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RationalWiki Main Page as of March 11, 2019
Type of site
Available inEnglish and 16 other languages[1]
OwnerRationalMedia Foundation[2]
Created byVolunteer contributors[3]
Key peopleTrent Toulouse (operations manager)[4]
URLrationalwiki.org Edit this at Wikidata
Users>314 active users[note 1]
>107,655 registered users
LaunchedMay 22, 2007; 17 years ago (2007-05-22)[5]
Current statusActive
Content license
CC BY-SA 3.0[6]
Written inMediaWiki software

RationalWiki is an online wiki which is written from a scientific skeptic, secular, and progressive perspective. Its stated goals are to "analyze and refute pseudoscience and the anti-science movement, document crank ideas, explore conspiracy theories, authoritarianism, and fundamentalism, and analyze how these subjects are handled in the media."[7] It was created in 2007 as a counterpoint to the Christian fundamentalist Conservapedia after an incident in which some editors of Conservapedia were banned.[5][8] RationalWiki has been described as liberal in contrast to Conservapedia.[9][10]



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 established by Andy Schlafly as an alternative to Wikipedia, which Schlafly perceived as suffering from a liberal, atheist, and "anti-American" bias. He and Conservapedia administrators "questioned [Lipson's] credentials and shut down debate". After being reverted and blocked, "Lipson and several other contributors quit trying to moderate the articles [on Conservapedia] and instead started their own website, RationalWiki".[8][11]

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.[12]


Screenshot of RationalWiki's article on goats. The humor in the article is a running gag in the wiki and is not the result of vandalism.

RationalWiki aims to provide information about pseudoscientific theories[13] and to educate "individuals with unorthodox views".[14]

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" and "scientific point of view" (both abbreviated as SPOV) rather than a "neutral point of view" (NPOV), and publishes opinion, speculation, and original research.[15] Many RationalWiki articles satirically describe beliefs that RationalWiki opposes, especially when covering topics such as alternative medicine or fundamentalist Christians.[11]

Some activity on RationalWiki was used for critiquing and "monitor[ing] Conservapedia".[8] RationalWiki contributors, some of which are former Conservapedia contributors, are often highly critical of Conservapedia. According to a 2007 Los Angeles Times article, 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'."[11]

Both Yan et al. 2019[9] and Knoche et al.,[10] two articles about classifying a writer's biases via text analysis, asserted that Conservapedia was "conservative" and RationalWiki was "liberal". Mic described RationalWiki as "progressive".[16]

When Krebs et al. 2023 compared text on controversial topics across multiple community-managed wikis, they found that content and contributors on RationalWiki leaned liberal while Conservapedia leaned conservative. In contrast, Wikipedia's content was comparable to the Encyclopedia Britannica, leaned slightly liberal and its editors leaned centrist. Both RationalWiki and Conservapedia were "more loaded with moral content".[17][clarification needed]



Andrea Ballatore, a lecturer in GIS at Birkbeck, University of London, categorizes RationalWiki as similar in tone to Snopes 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, and the most visible among those sites that made openly negative value judgments about conspiracy theories.[18] In Intelligent Systems 2014, Alexander Shvets found RationalWiki to be one of the few online resources that "provide some information about pseudoscientific theories".[13] Likewise, Keeler et al. believe 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]

A 2019 study of bias analysis based on word embedding in RationalWiki, Conservapedia, and Wikipedia by researchers from RWTH Aachen University found all had significant gender biases, reflecting classical gender stereotypes, but these biases were less pronounced in RationalWiki.[10]


In Critical Thinking: Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, Jonathan C. Smith lists RationalWiki in an exercise on finding and identifying fallacies.[19]

Writing in The Verge, Adi Robertson stated that RationalWiki provided a good explanation of Time Cube, though conveying the "full impression" of the original Time Cube website was all but impossible.[20]

RationalWiki tries to track all the places they are either mentioned or cited.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ To be considered active, a user must make at least one edit or other action in a given month.


  1. ^ "RationalWiki:Languages". RationalWiki. Archived from the original on October 9, 2018. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "About". RationalMedia Foundation. Archived from the original on November 10, 2019. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  3. ^ "RationalWiki:General disclaimer". RationalWiki. Archived from the original on January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  4. ^ "RationalWiki talk:RationalMedia Foundation - RationalWiki".
  5. ^ a b c "RationalWiki: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 (2011). "Crowdsourced Knowledge: Peril and Promise for Complex Knowledge Systems" (PDF). New England Complex Systems Institute. p. 756. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 13, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d Simon, Stephanie (June 19, 2007). "A conservative's answer to Wikipedia". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 5, 2019. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Yan, Hao; Das, Sanmay; Lavoie, Allen; Li, Sirui; Sinclair, Betsy (June 2019). "The Congressional Classification Challenge". Proceedings of the 2019 ACM Conference on Economics and Computation. EC '19. pp. 71–89. doi:10.1145/3328526.3329582. ISBN 9781450367929. S2CID 146802854.
  10. ^ a b c Knoche, Markus; Popović, Radomir; Lemmerich, Florian; Strohmaier, Markus (September 2019). "Identifying Biases in Politically Biased Wikis through Word Embeddings". Proceedings of the 30th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media. HT '19. pp. 253–257. doi:10.1145/3342220.3343658. ISBN 9781450368858. S2CID 202640737.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "A message from our Chair". RationalMedia Foundation blog. July 30, 2013. Archived from the original on April 5, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  13. ^ a b 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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ "RationalWiki:What is a RationalWiki article?". RationalWiki. Archived from the original on February 9, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  16. ^ McKay, Tom (September 30, 2015). "7 Tips on Gender Relations, According to Men's Rights Activists and the "Manosphere"". Mic. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  17. ^ Krebs, Marie-Christin; Oeberst, Aileen; von der Beck, Ina (April 22, 2023). "The Wisdom of the Crowd is not a Forgone Conclusion. Effects of Self-Selection on (Collaborative) Knowledge Construction". Topics in Cognitive Science. 16 (2): 206–224. doi:10.1111/tops.12647. PMID 37086058. S2CID 258276697.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Smith, Jonathan C. (2017). Critical Thinking: Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. John Wiley & Sons. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-119-02948-9.
  20. ^ Robertson, Adi (September 2, 2015). "Time Cube is gone". The Verge. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  21. ^ "Mentions". RationalWiki. Retrieved July 20, 2023.

External links[edit]