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The question Is there a deep, hot biosphere? attracted a troll recently who went on an all-out rant about sceptics in general and the question’s OP in particular.

Behind all the vitriol and tantrum-throwing it’s hard to spot that he actually has a point: the question’s premise is completely flawed. Thomas Gold never claims what the question says he claims; namely, that oil is produced by bacteria living in the earth’s mantle (in fact, his claim is almost completely the opposite).

The question has quite a few upvotes and an accepted answer so simply deleting or rewriting it doesn’t work (rewriting would invalidate the answer). What’s the best way to proceed?

It’s a pity that it needed a troll to bring this to attention. In fact, the situation could have been resolved much earlier if Ron Maimon had chosen a better way of writing up his (now deleted) answer which actually already explains all this – albeit in a very unaccessible format.

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I did try, unsuccessfully, to encourage the troll to post a civil answer making his or her point.

If someone willing to take that position (you, Konrad? I haven't done the background reading.) posts an answer that points out the question is based on a false premise, it is a StackExchange Inc point of faith that, eventually, it will bubble to the (second) top position.

Is there a good reason not to trust that process for this answer?

  • Hmm. You may actually be right but I’m not sure: My gut reaction was that if that question had been new I’d either edit or close it since there is no valid claim. In fact, any answer I’d write wouldn’t actually answer OP’s question, just correct the premise. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 19 '13 at 9:57
  • Okay, I’ve done my best. Unfortunately many of the original resources are offline so this involves a bit of guesswork, or running around in old library archives, which I didn’t do. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 20 '13 at 14:21
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I think there are at least two claims here:

  1. That the Earth has a deep hot biosphere that is responsible for fossile oil
  2. That Thomas Gold claims as such

The question is about claim #1, and so is the answer. Whether claim #2 is true or not, if claim #1 is notable then the question can be fixed and the existing answer makes sense as it is.

Claim #2 is interesting (and the counterclaim that the troll and Ron make is equally interesting), but it doesn't seem to be notable. If it is, then a separate question is a possible solution

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  • There is a third claim in the question: that the deep hot biosphere is responsible for fossile oil, with the implication that Gold claims so. But he doesn’t. Read the first sentence of the question: it is a complete misrepresentation of Gold. (There is even a fourth claim in the question, that Gold claimed oil is renewable. I’m not sure but I think Gold didn’t claim this either.) That’s why I think this question is unanswerable. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 20 '13 at 11:19
  • @KonradRudolph I was trying to be synthetic. See if my edit addresses your concerns. On a more general level, if you believe the question is such a mess, close it. – Sklivvz Apr 20 '13 at 11:36

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