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Scholarly sources[edit]



This paper describes ongoing work on analyzing ideologically biased communities. We specifically investigated gender, race and religious biases in two agenda-driven wiki systems (RationalWiki and Conservapedia) and compared them to the more mainstream Wikipedia with approaches for bias detection in word embeddings. With our approach, we could find that similar biases are present in all three wikis, but with varying degree. For example, women are more associated with words related to art, appearance and family whereas men are closer to words related to science, intellect and career. Furthermore we found biases in Conservapedia viewing Christianity in a more positive light compared to Islam or Atheism. Our results show that it is in general possible to find and measure biases using embeddings, even if these are only based on comparably small amounts of data.

Second, this infographic invokes quantum computing. While quantum computing is an actual computer science field of study, the broader adjective "quantum" has been appropriated by New Age thinkers who rely upon the term to legitimate their metaphysical claims, a process the RationalWiki dubs "quantum woo".53

Clustering minor objections and responding to whatever unites them is one of the strategies discussed against the Gish Gallop: “the fallacious debate tactic of drowning your opponent in a flood of individually-weak arguments in order to prevent rebuttal of the whole argument collection without great effort” (RationalWiki 2019). The individually weak arguments may be dispensed with as remonstrative quibbles, unless they are shown to add up to one or more weighty clusters of arguments.

According to their home page, the main aim of the LessWrong forum is “refining the art of human rationality.” Critics have also described the LessWrong community as

Occasionally articulate, innovative, and thoughtful. However, the community's focused demographic and narrow interests have also produced an insular culture that is heavy with its own peculiar jargon and established ideas—sometimes these ideas might benefit from a better grounding in reality. (RationalWiki 2018a)

The demographics that RationalWiki refer to have been made transparent through a few yearly surveys of the membership.


Others, such as the ghost, or that first artificial creature “born” of modern “science,” Frankenstein's monster, traverse categories such as alive/dead. AI can also be a liminal beast in this sense, with the added category collapse between past/now/future with Roko's Basilisk thought to be working through acausal threats (RationalWiki 2018b).

The decision was made that anyone searching for "cultural Marxism" on Google was to be directed to the section "Cultural Marxism Conspiracy Theory" in the entry on the Frankfurt School (which still stands), though there is an entry on "cultural Marxism" in RationalWiki. The "RationalWiki" entry also focuses on upon the idea that the term is used by conspiracy theorists, while it concedes that "extremely rarely ... [it] refers to an obscure critique of popular culture by the Frankfurt School."


As communities grow larger and are unpatrolled, they also have a propensity to attract flamers, trolls, and random hyperbolic comparisons to Hitler, a phenomenon also known as “Godwin’s Law” (Rational Wiki, 2018).

Yudkowsky also founded the blog community LessWrong as a sister site and offshoot of Overcoming Bias, where he began his blogging career with economist Robin Hanson. (Accessed on November 21, 2017)

Perhaps one of the most interesting anti-Semitist tale in modern times was told on the RationalWiki website, of a Yiddish secret society called Goy Cabal using Wikipedia as a misinformation tool in advancing their plot of dominating the world.

Controversial issue, namely the one concerning GMOs and their various risks. GMOs. Here, things are interestingly differing across countries. In the US, for instance, distrust regarding GMOs is considered as an instance of irrational, anti-science, stance, and Rational Wiki lists it along with anti-vaccination creeds and creationism ( In France, GMOs are not uncontroversially a scientific achievement, and many scientists doubt the virtues of GMOs.9

HENRY C. LUCAS, JR.’S Viewpoint “Technology and the Failure of the University” (Jan. 2018) was a tour de force of unfounded assertions, beginning with a prediction that 50% of U.S. universities will fail in the next 15 years, justified by two articles posted on the blogs and (The latter is described by RationalWiki as “apocalypse porn” that has “accurately predicted 200 of the last 2 recessions.”)

From what scientists have already established, we know that human decision-making is influenced by a large set of factors that vary across different individuals and groups of individuals [51], including past experience [167], decision complexity [99], emotions [29], and many cognitive biases.2


2A comprehensive list is available at

6 The attorney and conservative activist Andrew Schlafly was in a prolonged conflict with the evolutionary biologist Richard Lenski, who had observed a rare useful mutation in bacteria. Schlafly, motivated by anti-evolutionary skepticism, demanded Lenski’s laboratory files and notes, which he denied to him on the grounds that he was not a member of the scientific community. The “Lenski Affair” is documented at Rational Wiki (n.d.-a)


96 Creationist peer-review exists for Answers in Genesis‘ Answers Research Journal (Answers in Genesis 2018b) and the Intelligent Design journal BIO-Complexity (Bio-Complexity n.d.). Anticreationist comments on BIO-Complexity can be found at Rational Wiki (n.d.-b), and at the website of the National Center for Science Education (Branch 2010b).

In this paper we extensively test the validity of these two types of extrapolations. For crossdomain generalization, our results are mixed. We compile datasets corresponding to text from legislators (the Congressional Record and press releases), media (opinion and political articles from and, and crowdsourced collective intelligence (Conservapedia and RationalWiki). [....] The third is a dataset of political articles taken from Conservapedia (a Republican response to Wikipedia) and RationalWiki (a Democratic response to Conservapedia). [....] Conservapedia and RationalWiki. Conservapedia ( is a wiki encyclopedia project website. Conservapedia strives for a conservative point of view, created as a reaction to what was seen as a liberal point of view from Wikipedia. RationalWiki ( is also a wiki encyclopedia project website, which was, in turn, created as a liberal response to Conservapedia. RationalWiki and Conservapedia are based on the MediaWiki system. Once a page is set up, other users can revise it. For RationalWiki, we download pages (including redirect pages, which we later remove) ranking in the top 10000 in number of revisions. We further select pages whose categories contain the following word stems: liber, conserv, govern, tea party, politic, left-wing, right-wing, president, u.s. cabinet, united states senate, united states house. Because the Conservapedia community has more articles than RationalWiki, we download the top 40000 pages (again, including redirect pages which are later removed). We apply the same political keywords list we use for RationalWiki. We always use the last revision of any page for a given time period.

Atheism+ is a movement that originated in August 2012 by blogger Jen McCreight. It encouraged progressive atheists to cater to issues other than religion, such as social justice, feminism, racism and homophobia [39].


[39] RationalWiki. 2016. Atheism Plus. (2016). [sic]

There are advantages to having privileged identites, which are difficult to notice. Privilege blindness ( refers to a lack of awareness of such advantages, but this term can be considered cultrually insensitive. Feeling like we were blind before we became aware of our privilege is obviously not the same experience had by people who are blind or people with visual impairments. A better term might be privilege ignorance.


The colonist killer would be rewarded for each of the Indian cadaver or scalp, proving the murder.15


15 Native Americans and Christianity [online]. [Accessed 2017-03-28]. Available on:

There are many dangerous preconceptions in popular controversies of science and pseudoscience (such as those related to global climate change or universal vaccination), which could and should be easily dispersed by investigations of “science at work”. Interestingly, the defenders of science often use misplaced and misguided arguments which are easily demolished by detailed analysis of the history of philosophy of specific case studies, such as we do here. For example, at least one influential web encyclopaedia explicitly devoted to “[a]nalyzing and refuting pseudoscience and the anti-science movement” regards “alternative cosmology” as belonging to the same pseudoscientific category as “alternative medicine” (, last accessed June 11, 2016). Apart from the similar sound, there is no parallel between the two in either an epistemological or an ethical sense.

It is not surprising given these variable and vague statements, that aren’t necessarily research based and often historical, that the sceptics dictionary could describe osteopathy as (osteopathy, 2017b):

Osteopathy is a medical practice based on the theory that diseases are due chiefly to loss of structural integrity which can be restored to harmony or equilibrium by manipulation. The manipulation allegedly allows the body to heal itself.

The focus on unclear terms like structural integrity causing disease and restoring harmony and equilibrium understandably provoke scorn from scientific minds, as seen in this excerpt from the Rational Wiki site (Osteopathy, 2017a):

Osteopathy is the discipline of (theoretically) treating disease by stimulating the body to heal itself, with a focus on manipulating muscles and bones. The idea that the body can be cured by manipulation has never been proven in any scientific journal and is essentially woo.


The biopsychosocial model is an evidence based approach for chronic disease that promotes a multidisciplinary approach, and based on the findings in this thesis osteopathic healthcare reflects this evidence based management. This runs counter to the critics of osteopathy, who express that it is ‘woo’ (Rational Wiki, 2017) or ‘based on little more than wishful thinking’ (Ernst, 2017).


Osteopathy. (2017a). Osteopathy. Retrieved 12th January, 2017 from


Rational Wiki. (2017). "Osteopathy". Retrieved 31st March 2017 from, defines American exceptionalism as “a belief that the United States is unique or exceptional when compared with the historical development of other countries.”


2. American Exceptionalism; (

Much to the amusement of online critics, it is also apparent that parts of Woden’s Folk’s belief system—such as its references to the “Prophecies of Gildas” and a “Seventh Sword of Wayland”—stem from a 1980s itv television series, Robin of Sherwood, and have no basis in history or folklore.52


[52] RationalWiki, “Woden’s Folk: The Prophecies of Gildas.” Woden’s_Folk#The_prophecies_of_Gildas (accessed 30 November 2015); Maggie Benn, “Wulf Ingessunu and Woden’s Folk: How a 1980s tv Series Inspired a Racist Cult,” Britain is Radical, 13 June 2014. -and-wodens-folk-how.html (accessed 12 July 2017).

Alternatively, black hat designers could attempt to counter solitary charts with damning information by including a large number of charts with supportive information. Even if the data in these supporting charts provides only weak or spurious evidence in support of the attacker’s goal, their sheer number may mentally outweigh or exhaust the viewer (in argumentation, this technique is sometimes called a “Gish Gallop” [1]).


[1] Gish gallop — rational wiki.

Like it or not, there are in fact a myriad of psychologically rooted “mind traps” which can befall us all, even the best of us. Known as cognitive biases, these are “thinking” errors preventing you from “accurately understanding reality, even when confronted with all the needed data and evidence to form an accurate view [2].”


[2] RationalWiki, "List of cognitive biases," [Online]. Available:

While the information on the site usually just contains names and affiliations, Elam has pointed out that the site could potentially list the addresses, phone numbers, and so forth, of the targeted individuals, creating anxiety on the part of those listen concerning harassment, stalking, and so on. In the past, Elam has put out "bounties" or cash rewards to get the name of an anonymous feminist blogger.26



There are at least 175 cognitive biases that interfere with rational decision making. A detailed list of biases may be found in RationalWiki (List of Cognitive Biases, 2016).


List of Cognitive Biases (2016). In RationalWiki. Retrieved February 23, 2017 from

Crisis Actors. Another common characteristic of conspiracy theory messages is the belief that crisis actors were used to embellish the impact of the attack or outright deny that the attack occurred. According to Rational Wiki (2017), a Wikipedia-style website aimed at educating individuals with unorthodox views, crisis actors are defined as “supposedly professional actors used by government agencies and/or mainstream media to deceive the public with portrayals of trauma and suffering. Specifically, they act as victims or witnesses in staged school shootings or hoax terrorist attacks” (Rational Wiki 2017, para. 1). One frequently retweeted message read “RT @elzhi_fan: CRISIS ACTORS ARE USED IN ALL FALSE FLAG EVENTS#SandyHook#BostonBombing#TsarnaevVerdict And so on and so on!! http://t.c…” The message included a link to a still image of a woman that was supposedly killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, but was also later injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. The image provides no proof that the woman was an actress or involved in either event, but was shared often among individuals promoting a conspiracy theory.

5.4 Group Exercise: Identify the Fallacy

In this exercise, divide into two teams. Each team selects an example of a logical fallacy (from this chapter) from one of these websites:


Team 1 presents its example to Team 2. Team 2 has five minutes to identify it and explain it. If the explanation is acceptable to the moderator, Team 2 gets a point. Repeat for Team 2. Complete until each team has a chance to identify five logical fallacies. The team correctly identifying the most fallacies wins.

It should be noted that the researcher has not read or even physically accessed every book in the sample, and therefore makes no claim as to the quality, scholarship, or accuracy of the books in question. This means that works of certain authors who may be the subject of some controversy are included in the sample without comment or qualification, including four by Ward Churchill (an historian of contested Indian ancestry who infamously referred to the World Trade Center workers killed in the 9/11 attacks as “little Eichmanns”) and one by independent Canadian genocide researcher Kevin Annett (whom some have called a fraud [International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State, n.d.]). All that is of interest here is the ability to discover relevant monographs in the WorldCat catalogue.


International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State. (n.d.). RationalWiki. Retrieved from

Scientific studies tell us that you deceive your own brain far more often than you deceive others, you rarely know you're doing it, it's mostly harmless and probably even "natural," but you should porbably do the occasional self-check to stop it from getting out of hand (e.g., buying crap you can't afford).

The human brain is so prone to self-deception that many scientists now think it must serve a very useful purpose for survival? Why else would we constantly lie to ourselves in 70 different ways?*


*"List of Cognitive biases," Rational Wiki,

"This descriptive interpretation of game theory has come under recent criticism. Game theorists assume players are Homo economicus and always act rationally to maximize their payoffs ("Homo economicus", n.d.)


Homo Economicus. (n.d.) Retreived from

Racism is defined for this project as prejudice against a racial minority group plus the power to oppress said minority group. The definition of "prejudice plus power" was first used in 1970 by Pat Bidol, a current adjunct professor at American University and popularized by Judith H. Katz in her 1978 book, White Awareness: Handbook for Anti-Racism Training. Judith Katz says, "It is important to push for the understanding that racism is 'prejudice plus power' and therefore people cannot be racist against whites in the Untied States. People of color can be prejudiced against whties but clearly do not have the power to enforce that prejudice."2

2 Racism definition online: (accessed January 1, 2017).

Endorsement of conspiracy theories. Based on a comprehensive list of circulating conspiracy theories ( we constructed a list of 99 different conspiracy theories (e.g., “Barack Obama is a Muslim from Hawaii.” or “The CIA shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.”). These theories were presented in random order and participants were asked to rate their agreement with each conspiracy theory on a scale from 1 (strongly agree) to 7 (strongly disagree). In addition, we asked about their knowledge of these theories on a scale from 1 (do not know) to 7 (know in detail).

Bias and stereotype are somewhat related. While stereotype is a preconceived idea that attributes certain characteristics to all the members of a class or set, bias is an individual or personal preference3. For example, a statement such as - I think that grey literature has no academic or scientific merit - is a stereotype. However, if we have in front of us two equally valid documents, one published in a journal and the other in a personal blog, and we decide to use only the one from the journal – that is bias.

3 A list of cognitive biases can be found at

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).

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.


Our inference making is subject to all kinds of biases, affecting our social judgments, memory, and a wide range of beliefs, as I will further describe in the section on sympathy and empathy (Rational Wiki 2014; J. Smith 2014).


Rational Wiki (n.d.) “List of Cognitive Biases,” accessed November 19, 2014,

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 (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, and, 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 ( or groupspeak (Nguyen et al., 2015).

Branches of Science. Rationalwiki. <>. March, 2016.

Assuming that they are equal is the “confusion of the inverse” [15].


[15] 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

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: [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

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 as a starting point.


Debunking pages

[#] Page name Page Link


27 Rationalwiki

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.​e=Citizendium&oldid=1376857#Fiscal_insol​vency:_the_.2465.2C000_question. Accessed: 2014-11-20. (Archived by WebCite at

As a quick glance at its contents shows, 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:

Information about MRAs, incels, and related topics can be found on websites such as

  • 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


  • Huang, Yan. Pragmatics Second Edition. Oxford University Press, 2014. 55-56 (Citing Freedom fries).

‘Freedom fries’ was a term coined by the USA Congressman Walter Jones in 2003 in retaliation to France's refusal to join the USA in the Second Iraq War, though french fries was originally a Belgian rather than a french food. In a similar way, after Turkey refused to allow an American infantry division to transit its territory to open up a second front in the north of Iraq, President Bush issued a second Executive Order decreeing that the term Thanksgiving Turkey should be relabelled as Independence Bird. There seems to be a tradition of renaming things that are from an unfriendly country in America. Witness, for instance, due largely to the anti-German sentiment in World War I, the substitution of ‘hot dog’ for ‘frankfurter’ (successful), ‘liberty cabbage’ for ’sauerkraut’ (unsuccessful), and even ‘liberty measles’ for ‘German measles’. In response to the restyling of ‘french’ to ‘freedom’, the American film director Woody Allen famously said that he would rather give his wife a french than a freedom, kiss (see <>).

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,

  • 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),, 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,, 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 11 July, 2015


Anonym, "Marital Rape", retrieved from [sic] on March 2nd, 2012 at 15:51.



Popular sources[edit]


  • Inquisitr mentioned that RationalWiki still has a page on Kyle Kulinski after his Wikipedia page was deleted.[1]
  • The Daily Dot quotes RationalWiki on predictive programming regarding conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Kobe Bryant.[2]


  • Patheos quotes from our article on Happy Science when covering their claims that Margaret Thatcher spoke through their leader from beyond the grave; in response, Taku Igata, Adevanced [sic] General Manager of Happy Science, threatened to file a complaint against Patheos for their coverage.
  • Forbes Magazine, reporting on Facebook's takedown of Milo Yiannopoulos' 'official' page cites and links to our article on the right wing provocateur:

RationalWiki has got an excellent run-down of the sordid details of his career including his comments defending pedophilia and his ties to Neo-Nazis.[7]

  • Suzanne Titkemeyer, writing about wingnuts filing frivolous lawsuits field against Patheos authors, links to our article on Jilly Juice.[10]
  • An article by Jasmine Kazlauskas in The Daily Mirror mentioned our opinion of Hope4Cancer.[12]
  • Snopes used our Park51 page as a source for answering the question, "Was a Sculpture ‘Celebrating’ Saudi Arabia Erected at Ground Zero?"[14]


  • Snopes quoted our United Nations page for answering the question, "Did Justin Trudeau Transfer Canadian Border Control to the United Nations?"[15]
  • Snopes quoted our Sorcha Faal page in answering the question, "Is Christine Blasey Ford ‘Deeply Tied’ to the Central Intelligence Agency?"[16]
  • Snopes quoted our QAnon page for their article, "The Roots of ‘Pedophile Ring’ Conspiracy Theories".[17]
  • Snopes cited our VDARE page for their question, "Why Have So Many Daily Caller Writers Expressed White Supremacist Views?"[18]
  • WND founder Joseph Farah put us in good company and had this to say about us:

Likewise, if you should Google the independent, right-of-center news sites like WND, Breitbart or Daily Caller, you will quickly be confronted with attacks on their credibility from a pack of lying, partisan hack sites from Rational Wiki to the SPLC to Media Matters to Snopes.[19]

  • In an article about pedophile Nathan Larson, Haaretz cited us regarding permabanning User:Tisane.[Note 1] Haaretz (falsely?) claimed that Larson was the first person to be permabanned on RationalWiki, and erroneously stated that we are a libertarian site.[20]

Musk and the musician Grimes, whose real name is Claire Boucher, went to the Met Gala as a couple Monday (May 7). According to the gossip publication Page Six, the two met via Twitter, when Musk thought to make a pun about "Rococo's Basilisk," a mashup of the thought experiment "Roko's Basilisk" and the elaborately ornamental style seen in 18th-century France.

Musk soon learned that Grimes had made the same pun in a music video in 2015, and the rest is romantic history. Roko's Basilisk, on the other hand, is a terrifying vision of the future and the center of a yearslong online subculture maelstrom.

The whole thing got started in 2010, when a person going by Roko posted a thought experiment to the site LessWrong, a forum where people discuss everything from philosophy to artificial intelligence (AI) to cognitive science. The post was deleted, but RationalWiki preserved a copy. Roko's idea was that if, in the future, a super-intelligent AI designed to maximize the common good were to come into being, it might punish everyone who didn't contribute to its existence.[21]

  • Snopes quoted our QAnon page for their "Conspiracy Theories Immediately Appear After Santa Fe School Shooting" page.[22]
  • Snopes cited our Whataboutism page as a source for answering the question, "Did Karl Rove Write ‘Tactics for Effective Conservative Blogging’?"[23]
  • The Daily Beast accuses Angela Nagle of plagiarizing both Wikipedia and RationalWiki in her book, Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr To Trump And The Alt-Right.

Well, not the only one: A review of the book by The Daily Beast—spurred by allegations first published on Libcom, a left-wing website highly critical of Nagle’s arguments—finds that several passages in her 120-page work are similar to entries in Wikipedia and another online encyclopedia, RationalWiki. Attribution is haphazard throughout, sometimes creating the impression that others’ research is the author’s own. This also leads the author to repeat others’ mistakes.


But Nagle never mentions RationalWiki, another online encyclopedia that bills itself as dedicated to “refuting pseudoscience” and documenting “the full range of crank ideas.” She does, however, liberally borrow from it, as first pointed out on social media.


In her chapter on the anti-feminist “manosphere” of “men’s rights” and “pick-up artists,” she describes self-styled men’s rights activist Paul Elam thusly: [....] The entry on RationalWiki is nearly identical:


Later in the chapter, Nagle echoes RationalWiki’s entry on “Chateau Heartiste,” a virulently misogynistic and racist “pick-up artist” blog. The site’s proprietor, James C. Weidmann, “believes white civilization is being destroyed by miscegenation, immigration and low white female birth rates owing to feminism,” Nagle writes. “This decline can only be undone, he thinks, by deporting minorities and restoring patriarchy.” The RationalWiki entry states that Weidmann “thinks ‘white civilization’ is getting destroyed as it is ‘overrun by Uruk-hai,’” a reference to the dark, anonymous “orcs” of J.R.R. Tolkien. “The only solution to the terrible prospect of Whites becoming a minority is, according to Weidmann, to forcefully deport all minorities.”[24]


  • Snopes cites our article on Sorcha Faal while debunking conspiracy theories related to the Las Vegas massacre:

John Beilman: On 4 October 2017, Beilman, 60, shot and killed his severely-disabled 27-year-old daughter in the backyard of their Fairport, New York home before turning the gun on himself. There is no connection between that tragedy and the Las Vegas massacre — a link between the two deadly incidents was established exclusively by disreputable conspiracy sites like WhatDoesItMean. According to RationalWiki, the work on that web site is of such quality that “even other conspiracy nutters don’t think much of it.”[25]

  • Townhall cites our article on Christophobia, even if we are "secularists" who "downplay the extent of trendy christophobic commentary and action".[27]
  • The Science-Based Medicine website referenced our Fenestra Research in their article on pink Himalayan sea salt.[35]


Trans-exclusionary radical feminism - RationalWiki ISNT LIFE ROUGH ENOUGH⁉️ WTF ARE THESE WOMEN⁉️ IM ASHAMED OF THEM 😤


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.


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.



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 RationalWiki says of that blog and author:

Sorcha Faal is the alleged author of an ongoing series of "reports" published at, 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.




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




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.



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[.]



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?




  • 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?



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






  1. Kyle Kulinski Says ‘Neoliberal Trolls’ Had His Wikipedia Page Deleted by Tyler MacDonald (February 26, 2020) Inquisitr.
  2. Felix Kalvesmaki. People believe cartoons predicted Kobe Bryant’s death, coronavirus. The Daily Dot, 29 January 2020.
  3. Ross and Carrie Listen to Love: 528 Hertz Edition, with mentions at 56:56 and 59:13. Transcript here.
  4. Were Bones of Children Found on Jeffrey Epstein’s Island? Snopes, 28 August 2019.
  5. Anti-Semitic flyers posted in Birmingham, Royal Oak by neo-Nazi hate group. Detroit Free Press, 25 July 2019.
  6. Duke, Barry (July 20, 2019). "Senate hearing told YouTube restricts access to Ten Commandments". Patheos. Retrieved July 30, 2019. 
  7. Jonathan Berr, Facebook Takes Down 'Official' Milo Yiannopoulos Page Put Up After His Ban. Forbes, 27 June 2019.
  8. Betty Bowers to give God a performance review at FFRF convo. Freedom From Religion Foundation, 5 June 2019.
  9. Mike Lofgren, Enough. Wake Up, Sheeple! Why people think reality is a conspiracy. Common Dreams, 3 June 2019.
  10. Suzanne Titkemeyer, Lori Alexander Does Not Understand the Difference Between Slander and Libel?, 7 May 2019.
  11. Deconstructing the Hype in Hyperloop., 16 April 2019.
  12. Jasmine Kazlauskas, Terminally ill mum who hid cancer claims tumour shrunk 75% after 'alternative care' The Mirror, 24 March 2019.
  13. Rob Brotherton, Five myths about conspiracy theories. The Washington Post, 17 January 2019.
  14. Bethania Palma, Was a Sculpture ‘Celebrating’ Saudi Arabia Erected at Ground Zero? Snopes, 10 January 2019.
  15. Bethania Palma, Did Justin Trudeau Transfer Canadian Border Control to the United Nations? Snopes, 20 December 2018.
  16. Dan Macguill, Is Christine Blasey Ford ‘Deeply Tied’ to the Central Intelligence Agency? Snopes, 2 October 2018.
  17. Bethania Palma, The Roots of ‘Pedophile Ring’ Conspiracy Theories. Snopes, 2 September 2018.
  18. Bethania Palma and Alex kasprak, Why Have So Many Daily Caller Writers Expressed White Supremacist Views? Snopes, 6 September 2018.
  19. Joseph Farah, Google: King of Trump Derangement Syndrome. WND, 3 August 2018.
  20. Omer Benjakob, This Hitler-loving Proud Pedophile Was Too Much of a Troll for Wikipedia, but Not for a Congressional Run. Haaretz, 14 June 2018.
  21. Stephanie Pappas, This Horrifying AI Thought Experiment Got Elon Musk a Date. Live Science, 9 May 2018.
  22. Benjamin Palma, Conspiracy Theories Immediately Appear After Santa Fe School Shooting. Snopes, 18 May 2018.
  23. Kim Lacapria, Did Karl Rove Write ‘Tactics for Effective Conservative Blogging’? Snopes, 3 May 2018.
  24. Charles Davis, Sloppy Sourcing Plagues ‘Kill All Normies’ Alt-Right Book. The Daily Beast, 19 May 2018.
  25. Bethania Palma, Did Seven 'Key Witnesses' to Las Vegas Shooting Die Under 'Suspicious Circumstances'? Snopes, 3 November 2017.
  26. Doktor Zoom, Deleted Comments: Turns Out Some People REALLY Don't Like The Pope. Who Knew? Wonkette, 12 November 2017.
  27. Paul Jacob, Christophobia Down Under. Townhall, 24 September 2017.
  28. Rapists given bail, victim's character questioned: HC order on rape outrages people. Times Now (India), 22 September 2017.
  29. Bethania Palma, Did ‘Liberal Feminist’ Katie Hopkins Advocate ‘Euthanasia Vans’ for the Elderly? Snopes, 5 September 2017.
  30. The strangest conspiracy theories: from Diana and Meghan Markle to Elvis and aliens. The Week (UK), 9 May 2017.
  31. Jason Rhose, Weird Science: David Brooks Gets It Wrong on Google. Paste Magazine, 11 August 2017.
  32. Michael Andor Brodeur, The rise of the online altcyclopedia. The Boston Globe, 23 June 2017.
  33. Lef Apostolakis, King’s lecturer sparks racism row. Felix Online (UK), 2 February 2017.
  34. Verbal Skills — How To Stop A Troll — The Gish Gallop and Trump Tirade. Daily Kos, 10 February 2017.
  35. Harriet Hall, Pink Himalayan Sea Salt: An Update. Science Based Medicine, 31 January 2017.