As of 25 May 2015, skeptics.se is not considered in the science section of Stack Exchange:

enter image description here

Don't you think it ought to be?

(This topic has been already brought to meta.stackexchange.com)

  • 6
    I agree, and I also pointed this out to SE. The decision is justified by the fact that scientific skepticism is undeniably part of culture (along with science), but it's not a science. On the other hand, feel free to debate this, And if any strong consensus arises, any of the mods can bring it to the attention of SE. – Sklivvz May 25 '15 at 17:28

Skeptics.SE simply applies principles of good journalistic accuracy to a wide range of topics. We follow the evidence, and attempt to present the best of it contextualized within the entire body of research, but answers cannot do original research. So, we are not doing scientific scepticism. Also, scientific topics have no special status above other topics on this site.

  • 6
    completely agree, there seems to be a common public conflation between "scientific" and "rational" (or even just "good"). There is nothing wrong with good journalism, and it only causes problems with moderation to continually describe the site as implementing "scientific skepticism" when that is not what it actually does. Moving it to the science category would only reinforce that misunderstanding. – Dikran Marsupial May 31 '15 at 14:49
  • "Scientific literature comprises scientific publications that report original empirical and theoretical work in the natural and social sciences", in that case "scientific literature" is definitely not what SkepticsSE aims for as original empirical and theoretical work is not accepted. We don't report original empirical or theoretical work, we have to limit ourselves to summarizing and contextualizing the work of others. BTW do you have a source for "certified knowledge" other than Merton, it doesn't seem to crop up in any of my philosophy of science texts. I suspect it is rather dated. – Dikran Marsupial Jun 2 '15 at 9:50
  • Regarding "journalism", it doesn't strictly apply to news, there is for instance science journalism en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_journalism . SkepticsSE is basically adopting the principles of science journalism to a variety of topics, not all of which are science. The distinction is not always very clear, for instance National Geographic Magazine is clearly journalism, it isn't about news, and not all of it is science journalism. – Dikran Marsupial Jun 2 '15 at 9:57
  • Much better Nomen Agentis, good edit. – Sklivvz Jun 2 '15 at 18:02

I disagree: Skeptics is not about science. It covers a lot of topics. Sure, many of these topics are science, but there are also many that aren't. Out of the top 36 tags, at a glance, only half are related to science.

More importantly, Skeptics.SE rejects a pure scientific approach. A pure scientific approach is explicitly off-topic on Skeptics.SE: “I did the experiment and it shows that …” or “Here's the proof: …” are not appropriate answers here. In order to be appropriate, these answers would have to contain “… and I published my results in this peer-reviewed paper”. The clincher that makes an answer acceptable on Skeptics.SE is citations, i.e. arguments from authority. Arguments from authority are irrelevant to science in itself, they are only relevant (and of course very important) to the process of discovering science. If a peer-reviewed paper states something that is contradicted by an experiment or by logic, that makes this paper bad science. The world doesn't care that the paper has been accepted.

Sure, it is often expected that the authorities cited here would apply a scientific method, but the science is not happening here.

Given that Skeptics.SE works on a social basis — it's about finding citations — the proper category would be one that encompasses social topics, together with other applied sociology sites: Politics, Academia, Workplace, Community Building, etc.

  • 3
    Yes, there seems a misconception that scientists reference previous work as proof that an assertion is true, however this is incorrect. Most scientists know that peer-review is no guarantee that a journal paper is correct (you only need to have your own work reviewed and review the work of others to know why that is the case) and reference other work (a) to acknowledge priority and (b) so that the reader knows where to find out about the basis for the assertion. – Dikran Marsupial May 31 '15 at 15:07
  • 4
    "OK. We are a site which reports scientific findings" which is what good journalists do when reporting on science stories. However, that is journalism, not "scientific skepticism". If we genuinely adopted scientific skepticism here, then pure logic or individual research would be perfectly acceptable. Scientists do not automatically trust peer-reviewed journal papers, as I said you only need to be involved in peer review (from both sides) to see why it can never be more than a basic sanity check. – Dikran Marsupial Jun 1 '15 at 8:29
  • 1
    @Gilles thanks for rephrasing the answer. I've removed my comments as obsolete. – Sklivvz Jun 2 '15 at 8:48
  • I done a pretty severe purge of the comments because Sklivvz comments which triggered the discussion had been removed, because they had diverged from the actual answer into arguing about definitions and because the tone was of mutual exasperation rather than assuming good will. I encourage you to discuss it in chat (nicely!) or post an alternative answer to the question. – Oddthinking Jun 2 '15 at 14:15

Is 'History' a science?

Skeptics include 400 topics, nearly 200 topics, more than 100 questions, 400 not-exactly-scientific topics about the , nearly 200 questions (economics is defined as a "social science"); plus 100s of other topics about , , , , , , etc.

  • 1
    @georgechalhoub I think I disagree with the data in your post. If you say "this is a bag of apples", and when I look in the bag I see that a large percentage of its contents is potatoes ... – ChrisW Jun 2 '15 at 9:56
  • I said it is a bag of apples and potatoes. Don't forget that we overlap with almost all science categories, but when it comes to culture it is just two categories. – Display name Jun 2 '15 at 10:34
  • 3
    @georgechalhoub I think I've finally understood your argument. I suppose mine is that if it includes potatoes then it doesn't belong on the apples shelf. If it contains both then it belongs on the "produce" shelf. I think that specific sciences are narrow subjects whereas culture is a broad subject. Culture includes science; science doesn't include culture. Culture means, basically, "society's state-of-the-art": e.g. defined as "the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively" ... so 21st century culture includes science (and history, etc.). – ChrisW Jun 2 '15 at 15:42
  • 1
    Perhaps you dislike the neighborhood: languages, religions, hobbies, and ... bicycles. :-) – ChrisW Jun 2 '15 at 15:45

FYI the data in this answer might be misleading (cherry-picked). In fact our most popular tags are:

  • 1
    I am not sure what bold means exactly but "nutrition", "zoology", "alternative-medicine" are all scientific topics. Alternative medicine methods such as homeopathy, or nutrition are studied by medical researchers just like mainstream medicine. Zoology is a science. – Sklivvz Jun 2 '15 at 18:09
  • 3
    It just means they were missing from the list originally presented. – ChrisW Jun 2 '15 at 18:25

Although we don't really strictly fit anywhere, I think we fit better under "Science", Our most popular tags are:

Quoting moderator Sklivvz:

Our site fit many categories at an abstract level.

Science, because it overlaps with:

Earth Science

Life and arts, because it overlaps with:

Life Hacks
Personal Productivity

Culture, because it overlaps with:


Of all the categories where it could fit, Culture is unfortunately the least overlapping and science is the most overlapping.

On this website, we strictly practice:

questioning whether claims are supported by empirical research and have reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge"

Though, we're not really a science website, I'm suggesting moving our site to the science section since we overlap with most of the topics there.

  • 2
    The list of tags in this answer might be misleading: see also this answer. – ChrisW Jun 2 '15 at 9:51
  • This answer got flagged. Can you please explain why you have two conflicting answers? – Oddthinking Jun 2 '15 at 14:29
  • 2
    @Oddthinking It was because further to now-deleted comments under this answer of mine, I cut this answer from george's question and posted it here (so this is actually originally george's answer, perhaps intended to disagree with or ignore the premise of my first answer). Then I reviewed the data in this answer and disagreed with it: I didn't want to edit this answer because I see it as being George's and my editing it would contradict the author's intent (i.e. be a "hostile edit") and so I posted revised data as a different (third) answer. – ChrisW Jun 2 '15 at 14:35

You must log in to answer this question.

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