What are your thoughts on rational wiki

post by snog toddgrass · 2020-07-06T19:10:00.974Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW · 3 comments

This is a question post.

Contents

  Answers
    24 PatrickDFarley
    24 Richard_Kennaway
    12 Dagon
    7 CellBioGuy
    6 Godismyprior
    2 Callmesalticidae
    2 Jameson Quinn
None
3 comments

I have seen a a post on LW that suggest RationalWiki is a poor source of information. [? · GW]Their post on Pick-Up Artists also avoids some key questions and focuses on the controversial points, making the article misleading. That is just two observations. What do you think about the site in general?

Answers

answer by PatrickDFarley · 2020-07-06T23:22:37.479Z · score: 24 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If I remember correctly, rationalwiki came into being as a response to Conservapedia, which is the American religious right's response to Wikipedia. The main issues originally at play were scientific: climate change, evolution, and the origin of the universe. Conservatives who disagreed with the consensus formed their own wiki.

People on the left formed rationalwiki to tit-for-tat the right. Called it rationalwiki because the denial of scientific consensus was irrational; I don't think the name had any connection whatsoever to the rationality blogosphere.

Rationalwiki admits to taking a "snarky point of view," which to me is an admission that documenting truth is not their primary aim.

answer by Richard_Kennaway · 2020-07-06T21:57:18.816Z · score: 24 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I once summed up my judgement of RationalWiki as "Rationality is their flag, not their method." I have paid it no attention since forming that opinion. When I last looked at it, their method was sneering, every article was negative, there was no rational content, and no new ideas. It is not worth even the minutes of my time it would take to look again and see if the leopard has changed its spots.

comment by drachenfels · 2020-08-21T16:47:30.693Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But it's funny, and while their sarcasm or satire might be not for everyone taste they don't exclusively attack right-wing people they do with everyone that says or does something not very smart one way or another -> https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/George_Monbiot

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2020-08-22T18:25:16.614Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What matters is not who they attack but how and why.

answer by Dagon · 2020-07-06T21:10:47.353Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It gets mentioned around here, usually in a negative light, but I don't think I've ever come across it except when someone here complains or asks about it. It's not early in any search results, and nobody I follow or correspond with links to it. It's just one of billions of websites that have no impact on anything.

From what little I've seen, it seems more community- and popular-culture-focused than LessWrong is, and the approach has more editorial slant than LW Wiki. I don't see a lot of overlap between here and there.

I don't think, unless you have some unstated reason to, you need to have any thoughts on it.

comment by Viliam · 2020-07-10T22:23:22.937Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think I remember finding it repeatedly in search results a decade ago, but not recently.

(But maybe I was also making different search queries back then.)

answer by CellBioGuy · 2020-07-10T23:03:51.903Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I love it.

comment by Lukas_Gloor · 2020-07-11T09:05:22.188Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does anyone know if there were admin/management changes on that site? I remember I thought the older versions of their articles on LessWrong-related topics were disgusting. Only took a quick look now, but it looks like they adjusted the tone somewhat and maybe changed some of the most uncharitable stuff..

comment by ChristianKl · 2020-07-14T15:17:35.254Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you look at the admin page, the key person seems to have switched their attention to talking about how bitcoin is crazy. 

answer by Godismyprior · 2020-07-06T20:51:13.567Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The site seems less focused on providing as accurate information as possible and more focused on shining a particular light on it's topics. This can also be seen in the writing style, it's more casual and pointed than e.g. Wikipedia.

I personally think if you take the above into consideration, rationalwiki can be a good way to get some pointers into how a topic is percieved from a certain point of view, but you have to accept that you'll only get one perspective.

answer by Callmesalticidae · 2020-07-17T05:28:29.967Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

They aren't rationalists per se, and don't seem to overall have a high opinion of rats (though they're also willing to paint a better picture of e.g. Scott Alexander than e.g. r/SneerClub paints, so it's probably best to not confuse the two), and they're willing to get personal and ad their hominems.

However, while I'd give them less credence than Wikipedia (which has issues of its own, as we're all aware), that doesn't mean that I ignore it entirely. Maybe it's because I grew up in a cult, but RatWiki is really nice to visit every now and then, for much the same reason that I still visit r/exmormon every now and then. Also, it keeps a better list of cranks and scoundrels (and their cons and scandals) than Wikipedia, so I also use it every now and again as a(n initial) resource whenever my parents mention some person or thing which I'm pretty sure is bullshit just by the sound of it.

comment by ChristianKl · 2020-07-17T13:02:04.879Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you go to Wikipedia whether or not someone gets presented as a crank depends on whether there are secondary sources that make the case.

On the other hand whether or not RationalWiki presents a person as a crank is independent of any evidence and just because whether the person pattern matches to looking like a person that the RationalWiki community dislikes. There's little knowledge gained.

comment by TAG · 2020-08-22T08:32:14.436Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

They aren’t rationalists per se

They are not rationalists in the sense of followers of Yudkowsky. But there was always a lot of tension between "think for yourself" and "there's this smart guy who has the answer to everything" .

comment by snog toddgrass · 2020-07-17T05:49:07.296Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks and I love that we can call ourselves rats!

answer by Jameson Quinn · 2020-07-06T20:53:01.693Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think that the ideal community size (the regime at which positive network effects clearly dominate negative effects) is much larger for a wiki than for a forum like here. Thus, though I don't have experience with RationalWiki, my prior would be to be skeptical of its value.

3 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by dumky · 2020-07-06T20:25:38.132Z · score: 11 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've only had a few interactions, but was less than impressed. Some articles that were critical of authors I have much respect for did not give a fair reading in my opinion.

Specifically, does the prevalence of progeny in different groups affect the average time preference of said groups? I would say it raises an empirical question, but the prior seems reasonable. I do not consider such thought horribly offensive or bigoted as suggested, even if you consider that sexual orientation would affect prevalence of progeny.

The thread seemed more woke than rationalist in tone.

comment by snog toddgrass · 2020-07-06T22:02:30.520Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah I observed that as well. Why have a rationalist community if you accept motivated reasoning or have an ideological standard. Like being woke is still an ideology. You did not become woke by evaluating every assumption your ideology supports and finding all of them true. So why use that to write answers at the bottom of the page. Whatever, Dagon is right.

This does update me toward thinking rationality has many many failure modes which are hard to avoid. Tsuyoku Naratai is important. Having external goals to our rationalism is important.

comment by TAG · 2020-08-22T08:28:00.893Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why have a rationalist community if you accept motivated reasoning

Do you think anyone has avoided motivated reasoning?