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A brain inside square brackets!

RationalWiki (RW) is a community working together to explore and provide information about a range of topics centered around science, skepticism, and critical thinking. RationalWiki currently has 6,480 mainspace articles.

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. RationalWiki is owned by the RationalMedia Foundation (RMF), an incorporated 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The RMF operates the infrastructure that keeps RationalWiki running and holds its associated trademarks and copyrights, but it does not govern the community or any content the community produces.


RationalWiki is not an encyclopedia

While RationalWiki uses software originally developed for a well-known online encyclopedia, it is important to realize that we are not trying to be an encyclopedia. Wikis were originally developed as a tool for collaborative content creation, which is what we strive to do here.

Many aspects of the popular Web 2.0 paradigm have been incorporated into the site.

  • 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, the site 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.
  • We have a serious mission, but we're here because it's fun, and stick around only while it's still fun.

While many of our articles may look like encyclopedia entries, we go much further – we encourage original research and opinions on the topics we write about. We are on a Mission from God!


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.

Notability and repute

See the main article on this topic: RationalWiki:Monthly RW/Mentions

RationalWiki is a fairly small site. Our traffic reached about 32,000 unique visitors per day in November 2012,[1] and is continuing to grow.

RationalWiki usually comes up on the second page on a Google search for a topic we have a page on, though some of our articles are ranked very highly, particularly for topics that Wikipedia doesn't cover.

We have a Wikipedia article, for what it's worth.[2] We were mentioned in passing in an LA Times article about Conservapedia, the UK Daily Telegraph has drawn heavily, with attribution, from our series of Internet laws,[3] and NBC News's science editor deems us to be slightly relevant.[4] Our articles get referenced by organizations ranging from Nature[5] to the British legal magazine Benchmark,[6] Snopes[7] and Planned Parenthood.[8]

Our objective here is not to collect hits or increase the article tally for their own sakes, but to disseminate accurate information whilst debunking pseudoscience and other forays into anti-intellectualism. Remember, the truth is not a popularity contest.


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

RationalWiki has numerous critics, roughly divided in two groups that often overlap: 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 as irrational. In principle, this point extends to RationalWiki itself, which declares everyone who doesn't follow its POV irrational – making the choice of title somewhat unfortunate and ironic.

The content critics are typically the fans of people or subjects that RationalWiki doesn't speak favorably of. Supporters of noted politician Ron Paul certainly aren't fans,[9] 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.[10] 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.

RationalWiki's style is frequently criticized, with some objecting to the odd sense of humor (and the even odder one of humour) 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."[11] 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)."

I am outraged! Who runs this place?

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. 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 one extreme case the board have acted to ban someone for libel of a level that could have attracted lawsuits to the RMF itself. They don't like work either, so don't expect this to happen again any time soon.

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.

Language sections

See also: RationalWiki:Languages

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

One article was written entirely in lolcat; it lives in funspace now.[12]

Russian section

Work on the Russian section started on 2 January 2011. Its specific tasks include consideration and analysis of the most meaningful statements of the site Creationwiki (especially those in Russian), as well as some other similar resources. In these tasks it seems useful to translate EvoWiki into Russian.

The objectives of the Russian section have much in common with those of well-known Russian projects like Lurkmore and Encyclopedia of pseudoscience. It differs from these projects in its way of presenting information (no usage of profanity and any other similar jargon; on the other hand, RationalWiki (English) has its own style of presentation, and the Russian section follows this example to a degree), as well as its content (attention is paid not so much to the description of the processes of interest to us, but rather to their critical analysis).

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

Similar things

External links


  1. Server admin Tmtoulouse remarks on RationalWiki's traffic.
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RationalWiki . Encyclopedia Dramatica has a surprisingly decent, albeit still NSFW article about us. Uncyclopedia's critique of us features the usual over-the-top gibberish.
  3. Internet rules and laws: the top 10 from Godwin to Poe, The Telegraph
  4. How to detect pseudo-science B.S., NBC
  5. Evolution: How the unicorn got its horn, Nature 489 (27 September 2012)
  6. Freemen on the land: nonsense or loophole?, Benchmark, Issue 57 (February 2012)
  7. RationalWiki on Snopes
  8. Planned Parenthood retweets RationalWiki's article on birth control.
  9. Ron Paul forums
  10. Comment of Abiotic oil
  11. Eliezer Yudkowsky Facts
  12. And we are not linking to it.
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