Essay:Rational Wiki and Feminism: Failures of Rational Thought

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Essay.svg This essay is an original work by Kevin Weinberg.
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It is no secret to those who frequent this Wiki that I take umbrage with what I perceive to be a lack of critical, objective, and rational thought whenever the topic concerns feminism. In this essay, it’s my hope to clearly elaborate why I feel Rationalwiki has ventured into the grounds of extremism in a way that it may not be able to recover from.

In recent years, RW has gone from being the definitive battleground for disputes with Conservapedia to something more akin to liberals against other liberals. What began as a genuinely progressive Wiki that has endeavored to promote rational thought has mostly devolved into a parody of its own self, creating an authoritarian feminist utopia in which an “us vs. them” attitude has mostly prevailed ever since.

To begin with, let us consider that RW’s most significant value—the sole principle that grants any credibility or legitimacy—is its claims to uphold scientific fact to the highest regard. Science denialism, one would expect, would be the one thing that editors of this Wiki would seek to abolish. That, no matter how much one might disagree with scientific findings, one would expect to be rational and to accept the evidence above all else.

Because of this, it is my argument that if RationalWiki cannot uphold this standard, then all other standards are forfeit; the integrity of RationalWiki’s goals and mission collapse immediately once the environment becomes such that the editors begin to pick and choose what science they want to believe in and what they want to discard on an ideological basis. Unfortunately, this is where this Wiki is steadily heading, if it’s not there already.

My first encounter with this was when a peer-reviewed study I offered up as evidence was turned down out of hand. A peer-reviewed study, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a piece of scientific research published in a fully accredited scientific journal that has undergone the scrutiny of the researcher(s)'s peers.

In my case, I linked to a study of Vervet monkeys, in which these monkeys exhibited gendered toy preferences along the lines of their human counterparts, with females preferring dolls and males preferring balls and trucks.

“This is no good,” one RationalWiki editor said in response to this, to which all other participants agreed.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it’s a ridiculous study.”

It was in this moment that I began to grow suspicious of RationalWiki. Because it seemed to me that another editor was implying that scientific evidence—one that has undergone a peer-review by those qualified to do so—would be simply discarded and dismissed.

“How is it ridiculous?” I asked.

“Oh, because it’s been critiqued as such by a feminist blogger.”

And so I was offered a link to a critique that was not, mind you, peer-reviewed or given any form of validity in the scientific community. In other words, the writings of a no-name feminist blogger were favored over the peer-reviewed study on an ideological basis, something that any rational-minded person would simply not be able to accept. Furthermore, I have then (and still do today) take issue with the disrespect that went into the dismissal of the study. A peer-reviewed paper must undergo a great deal in order to be fit for publishing. While that particular feminist blogger is entitled to her opinions, it is absurd to hold them up to the standards of a peer-reviewed research paper.

Sadly, this trend is not new nor is my example a standout one. Since this event, I have both seen and participated in numerous engagements with editors who believe that feminist theory outweighs the sum of opposing evidence.

Whereas in any other topic, peer-reviewed research reigns supreme, when it comes to the topic of gender, feminism, and any other hot-button issues in the Social Justice Movement, it seems to be the case that, much like the religiously extremist, all evidence is discarded if it in any way promotes an opposing viewpoint.

Even just the battle to get RationalWiki editors to admit that gender is not entirely a social construct was one that required me to use fifteen separate peer-reviewed studies, and even then it was mostly discarded, and very few concessions were made.

“It’s just that we’re worried people might use the science to make sexist claims,” they argued.

“MRA’s might try to take this data and use it for the wrong purposes,” they clarified.

Indeed, it seems that the feminist agenda has become so strong that it has begun to invade the realm of science and critical thinking, which in my view is the most egregious thing one can do—the politicization of science.

The moment we being to politicize science and hold feminist opinions as somehow being on par with peer-reviewed research is the moment we have discarded rational thought in favor of dogma and ideology pushing.

In fact, should the science disagree with a popular feminist viewpoint, and should this be mentioned in a talk page, one is likely to be called an “MRA”, a “Gamergater.” Though I do not in any way consider myself an MRA, it is interesting to note that it is an extremist and an extremist alone who seeks to discredit a viewpoint based solely on the beliefs of the speaker. It is irrational to assume that the “wrongness” of one’s views can be attributed to anything other than the views themselves.

One should not concern themselves with the background of those who make a claim. The skeptic concerns his or herself only with the viewpoint, claim, opinion, etc. If Adolph Hitler resurrected at this very moment and insisted that one plus one equales two, he would be no less correct than if Anita Sarkeesian said the same.

RationalWiki, for all its merits, has now become prone to the same kind of evils that Conservapedia is known for.

And I still believe it can do better. Parogar (talk) 16:23, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

See Also[edit]

This is the "critique" from a journalist and blogger (not a scientist) that "trumped" a peer-reviewed study according to current RW standards that place ideology above objectivity: [1]

  1. http://cathyyoung.blogspot.com/2006/01/hyping-sex-differences.html