On the recent closing of a question, moderator Fabian wrote the following: "Medical questions unrelated to skepticism are off-topic here, I'm closing this question therefore."

Firstly, I agree that the question should be closed. Still, there's a problem here. What is "skepticism" defined so that question-askers may understand what is on topic and what's not on topic?

I have continued to ask for a definition of "skepticism" from members of this community, and have been given none. It seems like there is an understood version lurking in member's minds, where Skepticsm allows questions that seem appropriately "bizarre" or "untraditional" in some sense. I think a bad consequence of this undefined and murky construction of "skepticism" is that its leads to leading questions, where "skepticism" becomes anything that is refutable by self-described skeptics.

So let me throw out some concrete examples: Is a question asking whether homosexual orientation is attributable to genetic influences less skeptical than another debunking of intelligent design? What about a question from anarcho-capitalists, who might wonder if the assumption behind government necessity in various issues is warranted by the evidence?

To be honest, my problem is I don't really understand the definition of "Skepticism" as a subject that derives from what I presume is its root word, "skeptical." I think it's appropriately "skeptical" to simply ask a question about any old thing, but some of those things are clearly off-topic here by member consensus.

What is Skepticism?


1 Answer 1


From our FAQ:

What is Skepticism? It's strongly related to science and the null hypothesis, that is, everything is false until proven true through strong, verifiable evidence. Dr. Phil Plait defines Skepticism this way:

It’s really easy to fool people, and it’s really easy to fool yourself, and if you use these skeptical ideas, you find out what the truth is. The whole idea of skepticism and science is to find out what’s most likely to be true, and what’s most likely not to be true.

Skepticism is just that: the search for the objective truth.

If you ask this question to know what is on-topic, the answer is: questioning the veracity of any verifiable claim, for as long as its addressed to laymen (i.e., research-level questions are off-limit). If your question can be answered objectively, and it that it questions a claim you've heard, it's usually on-topic.

You must log in to answer this question.

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