Throughout the Skeptics.SE site, there are demands for claims to be 'notable'.

For example: in Close Reasons, and in several places in the FAQ.

'Notable' isn't a common word and isn't always clear.

What does 'notable' mean in relation to Skeptics.SE?

1 Answer 1


A claim is 'notable' when a significant number of people believe it is true.

Claims of the kind "I once heard" or "my friend told me" are not notable if your friend is the only one actually believing the claim.

Naturally, a notable claim will have many mentions doing a quick Google search. When Google does not seem to return examples of it, we need to demonstrate notability.

The main way of demonstrating notability is showing the claim being mentioned in the media. Examples include: books, newspapers, mainstream television, or widely-known web-sites including major blogs and Wikipedia. Claims put forward by a celebrity are also automatically considered notable. The idea here is that once a large number of people are exposed to the claim, it is of general interest to validate the claim and either confirm or refute it.

Alternatively, many references to individual people writing about the claim should be enough to demonstrate notability.

Sometimes people say stuff they don't mean to be taken as a claim; e.g. as comedy or in fiction. The claim is only notable if people believe it to be true, or at the very least, if it is clear that the author of the statement intended people to believe it as true (in the real world).


  • 2
    People writing about the claim is enough? What if all the writing about the claim is to debunk it? What if none of the writing shows that anyone believes it?
    – user5582
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 14:33
  • 1
    Is the fact that a user did a google search and found people writing about the claim enough? Or do they need to also show evidence of that in the question by including a quote and reference? Could they just say "quote not needed, I did a google search".
    – user5582
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 14:34
  • Also, we should clarify significant. Does it mean "more than a handful", as Fabian wrote?
    – user5582
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 14:36
  • Basically, I like this answer, but to make it more relevant to SE, it should include a part about how to demonstrate in a question that the claim being asked about is notable.
    – user5582
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 14:39
  • I wanted to separate the definition of notability from our rules and processes, because I think the concept is complex enough. This was partly triggered by your comments, which I think conflates the need for notability with the need for explicit quotes. This meta-question already exists.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 15:58
  • @Sancho: Fabian's definition was (deliberately) vague. I don't think the additional clause added much to it, so I dropped it for simplicity. I do not think precisely defining "significant" will be helpful; I'd rather let the community decide on a case-by-case basis, than try to come up with a prescriptive set of rules for border cases.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 16:00
  • Maybe change "believe" in the first sentence to "have been told" or similar (because the number people who actually believe it is unmeasurable). Perhaps the 3rd sentence is ungrammatical: change "for the claim being mentioned" to "to show the claim being mentioned" or "to show that the claim is mentioned". Perhaps change "widely-known web-sites" to "public web-sites". Perhaps add ", and advertisements".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 16:51
  • @oddthinking people are using the word notable to refer to sources, not the claim. They say stuff like "please add a notable source for this claim".
    – user5582
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 14:47
  • 1
    @Sancho: All the more reason for us to explicitly define what we intend. I don't want to take a strong stance and say that usage is wrong: Yes, a notable source (e.g. a celebrity) making the claim is sufficient. However, a large number of "nobodies" making the claim is also sufficient. So saying the source must be notable is an ever-so-slightly misleading shortcut to what the rules actually are. (It wouldn't surprise me if you found examples of me taking this shortcut, which is another reason for me not to attack it too strongly!)
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 15:11
  • @Oddthinking Just wondering if you want to clarify that that there are two senses of the word in use at this site. One referring to the claim (which you address here), and one referring to the source (which, as far as I can tell, we haven't set strong requirements for).
    – user5582
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 15:14
  • I've added a paragraph making clear when we need to establish notability.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 14:50
  • Might it be a good idea to explain that notability is not solely about 'believing' something; it can also be about doubting something. I think that this distinction can lead to confusion. For example "Is Paris really the capital of France?" Obviously lots of people believe that Paris is the capital of France, but notability requires here that we demonstrate that there are people who doubt it.
    – Benjol
    Commented Sep 2, 2014 at 4:46
  • @Benjol: That issue has been addressed elsewhere on meta. The general rule is if the OP says they, in good faith, doubt it, that's good enough. If someone says "Is Paris the capital of France?" and we say "Err... really?" and they say "Yeah, I am not convinced that there was ever an official declaration anywhere; it might be just a widely believed urban myth." we leave it open.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Sep 2, 2014 at 8:07
  • Not sure if should open a separate Q for this, but it seems that biblical/mythical claims also get closed often enough, e.g. skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/36385/… Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 18:23
  • How does one evaluate this answer when it comes to tweets?
    – pinegulf
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 6:17

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