The subjects covered in this blog include Slavoj Žižek, IQ tests, Chomsky, Tony Blair, Baudrillard, global warming, sociobiology, Islam, Islamism, Marx, Foucault, National/International Socialism, economics, the Frankfurt School, philosophy, anti-racism, etc... I've had articles published in The Conservative Online, American Thinker, Philosophy Now, Intellectual Conservative, Human Events, Faith Freedom, Brenner Brief (Broadside News), New English Review, etc... (Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy can be found here

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

RationalWiki: American Thinker is a Wingnut Publication

A RationalWiki piece informs its very-intelligent readers that American Thinker is a “wingnut publication”.

In a sub-link which explains the word “wingnut”, moonbat RationalWiki says that “not all conservatives are wingnuts”. Nonetheless, American Thinker is a “wingnut publication”. That must mean that RationalWiki believes that American Thinker isn't even a good kind of conservative publication. Bad conservatives, apparently, are “reactionary” or “radical right”: unlike the good ones.

It must now be asked whether or not this distinction between wingnut conservatives and rational conservatives is simply disingenuous. In other words, would this writer be willing to cite those conservatives he thinks are good? Would he also be willing to tell us why, exactly, he thinks that they are good? Judging from the tone of this piece and RationalWiki generally, I doubt that he would - or even could - do that.

Anyway, American Thinker is either reactionary or radical right (not both?). On top of that, people like me are “paranoid” and “authoritarian”. We also “refuse to accept any source as information” (what the hell does that mean?); as well as being prone to “conspiracy theories”, “psychological projection” and “crackpot theories”.

It gets worse.

American Thinker writers are also likely to be a “racist”, “misogynist” and “homophobic”.

Nonetheless, RationalWiki does acknowledge the possibility that “not all wingnuts” suffer from all these maladies at once. Despite saying that, such a bundle of evil and irrationality in a single human being “seems all the more common every day”.

It's fairly clear – to my irrational mind – that this writer might not have read a single American Thinker article. (As Uncyclopedia hints at later, he seems to rely on other Wikipedia articles.) For example, he comes out with this unbelievable claim:

"The magazine, of course, is chock-full of right-wing concpiracy theories, woo, pesudoscience, and anti-science.”

All this is stated without a single argument of any kind. All we have is smugness and sarcasm.

So apart from the smugness and hightened self-belief, RationalWiki's main thing seems to be its position on what it sees as “pseudoscience” and general irrationality.

Firstly, is there a RationalWiki piece on left-wing “conspiracy theories”? (Answer: no.) Secondly, I've never seen a single piece of “pseudoscience” in American Thinker. (Though that may be because, as an irrational wingnut, I wouldn't recognise pseudoscience if it slapped me in the face.) As for “anti-science”.... now that's simply outrageous. (What a pipsqueak this RationalWiki writer is!)

What this youth doesn't realise is that – to a rational thinker - generalising about your opponent is supposed to be a very bad thing. Ad hominems are generally to be avoided too.

So when he says that “they promote” (i.e., American Thinker promotes), he really means that a paticular American Thinker writer has promoted X or Y. (I doubt that I can even trust him on this claim.)

Now how many articles did this boy actually read? I can't answer that for sure. My bet is probably one or less. It's highly likely that he got all his information from elsewhere. Nonetheless, his very specific references to Jared Taylor and Vince Foster seem to suggest that he might have spent at least ten minutes writing this RationalWiki piece on American Thinker.


RationalWiki sells itself in this way:

"Our purpose here at RationalWiki includes:

  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.”

(RationalWikialso tells us that at one point it was receiving “32,000 unique visitors per day”.)
The comedic Uncyclopedia, on the other hand, sells RationalWiki in this way. It says:
"RationalWiki is a wiki full of ratio-nal articles, which are part truth and part copied off Wikipedia. A majority of the userbase on RationalWiki are established liberal thinkers whose liberal interpretation of everything including the wiki's rules allows them to ban any fundamentalists who stick to the rules. On RationalWiki, the users frequently relish in taking IQ tests to prove themselves worthy of copying and pasting bits of Wikipedia on a blank page.....”
Unlike the sometimes-excellent Uncyclopedia, there's no hint that RationalWiki is actually designed to be funny. (That may explain why it isn't.) Nonetheless, in most of the pieces I've read there is some studentile sarcasm (though little humour) in almost every sentence.
So what about that adjective “rational” (as in RationalWiki)?
It's strange really because in this article - and in most of the others I've read at RationalWiki - there are virtually no arguments. There's a lot of sarcasm (as I said); though not much logical reasoning, argumentation or even discussion. It's as if the very fact these writers/editors have used the self-description “rational” (as well as the fact that it has a liberal - sometimes outright Leftist - slant) is all it takes to be, well, rational.
Similarly, RationalWiki believes that all it takes for someone to be irrational is to be a “right-winger”; or, worse still, be a writer for American Thinker.
RationalWiki's frequent citicisms of pseudoscience seem to be tied very closely to a lot of student sarcasm against the Right. And, of course, all conservatives (or “wingnuts”) are very “anti-science”; as well as being very susceptible to all sorts of “pseudoscience”. We're also extremely likely to be “authoritarian” and “fundamentalist”.
Contrawise, authoritarianism and fundamentalism are virtually unknown in the Left. Indeed almost every Leftist and Left-Liberal on the planet is a supremely “rational” being. Equally, the pious upholders of science can never - by (self)definition - be fundamentalist or authoritarian.
All that, my friend, is a scientific truth. And to believe otherwise is to be a wingnut.
RationalWiki on Other Things
To be fair, a few RationalWiki pieces do offer a little bit more – though not much more – detail. So it may be that American Thinker simply doesn't warrant much space. Nonetheless, the article on the UK's Daily Mail (which is slightly longer) informs us that “by any objective standards the Mail is Fascist”.... Yes, I'll repeat that just in case you think it's a misprint. RationalWiki believes - objectively believes - that the Daily Mail is fascist.
In addition, it's apparently the case - rationally speaking - that all Ukip supporters are “more-or-less completely scientifically illiterate”. (Yes, you can almost taste the combined smugness and snobbery here.)
And even in RationalWiki's slightly-more-detailed pieces there's still a superabundance of sarcasm and almost zero argument. I stress argument here because this website is called RationalWiki. And rationality - more than anything - should include genuine argumentation and debate.
So I wonder what purpose – other than grandstanding its own cleverness - RationalWiki serves.


RationalWiki responded very quickly (within a day or two) to my article for American Thinker by updating its piece on the aforesaid American Thinker:

"... RationalWiki: American Thinker is Wingnut Publication (The Thinker (or, sorry, Paul Austin Murphy) is upset that RationalWiki labelled it "wingnut" and attacks RationalWiki's article for not having "a single argument of any kind", while in no way disproving the wingnuttiness of the Thinker. The Thinker claims that RationalWiki would not be willing to cite "good" conservatives and that RationalWiki doesn't ever attack leftists or left-wing conspiracy theories. When whining about being labeled conspiracy and pseudoscience prone, they leave out their strong history of global warming denialism and apparently ignore the external links below. They also attack "rational" in the name. To the taps!)"

One point I made in the article was how relentlessly sarcastic and smug RationalWiki is. And, lo and behold, even the writer of this riposte can't control himself. (He classes me as “the Thinker”.)

The quote above says that I haven't contributed to “disproving the wingnuttiness of the Thinker”. One, I didn't set out to do that. Two, what does RationalWiki mean by “disproving” exactly? (Proof, strictly speaking, belongs only to logic and mathematics. What would a disproof of American Thinker's “wingnuttiness” so much as look like?)

I wrote my piece on the single article by RationalWiki, not on the entire website (which will have many writers). So, yes, it does indeed provide a list of good conservatives. Most of them, as Uncyclopedia suggests, are made up of cut-and-pastes. But I will concede that RationalWiki does say that some conservatives - in some small ways - are “good”. And they are probably deemed to be good to the extent that they display liberal or even Leftist views or inclinations, which sort of defeats RationalWiki's object (if you catch my drift).

It also mentions my accusation that RationalWiki doesn't have a piece on left-wing conspiracy theories: it doesn't. However, in response to that it supplies a link to a piece on “moonbatery”, which is certainly not the same thing. Here again my bet is that many of the articles simply involve numerous cut-and-pastes from Wiki articles. The piece on Dianne Abbot, for example, is nearly all cut-and-pastes and involves no RationalWiki criticisms except in the indirect sense of using critical quotes from other people. In some of the other pieces on Leftist individuals and subjects, there are no RationalWiki criticisms at all, only endless cut-and-pastes.

The worst aspect of RationalWiki's riposte is to conflate anthropogenic-global- warming scepticism with “pseudoscience” and “conspiracy”. But in order to follow that through I would need to check all RationalWiki's pieces on global warming, etc., which I simply can't be bothered doing.

Finally, it would be hard to generalise about all RationalWiki articles because they are no doubt written by many different people with (slightly) different political views. The same, of course, can be said about American Thinker.

However, I suspect that the average RationalWiki writer is between 17 and 24 and is either a university student or a recent graduate. (I may be wrong: that assumption rests only the pieces I've read.) Hence the smugness and juvenile politics. And I suppose the average writer's smugness is a result of him thinking that he's learnt just a tiny bit more science than his average straw-target opponent.

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