Discontinued :-)

Thank you all for participating. We did succeed in raising the questions per day over 5, so the "topic of the week" was useful!

Fake chart
The data is fake. I made it up.

Original question

As decided by the community in this question, we are going to create a weekly topic and try to find myths and claims about that topic to debunk or confirm.

The reasoning is that by focusing a few interested people we will be able to create more quality questions with quality answers and bring up our question per day metric.

The purpose of this meta question is for people to propose candidate topics and vote on them. The highest voted topic will be the next weekly topic.


  • One topic per answer, followed by a brief commentary on why, followed by an example.

  • Up vote if you think the topic is good and will generate a lot of good questions, down vote otherwise

  • Every Sunday evening the top topic will be chosen/announced and removed from the list

  • In exceptional cases, special topics could skip the queue if we need to meet some deadline or leverage temporary traffic. For example: US Elections 2012, 2012 Olympics, etc. at the mods/SE staff discretion.

  • Topics may be presented more than once, except if they are the current week's topic.


Why: From the caloric benefit of saunas to the various nutritional strategies and fad diets, there seems to be no end to the "citations needed" in this field.

Example: Do saunas burn significantly more calories than just sitting idly?

Please ask good questions on conspiracy theories between today and Sunday, 25th of March. In the meanwhile, keep on proposing new subjects and voting below!

Next topic of the week will be announced Sunday, March 25th, 2012.

  • 5
    I would also suggest that we dig up questions that are related to the topic that may have not gotten the attention that they deserve, and maybe work on more in-depth answers.
    – Ustice
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 14:24
  • Is there any way to get a banner that notes and links to this on the Skeptics main site? Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 16:21
  • @BrianM.Hunt We do have a banner system but we enquired with SE staff and it's not appropriate to use.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 16:25
  • An oldie in need of a better answer: Are big cars and SUVs safer than small cars or do they just feel safer?. My answer addresses only part of the issue and no one has jumped in with authoritative sources for the rest. Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 20:02

6 Answers 6


Topic: Claims from this week's media

Why: Journalists, despite their skeptical training, continue to be a major vector for incorrect information. It would be an interesting exercise for each of us to pick up a local newspaper or magazine, and ask about some of the scientific claims made.

Ideally, claims should be more sciency ones than just claims about the day's happenings.

It won't be a rigorous experiment, but I think it will be fun and interesting.

Example: (From the cover of a health magazine in the stands at the supermarket, that gave me the idea): Does Vitamin C cure cancer?

  • Only journalists? What about other public figures, like politicians, do they get their own week?
    – Borror0
    Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 15:05
  • @Borror0: If a journalist reports what a politician claims, without any reasonable vetting/counter-point, it seems to fit. However, I don't want it to degenerate into "Did this politician really tell the journalist X?" or "Was a cat called Whiskers really stuck up a tree on the corner of Main and High Street?"
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 15:23
  • 2
    I'm not confident that journalists tend to have skeptical training. Ideally, perhaps, but not in practice.
    – user5794
    Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 23:07
  • @Borror0, reading your question again, I am not sure I answered it. Sure, propose a "politicians" topic! Lots of standard caveats would apply; falsifiable claims only.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 0:24

Topic: Ancient Egyptians

Why: From mummies to pyramids to movies it seems that Ancient Egypt is rife with myths and legends. How many are true?

Example: Tuthankhamun's curse: is it true that many of the people that opened Tut's tomb were killed in suspicious circumstances in a relatively short time frame?


Topic: Herbalism

Why: Because there are thousands of herbs, some of them work and some of them don't. And because there are thousands of sites like this...

Example: Does basil prevent vomiting?, Does bay leaf help with cramps?, Does ginseng slow the ageing process?...


Topic: The Moon

Why: The moon has played a big part in culture over the years, gaining legends about triggering strange behaviour, affecting crops and, of course, conspiracy theories about the moon landing.

Example: Are more children born on the full-moon than other times of the month?

  • Another example question: I have heard (decades ago) is that people bleed more in surgery during a full moon - operating theatres have to stock more blood.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 0:20

Topic: Aviation

Why: For one, myths and legends are abundent in this field. For two, we have one or two really knowledgable aviators in our midst. For three, it really interests me personally so Im being a bit selfish!


  • Is it true that reduced power take-offs reduce engine wear?
  • Are modern airliners really unflyable without the computer?
  • Were parachutes witheld from WWII pilots as it was considered that they would "Give up" too soon?

Topic: The Simpsons

enter image description here source

Why: This popular satirical cultural phenomenon has popularized many a whacky idea. However, while the show makes reference to many weird (and sometimes obvious) phenomenon, these references are often actually based on some notable claims.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .