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Essay:Site Proposal

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Essay.svg This essay is an original work by Hamilton.
It does not necessarily reflect the views expressed in RationalWiki's Mission Statement, but we welcome discussion of a broad range of ideas.
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Feel free to make comments on the talk page, which will probably be far more interesting, and might reflect a broader range of RationalWiki editors' thoughts.

So, I know that there are users who have been here for far longer then I have been, made and enhanced far more articles then, and I'm little more then a blip on most people's radars, but I think the site needs to expand or alter it's mission statement. As it is, the statement is:

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.

But, it seems like a lot of articles (and therefor, a lot of users) are operating under the assumption of a fifth element:

5. Provide basic information in math, science, history, and current politics.

For example, the majority of the articles in the mathematics section have nothing to do with the stated four goals, neither does anything in the series on logic, much of the sections about chemistry are not about pseudoscience, nor are the articles on physics, biology, geology, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, economics, and I can go on. President Barack Obama has an article here, but I don't think he's really in the anti-science movement, a crank, an authoritarian or a fundamentalist. Well OK, we can debate the authoritarian. But we have articles on the United States Senate, House of Representatives, Founding Fathers and a category on US Politics, former and current members of the US Politicians. I have a hard time imagining that they're all fundamentalists and authoritarians. For that matter, I have a hard time imagining that the articles on the EU, NATO, UN, and any of the other treaty organizations that have articles here are all run by fundamentalist authoritarians hell bent on driving creationism down the throats of people.

Now, because of this, this website is operating under the assumption of a fifth element without it being present, there have been suggestions to delete a few articles, such as the one on irrational numbers, Erwin Rommel, and a user has suggested in the talk page deleting the article on GDP. Now, I wont say that these are the most important things in the world, but they are relevant to the site's broader mission. We have an article on Conservapedia's insane issues with math, it might be useful to general members to have some quick ability to go "right, what the hell is a complex number again? Oh, we have an article on it, don't we?" You could, reasonably, include a section explaining what a complex number is in an article that mentions complex numbers, but there are a number of articles on pseudomathematics, many of which will include references to complex numbers. It makes more sense to me to include a single article on complex numbers, rather then repeat the same information a dozen times in a dozen articles. Alternatively, we could link to the wikipedia article. That's fine if you're at the level of understanding that the wikipedia article is written at. Deleting the article on GDP, for example, would make understanding why Austrian Economics is a joke much more difficult. The wikipedia article is written at the level of someone who has already a fairly indepth understanding of economics, and most other articles on the subject are little more then "it's the total of all buying of goods and services in a country or other region in a year". That's nice, but it doesn't tell you anything.

In the recent deletion logs there is velocity and acceleration. I cannot even begin to imagine how many articles about physics and astronomy on this website talk about these two things.

Like I said, I don't think that these are the most important things in the world, but if we were to purge every mainspace article that is not about the four elements of the mission statement directly, we'll purge whole categories, and maybe a third of the articles on the website.

Essentially, this website has been running largely under the assumption of a fifth element to the mission statement, without it being there, the articles that exist because of this assumption are relevant to the website's goals, but indirectly, and because of lack of formal recognition of this fifth element, some of the articles have been deleted, or may be deleted.

I feel like I'm missing some details, so I'm going to post this now and check and update tomorrow, Saturday 3 November.