0

TL;DR

An answer saying "Those reliable scientific articles say that yes" is enough for this site. Assuming the articles, or sources are shown to be of high quality and reliability.

If you want to know more go to more expert sources like Physics.SE, Biology.SE, Chemistry.SE or other, or better yet, go to your local University and find an expert of the field and ask them, maybe even enroll and get a degree in the field if it interests you.

Finally, if you believe that the current scientific understanding is wrong, or not accurate, do the research and revolutionize the scientific world.


I thought of this because of the discussion in the comments to my answer on the question:

Does the Gravitational constant fluctuate?

First, I think that a clarification should be made as to why this question can be asked here and shouldn't get migrated to Physics.SE.

The question is doubtful of a claim that is given in a video. And this is what we do, we research claims. This claim can be answered by this site because we can bring credible sources that support/disprove a certain claim. If the claim is scientific, we can bring scientific sources that say that this is the case, this isn't the case, or that it's unknown as of yet.

We can also answer a similar "closed" question "Is G constant because of A" in this case, again we search for articles that ether say that G is constant because of A, or that G is constant because of B, in which case it isn't A.

What we can't do, is answer a similar question of "Why is G a constant" or in more general terms "Why is a phenomenon is happening?". The reason for this is that in order to know what causes a phenomena we need a wide range of knowledge in the specific area, and expertise in that specific area, we can to the most find some sources that explain, but we can't be sure of how full they are, and whether they have the full answer or just part of it.


So, how in my mind answers of skepticism of scientific concepts should be answered. Those are questions of the kind "Did snakes redeveloped eyes independently?", "Is G a constant?", "Can water and oil mix?" and so on.

This site exists to check whether current academic discussion and scientific understanding support or negate a claim. So showing a number of reliable, current and relevant scientific publications or sources supporting the claim should be enough to prove the claim.

This site should be an echo of the current scientific publications and understanding, and if they have mistakes, than we also must have those mistakes, because we don't have the tools to make and review our own original research.

As an example for this, if we were in the 50's this site should contain the notion that the universe is unchanging. And before 1982 that quasicrystals don't exist. After the appropriate revelation, a new, correct answer should be made.

And while an explanation of why is it like this, is a favorable bonus, it shouldn't be an expectation from an answer here, more over, a full and comprehensive explanation should not be given here. A selection of credible sources explaining the issue with quotes is a great thing, but it always should encourage farther reading of the source material, and/or addressing more knowledgeable sites/boards.

After all this rambling, I want to say that an answer of the kind "This, this and this recent reliable scientific publication say yes" is a complete, acceptable and good answer on this site.

If you believe that the knowledge you gained from the answer is not enough, you should go and learn that matter farther, for example, go to Physics.SE, Chemistry.SE or Biology.SE, and ask them "How do we know that ..." or "What is the mechanism behind ...".

And if you are still not convinced that you have the full answer, if you think that Schrodinger is right with his crazy zombie cat, or that Dan Shechtman really did see a quasicrystal in his laboratory, that Sheldrake is right and G is a variable, or that the theory of evolution is wrong, then go, research the field, measure the gravitational fields, of find a rabbit in earth from the Jurassic period, prove new scientific claim, win your Nobel Prize, Fame, Fortune and place in history, and then come back to us and rewrite the answer.


Some references:

Why we don't allow original research:

Can we trust peer reviwed literature: How much can we trust peer reviewed scientific literature?

Schrodinger's cat

Quasicrystals

The Big Bang and expanding universe

Evolution of snake eyes

Water and oil don't Mix

  • 1
    Umm, I'm not sure if it is the snark or the rambling but I have no idea what you are trying to get at. Shechtman was called a "quasi-scientist" after his 1984 publication and faced and up-hill battle until the late 1980's before his discovery was accepted. Depending upon what interpenetration of quantum mechanics you subscribe to the cat may be alive or dead. – rjzii May 29 '13 at 23:35
  • Finally, nobody said that universal constants couldn't change. ;) – rjzii May 29 '13 at 23:35
  • @RobZ, Shehtman is not the only one who had an up-hill battle until they are recognized, some of them, like Shehtman are proven right, and others are proven wrong, it's not in our capabilities to judge whose up-hill battle is right, that is why we need to accept the current consensus, which means that if we were pre-1984, to cite the nonexistence of quasicrystals. And fill free to remove any snark comments. – SIMEL May 30 '13 at 12:17
3

This site exists to check whether current academic discussion and scientific understanding support or negate a claim.

No. Just imagine how much fun we had if we allowed papers from the deconstructive gender theory discourse to be treated as authorative sources.

The thing that matters is whether there's emprirical evidence for a claim.

And if you are still not convinced that you have the full answer, if you think that Schrodinger is right with his crazy zombie cat, or that Dan Shechtman really did see a quasicrystal in his laboratory, that Sheldrake is right and G is a variable, or that the theory of evolution is wrong, then go, research the field, measure the gravitational fields, of find a rabbit in earth from the Jurassic period, prove new scientific claim, win your Nobel Prize,

Basically you think that Einstein was wrong to publish his theory of special relativity in 1905 without providing evidence that it's true.

In theoretical physics it's not required to proof that the theory you are advocating is true at the time you publish the theory.

If there no evidence empiric evidence that a theory is false, then a good answer on this website should say: "We don't know whether this new theory is true". Agnosticism is good.

When it comes to Sheldrake, he argues that scientists hold a certain beliefs as dogma without evidence. Getting a paper who argues the belief as dogma won't convince anyone that Sheldrake is wrong.

The thing we need here is a paper that describe why physicists think G is constant and doesn't fluctuate in the real of the measurement uncertainity that exists for measuring G.

dmckee pointed out in the comment of the thread that there is empiricial evidence that G doesn't fluctuate in that way which has to do with the orbits of planets.

According to dmckee there a straightforward argument why Sheldrake is wrong. Your answer doesn't make that straightforward argument through empirical evidence. It doesn't quote any paper that makes the argument either. Instead it relies on an authority. That's bad. You don't convince people by quoting authorities but by showing why they are wrong.

  • We should allow them, but downvote them. Being wrong is not a reason to do anything else. – Sklivvz May 30 '13 at 22:28
  • @Sklivvz : Yes, I don't argue for deletion. I argue against upvoting and accepting as answer. – Christian May 31 '13 at 12:09
2

An answer saying "Those scientific articles say that yes" is enough for this site.

Certainly not. There are plenty of articles demonstrating that homeopathy works. An answer stopping at that would be rightfully downvoted.

Context is important, and, to keep the example, a valuable answer would have to explain why these studies do not carry weight. The scientific publications cited here would not constitute the best available evidence (and in fact for this example we even know why).

  • Are there plenty of scientific pier reviewed articles demonstrating that homeopathy works? – SIMEL May 30 '13 at 11:42
  • 3
    @IlyaMelamed Yes. They are almost all of pretty bad quality but they are all peer-reviewed articles. – Konrad Rudolph May 30 '13 at 12:02
  • I had an unwritten assumption that we are talking only about reliable and high quality scientific publications. I added it now. The main point was to say that an explanation of a phenomena is not required in an answer and that an attempt at a full comprehensive explanation should not even be attempted. – SIMEL May 30 '13 at 12:12
  • 1
    @IlyaMelamed : The latest Bem paper was published in a reliable and high quality scientific publication if you consider a top level psychology journal to be a reliable and high quality scientific publication. – Christian May 30 '13 at 13:37
  • @christian Bem? – SIMEL May 30 '13 at 13:53
  • 2
    @IlyaMelamed I'm guessing he's referring to Daryl Bem who's studies have had some replication issues. – rjzii May 30 '13 at 14:57
  • I completely disagree with your opening. An answer pointing to peer-review papers is perfect for this site, in that it allows us to examine the evidence, and downvote or upvote accordingly. If there is evidence for homeopathy, we should probably include it, and describe the controversy or provide proof that it's not so good, such as a meta study. – Sklivvz May 30 '13 at 22:27
  • @Sklivvz You say you disagree yet you actually paraphrase my answer, and in particular your comment makes the same point, that just pointing to potentially flawed scientific publications is not sufficient. – Konrad Rudolph May 31 '13 at 8:43
  • @KonradRudolph I wasn't clear, sorry. An incomplete answer that presents evidence is OK, even if it's of poor quality - it doesn't stop anyone from providing the rest of the evidence (either with an edit or a separate answer). An answer only with the poor bit, is simply a poor answer, but one we can vote on, edit, fix, add to, etc. – Sklivvz May 31 '13 at 9:01
1

If the whole scientific literature on a subject is wrong, then our answer will also be wrong. Science is not infallible, so this sometimes happens. But using the current scientific literature to answer questions is still the best way to get reliable answers, but there is no way to avoid being wrong occasionally.

If there is a controversy about a specific issue in the scientific literature, that is also a good answer.

Bad scientific papers tend to attract critical comments or follow-up papers that try to dissect their results, at least if the original paper has a high visibility or popularity. A good answer can use those direct responses and maybe other papers that contradict the paper in question.

You must log in to answer this question.

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