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[edit] Scholarly sources

[edit] 2017

Henry, P. J., and Geoffrey Wetherell. Countries with Greater Gender Equality Have More Positive Attitudes and Laws Concerning Lesbians and Gay Men. Sex Roles: 1-10.

We assessed the average importance of religion to individuals across countries using a measure from the 2006–2008 Gallup Global Reports (also summarized under the RationalWiki web page “Importance of religion by country”). This report provides the percentage of people sampled in a particular country reporting that religion is important to them in their day-to-day life, with a theoretical range of 0 to 100. The actual range in our dataset was from 16.50 (Sweden) to 95.50 (Nigeria).

Menking, Amanda, David W. McDonald, and Mark Zachry. "Who wants to read this?: A method for measuring topical representativeness in user generated content systems." Briefly discusses the history of RationalWiki and Conservapedia:

In the case of Wikipedia, five years after it was established in 2001, Andrew Schlafly created Conservapedia in response to what he perceived to be the liberal biases perpetuated by the growing UGC system [1]. RationalWiki, a wiki that does not claim to be an encyclopedia or value neutral point of view, was created in 2007 as a counter to Conservapedia after some editors were banned from the latter. Though Conservapedia and RationalWiki have failed to grow at the same rate and in the same ways as Wikipedia, the contributors to these UGC systems remain active and continue to maintain that Wikipedia does not represent their interests.

[edit] 2016

In the Western world mass beliefs in the supernatural and its attributes dissipated mostly with time, but today it is still strong in India where the role of bad magic, built into the customs, beliefs and rituals of certain religious groups, still play a role. Even today the UK and the USA are sometimes still plagued by forms of witchcraft practices. The “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s in America, when it was believed that thousand of cults were conducting satanic rituals that involved the sacrificial mutilation of animals and the sexual abuse of children, is a good example. Also the so-called “recovered memory movement” in America from 1980 onwards, was nothing else than a Western parallel to medieval witchcraft.21,22,23


23. Satanic Panic. Available from http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Satanic_Panic (accessed 27/01/2016).

  • Rodriguez, Nathan. "Credible to Whom?" Establishing and Evaluating Digital Ethos and Online Credibility, 2016, pp. 142. Uses RW as a "debunking" example for FEMA death camps:
When one executes a web search for "FEMA death camps," "reptilian agenda," or any one of the more far-fetched conspiracy theories, advocates often outnumber skeptics by virtue of occupying terrain that others have not bothered to explore. Those who articulate conspiracy theories in the digital era therefore often produce the dominant texts on search engine result pages by virtue of the more marginalized issues existing beyond traditional journalism beats and popular public discourse.

The first link is a YouTube video, "FEMA DEATH CAMPS EXPOSED (CIA IS AWARE)," the second is "Images for FEMA death camps" with four thumbnails of Google Image results. The two sources on the first page to debunk the theory, RationalWiki.org and PopularMechanics.com, compete "below the fold" with results including "List of All FEMA Concentration Camps in America," "CBS News Admits FEMA Camps Are Real," and a Yahoo! Answers link with a "Best Answer, Chosen by Voters" that affirms the theory.

In any Q-H collaboration, the tendency to lapse into using specific semantically-laden terminology may lead to confusion without recognizing that the other side needs more explanation. For examples of this1, “self-medicate” is a clinical H euphemism for destructive behavior involving alcohol or drugs.


1 Sometimes referred to as code words (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Code_word) or groupspeak (Nguyen et al., 2015).

Branches of Science. Rationalwiki. <http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Branches_of_science_you_have_to_ignore_to_believe_in_young_Earth_creationism>. March, 2016.
Assuming that they are equal is the “confusion of the inverse” [15].


[15] Confusion of the inverse. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Confusion_of_the_inverse, February 2016.

The RationalWiki entry on Gamergate defines it as a “reactionary and virulently misogynistic subculture in the video gaming community. The movement has its roots in anti-feminist attacks directed at media critic Anita Sarkeesian beginning in 2012, and came to fruition in 2014 as a hate campaign against independent game developer Zoë Quinn” about her sex life, (“Gamergate,” n.d.). Gamergate is an MRA-adjacent movement that MRAs involved themselves in and supported. Notable MRA Paul Elam claims that Gamergate was initiated “by MRAs within the gaming community,” (Paul Elam, 2015).


Gamergate. (n.d.). In RationalWiki.

Manosphere support for Trump is related to—if not a subset of— another online political phenomenon—the alt-right subgroup of the neoreactionary (NRx) movement, which similarly folds xenophobia and misogyny into its ideology. The NRx movement (also known as the ‘Dark Enlightenment’) is “a loosely-defined cluster of internetbased political thinkers who wish to return society to forms of government older than liberal democracy,” (“Neoreactionary movement,” n.d.). Neoreactionaries are anti-democracy because they believe that democracy is inherently progressive and enabling of the march leftward (one of the founders of the movement is famous for putting it thus: ‘Cthulhu might swim slowly, but he swims left’ (“Dictionary,” 2014)). While little is known about how the manosphere and the NRx movement are related (if at all), there seems undoubtedly to be some overlap between the two. Broad themes of the NRx movement can include hostility to feminism, multiculturalism, and progressivism, as well as pickup artist jargon and men’s rights activism (ibid.). Neoreactionaries are also heavily involved in Gamergate, which—as was discussed in chapter 2—manosphere participants are also involved in (and may have incited) (Matthews, 2016).


Neoreactionary movement. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Neoreactionary_movement

In this way, the phenomenon of converts, appearing sometimes as “born-again” Christians and expressing rigorist views, even against mainstream Orthodox believers, is not an exception. The usual features of rigorism mentioned above appear in many such cases in extreme and even idiosyncratic forms. Good examples thereof are the controversial street evangelist and cleric in the USA Nathanael Kapner, who is a convert to Orthodoxy from Judaism,56 and the writer, film director and public speaker Frank Schaeffer57. All this is indicative of the rich variety of the forms and ways in which Orthodox rigorism makes itself active, known and publicly visible.

56 See Nathanael Kapner on rationalwiki, available at: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Nathanael_Kapner [24. 01. 2016].

A "law" written on the back of an envelope by a young economist professor Artur Laffer at a diner with students in Los Angeles in 1974, postulating that, beyond a certain rate, the fiscal pressure had a strong disincentive effect on individual activities, an assessment that no study ever grounded. See http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Laffer_curve
In high school or in introductory college physics or chemistry courses, a five-minute weekly (extra-credit) quiz based on a 30- to 45-minute reading assignment can go a long way in making students aware of pseudoscientific nonsense and its danger to society. I suggest the encyclopedic resource http://rationalwiki.org as a starting point.

[edit] 2015

Debunking pages

[#] Page name Page Link


27 Rationalwiki www.facebook.com/226614404019306

Nupedia faded, but Sanger gave the model a second try in 2007 with the launch of Citizendium. As of September 2014, it had less than 160 high-quality articles and struggled to raise enough money to stay online [17].


17. RationalWiki. Citizendium: Fiscal insolvency: the $65,000 question. http://rationalwiki.org/w/index.php?titl​e=Citizendium&oldid=1376857#Fiscal_insol​vency:_the_.2465.2C000_question. Accessed: 2014-11-20. (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6UEkCD1Lw)
Debunking (d) Content that openly attacks the conspiracy theory as unsound, unsubstantiated, implausible, illogical, or ridiculous.
Examples: snopes.com, rationalwiki.org
This analysis resulted in 972 unique Web sites, in which the most visible sites are en.wikipedia.org (V=350.5), youtube.com (189.4), rationalwiki.org (70), rense.com (51.2), and time.com (47.8). The distribution of the cumulative visibility V reflects closely the scale-free nature of online content: the top 20 percent of domains are the source of 79 percent of the content, suggesting a Pareto distribution. Table 6 shows the top 15 sites grouped by ideological bias (conspiratorial, neutral, and debunking). These sites are therefore the most likely to be clicked, and provide the core content returned by search engines.
As a quick glance at its contents shows, Whale.to promotes conspiracy theories of all varieties, including Holocaust denial and alien abduction, and is sufficiently familiar to science advocates to be identified as a particularly noncredible source for citation and reliance: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Whale.to.
Information about MRAs, incels, and related topics can be found on websites such as http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/.
  • WRIGHT, LAUREN. "Magic Beans and Dragons: The war against pseudoscience and misinformation." AQ: Australian Quarterly 86.2 (2015). Quoting Homeopaths Without Borders:
Homeopaths Without Borders (HWB) is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 1996 based on the humanitarian-aid organisation Doctors Without Borders or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). HWB offers aid and knowledge in regions “where it does not yet exist or is minimally available”, and aims to “provide homeopathic care and healing in emergency situations”. At best, HWB provides a bit of water, sugar, and company to people while they heal naturally. At worst, they get in the way of the administration of actual medicine. “Essentially, [HWB] go to nations with sub-standard healthcare, and dilute it even more to make it 10-430 times as good as the healthcare in wealthier nations.” – RationalWiki on HWB.
However, after an initial period of enthusiasm, content creation bottomed out: from 17,100 words added per day in the second quarter of 2008 to as low as about 600 in January 2014 (sources: on-line article about Citizendium from rationalwiki.org).

[edit] 2014

According to the website RationalWiki, some "anti-science" groups argue that science can be shown to be in error because bumblebees should not be able to fly and kangaroos should not be able to jump. RationalWiki's response is to observe that "... it is possible to "prove" that [a bumble bee can't fly and] a kangaroo can't jump if you leave out a few key variables ... but a full aerodynamic calculation (to say nothing of getting all empirical and watching a bumblebee fly) will show that the bumblebee's flight works perfectly fine."
"Same-sex marriage (also called gay marriage and marriage equality) is the union of two individuals of same sex in a marital relationship with the full legal rights and responsibilities allotted to this contract in a given jurisdiction" (rational wiki, 2013).
Not just the content but also the medium of Dr. Rutherford’s text evidences private rather than public content. ConnectSpace is essentially an electronic version of a personal journal. See Tienda v. State, 358 S.W. 3d 633, 634 n.3 (Tex. Crim. App. 2012) (describing MySpace and Facebook). If he had intended to join a public dialogue about vaccines as a cause of autism, Dr. Rutherford could have taken his speculation to the notoriously pseudo-scientific HuffingtonPost. See RationalWiki, http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/The_Huffington_Post.
  • Leitch, Thomas. "Paradoxes of Authority." Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014. 31-56. (Citing Citizendium)
Ironically, Citizendium's insistence on recognizing the special role of experts and identifying its experts by name revealed further problems of authority. As the RationalWiki article on Citizendium contends:
There's expertise and then there's certification as an expert, which is a social construct made of pieces of paper and (hopefully) accredited standards. Sometimes the two don't quite overlap. In the quest for expertise - "This article is good and I can explain why" - Citizendium went for credentialism - "This article is good because I have the authority to say so." ... But the most damaging part of the Citizendium approach was that the required credentials are inconsistent. Someone wishing to be a general editor in an academic field must prove they have a PhD, or are a tenure-track professor. ... But if they wanted the authority to take over articles in alternative medicine, they only had to prove that they were licensed to practice their branch of alternative medicine.

Once advocates of homeopathic medicine were credentialed and protected as experts in their field, the result was a flood of articles endorsing homeopathic medicine duly approved by these experts, who successfully repelled all attempts by mainsteam scientists and physicians to question their authority.

While there are comprehensive online collections of creationist claims [11] and Internet sites where some argumentative fallacies are also recognized [RationalWiki, 101 evidences for a young age of the Earth and the universe (rebuttal), http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/101_evidences_for_a_young_age_of_the_Earth_and_the_universe, 2013, accessed 1 June 2013.], there is an absence of analyses that combine all the above-mentioned aspects, which are basically irrelevant for the science content.
These aspects of creationist texts have not usually been discussed in the scientific rebuttals regarding the context of creating false beliefs in the audience [Creationist claims, http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Creationist_claims, 2013, accessed 1 June 2013].
Evolution is Racist. EvoWiki. A RationalWiki Foundation Project.
On the internet forums devoted to discussing creation science and intelligent design, a “hypothesis” has been presented, known as the “Salem hypothesis” [SH] after the commenter, Bruce Salem, who first mentioned it. It runs roughly like this5:
Salem Hypothesis: … an education in the engineering disciplines forms a predisposition to [Scientific Creationist] viewpoints.

5Taken from the Rationalwiki site http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Salem_Hypothesis 11 July, 2015

[edit] 2013

Anonym, "Marital Rape", retrieved from http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Maritel-rape [sic] on March 2nd, 2012 at 15:51.

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Trans-exclusionary radical feminism - RationalWiki ISNT LIFE ROUGH ENOUGH⁉️ WTF ARE THESE WOMEN⁉️ IM ASHAMED OF THEM 😤 http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Trans-exclusionary_radical_feminism

[edit] August 2016


There are, however, those who oppose the idea of immunization, arguing that a person’s own immune system can deal with most infections naturally and that ingredients in vaccines may cause seizures, paralysis or even death in some individuals. Some claim that vaccinations have been responsible for triggering autism, ADHD and diabetes.

In fact, members of the anti-vaccination movement, defined by RationalWiki as a "loosely organized conspiracy theorist subculture," blame the medical practice of immunization for a wide range of health problems. Most scientists who have researched the issue debunk their claims.


RationalWiki has an expanded front-page feature on Kent Hovind, and it’s pretty thorough — I learned a few new things. I hadn’t known that he claims to have four doctorates, and it has a good breakdown of several examples of his bad math. However…

Does it feature any apocalyptic imagery? No.

How many times does it mention Hitler? Only once.

Does it have a doom-laden industrial soundtrack? Nope.

Sorry, RationalWiki, but you are hampered by that “rational” thing. When you’re talking about Kent Hovind, you need to bring the gold-plated stupid to the fore.


I do feel a lot of sympathy for the RationalWiki crew, though. Imagine if this Hovind “documentary” ever actually happens — the fact-checking will be exhausting. It’s going to be measured in errors/second, or lies/second.

[edit] July 2016


Without strong evidence supporting their arguments, climate contrarians often resort to Gish Gallops to win arguments. In fact, the RationalWiki page on Gish Gallops lists another climate contrarian, Christoper Monckton among the well-known "abusers of this technique", alongside Donald Trump.


[edit] June 2016


Trump has awoken the mainstream media to the "alt-right" and its cousin neoreaction (a.k.a. NRx or the Dark Enlightenment) — loosely related, web-based "movements" that combine internet culture with far-right politics.



That claim stemmed from a single source: a blogger working under the nom de plume "Sorcha Faal" who publishes fabricated "news" accounts on the political conspiracy site whatdoesitmean.com. RationalWiki says of that blog and author:

Sorcha Faal is the alleged author of an ongoing series of "reports" published at WhatDoesItMean.com, whose work is of such quality that even other conspiracy nutters don't think much of it. Each report resembles a news story in its style but usually includes a sensational headline barely related to reality and quotes authoritative high-level Russian sources (such as the Russian Federal Security Service) to support its most outrageous claims. Except for the stuff attributed to unverifiable sources, the reports don't contain much original material. They are usually based on various news items from the mainstream media and/or whatever the clogosphere is currently hyperventilating about, with each item shoehorned into the conspiracy narrative the report is trying to establish.


[edit] March 2016


Vox Day is a pseudonym for science fiction writer Theodore Beale, who has a history of racist, sexist, and homophobic hate speech. Rationalwiki.org has compiled a mini-anthology of Beale’s greatest hits, which is worth examining.


[edit] November 2015


The closest to a version of this chart I could find is in Anthony Walker’s Transformation: Living a Christian Life, in which he says "the Bible is the only book that is accurate in all scientific details" and "it has never been proven incorrect in one scientific aspect" (pp. 23-24).

The data would seem to suggest that this is the most astonishing line of bullshit ever uttered in the history of the human race: just survey RationalWiki, Iron Chariots, Skeptics Annotated Bible, Science and the Bible Archive.


[edit] October 2015

[edit] September 2015


Big Placebo refers to the companies that manufacture and sell homeopathic, naturopathic, and other placeborific "health" products. According to RationalWiki, the term was coined by Lindsay Beyerstein in 2009. Just how big Big Placebo is is difficult to measure.



For anyone unfamiliar with Time Cube, it's arguably one of the most notorious single web pages online: an endless wall of text about the conspiracy to suppress an absurdist mathematical model of time. It's been impressively long-lived, having survived nearly two decades since its 1997 launch. While RationalWiki does a good job of explaining the context and themes, the site itself is so valuable in part because it's nearly impossible to translate the full impression of Time Cube into mere plaintext[.]


[edit] May 2015


Most of what has been done has concentrated on issues of rationality and epistemology: is it rational to believe in conspiracy theories?

Interestingly, the answer is: more rational than we might think. After all, conspiracy theories manage to explain all the loose ends (“errant data”) that the ‘official’ story doesn’t. Viewed purely as a form of inference to best explanation, conspiracy reasoning doesn’t seem to be inherently illogical on its face.

However, as Byford points out, conspiracy theory is a “tradition of explanation” (conspiracy theories don’t arise from nowhere but draw upon earlier narratives, often with deeply problematic origins) that has a shockingly bad strike rate. Real conspiracies have certainly happened – Watergate, Iran-Contra etc. – but how many have ever been uncovered by conspiracy theorists?


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  • Someone submitted a complaint against RationalWiki to Ripoff Report. The complaint accuses us of being "left winded" (sic! and sick!) and cites such reliable sources as Sean Manchester's blog and a thread at a random Internet forum. They also claim to have "filed with the state." Would that be with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services?

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  • TK can see your house from here” alluded to on Assassin Actual.

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[edit] November 2010

  • Ben Radford, writing for CSI's Sceptical Inquirer magazine, reprinted a copy of our article on Ghost Hunters in Issue 6 (Volume 34). A scan of the page is available here. Possibly the first RationalWiki article to make it in to old media.

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