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What is the correct approach to take when there is simply insufficient evidence about a claim, or it is not possible to reproduce or validate a claim made?

  • Sorry to close this question again, but it is also not on-topic here on meta. Meta is meant for discussing issues about this site, general discussions about Skepticism are also off-topic here. – Mad Scientist Oct 21 '11 at 16:38
  • @Fabian there are several questions on both sites about the nature of skepticism, so I find it hard to see why my question would not be acceptable in some form. Perhaps you can give me a suggestion to tweak it so it would be acceptable. – Sonny Ordell Oct 21 '11 at 16:49
  • Questions discussing Skepticism as a philosophy or a movement are explictly off-topic here, and as far as I know we should have no questions still open about that. I don't see a way to phrase your question to be on-topic here, it is more suited to a Skeptics forum or something like that. We decided early in the private beta to focus on applying Skepticism. – Mad Scientist Oct 21 '11 at 16:53
  • @Fabian to the right of this question under related there are several questions discussing skepticism, such as the question asking whether or not it is compatible with common sense. Also, my question is explicitly about applying skepticism and to what extent it makes sense to do so. It is not a question about skepticism itself. – Sonny Ordell Oct 21 '11 at 17:33
  • I've tried to edit your question. While the general concern that some question may never have a definitive answer is interesting, the example given was completely off topic. I hope I've managed to maintain at least a bit of the original intent. – Sklivvz Oct 21 '11 at 20:05
  • @sklivvz THanks for the input...My question was more along the lines of when evidence is available, how do you gauge it is it "good enough" when claims can be validated and repducted but you have to rely on a 3rd party do so, should you still be skeptical? Not sure why the question is still downvoted though... – Sonny Ordell Oct 22 '11 at 9:03
  • @Sklivvz Also I wanted to ask more about when it is reasonable to consider evidence sufficient, hence my moon landing example. Most people don't have the means to reproduce such an event to validate it, so are people right to be skeptical? – Sonny Ordell Oct 22 '11 at 15:38
  • Absence of evidence and existence of contradictory evidence are both situations that seem likely to occur, perhaps frequently. It seems like a useful function of the site to record questions and answers where this is true and a definitive answer is not justified by the current state of knowledge. It might be, though, that the current format doesn't need any changes to record that sort of conclusions. but we might need more gentle editing initially to allow such questions in. – matt_black Oct 24 '11 at 20:01
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  • If a post is in line of principle not falsifiable, then it is not about facts, or addressable by skepticism. So it's off-topic.

    Example

    Does the Flying Spaghetti Monster exist?

  • If a post is asking to prove a negative, then find a reference supporting that and post it as an answer. It's actually quite difficult to distinguish between valid and invalid claims, so let's always refer to the experts. Do not assume that because you can't think of an example, it doesn't exist!

    Example

    Is there a Loch Ness monster?

    Wrong answer/attitude/comment

    No because it's impossible to prove, LFMAO!

    Correct answer/attitute/comment

    There is no reliable proof that it is the case. This has been debated {here} and {here} and the consensus is that there is no monster - in this case absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

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