RationalWiki

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RationalWiki
File:RationalWiki Logo.png
RationalWiki logo
Web address rationalwiki.org
Commercial? No
Type of site
Wiki
Registration Optional
Available in English, Russian
Content license
CC-BY-SA 3.0
Written in MediaWiki software
Owner RationalMedia Foundation[1]
Created by Volunteer contributors[2]
Launched May 22, 2007; 11 years ago (2007-05-22)
Alexa rank
17,479; 5,727: United States (April 2015)[3]
Current status Active

RationalWiki is a wiki written from a skeptical, secular, and progressivist perspective. It was created in 2007 as a counter to Conservapedia after an incident in which contributors attempting to edit Conservapedia were banned, and is owned by Trent Morgan Toulouse, a psychology professor at Central New Mexico Community College. Since then, it has developed into a wiki that criticizes "crank" ideas, pseudoscience, and fundamentalism. Ideologically, RationalWiki typically argues in favor of atheism, feminism, LGBT rights, and separation of church and state and criticises conservatism and libertarianism.[4] RationalWiki frequently uses sarcasm and humor in its articles. RationalWiki has been criticized for bias, factual inaccuracies, and has been the subject of libel lawsuits.

History

Origin

In April 2007, Peter Lipson, a doctor of internal medicine, attempted to edit Conservapedia's article on breast cancer to include evidence against Conservapedia's claim that abortion was linked to the disease. (Conservapedia is an encyclopedia started by Andy Schlafly to provide an alternative to Wikipedia, which Schlafly perceived as suffering from liberal and atheistic bias.

Conservapedia administrators, including Schlafly, questioned his credentials and eventually banned Lipson and several other contributors from the website. After this incident, Lipson and friends started their own website, RationalWiki.com [sic]."[5][6]

RationalMedia Foundation

In 2010, Trent Morgan Toulouse, a psychology professor at Central New Mexico Community College[7][8] incorporated a nonprofit called the "RationalWiki Foundation Inc." to manage the affairs and pay the operational expenses of the website.[1] In July 2013, the RationalWiki Foundation changed its name to the RationalMedia Foundation, stating that its aims extended beyond the RationalWiki site alone.[9]

Mission and content

RationalWiki's stated missions are:[10][11][12]

  1. Analyzing and refuting pseudoscience and the anti-science movement
  2. Documenting the full range of crank ideas
  3. Explorations of authoritarianism and fundamentalism
  4. Analysis and criticism of how these subjects are handled in the media

RationalWiki differs in several ways from the philosophy of Wikipedia and some other informational wikis. It has a policy of "SPOV", which stands for "snarky point of view",[13] as opposed to Wikipedia's neutral point of view policy. Following this mission, many RationalWiki articles mock, sarcastically describe, and satirize beliefs that RationalWiki opposes, especially when covering topics like alternative medicine or fundamentalist Christian leaders.[6][14]

A significant fraction of activity on RationalWiki has involved critiquing and "monitor[ing] Conservapedia".[5] Many RationalWiki contributors have been highly critical of Conservapedia. Lester Haines of The Register stated, "Its entry entitled 'Conservapedia:Delusions' promptly mocks the claims that 'Homosexuality is a mental disorder', 'Atheists are sociopaths', and 'During the 6 days of creation G-d placed the Earth inside a black hole to slow down time so the light from distant stars had time to reach us'."[6]

Reception

Ballatore 2015 found RationalWiki to be the most visible "debunking" website in terms of Google and Bing search results, slightly more visible than rense.com and less visible than YouTube or Wikipedia.[15]

In Intelligent Systems'2014, published by the IEEE, Alexander Shvets stated: "There are few online resources and periodical articles that provide some information about pseudoscientific theories. Such information helps non-experts to acquire the necessary knowledge to avoid being deceived. One of the online resources that can be distinguished is international resource "RationalWiki" that was created to organize and categorize knowledge about pseudoscientific theories, personalities, and organizations."[16]

In Crowdsourced Knowledge: Peril and Promise for Complex Knowledge Systems, Mary Keeler et al. stated: "As W. Lippmann warned in 1955, 'When distant and unfamiliar and complex things are communicated to great masses of people, the truth suffers a considerable and often a radical distortion. The complex is made over into the simple, the hypothetical into the dogmatic, and the relative into an absolute'. To help sort out the complexities there are sites like RationalWiki.org[.]"[10]

RationalWiki has been criticized in LessWrong for its selective usage of facts, "ideological bias," and having a mission that is "less useful and reliable than Wikipedia".[17]

In The Social Pollution Prevention Guide, Chester Davis described RationalWiki as "like Wikipedia, but with a focus on science and social issues. They promote logic, critical thinking, and expose scammers and nonsense."[14]

Stephanie Simon of the Los Angeles Times stated that some RationalWiki contributors, "by their own admission ... engage in acts of cyber-vandalism [of Conservapedia]. The vandals have inserted errors, pornographic photos and satire[.]"[5][6]

RationalWiki has occasionally been quoted in popular and academic sources. Tom Chivers of the Daily Telegraph cited and quoted RationalWiki for background on several Internet laws.[18] Snopes has repeatedly quoted RationalWiki for background on Sorcha Faal of the European Union Times.[19][20][21][22] RationalWiki was quoted by Magnus Ramage in Perspectives on Information about the "Lenski affair".[23] RationalWiki was quoted by Thomas Leitch in Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age on the history of Citizendium.[24] RationalWiki was cited by Reiss Rubinstein and Lois Weithorn in Responding to the Childhood Vaccination Crisis about the website Whale.to, saying that "Whale.to ... is sufficiently familiar to science advocates to be identified as a particularly noncredible source for citation and reliance", using RationalWiki as an example.[25]

Controversies

RationalWiki has been criticized for denying that measured IQ differences between the members of different human races are genetic in origin.[26] They oppose the work of human biodiversity researchers, and the online subculture which has emerged to discuss this research. Instead, RationalWiki articles imply IQ differences are caused by racial discrimination and by economic or social hardships. Their articles also tend to state that anyone who claims IQ does have a genetic basis is a racist and a believer in pseudoscience.[27]

RationalWiki has many articles criticizing right-wing or traditional Western cultures, but is less likely to criticize Islam[28] or left-wing causes or subcultures, like transgenderism. It does allow mild mockery of them however, and limited criticism of Muslim extremists.[29]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "About". RationalMedia Foundation. Retrieved 2015-01-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "General disclaimer". RationalWiki. Retrieved 2015-01-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Rationalwiki.org Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 11 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Multiple authors. "Freedom of religion", "Atheism", "Feminism", "LGBT rights", "Conservatism", "Libertarianism", RationalWiki.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Simon, Stephanie (2007-06-22). "A conservative's answer to Wikipedia". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-11-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Haines, Lester (20 Jun 2007). "Need hard facts? Try Conservapedia". The Register. Retrieved 2015-01-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=2010307 Trent Toulouse at RateMyProfessors.com
  8. https://www.facebook.com/trent.toulouse Trent Toulouse Facebook
  9. "Introducing the new RationalMedia Foundation". RationalMedia Foundation. Retrieved 2015-01-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 Keeler, Mary; Johnson, Josh; Majumdar, Arun. "Crowdsourced Knowledge: Peril and Promise for Complex Knowledge Systems" (PDF). p. 4. Retrieved 2015-01-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Murphy, Paul (November 19, 2014). "American Thinker is a Wingnut Publication". Retrieved 2015-01-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "RationalWiki Main Page". RationalWiki. Retrieved March 20, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "What is a RationalWiki article?". RationalWiki. Retrieved 2015-01-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 Davis, Chester (2014). The Social Pollution Prevention Guide. Booktango. p. 37. ISBN 1468943170.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Ballatore, Andrea. "Google chemtrails: A methodology to analyze topic representation in search engine results". 20.7 (2015). First Monday.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Shvets, Alexander (October 2, 2014). Filev, D.; Jabłkowski, J.; Kacprzyk, J.; et al., eds. Intelligent Systems'2014: Proceedings of the 7th IEEE International Conference Intelligent Systems IS’2014, September 24–26, 2014, Warsaw, Poland, Volume 2: Tools, Architectures, Systems, Applications. Series: Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, Vol. 323. Springer Publishing. A Method of Automatic Detection of Pseudoscientific Publications, page 533 et seq. ISBN 978-3-319-11310-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "The Problem With Rational Wiki". LessWrong. http://lesswrong.com/lw/f5b/the_problem_with_rational_wiki/. October 26, 2012. Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Chivers, Tom (23 Oct 2009). "Internet rules and laws: the top 10 from Godwin to Poe". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-01-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Russia Warns Obama: Monsanto". Snopes.com. 29 May 2013. Retrieved 2015-01-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Loose Change". Snopes.com. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 2015-01-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Rapid Fire". Snopes.com. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 2015-01-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Outboxing Helena". Snopes.com. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 2015-01-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Ramage, Magnus; Chapman, David (2012). Perspectives on Information. Routledge. p. 90. ISBN 1136707638.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Leitch, Thomas (2014). Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age. JHU Press. p. 145. ISBN 142141550X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Reiss, Dorit Rubinstein, and Lois A. Weithorn. "Responding to the Childhood Vaccination Crisis: Legal Frameworks and Tools in the Context of Parental Vaccine Refusal." (PDF) Buffalo Law Review 63 (2015).
  26. http://therightstuff.biz/2015/05/18/the-rational-view-on-race/
  27. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Theodore_Beale
  28. http://en.metapedia.org/wiki/RationalWiki
  29. https://historyblogcritic.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/rationalwiki-the-encyclopedia-that-is-an-insane-asylum/

External links