I asked a question in 2011, and I had no documentation of my claim. (I believe that wasn't required then?)

Does wearing a bicycle helmet make the cyclist safer?

User Evan Carroll edited a citation into the question, helpfully adding a reference for the claim.

However, it seems to me that this reference is actually answering the question, not really documenting that it exists. I found a reference that substantiates the original claim (that wearing a bike helmet makes the cyclist safer) and edited it in, replacing the original edit. However, the writer of the original simply edited his text back in.

I feel that Evan's citation is inappropriate, at least in the question, but I'm taking this question here to avoid an edit war. Possibly my knowledge of how this site works is out of date?

What should we do?

2 Answers 2


I personally don't see how the edit answers the question. Surely it's an example of a counter-claim?

In my opinion it helps the questions as it shows that both sides of the claim are notable, and at the same time it makes the question more balanced.

  • I agree, I like the addition but I wasn't going to allow the deletion of my comment without discourse. I had to watch that fool say those words over five times to get the quote down right. Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 4:20

I think we have a claim without a slant. You took the question to be skeptical of the loons; the claim of the loons is that helmets do not make the bicyclist safer. I took the question to be skeptical of the modern consensus; the claim of the consensus is that helmets do make the bicyclist safer. I'm not sure what the questioner is skeptical of, but citing the modern consensus that helmets make the road safer seems less reasonable.

Assume the question was, "Does water really stop dehydration?" I'd go so far as to say the only reasonable thing that could require substantiation in the wild is that water does not stop dehydration. That water does stop dehydration, even if not true, is such a ubiquitous claim it doesn't need to be evidenced in the wild.

On a second read, I understand your view too, I think if the question is ambiguous in what the questioner is skeptical of then perhaps we can substantiate both claims: it doesn't seem like it would hurt.

Either way, I fundamentally believe that a reputable claim that bike helmets do not make the rider safer is of more value than reiterating that others say bike helmets really do make the riders safer.

Certainly, on the more ape shit crazy ideas the concept of affirming the consensus seems more absurd. Take "Did the WTC really fall because of jet impact?" What would you put down for that question to substantiate the claim of it being in the wild?

"According to NIST, The United States, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, The Pentagon, and most every independent body -- yes!"

You must log in to answer this question.

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