JAC: I haven’t used RationalWiki very much, as its articles are not only not as thorough as those in Wikipedia (though some day Greg will produce his long-awaited post, “What’s the matter with Wikipedia?), but also appear slanted toward the Authoritarian Left. Although created to counter the odious Conservapedia site, it seems to have swung too far in the opposite direction—towards censorship of Incorrect Thought. Wikipedia says this about the site:
RationalWiki is a wiki written from a skeptical, secular, and progressivist perspective. It was created in 2007 as a counter to Conservapedia after an incident in which contributors attempting to edit Conservapedia were banned. Since then, it has developed into a wiki that criticizes “crank” ideas, pseudoscience, and fundamentalism. Ideologically, RationalWiki typically argues in favour of freedom of religion, atheism, feminism, and LGBT rights, and it criticises conservatism and right-libertarianism. RationalWiki frequently uses sarcasm and humor in its articles. Unlike many wikis, RationalWiki has no formal system for electing sysops, and most users who are thought to have good intentions are given the tools.
But the skepticism has been tainted by authoritarian leftism, something amply documented by reader Aneris, who attempted to fix RationalWiki‘s article on female genital mutilation (FGM). Its original article (the one that’s still there) did everything it can to dissociate the practice of FGM from Islam, even though, as reader Heather Hastie documents on her website, at least four schools of Islam either recommend the practice or deem its obligatory. There have also been fatwas saying that the practice is Islamic, and the vast majority of women mutilated in this way are Muslims whose families follow the practice. Only the blinkered, or those who excuse Islam of all malfeasance, could deny the close association of the practice with Muslim belief.
Below Aneris’s recounts his/her unsuccessful attempt to get RationalWiki to give the fact about FGM instead of an Islam-exculpating ideological take. He rewrote their article, only to discover that his additions were quickly and completely expunged. Why? Because they associated FGM with Islam. I doubt there would have been the same reaction had FGM been a habitual practice of evangelical Christianity.
Some wikis document fictional universes like that of Harry Potter, Star Wars or Creationism. The “RationalWiki” documents the beliefs of what is perhaps imperfectly called (authoritarian) “Regressive Left” or “Social Justice Warriors”. Jerry’s recent post about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) motivated me to look into the matter and also see where those “Regressive Leftists” are coming from, and perhaps suggest improvements to their RationalWiki article. I wound up writing a section for them.
I try to make a difference, but typically find that what is deemed “true” is not determined by sources and evidence, but by a spontaneous majority that merely wins the “edit war”. Alas, FGM was just such a case. I sacrificed style for direct quotations in the belief that this would provide a solid evidential basis; however, I found everything I wrote was deleted quickly – including about a third of all sources of the article, down from 39 to 24 (this doesn’t mean much in itself, but gives a rough idea).
Before I touched it, the article already contained a small section on FGM and Islam, but that has now been purged as well. The reason given, and they’re serious, is this: “terribly written section with random unsourced statements […]”. But the icing on the icing on the cake is that such Regressive Leftists deny what they are doing. The RationalWiki is adamant that neither Social Justice Warriors nor Regressive Leftists really exist. The current article, one that would please even Reza Asla, can be viewed here.