User:Arcan/What brought me here

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Why I joined Rationalwiki

Per a discussion on TWIGO, I though it appropriate to reveal why I stopped lurking on RW and finally joined.

I found CP sometime before the Lewis Black on The Daily Show mocked it, and found RW soon after. I never saw any reason to really get involved, because CP was just something to laugh at, an absurd but nebulous alternate reality. I never knew anyone who could be persuaded by CP or actually thought like a CPer. CP and its cast of crazies were distant and nonthreatening.

Much later, during my student teaching, we had someone from the IU (kind of like a teacher's "home office") come in an give a presentation about a teacher's resource called "Thinkfinity." It searched "educational" websites and articles, rated them as potentially useful, likely not useful, potentially suspect, etc. At this point in the presentation, the woman searched "global warming" in an effort to show how the system can sometimes be flawed, just marking alternative viewpoints on controversial subjects as "suspect" sites. When should couldn't find the site she was looking for, she asked if anyone had heard of Conservapedia.

I involuntarily laughed loudly.

"I take it you've heard of it?" Obviously, I had. She talked about how it presented a different side of the global warming debate. She discussed it as if it actually had merit, much less credibility.

When she finished, I (rudely) interrupted. "I just want to let everyone know," I said to the class of 25 or so future teachers. "that Conservapedia should never be used for any serious academic purposes. It's a biased, misleading site with an obvious agenda. It is totally ridiculous."

"Well it's interesting that you call it ridiculous," the woman said, trying to regain control of her presentation. She had obviously taken offense not at my interruption, but at my label of CP as ridiculous. "Because I found-"

"Damn right it's ridiculous," I interrupted again, this time with an even poorer choice of words. "Have you seen their article on the theory of evolution or homosexuality? Their article on 'liberal' is absolutely disgusting."

"Oh, well, I can't say- I mean, I hadn't-"

"No, wait," a future biology teacher chimed in, "I think I have heard of it. Yeah, ridiculous is the right word for it." Now outnumbered, the presenter moved on and dropped the issue.

At the end of the presentation, she handed out a sheet of paper with all the "useful" sites she had mentioned in the presentation. Sure enough, there it was:

Conservapedia.com - a site for alternative viewpoints

Literally, all but two of my classmates came to me afterward and asked if it were really as bad as I said it was. I took their handout, put quotes around "alternative," and wrote down a site that would reveal just how absurd CP really was: "rationalwiki.com."


This was a canned presentation. She had presented it to actual teachers many times before and many times after, most of whom likely didn't have someone as inconsiderate as me to laugh at the suggestion that CP was in anyway useful or sane. This scared the hell out of me. CP was not nebulous as I previously thought. It had an actual effect on people outside of its alternate reality. It fooled this woman, who was supposed to be so educated that she could educate teachers. No longer able to pretend CP was a harmless joke, I decided it was time to choose a side.