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RationalMedia Foundation

RationalWiki (RW) is a community working together to explore and provide information about a range of topics centered around science, skepticism, and critical thinking. RW currently has 6,466 mainspace articles. RW is owned by the RationalMedia Foundation (RMF), an incorporated 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The RMF operates the infrastructure that keeps RW running and holds its associated trademarks and copyrights, but it does not govern the community or any content the community produces.

Our purpose here at RationalWiki includes:

  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.

We welcome contributors, and encourage those who disagree with us to register and engage in constructive dialogue.



See the main article on this topic: RationalWiki:History

RationalWiki 2.0 was created as an open editing wiki on May 22, 2007. Lulz ensued.

Scope and statistics

From Ballatore 15, who used Google and Bing to search for 15 conspiracy theories under a variety of controls. V represents visibility. T represents the number of conspiracy theories on which the website appeared in the top 10 results. (The top 10 results represent 91% of traffic).[1]
RW stats on active editors and edits, as of July 2016. Click to expand.

RW is a fairly popular site, especially among online skeptical resources. According to peer-reviewed[1] research, as of July 2015 RW is the most visible anti-conspiracy website on Google/Bing English search engine results.[2] By November 2012, RW's traffic had reached about 32,000 unique visitors per day[3] and since 2013, RW has had 700-1,000 monthly editors and 15,000-30,000 monthly edits.[4]

Also since 2013, RW's Alexa rank (a measure accurate only in a broad sense) has hovered between 15,000th and 25,000th most popular website on the entire Internet, which translates to about 4 million-ish unique monthly visitors.[5][6][7] This puts RW above other skeptical sites like Quackwatch,[8] Skeptoid,[9] and Freethought Blogs,[10] though still below big players like PolitiFact[11] and Snopes.[12]

However, RW's objective isn't to collect views in and of itself (since the truth isn't a popularity contest), especially since we don't sell anything, nor run any type of ads in order to monetize hits. Instead, our intention is for every individual view to prove a chance for us to disseminate accurate information against the flood of pseudoscience and anti-intellectualism that permeates much of the public discourse today.

For us, more viewers simply translate into more chances to help dissuade pseudoscientific and fundamentalist thinking, and to rally the interest of still more dedicated editors to the cause of scientific skepticism (thus resulting in the proliferation of more and better skeptical content — here, as well as in society generally).

Online source reliability watchdog Media Bias/Fact Check ranks RationalWiki very favorably[13] — on par with Wikipedia[14] in terms of "factual reporting" quality, which they rate as "HIGH" for both sites. More specifically, this quality grade entails that:[15]

The source is almost always factual, sources to mostly credible low biased information and makes immediate corrections to incorrect information.

Worth noting is that RationalWiki is also deemed to have a slight (politically center-left) bias compared to Wikipedia — and that's no surprise, as we explicitly do not aim for a neutral point of view. Note also that the comparison made here to Wikipedia is not to be confused with us considering RationalWiki an encyclopedia (we don't).

So, do any "real" news outlets cite RationalWiki?

See the main article on this topic: RationalWiki:Mentions

Yes, certainly. Since RationalWiki's inception, we've featured in articles, op-ed pieces and news reports — either being quoted verbatim, or outright referenced as one of the sources for the article's claims — by a slew of online and mainstream media outlets worldwide, including:

What is a RationalWiki article?

See the main article on this topic: RationalWiki:What is a RationalWiki article?

While RW uses software originally developed for a well-known online encyclopedia, it is important to realize that RW is not trying to be an encyclopedia. While many of RW's articles may look like encyclopedia entries, RW goes much further – it encourages original research and opinion formation.

  • The community has embraced the concept of wikis by creating an information source out of the collaborative editing of thousands of people.
  • By encouraging original research and essays, RW has also incorporated many aspects of the blogging community.
  • Discussion among members is facilitated on many levels such as debate articles, specific discussions on talk pages, and just coming together to talk about whatever is on our minds at the Saloon Bar. This focus on discussion captures the essence of Internet forums.
  • While RW has a serious mission, it is ultimately a volunteer project — and as such, an important way to keep interest high is to ensure that our articles are fun both to read and write.
  • One of many ways which distinguishes RW from encyclopedias (e.g. Wikipedia) is that we openly avoid any pretentions to neutrality on controversial subjects. When one side of an issue has the scientific consensus to back it up, and the other clearly doesn't, part of our mission is placing the two side by side and calling it like we sees it.


Hop on board the Trump Train Goat-Cart!

Who runs this place? Ultimately, nobody. It's a wiki.

Decisions are made by the will of whoever shows up and does stuff. Mobocracy and do-ocracy rule the day. Most users who've been around a while and aren't utterly incompetent are sysops. The most effective place to be outraged is on the talk page of the article you are outraged about. People may well engage with you in a relevant fashion.

A few users are moderators, elected by the community. They don't like work, so will do anything other than be your go-to parent.

In RW's near decade-long run, the extreme case in which the board of trustees has been forced to ban an editor — for libel of a level that could have attracted lawsuits to the RMF itself — has only presented itself twice. The board members don't like to work either, so don't expect this to happen again any time soon.


See the main article on this topic: RationalWiki:Pissed at us

RW has numerous critics, roughly divided in two (overlapping) groups: those that take issue with the content and those who take issue with the style. Both tend to quickly degenerate into "so why do they call it RationalWiki, then?" This may be based on a slight confusion between rationalisation and rationalism — as no one ever thinks they're being irrational, they're likely to accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being irrational. In principle, this point extends to RW itself, whose name implies that everyone who doesn't follow its POV is irrational — making the choice of title somewhat unfortunate and ironic.

The content critics are typically the fans of people or subjects that RW doesn't speak favorably of. Supporters of noted politician Ron Paul certainly aren't fans,[58] angry that someone, somewhere dares not declare Ron Paul to be the Second Coming. Ayn Rand fans do much the same. Other criticism of content is often directed at shorter and less complete articles.[59] RW's rating system goes part way to rectifying the issue of lower quality articles but is implemented in a completely ad hoc wikilike fashion.

RW's style is frequently criticized, with some objecting to the odd sense of humor and getting upset that people aren't taking their idea of rationalism seriously. LessWrong bloggers and commentators in particular find it annoyingly irrational (with prior probability -e^{i \pi}). LessWrong's founder, Eliezer Yudkowsky, once defended RW as a potential recruiting ground for hardcore rationalists but mostly as "clueless."[60] Other issues with style include the running debate over whether RW's self-touted viewpoint, "SPOV," means "Scientific Point of View (plus snark)" or "Snarky Point of View (plus science)."

Language sections

See the main article on this topic: RationalWiki:Languages

While the overwhelming majority of RW's editors are English-speaking, RW also has articles in other languages​, namely:

Helpful links

See also

Icon fun.svg For those of you in the mood, RationalWiki has a fun article about RationalWiki.
Si vous voulez cet article en français, il peut être trouvé à RationalWiki (français).
There is a broader, perhaps slightly less biased, article on Wikipedia about RationalWiki

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ballatore, Andrea. "Google chemtrails: A methodology to analyze topic representation in search engine results." First Monday 20.7 (2015). (Peer review process found here).
  2. http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/5597/4652
  3. Server admin Tmtoulouse remarks on RW traffic.
  4. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/File:RW_Stats_16-Jul.png
  5. http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/rationalwiki.org
  6. http://www.rank2traffic.com/rationalwiki.org
  7. http://siterankdata.com/rationalwiki.org
  8. http://siterankdata.com/quackwatch.com
  9. http://siterankdata.com/skeptoid.com
  10. http://siterankdata.com/freethoughtblogs.com
  11. http://siterankdata.com/politifact.com
  12. http://siterankdata.com/snopes.com
  13. https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/rationalwiki/
  14. https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/wikipedia/
  15. https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/methodology/
  16. http://www.alternet.org/culture/degeneration-nation-it-takes-village-idiots-raise-kakistocracy-donald-trumps
  17. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/05/blaze-debunk-obama-regime-rumored-to-shoot-down-f-16s-sent-to-white-house-in-retaliation-for-emails-exposing-colin-powells-alleged-affair/
  18. http://www.business2community.com/us-news/clinton-foundation-buying-137-million-illegal-arms-fake-story-01693978#VCH66rxgEU9RYcLA.97
  19. http://canadafreepress.com/article/doj-inspector-general-to-investigate-fbis-handling-of-email-scandal
  20. http://www.carrollcountytimes.com/columnists/opinion/ph-cc-ammlung-033017-20170328-column.html
  21. http://www.chicagonow.com/an-atheist-in-illinois/2016/07/dealing-with-young-earth-creationists-use-science-or-ridicule/
  22. http://www.columbian.com/news/2014/dec/21/pundits-claim-victory-in-imaginary-war-on-christma/
  23. http://theconversation.com/why-conspiracy-theories-arent-harmless-fun-43923
  24. http://cultmontreal.com/2016/10/rape-culture/
  25. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/8/11/1558852/-Grotesque-Trump-ally-Roger-Stone-pipes-up-with-yet-another-Hillary-Clinton-killed-someone-story
  26. http://www.dailytitan.com/2016/10/misnomer-preserved-with-columbus/
  27. http://www.desmogblog.com/2015/02/05/rand-paul-strange-associations-anti-science
  28. http://verne.elpais.com/verne/2017/01/02/articulo/1483369684_829787.html
  29. http://www.farodevigo.es/opinion/2017/03/05/chemtrails-violines-dar-gato-liebre/1634975.html
  30. http://thefederalist.com/2016/09/06/cultural-marxists-actually-pomofascists/
  31. http://felixonline.co.uk/news/6705/kings-lecturer-sparks-racism-row/
  32. http://thevane.gawker.com/weather-hoaxer-threatens-facebook-after-it-takes-down-h-1604875212
  33. http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/04/why-freezing-yourself-is-a-terrible-way-to-achieve-immortality/
  34. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/jul/25/these-are-the-best-arguments-from-the-3-of-climate-scientist-skeptics-really
  35. http://www.houstonpress.com/news/the-10-best-houston-conspiracy-theories-7396111
  36. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/12/18/freemen-on-the-land-andreas-pirelli_n_4464131.html
  37. http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2016/04/what_is_a_hoop_snake_and_why_d.html
  38. http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/activist-tries-to-get-transparency-in-banking-sector-1272646
  39. http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jun/19/nation/na-schlafly19
  40. http://malaysiandigest.com/features/657014-elvis-is-alive-and-11-more-top-conspiracy-theories.html
  41. http://www.metro.se/jacks-internet/sa-satter-natet-spinn-pa-vandringssagnerna/EVHnew!tSOKBi7po3Hq2/
  42. http://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/aliens-moon-tv-show-adds-weird-ufo-twists-apollo-tales-n159806
  43. https://newrepublic.com/minutes/131495/following-fathers-footsteps-donald-trump-jr-retweeted-white-supremacist
  44. http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/mehdi-hasan/2011/11/public-debt-young-ebook-fiscal
  45. http://nymag.com/selectall/2016/06/peter-thiel.html
  46. http://www.opposingviews.com/i/social/rnc-should-allow-open-carry
  47. http://www.qchron.com/editions/central/vaccinations-are-key-to-good-health-worldwide/article_db9362bc-63e9-11e6-ba30-ff5d58f43fea.html
  48. http://www.rawstory.com/2015/01/gamergates-savage-defender-is-a-tortured-soul-who-turns-tori-amos-songs-into-terrible-poetry/
  49. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/bitwise/2014/07/roko_s_basilisk_the_most_terrifying_thought_experiment_of_all_time.html
  50. http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/86810891/those-who-would-weaken-the-woo
  51. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/6408927/Internet-rules-and-laws-the-top-10-from-Godwin-to-Poe.html
  52. https://thinkprogress.org/hermione-vs-voldemort-what-deniers-can-teach-us-about-how-to-debate-trump-4f11961ad205#.r29duh1jz
  53. http://www.vancourier.com/opinion/prisoner-s-dilemma-plays-out-in-reality-bachelor-pad-1.383918
  54. http://www.vg.no/nyheter/meninger/data-og-nett/nettets-moralpoliti/a/23537579/
  55. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/donald-trump-and-the-politics-of-white-male-anger-commentary/2015/08/20/978dc484-475e-11e5-9f53-d1e3ddfd0cda_story.html
  56. http://www.theweek.co.uk/conspiracy-theories/62926/elvis-is-alive-and-11-more-top-conspiracy-theories
  57. http://www.wired.it/scienza/energia/2016/06/14/bufala-climatica-onde-scalari/
  58. Ron Paul forums
  59. Comment of Abiotic oil
  60. Eliezer Yudkowsky Facts
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