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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After Lengthy Legal Battle, School Board Emerges Victorious Over Creationist Science Teacher

In a case that’s lasted more than five years, there’s finally a happy resolution in the legal battle between Creationist teacher John Freshwater and the Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education.

A quick refresher: In 2008, school board members voted 5-0 to fire Freshwater, a Mount Vernon Middle School science teacher, after learning that he had preached Creationism to the students, handed out flyers in class urging kids to attend a presentation by the “Answers in Genesis” ministry, left the Bible out on his desk during class even after being told to stop, hung a Ten Commandments sign in his classroom, offered extra credit to students who watched the Ben Stein pro-Intelligent Design movie Expelled, and burned a student in the arm with a Tesla coil… in the shape of a cross:

That set off a long appeals process that culminated with a 4-3 decision by the Ohio Supreme Court yesterday in favor of the district. The Court said the district was right to fire Freshwater for his insubordination.

The decision holds little back:

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Ann Reid Succeeds Eugenie Scott as Executive Director of National Center for Science Education

It was back in May when we learned that Dr. Eugenie Scott would retire from her position as Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education — after 26 years with the organization. During her tenure, the NCSE was a vocal advocate for good science in public schools, fighting battles against the likes of Creationists and global warming deniers,

Today, the NCSE is announcing her successor: Ann Reid, a molecular biologist who has worked for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and, most recently, was the director of the American Academy of Microbiology:

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‘Darwin on the Palouse’ Brings Evolution to Idaho

Darwin on the Palouse is a free event that’s all about celebrating Charles Darwin’s contributions to the world — and it’s taking place in Idaho early next year.

The Humanists of the Palouse are fundraising whatever they can in order to bring in speakers and make sure this event remains free of charge — so please help them out if you can!

More information about the venue, speakers, and topics will be available on the event’s website soon!

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You Have to Watch Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Conversation with an Intelligent 9-Year-Old

Take a very inquisitive 9-year-old with an excellent question (involving stopping asteroids from colliding with our planet) and let Neil deGrasse Tyson take a crack at it.

The result is pure awesomeness:

(What’s that on your face? A huge smile? That’ll go away once you’re reminded of the 7-year-old admirer of Creationist Ken Ham.)

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