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Skeptics stackexchange is for challenging unreferenced notable claims. [FAQ]

We are not to "let this site become SE Answers, the dumping ground for idle curiosity and pointless speculation". [FAQ: Must all questions be notable? ]

However, it is often the case that even in questions that state a notable claim that they wish to challenge or have examined, the question includes additional questions that are not challenging a notable claim (or at least not one that has had evidence of its notability provided in the question). These side-questions are only related to the notable claim because they are about the same topic. They often are not themselves challenging notable claims.

Example:

The notable claim

As I understand it, the claim being challenged is that "life happened by chance, as claimed by evolutionists". A notable source is provided for this claim (and many alternative sources could have been used to demonstrate its notability).

The relevant questions

  1. "Did life happen by chance, as claimed by evolutionists?"

  2. "Likewise, if scientists cannot succeed in creating life in the laboratory, then what evidence is there that life could create itself by chance?" (This is basically a re-phrasing of the first one.)

The off-topic question

"If life could spontaneously exist by chance, then why have scientists not been able to create life in the laboratory with controlled experiments?"

This question is not challenging or asking for examination of a notable claim, at least not one that has had its notability demonstrated in this question.

Once a notable claim and evidence of its notability has been presented, does that give the asker leeway to ask whatever they want about the subject in general?

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My first interpretation of that question was along the same lines as yours. I was inclined to close it, as the question didn't contain notability for the idea that current theories of abiogenesis predict that it should be reproducible in the lab.

However, on a second reading, I decided that it could be interpreted more generously. Under this interpretation, the claim is that abiogenesis happened, i.e. more crudely, that "life began by chance".

The lack of reproducibility is merely the OP's personal justification as to why they are skeptical of abiogenesis. That doesn't need a reference to notability - the skepticism can be personal, as long the question is in good faith.

I edited the question - especially the title - the play down the role of the lab challenge; it isn't part of the claim.

  • Nitpicking: not all scientists claim that life happened by chance or is a rare random event. There are some (citation needed) that claim that life is a likely consequence of the way chemistry works, as evidenced by the fact that it took life a very short time (100My) to evolve once the conditions on Earth included liquid water. – Sklivvz May 9 '13 at 22:49
  • @Sklivvz: I am nodding at your comment, but scratching my head over where I contradicted it. – Oddthinking May 10 '13 at 1:11
  • I found a contradiction in the passage "the claim is that abiogenesis happened, i.e. more crudely, that 'life began by chance'". I was pointing out that the "i.e." is not accurate as the two are not equivalent, even crudely. For abiogenesis to happen, AFAIK, the initial self-replicating structures must still be produced en-masse to allow evolution to happen, so in other words they should be produced by a chemically favorable reaction. – Sklivvz May 10 '13 at 7:58

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