It seems im misunderstanding something. I asked this question here, it got closed as "off-topic" (im not sure what this means exactly, is the topic wrong or no notable claim). I have no problem with this. So i saw travel.SE and alot aviation questions there and probably more user regulary doeing air-travel. Asked for experiences there, how frequent it is at all, but not to disprove my claim. But mods over there migrated it back here, where, again, it got closed despite some votes?

Im not sure i get the reasoning behind this. Has a question to contain a notable claim by a single person, a claim by notable person (it doesnt get more notable than a airplance company stating there are no health risks, but loosing several lawsuits concerning aerotoxic contamination vs. their own pilots/flight attendants). Why migrating a question when it gets anyway closed.

Do you want me to quote/link a single passenger making the claim: "Oil fumes are frequent and risky". This is much less objective than a lawsuit! I really dont understand whats wrong with this question im the most interested in on all my questions i asked here (and got very good answers). A very subjective claim of a single person (not at all being a neuroscientist - "Watching TV makes you stupid") is ok but my question not. Can someone please explain the difference between both questions, i think im not going to get a closed question then here anymore :) My first question here was about marathon human vs. animal, a claim made by a anonym sports commentator, there were complaints about seriousness, so i added a nature paper. I dont see how i can vote any answer on the "TV makes you stupid" question. Its like asking "Does playing to much soccer/football makes you stupid." There are dozens of parallel factors who can make you smarter, you can watch discovery channel or math lessons. You cannot draw a conclusion on short-time effects, you cannot exclude long-time contrary effects. I dont have any idea how a experiment in a peer-reviewed paper can be implemented to test this question. Even if a paper comes with a conclusion, babies/kids watching every day 5 hours animation movies have a worse short-time memory or less spatial visualisation ability (e.g. worse prerequisites for geometry) i would not upvote it as i dont see a link to the much more general question or general intelligence at all you can draw a sure conclusion on. If you dont integrate in the answer, how intelligence is defined, what watching alot TV is, how its effects differ between kids, teenager, adults, which contents they watch, how can i judge this. I even would have no idea to judge two different answers here, one sayin no, one yes, but having completely different experimental setups (e.g. long - short time, adults-babies).

If you decide to keep it closed as off-topic, im fine with this, im new to this site and you (mods) know better what questions you want here. I cannot really argue againts this and now already invested 1 hour in this question and meta here. Im not going to extend this. But then please move it back to travel.SE, i think im allowed to ask there for personal experiences as people do nothing else then giving out personal advices based on experience on that site. They thougt this question fits better here, but apparently does not. Otherwise i have to ask this on reddit, i would be surprised if such a crucial question has no place on stackexchange.

2 Answers 2


[Note: I was almost finished writing this when @Fabian posted an answer. I posted it anyway. Will check what he has done now.]

I apologise if I didn't make my concern clear enough - in fact, I was just in the process of consulting with the other mods to see if they could help me explain the situation more clearly on this question - I could see you were, in good faith, trying to make the question better, but hadn't got there yet.

Skeptics.SE has a very broad scope of potential areas it covers; the way we limit our scope is to only look at areas where there are claims being made that seem dubious.

For example, if you just have a question about finance, we aren't interested. Go ask on money.stackexchange.com or quant.stackexchange.com, or somewhere else on the Internet. But if you have a question where someone says something that sounds dubious about finance, we jump into action to try to find the truth.

It's a weird rule, I'll agree.

(To stop people just gaming the rule, we ask that the claim be 'notable', which ideally means 'lots of people believe it', but that is hard to determine, so we suffice with 'lots of people have heard it' or 'someone notable has claimed it'.)

Now, in your case, with the fumes in the cockpit, you have done a lot of research and found a small number of cases where there have been noxious fumes leaking into the cabin of the plane.

I don't see anyone disputing that it has happened, that it isn't common, that it is unpleasant and in some cases toxic.

You quote from Boeing saying 'air on board its aircraft is “safe and healthy.”' but the fuller quote includes that Boeing 'concedes there is a chance of fume events'. That is perfectly consistent with a company that has some rare mechanical issues but wants to reassure its passengers that this isn't a significant risk.

Yes, there are lawsuits, but they could be taking this to court for any number of reasons, including because they couldn't agree on an out-of-court settlement, because they want to discourage people from making demands frivolously, because some facts in those cases make them believe the plaintiffs are not worthy of compensation, because the planes weren't properly maintained by the airline making it not Boeing's fault, because the risk is somehow considered somehow something the passenger accepts (e.g. some small print that says "we reserve the right to poison you" or international law that indemnifies the airlines), etc.

Without someone making a notable claim that this never happens, we don't have any issue to be skeptical about.

(Of course, if you had started by saying "Hey, people claim there ARE fume issues with Boeing planes, but I don't think there are." we could have responded - by quoting the very same evidence you quoted at us.)

As for the "TV Makes you stupid" question, I'm sticking with "Two wrongs don't make a right."

  • My impression from a short look at some sites is that the main disagreement is in the frequency of the events and the severity of the health effects. This makes the question a bit difficult to phrase, but I think it is significant enough.
    – Mad Scientist Mod
    Oct 11, 2011 at 13:14
  • @Fabian Thats exactly what im asking for, not if, but how often. After adding information to the question it got quite long. It was very short and Rory made a counter-claim that it is no serious frequent problem. Well i dont want to suffer from neurological disorder the rest for my life. So i had to add info to strengthen this claim. Same happened on marathon question. At first nobody thought, it is in any way possible, its a stupid question, and after adding info it got quite some action. Welcome to skeptics :)
    – Hauser
    Oct 11, 2011 at 14:59
  • @oddthinking thanks for the detailed explanation. I agree, the rule above looks a bit weird, but somehow makes sense. Otherwise experts had to answer alot claims based on missing background knowledge. So skeptics.SE works like a kind of filter :) Se my comment on fabian above, im more asking how often this actually happens, as there is no objective source (personal claims of sufferers, companies)
    – Hauser
    Oct 11, 2011 at 15:05

The problem was that on first glance it looked like you were questioning a claim nobody disagreed with. Only after looking a bit into the subject I think I understand what you're really after, and I edited and reopened the question. Feel free to improve my edit.

  • thanks. Thats the problem, people suffering from oil fumes will say it happens more often and their sickenesses are caused only by this while companies of course say the opposite. Im asking for studies/meta-studies covering how serious and frequent such incidents are. Most people dont register the oil fumes at all, so besides lawsuits there is probably a number of unrecorded cases
    – Hauser
    Oct 11, 2011 at 15:08

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