Can Quora Be Inoculated from Pseudoscience?

For those who don’t know, Quora is a question-and-answer web platform where anyone can log in, ask any question to the community, and potentially have it answered. It’s kind of a Wikipedia for Q&A. The questions can be on any topic, from the highly technical, to the superfluous, to the hilarious (see my posts on Quora questions regarding Starbucks on the Death Star and the geopolitics of Super Mario). As on platforms like Reddit, users can upvote and downvote both questions and answers to better curate the content. It’s a great way to get yourself lost for hours on end and destroy your productivity.

Anyway, this question came up anonymously about Quora itself, and it’s relevant to our little skepto-atheist community:

Are there any Quora policies regarding pseudoscience? If not, should there be one? Let’s discuss. . . . this question is directed towards a Quora moderation perspective.

Wow, what a great question. Quora can’t and doesn’t make any claims to hosting “definitive” answers to anything, but it’s true that an open platform like this easily provides those who shill nonsense, from homeopathy to the paranormal, with a soapbox and with an air of legitimacy.

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Are Republicans Unfairly Pegged as Anti-Science? (Mostly No)

Are Republicans being unfairly maligned as the anti-science party? The easy answer to that is, “don’t be ridiculous, and what right-wing industry lobby is funding that question?” But to Mischa Fisher, a former House GOP science policy staffer who described himself as “a politically centrist atheist,” the answer is yes, and the stereotype is harming science generally.

In a piece in The Atlantic, Fisher argues that Democrats are, more or less, just as prone to anti-scientific thinking as Republicans, but on different subjects, and that Republicans aren’t nearly as backward on science acceptance as their more extreme clown-characters like Paul Broun and Michele Bachmann would make them seem to be.

At the outset, let me just say I agree with where Fisher is going with his argument, but its presentation is flawed.

First, the problems.

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Goldfish Crackers Aimed Straight at the Atheist Market

Finally, a snack food company recognizes the enormous buying power (and appetite for human infants) of the atheist market. Behold, baby-flavored Goldfish crackers!

Thank you, Pepperidge Farm. You must share your recipe!

(Thanks to my pal David for the photo!)

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Teacher in India Wins the Right to Opt Out of School Prayer

There’s a happy conclusion to last month’s story about Sanjay Salve, a public school teacher who was denied pay raises due to him because he refused to pray at a school function. Rather than folding his hands to pray, Salve would hold his hands behind his back, as he describes it, “wondering why I should pray to the god of a religion which I do not follow.” The headmaster was not happy, and Salve was denied regular pay raises.

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High Court Indicates Support for Indian Teacher’s Right Not to Pray

An update on a story I brought you last week: Sanjay Salve, a teacher in India, was denied traditional pay grade increases because of his refusal to visibly pray during a school assembly. According to The Hindu, however, his fortunes may be turning around.

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