According to Skeptics' standards, the question is an answer already, as the research in question is made by [a] most respectable institution and published as peer-reviewed paper in respectable journal.

This was a comment in relation to Do the recent CLOUD results have significant implications for global warming?

I'm trying to understand the votes-to-close this question. Is the problem that I was asking for an expert opinion on the import of the study?

I have a claim that this study is vastly important; the venue in which that claim was made makes me skeptical. I read the summary and abstract trying to do due diligence. Especially given the politically-motivated subject, it seemed to me the sort of thing for which "skeptical" responses were perfect: closely examined but allowing for a conclusion (that is, a skeptic is surely allowed more flexibility than the scientist bound in by the four walls of the paper).

I understand that "climate change" + "skeptic" is a politicized term, which might make it an important area in which to police the bounds of policy; would the same question structure in a less politicized area be as likely to be closed?

1 Answer 1


We do allow questions on climate change and there is no "political" problem with your question. However, you are basically asking this site to peer-review a paper. I am not sure this can be done in this context as we are not climate scientists.

In other words: what proper, fact-based answer could we give? I can't sincerely think of any. Either the paper is correct, does not contain errors or fraud, or it is hogwash. It is up to other climate scientists to confirm or deny its findings through peer review and experimental confirmation.

This is the reason why our FAQ states clearly (emphasis mine):

If your question is not about a particular claim, or if it is about research-level science, the following sites may be better suited for your needs [...]

Also, please note—if it is applicable—that stack exchange sites in general do not allow open questions:

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about __”, then you should not be asking here.

  • I don't think I'm asking for a peer-review; I accept that a paper in Nature has established its bona fides. The claim (made in a clearly political context) is that the paper has great import. Papers in Nature tend to be more, rather than less, important and tend to be more accessible outside the specialty. If, in fact, the paper establishes something whose import is opague to non-specialists, that would be an answer to my question. So too, the converse that this clearly shakes a foundational assumption in the field. Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 18:00
  • So what is it that you are skeptical about, exactly?
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 18:07
  • I am skeptical about the claim that this study validates a theory (made, apparently, by two Danish scientists) that climate change is significantly driven by cosmic rays. Putting aside the politics, the claim is that this study dramatically supports a minority view (a la, perhaps, gravitational lensing of Mercury providing dramatic support for relativity). Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 18:49
  • Another way of putting it would be: (A) = "The CLOUD experiment" (B) = "Cosmic rays play an important role in climate change" (C) = "(A) establishes (B)" -- My interest is (C). Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 18:56
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    It may be that your question could be better phrased then. I mean, the linked article is a bunch of hogwash anyways so you might as well point to it and ask us to debunk that. I think this would give you the answer you are looking for.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 7:56
  • I'd have thought that even a summary of the published criticism of the original paper would make a good answer. The issue being that some controversial and disputed claims in peer reviewed journals get a disproportionate amount of media attention. This site can do a service to all by presenting a balanced view of the evidence.
    – matt_black
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 0:06

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