Type of site
|Available in||English, Russian|
|Written in||MediaWiki software|
|Created by||Volunteer contributors|
|Launched||May 22, 2007|
|18,619; 6,767: United States (January 2015[update])|
RationalWiki is a free-access wiki written from a skeptical, secular, and progressivist perspective. It was originally created as a counter to Conservapedia after an incident in which contributors attempting to edit Conservapedia were banned. Since then, it has developed into a wiki based on skepticism that criticises "crank" ideas, pseudoscience, and fundamentalism.
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 atheist bias. Conservapedia "administrators, including Schlafly, questioned his credentials and shut down debate. After administrators blocked their accounts, Lipson and several other contributors quit trying to moderate the articles [on Conservapedia] and instead started their own website, RationalWiki.com."
In 2010, Trent Toulouse incorporated a nonprofit called the "RationalWiki Foundation Inc." to manage the affairs and pay the operational expenses of the website. In July 2013, the RationalWiki Foundation changed its name to the RationalMedia Foundation, stating that its aims extended beyond the RationalWiki site alone.
Mission and content
- Analyzing and refuting pseudoscience and the anti-science movement
- Documenting the full range of crank ideas
- Explorations of authoritarianism and fundamentalism
- Analysis and criticism of how these subjects are handled in the media
RationalWiki differs in several ways from the philosophy of Wikipedia and other informational wikis. Its articles clearly have a point of view and contain original research. RationalWiki articles generally have a "SPOV", which primarily stands for "snarky point of view", as opposed to Wikipedia's NPOV (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.
A significant fraction of activity on RationalWiki is critiquing and "monitor[ing] Conservapedia". RationalWiki contributors, many of whom are former Conservapedia contributors, are often 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"."
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."
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[.]"
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."
Stephanie Simon of the Los Angeles Times stated that RationalWiki contributors, "by their own admission [...] engage in acts of cyber-vandalism [of Conservapedia]. The vandals have inserted errors, pornographic photos and satire[.]"
Paul Murphy of the American Thinker, remarking on RationalWiki's article on the American Thinker, stated that "in this article -- and in most of the others I've read at RationalWiki -- there are virtually no arguments. There's a lot of sarcasm (as I said); though not much logical reasoning, argumentation or even discussion."
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. Snopes has repeatedly quoted RationalWiki for background on Sorcha Faal of the European Union Times. RationalWiki was quoted by Magnus Ramage in Perspectives on Information about the "Lenski affair". RationalWiki was quoted by Thomas Leitch in Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age on the history of Citizendium.
- "About". RationalMedia Foundation. Retrieved 2015-01-26.
- "General disclaimer". RationalWiki. Retrieved 2015-01-16.
- "Rationalwiki.org Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2015-01-15.
- Simon, Stephanie (2007-06-22). "A conservative's answer to Wikipedia". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-11-02.
- Haines, Lester (20 Jun 2007). "Need hard facts? Try Conservapedia". The Register. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
- "Introducing the new RationalMedia Foundation". RationalMedia Foundation. Retrieved 2015-01-16.
- Keeler, Mary; Johnson, Josh; Majumdar, Arun. "Crowdsourced Knowledge: Peril and Promise for Complex Knowledge Systems". p. 4. Retrieved 2015-01-17.
- Murphy, Paul (November 19, 2014). "American Thinker is a Wingnut Publication". Retrieved 2015-01-19.
- "What is a RationalWiki article?". RationalWiki. Retrieved 2015-01-16.
- Davis, Chester (2014). The Social Pollution Prevention Guide. Booktango. p. 37. ISBN 1468943170.
- 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.
- Chivers, Tom (23 Oct 2009). "Internet rules and laws: the top 10 from Godwin to Poe". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
- "Russia Warns Obama: Monsanto". Snopes.com. 29 May 2013. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
- "Loose Change". Snopes.com. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
- "Rapid Fire". Snopes.com. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
- "Outboxing Helena". Snopes.com. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
- Ramage, Magnus; Chapman, David (2012). Perspectives on Information. Routledge. p. 90. ISBN 1136707638.
- Leitch, Thomas (2014). Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age. JHU Press. p. 145. ISBN 142141550X.