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Comments are sometimes made about an apparent '''anti-religion bias''' on RationalWiki.
This article attempts to describe and analyze the situation and ask if such a bias is likely – it makes no effort to say what the situation “should” be.
When discussing anti-religion bias on RationalWiki, one needs to consider two elements: the Editing Policies, and the user base of the website.
Editing policies Edit
The editing policy is most clearly laid out in the RW article, [http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/RationalWiki:Project_Whitewash/What_is_a_RationalWiki_article “What is a RationalWiki article”.] An initial point to note is the instruction that:
*"RationalWiki is not neutral point of view." "As a site we have a point of view, and that point of view is that the scientific method and the information gained from its application is better than almost anything else humanity has come up with."
Subsequently editors are told:
*to feel free to slant the content towards the goals of the site.
*that it is not necessary to supply references for all entries.
*that RationalWiki is original research.
*to draw (additional) conclusions not clearly stated in a source.
Given that the Scientific Method is wholly naturalistic and explicitly excludes supernatural or religious explanations, this POV will presumably eliminate any religious explanations for phenomenon. There is no obligation to present alternative points of view opposed to, or apart from, the scientific method – indeed they would seem to be explicitly excluded.
The subsequent points allow – even encourage - people to write more-or-less what they want as long as it is consistent with point one.
All of this means that RW authors, as a group, are likely to create 1. articles with a naturalistic slant and 2. articles which will which reflect the dominant beliefs and opinions of the group; and that opinions contrary to the general group consensus may get short shrift. It might conceivably be possible for the wiki to somehow present theistic or agnostic ideas within the above guidelines – but this would depend on the user base. Nevertheless, with such guidelines the articles on the site will be dominated by the opinions of the majority of the authors (or by the opinions of the most prolific authors) as long as their articles are consistent with (or at least not inconsistent with) the Scientific method.
User base Edit
Taking a look at the active users data<ref>[http://rationalwiki.org/w/index.php?title=RationalWiki:Active_users&oldid=758373]</ref> and comparing that data to who stands where on the question of religion, one can see that there is, indeed a bias towards being anti-religious or, at least, non-religious. For example, one sees that [[Bob M]], [[Nebuchadnezzar]], and [[P-Foster]] are included among the top editors on the site, and all three are well known anti-theists.
An analysis of all the users listed on the "Active users" statistics page further reveals this alleged anti-religious bias. About 75% of the top 50 editors on the "active users" page are atheistic or anti-theistic. A small, but vocal, minority that includes such people as [[ListenerX]] makes up about another 10%, while the remaining 15% includes user who do not have an overtly known stance on religion.
*The site has a stated POV which explicitly favors a scientific POV and excludes supernatural or religious explanations.
*The site’s policies encourage posters to include their opinions in articles.
*There are more explicitly atheistic authors than theistic authors.
*The atheistic authors, in addition to being more numerous, are more active than the theistic authors.
*Therefore one would expect to see a predominance of atheistic ideas on the site.
*Should the most prominent atheistic authors also be anti-religious then articles will be both atheistic and explicitly anti-religious.