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Skeptics from Stack Exchange is a site used to correct or validate ideas, facts or knowledge in some form.

How do I know that any post there (here) are not adulterated by any kind of organization trying to convince people of their ideologies or transforming knowledge to fit their needs?

  • is there any reason to think that the site is being subverted by some organization? – Dikran Marsupial Nov 4 '14 at 11:40
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    @Jamiec skepticism over the site is moved to meta? :) I thought that it would make a good skeptical question: "how do I know that the information I get here is genuine and not fabricated to fit someone's needs". Is there a way I can construct the question it to a form that will make it to the main site and not meta? – Bruno Pereira Nov 4 '14 at 11:47
  • @DikranMarsupial why not? – Bruno Pereira Nov 4 '14 at 11:48
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    If there is a notable claim that Skeptics Stack Exchange is in some way biased, or being used by some ideology/group for their own agenda then possibly we could answer that on the main site. If you just want to question the site itself then no, there is no way of wording a question to be on-topic for the main site. – Jamiec Nov 4 '14 at 11:53
  • I thought that it would make a good skeptical question Please read the Welcome to New Users. To be posted on the main site, you might need to reference a "notable claim" made about Skeptics.SE ... – ChrisW Nov 4 '14 at 11:53
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    @BrunoPereira O.K. so the second paragraph of the question is just pointless speculation/conspiracy theory. As to how do we know the information is reliable, well it is as reliable as the sources and the selection of the sources by those who answer the questions. Sadly logic and research are not considered to valid without additional sources, which limits the ways in which problems with the sources can be discussed. – Dikran Marsupial Nov 4 '14 at 11:53
  • @DikranMarsupial fair enough. – Bruno Pereira Nov 4 '14 at 13:23
  • @ChrisW I see, thanks, makes sense then that using this form the question was moved to meta. Regards – Bruno Pereira Nov 4 '14 at 13:26
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In short, you don't. We do not guarantee that the information on this site is true or correct in any form.

What we do guarantee, is that the information you find has sources, of variable quality, which you can judge by yourself.

It is an empirical fact that on average answers with sources are better, because people have to think a little more before answering, but this is a favourable consequence of requiring evidence, not the aim of the site itself.

TL;DR: Answers on this site have varying reliability, however we give you all the tools to make up your own mind on how much you should trust them.

  • This is the answer I wanted to write, but as usual you're much more succinct than I. – Jamiec Nov 4 '14 at 13:22
  • Very well and straight: "no guarantees, check the sources, decide how reliable you think the sources are, decide for your self". Simple, thanks – Bruno Pereira Nov 4 '14 at 13:28
  • And then there's always Occam's razor – user22865 Nov 18 '14 at 10:02
  • Well, check the sources and validate all the original research the post author himself did. Original research as in: drawing partial conclusions, applying them to other data, combing facts, etc. Saying that skeptics.SE is doing lots of original research is like cursing in the church, but hey, when using language and logic there is no way around it. – David Mulder Nov 23 '14 at 3:40
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Because answers have references, therefore you can (ideally) judge for yourself how good the evidence is.

I think you might as well assume that the people who answer questions do have their own ideologies: for example people have their own favourite sources of information, which might bias the information which they reference in their answers.

Looking at what's currently the most recent answer on the site, for example, the person who answered that seems to show a bias towards official documentation (because they cited a presidential commission report hosted on the NASA web site).

See also this answer to How do we know that our references are reliable?

There's no such thing as a 100% reliable source - Skeptics.SE cannot hope to only present correct answers, but we can aim at minimum level of accuracy which is much, much higher than the typical sources on the web and newspapers.

So, the following guidelines are merely heuristics - every single one is fallible.

(gives a list of guidelines)

See also this answer which tries to sort references or sources of information, in order from less to more reliable.


Such 'bias' about what we consider to be good sources of evidence may appear in answers, for good or for ill.

For example, I remember that in one question like Are GMO crops to blame for farmer suicides in India?, one of the people who answered it thought, to themselves, "Monsanto's web site have a good collection of references to scientific papers/studies which debunk various anti-GMO publications", and they therefore went to Monsanto's web site to look for a suitable reference for their answer.

Looking at their answer, you couldn't have known that the reference was in some way pre-selected by Monsanto.

  • Am I missing something? What does the term "Show bias towards official documentation" mean in reference to my answer? Do you think I should have found something less bias? – Jamiec Nov 4 '14 at 12:23
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    The bias is toward official, government documentation, as opposed to, say, conspiracy theorist documentation. It's a bias--everyone has one. That doesn't mean the bias is bad or misplaced. – Flimzy Nov 4 '14 at 13:05
  • @Jamiec I assume we all have bias and try to be biased towards whatever we think is good. I don't know for sure about you but IMO I myself am definitely biased in favour of official governmental publications (also reputable news sources etc.). I remember a Science Fiction story in which it was expected that members of a jury would be "biased" what they weren't allowed to be was "prejudiced". – ChrisW Nov 4 '14 at 13:07
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The point of calling a site "skeptics" isn't that people switch off their skepticism once they are on the website. If you want to know the truth you always have to engage in critical reading.

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