I put some time into an answer to this question about the ideomotor effect, and came back to find the question closed as off-topic.

Now the question is certainly not about a single specific question or myth (like Ouija boards or dowsing), but is more of a high-level skeptical concept that helps explain multiple phenomenon. Isn't that on-topic for skeptics.se?

I can see as written that it feels kind of more like a neuro-biology question than a skeptical question directly. Is that why it was closed? Is there a way we can salvage the wording of the question to make it more on-topic?

1 Answer 1


Isn't that on-topic for skeptics.se?

(Maybe sadly) no. To quote the FAQ:

Skeptics - Stack Exchange is for challenging unreferenced notable claims, pseudoscience and biased results.

Skeptics is about applying skepticism — it is for researching the evidence behind claims you encounter. It is not for speculation, philosophical discussions or investigating original claims.

It is’t very explicit here but this does exclude questions about the function or way of working of various effects. This decision was initially made to limit the scope of the site and to prevent overlap with other sites such as Physics.SE and Biology.SE, since those sites are way better suited to answer such questions. The only thing on-topic on Skeptics.SE are therefore questions which target and examine specific claims in a rigorous fashion.

The “ideomotor effect” question in particular would probably be better suited on the Cognitive Sciences Stack Exchange.

Is there a way we can salvage the wording of the question to make it more on-topic?

To be honest, I can’t think of an elegant way. “Is the ideomotor effect real?” would be on topic but it would still be required to be notable: i.e. does anybody (notable) actually doubt that the effect exists? If that could be demonstrated, the question would be on topic.

  • a claim that its not real isn't really required, a claim that it is real is just as valid and provides opportunity for answers to support the questioned claim or dispute it
    – Ryathal
    Nov 20, 2012 at 21:23
  • As the person who initially asked the question, I'm distinctly biased. That said, the problem with the question is semantic, and that's a dumb reason to close and lock it. It's completely on topic, interesting, relevant, and doesn't really overlap too much with Cognitive.SE. We're not looking to explain the mechanism, merely to show evidence that the effect actually creates the subeffects attributed to it. It can't be reasonably reframed to fit the strict guidelines without first separating and renaming each subeffect in order to explore them individually. I think this is a bad precedent. Nov 27, 2012 at 17:51

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