There is a question on Skeptics.SE as follows:

If life happened by chance, why can't scientist create life in controlled laboratory experiments?

If life could spontaneously exist by chance, then why have scientists not been able to create life in the laboratory with controlled experiments? Likewise, if scientists cannot succeed in creating life in the laboratory, then what evidence is there that life could create itself by chance?

I would like to think this question is not only salvageable but an excellent opportunity to highlight logical fallacies and demonstrate the principles of the scientific method.

These sort of questions come up from time to time, and I would like to know what edits (or other actions) are sensible to make in this case so that the question will not be down-voted into oblivion (and likely only to recur) and leave the poster with no real understanding of what they fail to grasp. It seems in this case that the poster lacks some basic concepts of logic, the relationship between observation and conclusion, falsifiability, and sources for some widely accepted facts.

Rather than a response that belittles or dismisses a poster who lacks basic understanding of the concepts inherent to this site, how can we instead educate them?

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    If this asker's past history is an indication (scant though it may be) it may be one of those "Liberty University descend into a den of lions" type of assignments and have no basis in good faith or a desire to really learn. I will reserve final judgement, but I doubt education is truly a goal here. May 8, 2013 at 1:56
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    @LarianLeQuella - sorry, I'm with Brian. I don't see how the intent of the poster is in any way related to whether it can be tuned into a good Skeptics question.
    – user5341
    May 8, 2013 at 16:23
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    Don't get me wrong, it could be (is) a great skeptic question, I just don't foresee any honesty or good faith on the part of the original questioner. ;) May 8, 2013 at 22:28
  • In terms of "voting to reopen" -- it seems that we cannot withdraw our "votes to close," correct? Instead, we just "vote to reopen"? May 9, 2013 at 22:17

2 Answers 2


It seems to me that it's important for the OP to be working in good faith. In this case, the OP seems pre-committed to the sequence:

  • Random aspect == "just chance"
  • "just chance" == simple
  • Scientists have tried for years to reproduce this simple thing
  • Scientists have failed time and time again
  • Therefore it's not simple, chance, and has no random aspect

Unraveling all of that can't be done, it seems to me, within the rules of this site. There are logical, not just factual, fallacies, and the OP seems aware that breaking down the grand scheme into refutable claims will lose the essence of the argument. Rather than working towards some common understanding of complexity and the scientific process, it seems from initial comments that the OP is more interested in asserting conclusions (such as stating that your link to Venter's work was irrelevant).

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    Given the particular users scant history, I am very skeptical of them asking in good faith... May 8, 2013 at 1:53

I've fixed the question, it's both notable and interesting, do remove the down votes and if you please.

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    When I first read the question (with your edits), I felt the quote didn't provide notability. Then I thought it through further, and realised the CLAIM is abiogenesis, and the "why no lab reproduction" = reason to be skeptical. I think I will edit again to make this clear.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    May 8, 2013 at 2:21
  • @Oddthinking yes, I've warped the claim to fix the question. The user was a bit misinformed and started with the wrong assumptions... I've also edited out the part about close votes from my answer here.
    – Sklivvz
    May 8, 2013 at 9:32
  • Thanks Sklivvz & @Oddthinking! May 8, 2013 at 16:27

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