I've read a paper by a prominent (and controversial) researcher in psychology, which has seen significant discussion on the net. In the paper, he proposes an explanation regarding the low intelligence of a certain group. However, I am confident that he has overstated the relationship significantly (i.e. he claims a linear relationship when it does not exist).

I would like to ask "Do the results of XXXX paper by Professor XXX support his proposed explanation that XXXX", and then post my rebuttal. As it is entirely possible that I am wrong, in the interest of objectivity, I will accept whichever answer has the most upvotes in two weeks.

EDIT: Yes, it is a notable claim as it's been cited in several popular-level articles. I will leave this question to the democratic process, and accept whichever answer has the most upvotes in a few days.


2 Answers 2


In theory, this is off-topic.

There is a line in the FAQ that discusses the scope of the site. Since inception, it has explicitly stated:

Don't ask about... [...] Research-level science, discussions of skepticism as a philosophy or movement, rants or personal speculation.

This clause has troubled me a little in the past, because:

  • We clearly cite scientific research all the time.
  • I don't recall ever seeing a moderator, or the community, explicitly use this as a reason to close a question.

However, I can see the justification. I have seen people (including mods) vote to migrate a research-level Physics question to Physics.SE on the grounds that the level of expertise of the community there is more appropriate. I have seen people (including me) tear their hair out in exasperation at research-level Economics questions, because the limited expertise here can get outweighed by politics.

I see our role more as being in popularising science - taking established results, and making them available to people who have questions, or in taking overstatements and showing that the science hasn't reached a conclusion yet. We haven't got the specific expertise to be peer-reviewers of papers. Maybe we can pick out obvious flaws in statistics or logic, but the subtle problems are likely to elude us as a group.

So, my personal opinion is that we should steer clear of academic debate about individuals papers but I have no idea of how to draw that line, and especially how to see that a question is going to provoke only answers that cross that line.

As always, I would rather the community established their own rules, rather than had them imposed from above, and I note that the original line in the FAQ is a simple edit away from being whatever we want it to say.


Do many people believe this proposition: "The results of XXXX paper by Professor XXX support his proposed explanation that XXXX"?

If no (i.e. if there are not a bunch of people that believe "The results of XXXX paper by Professor XXX support his proposed explanation that XXXX"), then the claim is not notable, and not on topic for the site.

If yes, then the claim is notable, and is therefore on topic.

Of course, it may still be too broad (requiring a research-level answer, for example), or too subjective, but that depends on the specifics.

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