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RationalWiki Logo.png
RationalWiki Main Page.png
RationalWiki Main Page as of March 11, 2019
Type of site
Available inEnglish, Russian and more[1]
OwnerRationalMedia Foundation[2]
Created byVolunteer contributors[3]
Alexa rankPositive decrease 16,629; 5,172: United States (January 2019)[4]
LaunchedMay 22, 2007; 12 years ago (2007-05-22)[5]
Current statusActive
Content license
CC-BY-SA 3.0[6]
Written inMediaWiki software

RationalWiki is a wiki whose stated aims are to critique and challenge pseudoscience and the anti-science movement, explore authoritarianism and fundamentalism and analyze how these subjects are handled in the media.[7] It was created in 2007 to counter Conservapedia after an incident in which contributors attempting to edit Conservapedia were banned.



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 as an alternative to Wikipedia, which Schlafly perceived as suffering from liberal and atheist bias. He and Conservapedia administrators "questioned [Lipson's] credentials and shut down debate". After they were blocked, "Lipson and several other contributors quit trying to moderate the articles [on Conservapedia] and instead started their own website, RationalWiki".[8][9]

RationalMedia Foundation[edit]

Prior to 2010, RationalWiki's domains were registered to Trent Toulouse, and the wiki was hosted from a server located in his home.[5] In 2010, Trent Toulouse incorporated a nonprofit organization, the RationalWiki Foundation Inc., to manage the affairs and pay the operational expenses of the website.[2] In July 2013, the RationalWiki Foundation changed its name to the RationalMedia Foundation, stating that its aims extended beyond the RationalWiki site alone.[10]


RationalWiki differs in several ways from the philosophy of Wikipedia and some other informational wikis. It is written from a self-described "snarky point of view" (SPOV) rather than a "neutral point of view" (NPOV), and publishes opinion, speculation, and original research.[11] Many RationalWiki articles mockingly describe beliefs that RationalWiki opposes, especially when covering topics like alternative medicine or fundamentalist Christian leaders.[9]

A significant fraction of activity on RationalWiki was critiquing and "monitor[ing] Conservapedia".[8] RationalWiki contributors, many of whom are former Conservapedia contributors, are often highly critical of Conservapedia, and according to an article published in the Los Angeles Times in 2007, RationalWiki members "by their own admission" vandalize Conservapedia.[8] 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'".[9]


Andrea Ballatore, a lecturer at University of California, Santa Barbara categorizes RationalWiki as a debunking website in a 2015 study, finding it to be the third most visible website when researching conspiracy theories in terms of Google and Bing search results, slightly more visible than rense.com and less visible than YouTube or Wikipedia.[12] In Critical Thinking: Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, Johnathan Smith lists RationalWiki in an exercise on finding and identifying fallacies.[13]

In Intelligent Systems 2014, Alexander Shvets stated that RationalWiki is one of the few online resources that "provide some information about pseudoscientific theories" and notes that it attempts to "organize and categorize knowledge about pseudoscientific theories, personalities, and organizations".[14] Similarly, Keeler et al. stated that sites like RationalWiki can help to "sort out the complexities" that arise when "distant and unfamiliar and complex things are communicated to great masses of people".[7] Benjamin Brojakowski of Bowling Green State University described RationalWiki as "a Wikipedia-style website aimed at educating individuals with unorthodox views".[15]

RationalWiki has been cited on Internet history. Snopes has repeatedly quoted RationalWiki for background on Sorcha Faal of the European Union Times.[16][17][18][19] RationalWiki's description of the "Lenski affair" was quoted by Magnus Ramage in Perspectives on Information[20] and cited by Tom Kaden in Creationism and Anti-Creationism in the United States.[21] It was quoted by Thomas Leitch in Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age on the history of Citizendium.[22] 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 a source.[23] RationalWiki's explanation of Gish gallops was referenced by The Guardian in an article on climate change denial[24] and Erik Krabbe and Jan van Laar in an article on "quibbles".[25] RationalWiki's description of the history and membership of LessWrong was quoted by Beth Singler in Existential Hope and Existential Despair in AI Apocalypticism and Transhumanism[26] and cited by Saswat Sarangi and Pankaj Sharma in Artificial Intelligence.[27]

The Daily Beast writer Charles Davis alleges that, according to LibCom.org, Angela Nagle's Kill All Normies has "several passages" that "are similar to entries in Wikipedia and another online encyclopedia, RationalWiki".[28]

Several blogs and op-eds have responded harshly to specific RationalWiki articles that criticized their beliefs. Paul Austin Murphy, of American Thinker magazine, criticized RationalWiki for calling American Thinker a "wingnut publication".[29] George Selgin of the Cato Institute disagreed with RationalWiki's criticism of the stability of the gold standard.[30] Franklin Einspruch of The Federalist criticized RationalWiki for claiming that "Cultural Marxism" is a conspiracy theory.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "RationalWiki:Languages – RationalWiki". rationalwiki.org. Archived from the original on October 9, 2018. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "About". RationalMedia Foundation. Archived from the original on February 11, 2015. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  3. ^ "General disclaimer". RationalWiki. Archived from the original on January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  4. ^ "Rationalwiki.org Site Info". Alexa Internet. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Timeline". RationalWiki. Archived from the original on August 10, 2017. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  6. ^ "RationalWiki:Copyrights". RationalWiki. Archived from the original on November 5, 2018. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Keeler, Mary; Johnson, Josh; Majumdar, Arun. "Crowdsourced Knowledge: Peril and Promise for Complex Knowledge Systems" (PDF). p. 4. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 13, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Simon, Stephanie (June 22, 2007). "A conservative's answer to Wikipedia". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c Haines, Lester (June 20, 2007). "Need hard facts? Try Conservapedia". The Register. Archived from the original on February 11, 2015. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  10. ^ "Introducing the new RationalMedia Foundation". RationalMedia Foundation blog. Archived from the original on April 5, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  11. ^ "What is a RationalWiki article?". RationalWiki. Archived from the original on February 9, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  12. ^ Ballatore, Andrea (June 19, 2015). "Google chemtrails: A methodology to analyze topic representation in search engine results". First Monday. 20.7 (2015). 20 (7). Archived from the original on March 8, 2016. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  13. ^ Smith, Jonathan C. Critical Thinking: Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. John Wiley & Sons, 2017, pp 77. 9781119029489
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Brojakowski, Benjamin (August 2017). "Digital Whiteness Imperialism: Redefining Caucasian Identity Post-Boston Bombing". Bowling Green State University (dissertation). Archived from the original on October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  16. ^ "Russia Warns Obama: Monsanto". Snopes.com. May 29, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  17. ^ "Loose Change". Snopes.com. October 10, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  18. ^ "Rapid Fire". Snopes.com. October 15, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  19. ^ "Outboxing Helena". Snopes.com. January 27, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  20. ^ Ramage, Magnus; Chapman, David (2012). Perspectives on Information. Routledge. p. 90. ISBN 1-136-70763-8.
  21. ^ Kaden, Tom (2019). Creationism and Anti-Creationism in the United States: A Sociology of Conflict. Springer. p. 22, 111. ISBN 3319993798.
  22. ^ Leitch, Thomas (2014). Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age. JHU Press. p. 145. ISBN 1-4214-1550-X.
  23. ^ 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).
  24. ^ Nuccitelli, Dana (July 25, 2016). "These are the best arguments from the 3% of climate scientist 'skeptics.' Really". The Guardian. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  25. ^ Krabbe, Erik; van Laar, Jan. "In the quagmire of quibbles: a dialectical exploration". Synthese. Retrieved 26 June, 2019. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  26. ^ Singler, Beth. "Existential Hope and Existential Despair in AI Apocalypticism and Transhumanism". Zygon. 54 (1). Retrieved 26 June, 2019. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  27. ^ Sarangi, Saswat; Sharma, Pankaj (2018). Artificial Intelligence: Evolution, Ethics and Public Policy. Routledge India. ISBN 9780429461002.
  28. ^ Davis, Charles (May 20, 2018). "Sloppy Sourcing Plagues 'Kill All Normies' Alt-Right Book". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  29. ^ Murphy, Paul (November 19, 2014). "American Thinker is a Wingnut Publication". Archived from the original on January 20, 2015. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  30. ^ Selgin, George (June 4, 2015). "Ten Things Every Economist Should Know about the Gold Standard". Archived from the original on August 14, 2017. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  31. ^ Einspruch, Franklin (September 6, 2016). "Cultural Marxists Are Actually Pomofascists". The Federalist. Archived from the original on August 14, 2017. Retrieved August 14, 2017.

External links[edit]