Why is this question about https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/776/life-in-other-planets closed as off topic? Subjective & argumentative sure, but why off topic? Where would it be on topic?

6 Answers 6


Questions are off-topic if they're not skepticism of something. This question is skepticism of... who or what exactly? What did you hear that made you write the question?

To my knowledge, it's skepticism of nothing.

One of the best advice I could give to any asker is that, if you want to have the best answers possible, quote the claim you heard. Don't just try to summarize it. If you quote the claim and attribute it to whomever said it, we'll have a better idea of what's being discussed than if you write to lines about it.

  • That's better. Sounds more like a reason to me. I'm still not exactly convinced that the question should have been closed for that reason - mainly because the reason people doubt ET life seems rather obvious. Are all questions without a quote off topic? Mar 13, 2011 at 16:05
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    @JakubHampl: No. Certainly not. Quite frankly, the biggest reason to close the question was that it was too vague and straw man-y. Surely, those who doubt must have a reasoning, arguments to justify their position.
    – Borror0
    Mar 13, 2011 at 16:17
  • a): The question is skepticism of the wide believe, that the earth is the only planet with life. @Borror0 b): I can show you dozens of questions where the questioner just cites a claim, for example babies and the lunar cycle (Sklivvz), the world was flat (Fabian), Mayan calendar 2012 (user rjstelling) and so on. Mar 23, 2011 at 5:33
  • @userunknown: a) That's just too open ended. I could close the question as "not a real question" instead, if you prefer. b) Quoting a claim is not mandatory, which is why I called that an advice. We want users to describe the position they're skeptical of. Quoting someone defending that position is the simplest way to do that, but it is not the only way.
    – Borror0
    Mar 23, 2011 at 7:36

The question is ill defined. The asker makes assertions in the question that are not supported (and it is incumbent on someone making assertions to back them up). I think it would be a fine question if they managed to phrase it correctly.

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    I didn't ask the question, also I am not asserting the question is without problems - but why close it as "off topic" if the problem is phrasing? Mar 13, 2011 at 13:47
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    The phrasing makes it very difficult to stay on topic maybe? I didn't close it, and I even attempted to answer it (so I would prefer it stays open). And sorry for confusing you with the asker. ;) I'll correct my reply. Mar 13, 2011 at 14:12
  • Please see my comment on Borror0's answer b). It's not that unusual to ask question without backing them up. You just need to be a moderator. Mar 23, 2011 at 5:36

With the edits to this question, could it be opened now?


I don't know where it would be on-topic, however since there is no such thing as a widespread belief that we are the only planet with life, there's nothing for us to debunk here. It's a straw man argument.

  • Ah OK, I believe it (until I see some evidence of course). That's why it confused me. I guess I have a marginal opinion about it. Mar 13, 2011 at 9:49
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    Also being on a skeptics site, do you have any evidence that the belief is not widespread? ;-) Mar 13, 2011 at 14:15
  • No, I don't - that's why you should always give some proper context to your question through a link (like to a site where the claim to debunk is made, for example).
    – Sklivvz
    Mar 13, 2011 at 16:54
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    Jukub, it is incumbent on the claimant to provide evidence of their statements. Mar 16, 2011 at 1:32
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    @Larian LeQuella I completely agree on that one. Mar 16, 2011 at 11:07

The question is off-topic because this is not a philosophy site. Arguments about the existence of life off-planet are too philosophical. A question about a particular calculation, however, would be on topic


I don't know whether it is a widespread belief, that we are the only planet with life, but I can imagine so.

Mankind had difficulties to accept, that the earth isn't the center of the world (Kepler?), that we are a kind of apes (Darwin) and ruled by drives (Freud). Today, it is partly accepted, at least that the center of our universe is the sun. The big, big count of other universes isn't known to a majority, I guess, but I can only guess.

Very much people get ignorant after leaving the school, and tend to simple viewpoints. Life in far away universes is a nice movie plot, but so are zombies.

I agree, that the assumption is a bit weak. I would argue, that the invention of god is a hint, that people are egocentric, and that it violates their ego if they aren't the the pride of creation.

I observed people, searching for evidence, that human beings differ fundamentally in some respect from animals, and as soon as an counter example was found in the fauna, the fundamental aspect jumped to another distinction, but the big theory was held up: We differ fundamentally from the beast!

From the usage of tools, to laughing, to speak, to sorrow, to building tools with tools, to building culture and to abstract thinking. Often people aren't up to date, and get confused when confronted with recent observations.

In my opinion, skepticism isn't so much the knowledge of recent studies, but the ability to reason with what you have, with logical thinking and the willingness to scrutinize your own viewpoint.

I thought that a lot of people are religious, and that aliens would look somehow alien to their believes: Noah didn't take a pair of aliens on deck - to begin with.
But I googled and found this study about believes, that aliens are already in between us: 20% believe it worldwide. (only a part of the world was asked). But this is very much, compared with the idea, that aliens just exist, had existed or will exist, but far away.

So the number of believers in extraterrestrial life seems huge, so widely believed seems indeed exaggerated.

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