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So what's unclear about this one, about potential biological factors impacting divorce rate? It cites and challenges a woo (that only sociological factors contribute to a divorce rate). It would seem to have a definitive answer (potential biological factors, or evidence to show only sociological factors contribute and the woo has merit).

Aside from the one answer the comments have indicated, without citation, that the 60s changed everything and that explains it. Or, again uncited, the one EXAMPLE I gave couldn't possibly be right, so the whole question should be ignored.

How do I make it better in order to get some answers?

UPDATE: The question was closed, not surprisingly based on the feedback of some high-rep users. There is a sample answer I placed in there, along the lines of what I was originally looking for. See if an answer of that type is unreasonable from the original question. Maybe I'll ask about individual aspects of my answer later.

The vehement and instant support of the sociology-only explanation for divorce caught me a bit off guard on this Skeptics site, I must admit.

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Well, this answer was really born out of the conversation in the comments, but for what it's worth, since your question here is about how to improve your question, I'll have a stab at summing up my thoughts.

I think the biggest problem with the question is what is made explicit in your comment to it, that it is looking for any biological cause contributing to the increased divorce rates. This is problematic for two reasons:

  • The question becomes very open-ended. It is difficult to give a comprehensive answer, because there is no upper limit to the question. This also means that several answers may address different causes, and all be just as right, which isn't ideal for this site, where you can only accept one answer. (This is not merely a technical constraint, but a deliberate decision)

  • It obscures your intent, and gives your question that air of conspiracy that Borror0 alludes to. If you are aware of some good causes, but are still reaching out for anything else, you come off as disregarding all existing sound explanations. If you simply wanted to test the validity of a specific claim, I don't see that you would have this same question.

Thus, to improve your question, I would re-phrase it to elaborate on the phermone theory, and ask the community whether they think it has any scientific bearing. Now, given that you've explicitly said that wasn't your intention, that would be a major revision, and it may not be what you wanted to know at all, but I still think it's the closest version of your question, that can be considered to be within scope for this site.

Obviously, I am not the entire community, and moderating the community is a collaborative effort. Gaining my "approval" means nothing more than that I won't vote to close it, unless the majority feels as I do about your question.

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  • I appreciate the suggestions. I didn't naturally equate multiple valid answers with open-ended. I see how this site constrains in that way, however. I went ahead and partially answered my own question. Why? Because if I'm going to put up a post that upsets folks, I should go whole hog! ;). Anyway, I promise I won't accept my own answer, it's just a rough idea of what I was looking for. Maybe I'll pose one or more of the specific sections as their own question later. Thanks again for your suggestions! – Dogmafrog Mar 16 '11 at 2:36
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The social changes in the 60s were drastic. In Qu├ębec, for example, it was called the Quiet Revolution. The social norms changed a lot, and quickly. As such, the social changes alone seem like a reasonable explanation. Moreover, biological changes don't usually happen so quickly.

While your question counts as skepticism, it's skepticism of the conspiracy theory kind. It's asking us to prove or disprove a very unlikely theory of something that already has a valid and very likely explanation.

Not all type of skepticism makes a good question. Asking "How can we know that the climate change is due do human activity and not made it look like it, when it's actually do to a race of evil aliens who want to destroys us?" is also skepticism but of the paranoid kind. There is no reason to suspect that's the case. The current explanation works perfectly fine and the proposed theory is unlikely.

It's a poor and uninteresting question, and that is why people downvote it.

The only way that I think you could improve your question is if you made it a precise claim. For example, you could ask whether there are any evidence that antiperspirants caused the rise in divorce rates. At least the claim could be addressed. I doubt it would make the question more interesting, though.

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  • well, clearly i disagree that asking about biological factors in divorce and asking about evil aliens impacting the climate are even in the sport, let alone the same ballpark, but i'll upvote you for anwering. – Dogmafrog Mar 15 '11 at 20:08
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    @Borror0: Ain't that a bit harsh? I'm not questioning your quiet revolution approach at all, but shouldn't that be the answer to the question, rather than the reason as to why it's a poor question? I've only skimmed the question at hand, but given that dogmafrog would accept such an answer, I would probably be inclined to argue that posting an answer would be the way to go. – David Hedlund Mar 15 '11 at 20:14
  • @David: Dogmafrog isn't disputing that social changes are a part of it. He's asking for proof that there were no biological factors involved. Thus, simply pointing that social changes alone can explain the change in divorce rates wouldn't be enough. – Borror0 Mar 15 '11 at 20:22
  • @Borror0: I'll agree, as was elaborated in the comments, to being an open-ended question about whether there may be any other biological causes, I think the question has less merit than what I first took it for; a question testing the validity of the specific claim about phermones. The antiperspirant idea is one I've come across before, and I think it's trickier to shoot down than the one about bathing after eating, which is a question that got nine upvotes. – David Hedlund Mar 15 '11 at 20:26
  • i would certianly have accepted that social changes alone can account for the rate. prove it even reasonably and i'd upvote the answer. who says that's not what i already believe? – Dogmafrog Mar 15 '11 at 20:28
  • @David: You might like the edit I just made, then. – Borror0 Mar 15 '11 at 20:29
  • @Dogmafrog: I wasn't trying to argue that you wouldn't! I was just anticipating the opinionated poster criticism, seeing as you remarked in your question that you were already aware of the other explanations. – David Hedlund Mar 15 '11 at 21:10
  • @ david. yep, i understood, sorry i didn't address that one. that was for borror's remark in response to you " Thus, simply pointing that social changes alone can explain the change in divorce rates wouldn't be enough". I appreciate your comments. – Dogmafrog Mar 15 '11 at 21:15

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