocks.

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