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Culling the definition questions on Area 51, I just noticed there are no questions involving logic or fallacies thereof. Nonetheles, we have one. Should questions involving be considered on topic? If so, why?

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Obviously, a Physics stack implies a knowledge of arithmetic; but it doesn't lead to interesting questions. (Would you stick around a physics stack discussing long division?) Also, this isn't Philosophy, where Logic is a formal sub-discipline. Is of the same ilk, or in what other manner is it on-topic?

It is only on-topic as a component of another question (since it is necessary to be conversant in fallacies to debunk woo); however it is off-topic to ask questions that seek expositions or definitions of logic or fallacies. Any question that is about logic itself seems off-topic.

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    +1: Skepticism benefits from applied logic as much as applied math. – Satanicpuppy Feb 25 '11 at 21:09
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    I initially agreed, but now I'm not convinced. Why shouldn't skeptics.se be a resource in understanding the tools which can then be applied? Wouldn't it improve the general application of skepticism to understand why a logical fallacy is a fallacy, in a context-free sense? – Mark Lapierre Feb 26 '11 at 22:43
  • @Solus: Other Stack Exchanges can and will cover that. Statistical questions belong on Math.SE; questions about logical fallacies will belong on Philosophy.SE. It's not this site job's to cover that. – Borror0 Feb 27 '11 at 12:43
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[I raised another post with the logic tag. Someone commented that it may be off-topic and linked here. I was surprised that it was considered off-topic, and I feel obliged to put in a defence. However, I want to make clear I will happily comply with the community opinion here.]

The key part of skepticism is, of course, evaluating claims skeptically.

But another significant part is educating others - both that a particular claim is false, and about how to approaching evaluating the next claim.

My question was not "What does 'straw man' mean?" It was "Where are there good resources to explain to others what is meant by 'straw man'?" I was asking for assistance in that education step.

I believe that the education of others is skeptical thinking is important, and I would be disappointed if questions about that are considered off-topic.


p.s. If it is determined that the question is outside of the current scope, and that the scope shouldn't be widened to include it, I would strongly suggest we need a clear(er) statement about the scope in the FAQ.

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  • Check the link, I was referring to the one there. However, I'm not saying a site for skeptics shouldn't be conversant in logic or rigorous in method. I have posted entirely to the contrary on another question. I think there should just be a provisional guideline for on/off-topic discussion of logic – mfg Feb 26 '11 at 3:25
  • Sorry - someone linked from my question to here, and I must have got confused. Updated. – Oddthinking Feb 26 '11 at 5:08
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    The reason I agreed with Borror0 that your question was off-topic, and relevant to this question, is that yours is not discussing logical fallacies within the context of any specific example of skeptical inquiry, and so shouldn't be considered 'applied skepticism'. However, I've since re-evaluated my opinion of what this site should be about, and I'm not convinced that the philosophy of applied skepticism should be off-topic, which includes a broad understanding of logical fallacies. – Mark Lapierre Feb 26 '11 at 22:39
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I thought this SE was about specific skeptic questions, not about skepticism in general. Otherwise, I'd ask, for example "Is is ok to engage in the 'genetic fallacy' (saying that a website is unreliable, rather than refuting their argument)".

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    Right. But to whom would you turn to ask questions of how to address claims of "x" when you think they rely on [fallacy a]? – mfg Feb 27 '11 at 11:32

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